Posts Tagged ‘Food Play by Gael Greene’

Where’s Waldo? Or in this case, Where’s Chef Kate?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Winter is quickly loosening its grasp on Swan Lake, although the shadowed snow drifts will probably remain until well into May. But with the temperatures nearing 50, thoughts turn to spring and the inevitable crush of a fun-filled, visitor-packed summer.

While the Horse still slumbers under several feet of snow, and Chef Kate still lingers somewhere near the equator, plans are underway for an exceptional year of good food, music and even better Montana hospitality at Laughing Horse Lodge.

So where exactly is our intrepid hostess? We caught up with Kathleen at a remote 5 star eco-resort on the west coast of Panama where for the past few months she has been guest chef, teacher, student and explorer…a typical winter for this 12 year Montana resident.“I originally came to Panama to build up my Spanish so that I could bring in a South American guest chef for the summer and have a way of communicating in the kitchen,” says Kathleen. But not satisfied to have just one ball in the air, the study trip turned into a temporary gig at one of Panama’s newest luxury resorts, Boutique Hotel Cala Mia located on an isolated Pacific island in the Archipelago Chiriqui.

“This has been an experience in self-sufficiency and creativity,” laughs Moon as she recounts the first trip to Isla Boca Brava…a two hour journey by bus, cab and boat from the nearest town. “ I arrived all jazzed only to discover that there wasn’t a single piece of chocolate on the island and it would be two more weeks before anyone was going shopping back on the mainland.”

Surrounded by troops of howler monkeys, noisy parrots, and a 3’ iguana living in the thatched ceiling of her bungalow, Kathleen went to work (without chocolate) with the property’s Italian owner Vittoria Ghini, establishing a Spanish-language SafeServe-style  training program for the kitchen, setting up an on-line reservation system, and giving the island chef a break each week. “It’s been a real struggle in the kitchen being ‘forced’ to work with fresh fish and lobster brought to the dock each afternoon,” Moon quips, a smile in her voice.  “I’ve also learned a bit about making artisan cheese…and in Panama of all places.”

Ghini, and her Dutch husband Max, opened the resort 4 years ago and  support the dining room at Cala Mia with an extensive organic farm and dairy operation located a few kilometers east on the island. Fresh arugula, herbs,  aubergine, peppers, tomatoes and a dry-land rice are produced, as well as organic butter, cream and an outstanding Gouda.

Building and maintaining a luxury eco-resort and an accompanying organic farm with a small but state of the art dairy processing facility would be a challenge even in the US or Europe, but to do so on a remote second-world  island with a single car ferry (built by Max) and the feat becomes extraordinary.

“These people are impressive,” states our traveler, “my highest complement to Vittoria and Max would be that with their independence and entrepreneurial abilities remind me of many of the Montanans I’ve befriended over the years.”

Kathleen returns home just in time to participate in the annual Taste of Bigfork on May 1st.  She’ll be bringing with her new ideas and a renewed dedication to providing even more organic offerings on her already outstanding menu.

The dining room at Laughing Horse Lodge reopens May 20th with dinner served Wednesday – Sunday, from 5pm. Reservations are highly suggested.

Howlers in the trees.

Al Fresco Dining in the Horse’s Spectacular Garden!

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
The Garden is open for your sipping pleasure!
And what a garden it is this year…so leave your daily stress at the door
and enjoy a delicious glass of wine and an al fresco meal while you bask in
the golden silence of a lovely Swan Lake evening.
To celebrate the arrival (finally!) of summer, this weekend we’re presenting a refreshing Mediterranean Antipasti Plate for two
with two glasses of Gain Bay Cabernet  (a Stag’s Leap appellation) for $25. You’ll enjoy freshly char grilled and marinated
vegetables bursting with the flavors of Sardinia, an assortment of Greek olives, hard Italian meats, and yeasty French artisan
bread with rosemary olive oil perfect for dipping. 
Reservations: 406-886-2080
PS. Thanks to our many swallows and brown bats, the garden is mostly mosquito-free!

Larry Pattis and His Guitar Back at Laughing Horse Lodge!

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

The garden concerts at  the Horse just keep getting  better. The Wilbur Rehmann Jazz Quartet packed them in last weekend with jazz so cool it made the hot evening feel downright tropical. Next up in the garden is guitarist Larry Pattis promising a slightly calmer evening of excellent fingerstyle acoustic music of his own composition. A seasoned performer, Larry was last at the Horse in 2005 just prior to his debut performance on the Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center.  Listeners of NPR will recognize his signature style.  The concert begins at 7pm on August 30th, dinner reservations may be made beginning at 5pm. Dinner or a $5 cover. For reservations, call 406-886-2080.

It’s Lobster Ravioli Week at Laughing Horse Lodge!

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

A hot summer evening in Bigfork cries out for a light and delectable dinner down the lake. Stop in this week for our cool organic lodge salad followed by Grilled Lobster Ravioli topped with Langostinos and herbed butter. Add a crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and heaven is almost achieved. Oh heck, let’s go for the pearly gates!…and end the evening with a piece of warm-from-the-oven huckleberry peach pie topped with Tillamook Vanilla Bean ice cream.

Reservations are a definite must for this dish, so call today. 406-886-2080.

Not into the delectable crustacean? More of a meat and potatoes type? No worries. Kate’s menu features aged prime cuts of beef that will melt in your mouth. So avoid the theater crush in Bigfork and travel a few minutes down Hwy 83 to the village of Swan Lake and enjoy a dining experience ranked #1 on!

Huckleberry Peach Pie and the Swan Lake Huckleberry Festival

Friday, July 10th, 2009

It is that time of year again! Huckleberrys and peaches – a match made in culinary heaven. Barbecuing with friends this summer?  Insure your welcome by showing up with a fresh  Huckleberry Peach Pie-your hostess will love you and you’ll be on the top of the list for more invitations!

Place your orders by Wednesday at 12 noon by calling 406-886-2080 and your pies will be ready for pickup at 4pm on Friday. Pies serve up to 8 people for $25. In addition to pies, Kathleen can create a sinfully sweet Bavarian Cream Huckleberry Torte for $19.

Come out to the Swan Lake Huckleberry Festival on August 8th at the Swan Lake Day Park and explore the many art vendors. Come early and stop into the Horse for a delicious breakfast of huckleberry peach pancakes or huckleberry & goat cheese stuffed French Toast. The Horse is open for breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 2pm.   Looking for more tasty huckleberry treats? Check out Eva Gates Homemade Preserves and Vicki’s Montana Mountain Classics in nearby Bigfork!

Swan Lake’s Laughing Horse Lodge a Welcome Respite for Traveling Vegetarians

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

 In Montana, beef is royalty, but occasionally even a carnivore craves greens and fish and the kitchen at Laughing Horse Lodge is pleased to oblige. The menu presented by chef/owner Kathleen features many dishes based on organic and natural ingredients that can be stepped up with responsibly harvested fish including sushi-grade Ahi and line-caught Alaskan Salmon.

 For a warm summer evening try her signature Polynesian – organic baby farm greens tossed with dried organic cranberries, diced apples and ginger glazed pecans topped with a seared Ahi steak and fresh gorgonzola crumbles drizzled with a zingy wasabi ginger dressing…and that green stuff on the edge of the plate? It’s not guacamole, but freshly made wasabi…sizzling!

 Kathleen’s large entrée salads – The Rancher, The Yucatan Stack and the Polynesian – are meals in themselves, but if you are looking for something with a bit more heft, put in an order for the Organic Basil Pesto Linguini brimming with gently sautéed vegetables, or the Mango Ahi served on a bed of organic wehani red rice steaming with the flavors of Thailand.

 And so that our carnivore partners don’t feel left out, there’s a 14oz natural Buffalo Ribeye served up with a tantalizing Wild Berry Glaze, natural Angus Sirloin aged to fork-tender perfection, Angus Prime Rib and of course, the famous ½# steak burger served on a homemade foccaccia bun.


Wild Salmon, Savory Black Bean, Natural Chicken or Steak...The Burger is King!

Wild Salmon, Savory Black Bean, Natural Chicken or Steak...The Burger is King!

The dining room is open Wednesday through Sunday at 5pm with a public brunch Saturday and Sunday 8am – 2pm.

Reservations definitely suggested…406-886-2080.

Laughing Horse Lodge A Haven for Foodies in the Flathead Valley

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Now in her tenth year as owner, chief cook and bottle washer, Kathleen continues to bring in the rave reviews for Laughing Horse Lodge from locals and visitors who have discovered this Swan Lake dining ‘secret’.

This season, Kathleen heats up her menu with nightly specials from the ‘over the top’ Asian flavor sensation of Saffron Soba Noodle Cake to the Norman Rockwell down home comfort of savory meatloaf floating in a sea of Crimini Mushroom Prime Rib gravy.

The Horse offers a laid-back, old Montana dining experience where the value is on the plate – mostly organic, always fresh and totally delicious ingredients prepared with care, presented with joy and affordably priced.

So if you are a foodie looking for the best the Flathead has to offer, take a short drive to Swan Lake and see what Kathleen is cooking up for the evening… “hmmm…all natural Tuscan-style Black Angus Prime Rib, or a large steaming bowl of clams swimming in a broth reminiscent of late summer nights in Capri?”

The dining room is open 5pm Wednesday – Sunday for dinner with a public brunch offered Saturday and Sunday 8am – 2pm. The kitchen is closed Monday and Tuesday night so that Kathleen may bring her creative skills to the private homes of the Bigfork/Swan Lake area for parties from 12 to 100.

 Reservations definitely suggested…406-886-2080.

Natural Porterhouse Pork Chop on a Green Chili Frittata

Natural Porterhouse Pork Chop on a Green Chili Frittata

Gael Greene of Fork Play Stops By Laughing Horse Lodge

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

On a recent visit to Bigfork, the infamous New York Magazine food critic and author Gael Greene dined on vegetarian lasagna at Laughing Horse Lodge and gave mention of her evening in her e-newsletter Food Play. Greene, who’s latest book Insatiable has just been optioned for a film was in Montana visiting her niece Dana Stoddard of Montana Bliss. Greene also enjoyed one of the Horse’s famous 1/2# sirloin burgers served rare and presented with grilled Spanish red onions and roasted garlic under melted Gorgonzola.