Food glorious food! How we love the stuff! “Food is not only an indulgence in its own right, but it can also enhance an experience like nothing else.” Says Kerry Lambert, Supervising Producer for The Food Network.
A vacation without quality food and wine is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – without the jelly! It’s just not as sweet! No travel experience is complete without cuisine that encapsulates the flavors of the locale itself.
With Top50 Ranches, you not only get a true-life ranch cuisine experience, you also get meals that offer a delectable taste of Americana – from freshly caught local fish to juicy dry-aged steaks paired exquisitely with local wines. A great way to savor the day.” And she’s right. Yes, any ranch vacation would make me happy, but a Western adventure with great food to boot? Now that is my idea of heaven...
Read on to discover the how different your food experience can be from ranch to ranch…
The More The Merrier!
Not everyone’s the same. Some prefer fine dining, some have a special diet, some like a healthy take on their cuisine and some just like lots of it! For those falling into the latter category, the five-course dinner evening offered at Red Horse Mountain Ranch should go down a treat. And with wines chosen by the chef to complement each course, this is also one for the wine buffs out there.
But with so much great wine on offer, you’re going to need a good coffee the next morning. As for breakfast, well when you have a day in the saddle to prepare for (or a hangover to nurse), you know you can rely on ranch fare! Three Bars Ranch provides weekly breakfast rides, perfect for clearing the head and blowing away the cobwebs. And a glass of water from Box R’s ice cold artesian spring high up on the mountain is sure to provide the ultimate hangover cure.
Fresh air aside, there’s nothing like eating outdoors to get you in touch with your inner caveman – go to Lone Mountain Guest Ranch in the winter months and you can take an old fashioned sleigh ride dinner, with festive music to boot!
Then there’s Triple Creek Ranch, which offers a more contemporary and eclectic dining experience. Its menu ranges from French to South Western, West Indian to Central American plus other international influences. Tasting menus will appeal to those food connoisseurs out there, as will the Chef's Table, which gives a unique insight into the kitchen.
For me though, when it comes to the crunch you just can’t beat a bit of home cooking. One thing that you should know is that North America harvests some of the most sought-after fruits in the U.K. Huckleberries – what we Brits refer to as Bilberries – are like gold dust over here. So knowing McGinnis Meadows serves lashings of Montana's finest huckleberries ‘handpicked from our secret huckleberry patch’ makes me want to up sticks and emigrate to Big Sky Country!
At Gros Ventre River Ranch in Wyoming, down-home dining is serious business! One evening they’ll be fixin’ a casual gourmet meal in the main lodge dining room, another evening they’ll dine outdoors in the open yard enjoying a Western BBQ complete with a cowboy singer around the campfire. It’s doesn’t get more authentic in my opinion!
I admit to being a bit green-fingered and for me, tending to my modest vegetable garden is one of life’s small pleasures. So I’m pleased to find so many ranches sourcing the ingredients for their cuisine right in their back yards. The splendid Relais & Chateaux Home Ranch does this so well; their farm-to-table approach provides Home Ranch-raised organic ingredients, including the ranch’s own Sand Mountain Cattle beef, pork and poultry along with all of the produce, herbs and flowers our greenhouse and raised bed gardens can produce in a season. No need for mass production here!
If you’re looking for a healthier take on ranch dining then head to The Ranch at Rock Creek – they serve food reflecting their pure surroundings, including prime organic beef, free-range chicken, organic eggs, fresh fish, and seasonal local fruits, vegetables and fresh herbs. And although Latigo Ranch promises ample portions for those who like second – and even third! – helpings, it’s also the place to go if you’ve a special dietary need: vegetarian, kosher, low carb, low fat, allergy specific – you name it, they’ll cook it. You can even head to Latigotrails.com, where they post many of their fantastic recipes – a godsend if, like me, you’re forever trying to recreate the sumptuous meals you’ve sampled on vacation.
Which Is For You?
One thing I’ve learnt is that when it comes to good ranch cuisine, it doesn’t matter whether it’s fine dining, outdoor cooking or hearty home-cooked fare. Whatever it is, it’s going to be good and the memories of it are going to stay with you.
If ever I’m at work, staring blankly into my computer screen and waiting for the clock to tick to 5pm, I only have to dip into my vacation diary and cast my eye over scrawlings about home-reared fillet steak, chocolate brownies and avocado soup, then I’m right back on the ranch again.
Mel Rutherford worked as Website Editor for Horse&Rider Magazine in the UK before going Freelance. She is now a successful Personal Trainer and knows her food!
Edited by: Kate Hammaren, Travel Editor, Top50 Ranches
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