Friday, August 21, 2009

Tony in Big Sky country

I'm guessing that Monday's episode is going to be an uncomfortable one for Tony. I mean, can you IMAGINE Tony as a cowboy? Yes, he's done things like this in other countries, but it's somehow different when he's on home turf.

In the next episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Tony travels to Montana, where the scenery is breathtaking and all varieties of wildlife make for an interesting trip.

While there, Tony visits the Metclaf family, fourth-generation ranchers in Big Sky country that run a cattle operation and take-on tourists who want to experience a working ranch in order to make money and ‘stay viable’, as Mrs. Metcalf says. There, Tony gets a taste of their long work days (mostly unpaid) in testy weather. To gain more insight into what it means to be in Montana, Tony visits native Montanan Dan at the Old Saloon in Livingston, a jack-of-all-trades who really knows Montana. Livingston was once a laid-back town full of railroad workers and cowboys, but in recent years it has become inundated with artists, actors, and corporate types.

While in Livingston, Tony is outfitted with the latest (and most flattering!) fly-fishing gear and heads out with fly-fishing shop owner and Dan Lahren; determined to make an on-camera catch. Another mainstay in Livingston is the Murray Hotel, a ‘hotel with a past’ that has seen Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane as prior occupants. The bar in the Murray is where Tony meets up with friend Jim Harrison, a writer who is a longtime visitor of Livingston and a fishing enthusiast. His love for Montana, ‘the solace of empty spaces’, is quite apparent, as is his love of food. Chef and owner Brian Menges, of the Second Street Bistro, also located in the Murray, has prepared a wondrous meal of all local ingredients for Tony, Jim, and Russell, who have stopped in for lunch. Dish after dish of short ribs, beurre blanc, pork belly, local potatoes, rack of lamb arrive at the table, each one more delicious than the next, all locally-sourced.

Another episode highlight is The Paradise Valley, a beautiful area of land, nestled among the towering mountains. Tim, a local guide, takes Tony and Chef Brian on a trek across the valley while voicing his concerns that someday, the beautiful landscape will be filled with houses of those who visit seasonally. At base camp, they enjoy a meal of ‘game meat’ cooked by Dan (yes, fly-fishing Dan) – deer hearts, foie gras, pheasant… The conversation circling around meats, old-time ‘tough guys’ like Clint Eastwood and John Wayne, and right vs. wrong. Good all-American food, all-American men, and America’s beautiful land.

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Montana airs Monday, August 24 at 10pm E/P on the Travel Channel.


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