Sunday, August 30, 2015

Real Montanans Eat Beef Or, August in Montana On A Cheeseburger a Day

Real Montanans Eat Beef Or, August in Montana On A Cheeseburger a Day
            When I lived in Harlem, Shirley, Bev and I gallivanted around the country whenever we felt the strong urge to get out of Dodge, to shake out the metaphorical cobwebs. Since we “solita” women find cooking for one less than fun, someone would take the initiative, “Let’s go to Turner (or elsewhere) for a burger. I’ll drive.”

So it seemed natural, while back in Harlem, to revisit our favorite haunts.  

            When the train from Wolf Point pulled into Havre on a Sunday, my friends met me at the station. “Is there anything you want to do while we’re in Havre?”

“Murphy’s Pub, of course.”

            Have you any idea how yummy, how filling, how satisfying, how overlapping the boundaries of the plate a chicken fried steak can be. Especially when one has not eaten this traditional western meal in a couple years. Bring on the beef!  

            Monday afternoon our trio drove south to the Miner’s Club in Zortman for steaks. All I can say is that you can’t go wrong at this back country cafe. The food is good and the plains-to-mountains drive is spectacular any time of year. We have an embarrassing habit of missing our turn on the way home and detouring the longer scenic drive through Malta. Eagle-eyed, full of bravado and beef, we zigged and zagged our way across gravel roads until we hit the main highway home.

            Tuesday night we set our compass north to Kimber’s Border Bar in Turner. Kimber’s smile greeted us when we walked in the door, a mini-reunion. In leisure, we savored the atmosphere of the community gathering place along with cheeseburgers and onion rings.

            Wednesday we headed east to explore new territory, searching out a new barbeque place rumored to serve delicious ribs. On the edge of Malta, in a remodeled gas station, we found, not beef, but yummy ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. While we didn’t “bring on the beef” we had to remind ourselves that “variety is the spice of life”. That’s okay. We’d had cheeseburgers for lunch.  

            What can I say? When friends are out and about and having fun, cheeseburgers are good day or night. Thursday we topped off our evening with six-handed pinochle at Kennedy’s in Harlem. When five women and one token male, six-handed pinochle is a vicious game. We didn’t shed blood or break chairs over hard heads but we sure had fun.

            Friday night I drove west squinting through the smoke of surrounding fires back to Karen’s in Floweree. The song is accurate. Smoke gets in your eyes. Despite that minor irritation, my mouth was watering for the fresh garden vegetables which were bound to be the centerpiece of the meal. Karen is a Master Gardener. Guess what else she served! Yes, the ubiquitous cheeseburger!

            My praise for the veggies must have driven Karen to a repeat meal Saturday night, in entirety. Mmmm, cheeseburger, my less than enthusiastic response. A cheeseburger a day! Ditto Sunday. Well, the package was open and the meat had to be used. There’s gotta be a clichĂ© about a burger a day.

            Truly, I can reel off the names of memorable cheeseburger places throughout Montana. I savor the flavor (I like mine to moo!) of a juicy rare cheeseburger, drippings running down my chin. Same goes for steak or roasts or any other cut of cow.

            Come to think of it, when my plane arrived in Great Falls the first of August, Karen and I headed without hesitation to Eddie’s Supper Club for a campfire burger. Long ago, in the 60’s, when I was going to college, Eddie’s served the best burgers. While CGF has a new name, nothing has changed at Eddie’s.

            My theoretical wisdom tells me beef is better inland while seafood is best on the coast. At times in the past, I have ignored this advice to my gustatory detriment. What can I say? This month is all about beef.

            Come to think of it, I’ve feasted on a cut of cow every day of August, mostly cheeseburgers, some memorable. “Memorable” has several interpretations! North, south, east or west, I (sometimes with a deep breath and courage) ate my cheeseburger of the day. Four Cheeseburger Days left until September.

            While I’ve no beef with beef, I’ve spent the last year in Mazatlan where I ate fresh fruits, vegetables and fish. My digestive system yearns for the calendar page turn to September when I fly to Seattle. I’ll face plant into platters of salmon and halibut, mounds of succulent crab, buckets of clams. But I’ll be back.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

August 27, 2015

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