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Escape to a Mountainside Retreat in Missoula at Blue Mountain B&B

September 10, 2014

After a relaxing two days in Whitefish, we headed back to Missoula for a few days at the Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast. You literally feel like you are heading into the woods as you travel up their mile long drive. Nestled on the mountainside among majestic ponderosa pines and meditative water gardens, Brady and Elaine Anderson-Wood have created a tranquil romantic getaway just minutes away from downtown Missoula. The Inn and gardens offer a breathtaking, birds-eye view of the Bitterroot River, surrounding mountains and valley below, including part of the historic Lewis and Clark Trail.

We stayed in the Rose Room, which had a queen-sized sleigh bed with pillow-top mattress, private bath with jetted tub/shower combination and a peaceful outdoor deck. The Rose Room overlooks the entryway garden, which from spring to fall is in bloom with lovely shrub and wild roses, iris, honeysuckle and other flowers. The deck is adjoined by the hillside and is particularly beautiful during spring when the fragrant syringa bushes bloom and wild flowers blanket the ground. If you love Victorian style, you will be right at home in the Rose Room with rosy-granite tile, rich area rugs and antiques, books, and decor that include family heirlooms as well as European travel memories. They are also implementing many ecofriendly initiatives such as shampoo, body wash and lotion dispensers in the rooms; using organic cleaners and have switched over to all LED lighting. The B&B was built from reclaimed wood from the hill it stands on to preserve the natural surroundings.

That night we ventured into downtown Missoula and had dinner at the Red Bird. When you check in to the Red Bird in the Florence Building, you step back in time. The 1930s/40s opulence abounds here. You are taken back behind the curtain to a hidden dining room that is very small and intimate. There is gold and blue wallpaper and a large retro chandelier in the center of the room. Every table or booth has large pillows adding to the luxury. There is a French feel to the service – in that you aren’t rushed in eating. You are encouraged to enjoy the food. The Red Bird believes in serving sustainably grown fresh foods & the menu changes frequently to reflect the wide variety of seasonal foods available regionally. We tried the poached pear and roquefurt salad with mixed greens, cucumber and roasted pistachio and toasted fennel seed vinaigrette which was a perfect blend of sweet and savory. The grilled octopus was tender and flavorful served with cucumber, green onion, tomato, radish, red fresno chilis, herbs, greens, and lemon-ginger vinaigrette. For entrees we had the oven braised halibut with asparagus, risotto, spring vegetables: cauliflower, tomato, squash, and zucchini. The veggies were so fresh and crisp, you know they were just picked and paired perfectly with the fish. The pan seared pork loin, served with sunchoke-yukon gold potato gratin, madeira mushroom jus, and spring veggies was a delicious blend of flavors. The dining experience here was fantastic and we will definitely be back.

The next morning Brady made us a wonderful breakfast of asparagus gratin and blueberry scones, which was just what we needed before our 2 hour hike out to Bass Creek. Although many of the trails around Missoula can be crowded with college students as the campus is so centrally located to the mountains, we found Bass Creek to be very secluded and only passed one other couple. The trail follows a beautiful, bubbling creek up into the mountain and is very peaceful.

Back in town after our hike we found a great little spot for lunch called Caffé Dolce. A beautiful and elegant neighborhood restaurant, the building was built to spec and the owners left no detail untouched. The mural on the ceiling was designed and painted by an Italian artist who came from Italy just to do the project. The food was as fantastic as the décor with a seasonal menu based on a Mediterranean theme. Their iron grilled sandwiches were fantastic and we tried the Grilled Veg with red peppers, spinach, portabella mushrooms, roasted garlic puree, olive tapenade & roasted tomato aioli on house made focaccia and the Roasted Turkey Provolone with natural turkey breast with tomato & greens, finished with dijon & mayo on whole grain. They pride themselves on having an intimate relationship with the neighborhood and Kirsi Marcus the GM told me that some patrons come in 4-5 times per week. That’s a great testimony to the quality of the food and service. There are also some great Old World wines on the menu and they offer a weekly wine class for the staff and public.

I certainly did not expect Missoula to have the foodie scene that it does, but we kept finding one great restaurant after another. Our last night we ate at one of the most unique places I’ve been to in a long time – The Silk Road. With a tagline of “A global tasting experience” – I knew we were in for a treat! The menu offers delicacies from all over the world including Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

We tried the Fattoush with grilled zucchini & scallions tossed with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, crispy chickpeas, Dukkah & sumac-yogurt vinaigrette over Za’atar-grilled pita (EGYPT); the Seasonal Mushroom Saute in garlic, sherry, butter & fresh herbs with crispy leeks served on grilled bread (FRANCE); the Mchuzi Wa Samaki an African fish stew in coconut broth with pomegranate syrup, caramelized onions & sun blushed tomatoes (EAST AFRICA); and the Ethiopian Bbq Wrap with smoked country-style pork on a flour tortilla with melted gouda, topped with fresh coleslaw drizzled in Berbere-yogurt dressing (ETHIOPIA). The melding of flavors of all of these dishes was very Ayurvedic inspired and even though it seemed like a lot of food, you left feeling satiated but not stuffed. We even had room for dessert and be sure not to miss the Mexican Chocolate Torte with cinnamon & almond infused flourless dark chocolate cake with a hint of red chile, topped with coffee liquer-whipped cream (MEXICO).

We left Missoula wondering if it just might be the best kept secret and will surely be back!

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