It's been a busy, busy time for me since that first little Salon one year ago last March. And now, just as the last Salon guests of the season have left, we're going to take a little break and give the Salon a bit of a rest and rejuvenation period as I head out, for the summer, to work with my good friend Ryan in Bozeman, Montana on his wood-fired pizza business, with which he brings some of the best pizza you'll eat to remote (not to mention stunning) locations all around Montana.
If you follow Food on the Dole on Facebook, you may have seen some photos of the operation from a trip I took out there a few years ago to help in much of the same way. Aside from being an outstanding chef, Ryan is the kind of guy that drives around Montana, tearing down dilapidated barns for ranchers in exchange for the wood and tin they are composed of--the sort of old wood that gets re-purposed into gorgeous things such as door frames and bookcases and hydraulic trailers for pizza ovens. Pretty normal. Actually no, it's not normal. It's pretty outstanding, and it's the kind of thing, when this city boy is around it, that makes me feel a tad bit inadequate as I haven't the foggiest notion of how to tear down a barn, much less build beautiful things out of it. But hey--I'll leave that part to Ryan and focus on the food myself.
Since my trip three years ago, Ryan has expanded the operation by obtaining a second oven and mounting it on a truck. And not just any truck. This is a 1954 Chevy on a tow truck frame. It looks amazing, and the goal with this big beauty is to be a presence at the farmers markets/music festivals/whatnot in the area. And that is where yours truly comes in.
So, despite the challenges and hard work laying ahead in the upcoming months, this sounds like a pretty sweet way to spend a summer. If you haven't been to Montana, do so, and learn exactly why it is called Big Sky Country. Somehow, the sky is just bigger there. I don't understand why, and I suppose I don't have to--but I'll surely enjoy the stars and air and everything else up there this summer. And, I (not-so) secretly have hopes that somehow, just somehow, I'll run in to my hero Jim Harrison, who happens to live down the road. Fingers crossed he doesn't shoot at me.
As for the Salon, she'll go on a break while I'm gone. Perhaps Ryan and I will run an underground dinner now and then out there, perhaps I'll even be able to pull a few Salons off as well. But rest easy knowing that I'll keep writing and reporting on the usual F.o.t.D. experiences while out there, and that the Salon shall continue upon my return to Chicago. Best wishes to everyone for a great summer wherever you may be, and keep reading Food on the Dole/following on Facebook/following on Twitter to see what sort of food, cooking and eating mis-adventures I get into underneath that big sky out there.