Our time in Wallace was nearly over. We experienced deep powder, amazing food and made new friends. But, there was one last thing to do before leaving town. We are meeting Ryder again this morning at his coffee shop 6th & Cedar for breakfast, which happens to be in the oldest brick building in Wallace. The ground floor is the espresso bar but Ryder was going to show us his upstairs ‘project’ as our final farewell before we head to McCall.
Like a Phoenix, the hotel & bar rise from the ashes
Above the café sits an old hotel and bar, closed for many years. Ryder saw this as an opportunity rather than an abandoned building. His next big project is to refurbish this once beautiful building back to its splendor. Just like his attention to detail with his custom boots, each room will have his ‘special’ touch.
Imagine… The main suite is decorated by a GRAND king size bed adorned with hand-tooled leather posts.The most exquisite detail you’ve ever seen. A one-of-a-kind decor complete with a solid copper tub. Below the hotel on the 2nd floor is a martini bar with an exterior wraparound balcony. Relaxing outside on a warm summer night, hearing the crickets chirp and sipping a beer, you look across the historic scenery surrounding you.
With a proposed opening in Summer 2018, we will be back to see Ryder’s vision become a reality and enjoy another beautiful historic renovation in Wallace.
An easy bake oven for Adults
Downstairs in the café, we grab a couple of breakfast sandwiches, cooked to perfection! How do they do it? Their secret weapon is an Otis Spunkmeyer oven, which can perfectly cook an egg, crisp the bacon and lightly toast the bagel. No microwave warm-ups at this coffee shop! With our appetites satisfied and coffee cups filled, the looming weather told us it was time to head out to our next destination – McCall.
Record breaking weather
Throughout the entire North American West, the weather’s been a roller coaster. From record breaking snows to historic warmth in places like Telluride CO, no one has been immune. During our travels from Wallace to McCall, we got a taste of that crazy weather. From rain to snain and sleet to snow, we saw a bit of everything. Fortunately, the windswept plains, deep river canyons and large peaks resembling the Eastern Sierra Nevadas, kept our interest peaked for the entire drive. The question was how did McCall fare from this last storm? Driving into town, the first thing we notice are the massive walls of snow on either side of the road. The snowpack looks a little beat up from the rain but up high, everyone’s reporting it’s all snow. The best part… The forecast’s calling for a full WEEK of snow ahead!
Ski Town USA!
The town of McCall is dubbed “Ski Town USA” and there’s truth to this statement. Most ski towns in North America are filled with hotel and restaurant chains. And sadly, even the ski resorts are owned by mega-corporations. Not McCall! It still holds the feeling of a true ski town, back in the 70’s. There is charm. Every store and lodging is a small business. The best part though is the resorts are still owned by people who LOVE to ski instead of just making a profit. Talk about my kind of place! If only the rest of America could be like this.
Hotel McCall – Our home for the next week
Right smack dab in the center of town is our lodging for the week, the Hotel McCall. Located on the banks of the frozen Payette Lake, it has been around in some form on its property since 1904. Remodeled and added to over the years, its charm and soul remain intact. For that hometown touch, they leave milk and freshly baked cookies in the lobby for you to enjoy after your day out-and-about. It’s these types of details you rarely see when it comes to staying at larger corporate places.
We come in like a hurricane
A little behind schedule from the weather (and McCall happens to be in a different timezone), we fly into the hotel like a whirlwind. Calmly greeted by Trish, we tell her that we’re late for our dinner at the Blue Moon Yurt! With a smiling face and upbeat attitude, she calms us down, gives us our snowshoes, and checks us in lickety-split quick. Wow! I don’t know if this is an Idaho thing, but it seems like everyone bends over backwards to make sure our stay is as painless as possible even when we’re the ones making the pain. We throw all our bags in the room, quickly change into some snow gear and sprint out the door.
Are we late?
Driving a few minutes down the road to Ponderosa State Park, we think we find our rendezvous spot. A plowed parking lot at the end of the road, we don’t see any signs but there are a few cars. We quickly strap on our snowshoes, grab our ski poles, and get ready. Are we late? Feeling a bit discombobulated, Lisa, the owner of the Blue Moon Yurt, greets us with open arms. She assures us we’re in fact right on time! Whew, that was a close one!
Follow the Tiki torches
Lisa slowly turns around and points to the lit tiki torches… “Follow the torches to the Yurt where Mark and Corinne will greet you.” As the sun sets, the evergreens begin to cast large shadows on our path as we do the snowshoe-shuffle to the Yurt. The peace of the outdoors plus the little bit of nip in the air slowly removes all the stress of getting here. Enjoying the mile long walk, we arrive at the Blue Moon Yurt in total darkness. It feels like a secret gathering that only a select few get to enjoy.
Charcoal’s the only way
Reaching the Yurt, we take off our snowshoes and meet Mark, the grill-master extraordinaire, on the front porch. We learn that in the summer he’s a whitewater rafting guide just outside Stanley ID, but today, he’s our grilling aficionado. Pulling off the top of the grill, he shows us the shrimp skewers glistening above the hot charcoal briquettes. Our mouth’s salivate at the sight and smell.
Mulled wine and a Hidey-Ho
Stepping into the yurt, the warmth of the wooden stove makes us quickly peel off our outer layers. Looking around, the only lighting in the interior is candles and gas lanterns. This natural glow adds an element of coziness. Sitting down at a lively table, Corrine hands us glasses of hot mulled wine. Sipping on the warm elixir of winter delight, Lisa welcomes everyone to the festivities. She highlights that ALL the food and flavors are made without electricity or any modern amenity found in a restaurant kitchen. She goes through what we’re about to taste and boy does it sound delicious! Lisa ends her welcoming speech that we should mingle and get to know everyone in the yurt.
New Friends & Complex Brie
We heed her advice once we grab some appetizers. First out – smoked brie stuffed with harissa and delicately grilled asparagus. Harissa is a spicy and aromatic chili paste, widely used in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. This spice brings the brie to another level and adds a tinge of ‘heat.’ Talking with our table mates, we learn they’re a group of ladies that meet up every year for a girls’ trip. And boy are they a HOOT! Laughing, joking, and enjoying ourselves, we get to know each other a bit better. Asking us if we’d like to try a glass of local wine, Colter’s Creek, we raise our glasses and say “Of course.” One word… WOW! The wine is fantastic. Complex and as good as any wine from California or Europe.
Vegetables aren’t just for rabbits
Our 2nd course arrives and it’s a light and refreshing salad. Covered in nuts that are crunchy and slightly sweet almost like they’re candied, the salad is finished off with pomegranate seeds. For anyone that hasn’t tried this fruit, their flavor is very delicate and can be overpowered by most other items. The Blue Moon Yurt crew makes sure that doesn’t happen.
Some like it sweet… Some like it hot
It’s mingling time. While we wait for the next course and full wine glasses in hand, we meet our fellow yurt goers. Come to find out several of the other diners grew up in Lake Tahoe – what a small world! They moved north to Idaho to get out of the crowds and into the wilderness. We haven’t skied around the McCall area yet but if it’s anything like the areas by Historic Wallace, we’re in for a treat.
As we sit back down, our next course arrives. A perfectly browned Cornish hen sits in the center of the plate, separating yin and yang looking sauces, reminiscent of a black and white cookie. Before disturbing the perfect harmony of sauces on my place, I pull off a piece of chicken and am blown away. It is the most tender, juicy fowl I’ve EVER had.
Exploring the dish further, I dip the chicken into the yin side and find it to be sweet while the yang side is spicy. Wow! A dish with opposing forces yet it works beautifully. Underneath the bird lies a bed of spiced, smashed sweet potatoes bringing the whole dish together. There are so many layers and flavors it’s just utterly shocking.
Nice to meet you, Stacey Cakes
Our final leg of this culinary adventure is the dessert. Lisa starts off with introducing Stacey Cakes as the confectionery genius behind our coming delight. With a wry smile she continues with, “When Stacey started baking, everyone else stopped.” Translation… She’s just that good so why should you even try? Not on our original itinerary, we HAD to check out the bakery while we’re here in McCall and see what other sweet wonders they have to offer.
As the delectable surprise arrived to our table, Lisa also let us know that Corinne, her assistant this evening, has started a new venture as well… She’s become the first coffee roaster in McCall. The coffee roastery is called North Fork Coffee Roasters and it complimented the dessert perfectly. The cake was creamy and fluffy on the inside like a mousse with a thin chocolate ganache exterior, giving you a little ‘crack’ and then a smooth spoonful of goodness. The freshly brewed coffee warmed us up to the perfect temperature, making this a bittersweet ending to a magical evening.
Is this what we’re in store for?
After finishing dessert, we said our thanks to the team and made sure we set up a tour of Corinne’s roastery later in the week. Snowshoeing back to the car in the pitch-black of night using only our head lamps to light the path, we tried to absorb the experience we just had. It was a crazy jam-packed day but worth every minute of it!