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 & 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!