By Rachel Hergett EBS COLUMNIST
I was at my mom’s house for dinner when I received an email with my tickets to Savor Big Sky, Big Sky Resort’s inaugural food, wine and spirits festival.
“Who are you taking with you?” my mom asked, then promptly cleared her schedule for the Grand Tasting on Saturday.
I had a chuckle at her tenacity and consented to the mother-daughter date. As a caregiver for her own now nonagenarian mother, my mother doesn’t get out much. And as my mother, the person most responsible for my own foodie tendencies, one might be able to guess that staying in is a bit hard on her. I was happy to have her along.
Savor Big Sky featured a series of events over the course of four days from June 29 to July 2. Aside from the Grand Tasting, chefs and local purveyors contributed to hike and lunch adventures, wine pairings, farm-to-table dinners, champagne brunches and more. Thinking about it all has me drooling.
The Grand Tasting, according to a Big Sky Resort press release, was the heart of the weekend food festival, with more than 30 wineries, breweries and distilleries offering tastings along with small bites from area chefs. At the entrance, IDs were checked and our QR codes exchanged for ribbon wristbands. We were handed souvenir wine glasses with the event logo and plates that fit around the stems.
I wandered through the booths, standing in line for the small bites while mom perused the wineries and wine distributors. Bottled Smart Water at the entrance and in small troughs at bar-height tables scattered throughout the venue was much appreciated, as was a station that featured a rotating selection of fruit-infused water.
I found friends — old colleagues I have not seen enough of lately. I found a couple wines that I adored, namely the 2019 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Piattelli Vineyards and the 2020 Tannat Reserva from Bodega Garzón, a winery in Uruguay where tannat is considered the national grape. I heckled my friends in the band, Tsunami Funk.
I tried delectable bites like a ravioli with local mushrooms from Montage Big Sky and a bao bun from Bozeman-based noodle company Noodsss. I huddled under the Noodsss tent when a short downpour hit, thankful for the event information email that included a reminder to pack layers and rain gear for the unpredictable mountain weather.
As I write this, I am reminded that I stuffed one of my raincoat pockets with gluten-free truffles and cookies from Thorn Apple Baking Co., a bakery specializing in goodies for people with all types of dietary restrictions that opened in Big Sky earlier this year.
I kept being drawn back to the Buck’s T-4 booth, which offered a somewhat magical, though inconspicuous, vegetarian option, cubes of honey roasted carrots and tiny segments of blood orange coated in both marinated quinoa (for flavor) and crispy quinoa (for crunch) atop a curry-infused yogurt.
Dry Hills Distillery mixologists filled my wine glass with a brown derby, one of my favorite cocktails. And I tried the blanco and reposado tequilas from 406 Agave, lamenting that the añejo had yet to arrive from Jalisco, Mexico. The display bottle, I was informed, was sadly filled with brown water.
Maybe I had too much fun. I didn’t take notes on each chef and their offerings (though I did try them). I didn’t have my journalist hat on and instead leaned into the event as any other attendee. I ate and drank. I talked and laughed. I had a grand time.
On the drive home, my mom commented that the event marked her first tasting since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives, and boy had she missed them.
So thank you, Big Sky, for reminding us what it is to gather, to savor.