On the trail: Less visible treats of Yellowstone
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – I’ve fallen in love with Yellowstone National Park for all the right reasons: stunning scenery, fabulous hikes, mind-boggling geothermal features and buffalo up the wazoo (so to speak).
But I also love it for the huckleberry ice cream.
Growing up in the rather sheltered confines of rural northern Iowa, I never knew as a kid there was such a thing as a huckleberry. Sure, I knew about Huckleberry Hound from reruns of old cartoons, but figured that was just the work of the imagination of some twisted genius at the Hanna-Barbera cartoon factory.
My wife, daughter and I were convinced by a waitress at the restaurant at the Old Faithful Inn six years ago to try huckleberry ice cream for dessert. The baby blue delicacy hit the spot and we’ve indulged on two return trips, including last weekend. I love blueberries and, to me, huckleberry ice cream has a slightly less intense blueberry flavor.
We stayed at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel on Friday and Saturday nights and wisely followed a recommendation to book dinner reservations nine months in advance at the hotel’s first-class restaurant. The dining room in the hotel offers in-your-face views of the sprawling lake. We were lucky enough to be seated at a window table one of the nights.
I had duck on Friday and buffalo on Saturday, sticking with the wildlife theme of the weekend. (The menu assures diners that the buffalo comes from farm-raised animals, not the majestic beasts you stare at in the park all day.)
I’m not a huge foodie, but for those who appreciate the details of a good meal, the sauteed duck breast had a pear and ginger chutney and came with lemon garlic orzo and broccolini.
The grilled bison tenderloin was covered in brandy sauce with shaved truffles, accompanied by garlic mashers and broccolini.
Now for the important part. Friday night my daughter and I split a Yellowstone sundae, huckleberry ice cream with crumb cake, all topped with mixed berries.
Saturday night, all three of us dove into a Yellowstone Caldera – a warm chocolate truffle torte “with a molten middle,” and topped with huckleberry ice cream, of course. Yellowstone wouldn’t be the same without it.
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