Food as art (and in a terrarium) at the exclusive Green o in Montana

Food as art (and in a terrarium) at the exclusive Green o in Montana

social haus at the Green O

Guests of the Green O at Paws Up in Montana eat meals at the Social Haus. Pam LeBlanc photo

If food were art, I just worked my way through the Louvre, nine paintings at a time.

Over three nights tucked in the woodsy chic world of Paws Up in Montana, a place where well-heeled families and couples looking for a romantic escape fill their days fly fishing, aiming shotguns at neon-orange sporting clays, and trying their hand at moving a herd of cattle from one pasture to another, I ate some of the most beautiful food of my life.

The Green o: A romantic, adults-only retreat

the Green o

I sizzled a thin strip of pork belly on a hot rock during one evening’s nine-course meal. Pam LeBlanc photo

The green o is the newest corner of the 37,000-acre resort that opened in 2005 on a former sheep ranch in western Montana. Unlike other sections of the resort, the Green o (named for the green circle that the rancher, whose last name was Greenough, painted on his livestock) is adults only. Guests stay in modern treehouses or sleek glass and metal homes nestled among swaying pines.

I’m no foodie, but the food was other worldly, from the rhubarb and chamomile ice cream sandwich waiting in my cabin’s mini-fridge when I arrived, to the homemade potato chips and dip with caviar I nibbled at lunch to the nine-course meals I tossed back each night at the property’s Social Haus.

the green o

One course of a nine-course dinner at the Green O is called the terrarium. Pam LeBlanc photo


Lift off the glass dome of the terrarium to find a tiny garden of fresh baby vegetables. Pam LeBlanc photo

Beets weren’t just boiled pink orbs, they were chopped, mixed with local flathead cherries, infused with something that tasted vaguely like a campfire (in a good way) and formed into diamond-shaped filets. I ate gorgeous mushrooms and venison and pheasant brined for 48 hours and served with sunchokes. I tasted fennel and a frozen palate cleanser made with gin, tarragon, and green tapioca. I grilled a thin strip of pork belly on a sizzling hot river rock. One memorable dish, called a terrarium, arrived in a mist-filled glass dome that, when lifted, revealed a cluster of tiny carrots and radishes and purple onions buried in a layer of bright green basil puree the color of fresh moss, over a layer of pureed kohlrabi.

The mysterious menu at the Green o

the green o crudite

The Green O at Paws Up in Montana serves food that is as creative and beautiful as it is tasty. Everything in this terra cotta pot was edible. Pam LeBlanc photo

The menu, delivered on a sheet of stiff, bone-colored stock, always oozed mystery. One course of last night’s meal read, simply, “crudité.” That didn’t prepare me for what the server slid in front onto the table. It looked more like something you’d pick out at the neighborhood nursery than what you’d eat at an exclusive restaurant.

A miniature farm’s worth of leafy greens billowed from a terra cotta pot. But everything – save the clay vessel – the chef assured me, was edible. I zeroed in on a tender shoot and plucked it gently forth, like a farmer harvesting the evening crop. A tiny carrot emerged from the soil, along with a bit of soil – a crumbly brown mixture of toasted hazel nuts (a thing here, I’m told), chicory and roasted onion ash.

I popped it in my mouth. Like almost everything else here, it blew me away.

Food, as art. I’m a fan.

About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam

She drove us to a trailhead 9 years ago, last week we met for tea in Bozeman

She drove us to a trailhead 9 years ago, last week we met for tea in Bozeman

Pam LeBlanc and Jenny Dalimata pose outside a coffee shop in Bozeman. Dalimata shuttled Pam and five other hikers to a remote area of the park in 2010. Chris LeBlanc photo

In 2010, I backpacked the Northern Traverse at Glacier National Park with my husband and four other friends.

When we got to the park, we needed a way to get to the trailhead, located in the remote northwest corner of Glacier not served by shuttles.

That’s how we found Jenny Dalimata. We found her at a restaurant where she was waiting tables in West Glacier. She seemed nice, so we gave her $100 bucks to drive us in our rental car to the trailhead and return it to a more centrally located parking lot. We crossed our fingers that she wouldn’t disappear, but we were pretty sure it would work out fine.

It did, of course. We got a friendly ride to the trailhead and we got the car back in the end.

Jenny and I have stayed in touch via social media since then. She’s an amazing athlete, who spends lots of time skiing, hiking and trail running in and around Glacier. She and her seven brothers grew up just outside of the park, and she “ran wild” as a kid.

When I headed back to Glacier this year, I tracked her down, and we met at a coffee shop in Bozeman before I caught my flight back to Austin. She still remembers that my backpacking buddies and I all ordered grilled salmon and huckleberry pie the night we met – and did it again after we finished our 65-mile trek.

“When you came out (of the back country) you were like ‘I’ll have another,’” she says.

Pam stands at the entrance of Glacier National Park in July 2019.

These days, Jenny routinely makes a 30- to 50-mile runs through the park and other wilderness areas around Montana for fun and stress relief.

Since it’s grizzly country, she carries bear spray – and three times she’s had to deploy it, once when a grizzly bear charged her. (No worries, the griz spun and fled when she deployed.) Another time, while snow camping in the winter, she saw a wolverine near Lake Josephine.

That never happens on Austin trails, although I did meet a tiny black bear while trail running at Big Bend National Park one morning a few years ago.

The trails at Glacier, Jenny says, are pristine, nicely graded and well maintained, perfect for trail running.

“My heart lives there,” she says. “It’s powerful for me to be there.”

We shared tea and chatted about where our lives have taken us.

The thing about travel that makes it so special is the people you meet along the way. The randomness of who you cross paths with always amazes me. We met Jenny over salmon and pie, and 10 years later we saw each other again.

And I know I’ll see her the next time I get back to Montana.


About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam