Land Of Opportunity
These three fantastic local businesses each fill a special niche, enriching life here in the Flathead.
Meg Blakney from Dan D’ Lion
Dan D’LION: A CUT ABOVE THE REST
After successfully opening the doors to Hungry Horse’s sole plant-based restaurant, Meg Blakney is on a mission to bring tasty, allergen-free bread alternatives to a grocery store near you.
“We decided to open up a place where people with dietary restrictions could feel safe eating,” Blakney said of Dan d’Lion. The eatery boasts veggie-forward offerings like a zucchini walnut burger and avocado caesar salad. The culinary entrepreneur also wanted the cafe to serve as a proving ground for products she hopes to pitch to larger grocers, the first being her gluten-free pizza crusts.
“Gluten-free baking is a whole different animal,” Blakney noted. “You can’t just substitute gluten-free flours one-to-one.” To make something truly exceptional she married a variety of wheat flour substitutes including brown and white rice flours, potato, and tapioca, along with olive oil and applesauce to hold all the ingredients together.
In the early days of her crust production, Blakney could only bake about 20 every four hours.
“I couldn’t afford to buy more pizza pans at the time,” she recalled. But demand has since soared and she now churns out upwards of 300 in the same timeframe.
Her crusts, sold under the label Earth Angel Organics, can be found locally at The Farmers’ Stand in Whitefish, Max’s Market in Bigfork, Glacier Grill in Coram and North Fork Pizza in Columbia Falls. Customers can also purchase from Dan d’Lion directly, even when the shop is closed over the winter season, by calling Blakney at (406) 260-6654.
Blakney said that her gluten-free pizza crusts are just the beginning. This winter will also see the launch of cassava flour tortillas and gluten-free burger buns.
“The employees are buying them to take home,” she said. “They love it so much.”
To see what’s on the menu, visit https://www.earthangelorganicsmt.com/
Sean Hard, Brooke Bohannon, Rebecca Ulizio, Tod Ulizio from The Farmers’ Stand
THE FARMERS’ STAND: TAKING A STAND FOR FOOD DONE RIGHT
Twenty-five Montana producers are represented on the shelves at The Farmers’ Stand, a small organic market with a big vision to bring organic food to the Flathead Valley year-round.
The store is owned and operated by a team of local farmers, Todd and Rebecca Ulizio of Two Bear Farm and Sean Hard and Brooke Bohannon of Wicked Good Produce. The couples are bringing their produce to the people – along with beef, pork, grains and more from other regional producers.
“We want to have nutritious food that doesn’t have agricultural chemicals in it, we want to have fair labor,” Ulizio explained. “Everything we do, we pay attention to the sourcing, where it’s coming from.”
Their emphasis on quality and transparency extends to the shop’s grab-and-go offerings, which chef Lynon Lohof makes from scratch using regional organic ingredients. Menu highlights include a local grain bowl, the curried chickpea salad sandwich, and salted dark chocolate chip cookies.
One of Ulizio’s favorite lunch options is The Lake Invader sandwich, made with lake trout instead of the traditional tuna, on an organic bun from Whitefish’s Wich Haus.
The trout comes from Native Fish Keepers, a tribally owned nonprofit that is working to reduce this invasive species by fishing them from local waters and selling their catch to area restaurants.
“You have this creative, delicious new sandwich that also has a lot of really cool values behind it,” Ulizio said. “Our goal is pretty simple: get people really good food. But there’s so much behind it.”
Visit their location in Whitefish near Super One
Sarah Broussard from Rebecca Farms
REBECCA FARMS: A WORLD-CLASS EVENT THAT GIVES BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
Every summer hundreds of competitors arrive in the Flathead Valley from across the United States and Canada, towing their horse trailers and dreaming of excellence in the three categories of eventing: dressage, cross country, and show jumping. The Event at Rebecca Farms is the only competition in Montana where equestrians can earn points on the international circuit, but that’s not the only reason it has become a popular equestrian destination.
“We have really good earth. The footing is really good, and that’s really important when it comes to the sport. Some people won’t run the upper levels [of competition] on hard ground,” explains Sarah Broussard, daughter of Rebecca Farms founders Rebecca and Jerome Broussard. “We do a lot of work prepping the footing, and the riders really appreciate that. It’s a very wide-open galloping course, which the horses really like.”
It’s also an excellent course for spectators, with few trees and elevation that provides great views of most of the competition.
In addition to The Event’s outstanding reputation in the equestrian community, Broussard is proud of the good Rebecca Farms has been able to do with its charitable organization, Halt Cancer at X. Named for a dressage term, “halt at X,” the nonprofit has distributed almost $1 million over the past 11 years. The funds come in partly from parking donations at The Event and go towards cancer research, as well as from local organizations supporting cancer patients, including the northwest Montana chapter of Chicks n Chaps, Save a Sister, Wings Regional Cancer Support, and Flathead Cancer Aid.
To learn more about Rebecca Farms & their events, visit their website at https://www.rebeccafarm.org/
Photos: Mandy Mohler
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