MSR Backcountry Cafe: Trail Treats, Part 1

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Story and Photos By Laurel Miller

Shoulder season may be over, but whatever outdoor pursuits you’re currently enjoying, you still need to eat.

There’s nothing wrong with traditional trail/slope snacks: I love jerky, GORP, and energy bars just as much as the next person. But sometimes, when you’re really busting your butt out there, it’s nice to up the ante a little bit and treat yourself- and others- to something special.

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I’ve compiled a list of my favorite backcountry treats. They’re easy, inexpensive (minus a bottle or two of boutique spirits), and provide the energy and inspiration to get you and your crew through the final push.

  • A chunk of sopressata or other dry-cured salami, dried figs, and a wedge of pecorino (Italian sheep’s milk cheese; try Pecorino Ginepro, rubbed in Balsamic vinegar and juniper berries, or a domestic cheese like peppercorn-studded Pepato, from Northern California’s Bellwether Farms.).
  • Spiced nuts, Vosges’ Mo’s Dark Chocolate Bacon Bar, and Bourbon

  • Panforte (available at Whole Foods and other markets, and specialty/cheese shops) or membrillo (quince paste) with Manchego cheese, and a bota bag (for authenticity) of Rioja
  • Dried apricots or peaches with honey- or maple-cured ham, dried Vella Jack or other sharp aged cheese, rye crackers, and whiskey (I like Old Forester).
  • Slather nut butter (expand your repertoire with cashew, pistachio, or coconut) on a slice of crusty baguette, and top with honey, good-quality preserves, or a slab of dark chocolate
  • Canned, wood-smoked salmon (try Crown Prince brand, or something from a local fishery, if you have access) on pumpernickel bread (Mestemacher is widely-available, doesn’t taste like sawdust, and comes in thin, pre-sliced blocks that stash well in a pack.)
  • Oil-packed sardines (look for versions marinated in garlic, herb, or lemon oil); enjoy with torn-off hunks of rustic bread, and dry-cured, marinated olives
  • Jarred, roasted piquillo peppers (transfer to a Tupperware and enclose in Ziploc) and oil-packed tuna (I love canned, imported albacore from Spain or Italy, which have a silky texture and rich flavor), layered atop pieces of hearty olive bread

    P. Peach Street Distillery
    P. Peach Street Distillery

Coming soon in Part 2: Edible (and quaffable) rewards for when you get back to the parking lot

Laurel Miller is a Colorado-based food and travel writer and cheese consultant, the co-author of Cheese for Dummies, and a contributing editor at culture: the word on cheese. She admits she could be perfectly happy with just a jar of peanut butter for company on a backpacking trip.

For more from Laurel Miller click here.

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