Category Archives: Utah

‘Brewtah’ Now on Artisinal Beer Map

Seven Salt Lake City brewpubs to visit.

My earliest visits to Utah were in a time that was not appealing to those who enjoy adult beverages. Buying hard liquor was complicated and involved short-run membership in “private clubs,” beer was 3.2 and wine was rare. That was then, and this is now, and seven Salt Lake City brew pubs have been identified for their mastery of the brewing art in a hospitable city.

Avenues Proper  

Located in neighborhood, Avenues Proper has the feel of a neighborhood hangout and offers an extensive comfort food menu for lunch, dinner and brunch. Think General Tso’s pork belly tacos, a meatloaf sandwich or chicken and waffles, paired with an array of brews that have become local favorites, such as Brumblin’ Brown, Faultline IPA and Patersbier.

Desert Edge Brewery

Desert Edge was serving beer in historic Trolley Square as far back as 1972 and got into craft brewing in 1995. They been producing “session” beers long before it was cool. And their brews, such as Happy Valley Hefeweizen, Utah Pale Ale and Cluster Fuggle, have a strong core of devotees. The lunch and dinner menu is broad and casual, covering salads, sandwiches and Mexican fare.

Continue reading ‘Brewtah’ Now on Artisinal Beer Map

Jafflz: The Jackerwocky of Sandwiches

Retro South African pocket sandwiches with global fillings.

Jafflz-logoJafflz, created by Chef Meryl van der Merwe in Park City but with South African roots,  are pocket sandwiches with globally inspired flavors and a product name that could have been devised by Lewis Carroll.

The pocket is made two slices of bread (white, wheat, whatever) with a sweet or savory filling, placed in a “jaffle iron” and toasted. The crusts are cut off, creating  a pre-filled pocket. The iron embosses concentric circles on the top of the sandwich.

I don’t usually post about products that have no Colorado connection, but Jafflz come from Park City (and I have a fondness for ski towns). It is available at the seasonal Park Silly Sunday Market.  Currently, the only year-round location is at Park City’s Silver King Coffee/Jafflz EXPRESS at  1409 Kearns Boulevard,  435-333-5233; local delivery available. The menu  for this “convenient cuisine” that that additionally includes soupz, saladz and drinkz. Chef Meryl has ambitions for wider availability. In that case, I hope to try it even if I don’t soon get to Park City.

Coming Up: Two Celebrations of French Wine

Beaujolais and Burgundy this weekend.

BeaujolaisBeyond2014The 16th annual Beaujolais and Beyond Food & Wine Festival on Thursday, November 21 from 5:30 to 9:30 the McNichols Building in Denver’s Civic Center Park. The annual fundraiser for the Rocky Mountain French-American Chamber of Commerce is a French-themed event featuring 20 of Denver’s best restaurants pairing their cuisine with fine French wines. Participating chefs include Jesper Johnson of Randolph’s Restaurant & Bar, Bob Meyer of Luke’s A Steak Place, Michael Rosendal of The Modern Edge Events and Catering and Jean-Luc Vogele of the Westin Tabor Center. This direct scheduling conflict might explain the reason that Chef Voegele will not be at the Denver International Wine Festival’s Pairsine chef competition on Thursday. Other competitors are Pairsine are probably relieved that the formidable French chef will not be there this year. Cooking demos and live music. Tickets are $70 in advance and $80 at the door; FoMoInfo click here.

The fourth annual Boulder Burgundy Festival from November 21 through 23 is a rarified three-day celebration of Burgundy wines that includes tastings and seminars with winemakers and top U.S. wine directors, as well as wine dinners hosted by Boulder’s best restaurants. The fact that it is in Boulder speaks to the food and wine folks here that such an event would be held here. Credit goes to Master Sommelier Brett Zimmerman, owner of the Boulder Wine Merchant, and fellow Master Somm Bobby Stuckey, partner in Frasca Food & Wine, which is hosting one of the dinners. The event — seminars, dinners, Grand Tasting — is pricey and does tend to sell out. But I did want to make note of it here because it is that important.

Park City’s Summer Food & Wine Scene

Utah resort town’s eateries and  feast on Main Street.

ParkCity-logoThe only silly thing about Park City, Utah’s summer farmers’ market and more is the name. Occupying a good part of the old mining town-turned-resort town,  Park Silly Sunday Market (PSSM) is  dedicated to supporting non-profits, green initiatives, artists, performers, small businesses and naturally farmers. It features a changing group of vendors and events for adults an kids. Park Silly takes place every Sunday mid-June through September on Park City’s Historic Main Street. I believe the hours are 10. a.m. to 5 p.m. An outdoor event in Colorado with those hours would risk afternoon rains, but perhaps Utah’s mountain weather patterns are different.

The summer-long Park Silly Market is a farmers' market and so much more.
The summer-long Park Silly Market is a farmers’ market and so much more.

The most distinctive food event is Savor the Summit’s Grande Table on June 21 at 6 p.m. Giving new meaning to the phrase “street food”, one long dinner table along Main Street accommodates more than 1,500 diners to enjoy fabulous food, outdoor dining, live music and summer in the mountains. Guests make reservations with specific restaurants, each of which offers its own menu with or without beverages included. Click here for participating restaurants and links to reservations.

Tables set and the eager crowd in place for Savor the Summit, Park City's mega-dinner on Main Street.
Tables set and the eager crowd in place for Savor the Summit, Park City’s mega-dinner on Main Street.

Park City is a short drive from Salt Lake City and, for those coming from Colorado or elsewhere, a very few miles off Interstate 80.



Keeping Up with the Food & Bev Business

Online resource for biz news from the Rocky Mountain region.

CompanyWeek-logoSuch food and beverage producing businesses as wine-making, brewing, coffee roasting or making artisanal foods in Colorado and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain region are covered by Company Week, an online publishing operation that launched last summer but that I just learned about. With the decline of print publishing, this is a valuable resource for keeping up with news about and trends in the production of things we like to eat and drink. What I really like about the searchable website and the free weekly digital newsletter is that they highlight news from small, local entrepreneurial businesses. Print publishing veteran Bart Taylor helms Company Week.

Between the weeks of September 10 and March 10, Company Week’s Food & Beverage category profiled Crooked Stave (brewing), Polidori Sausage, Peach Street (distillery), Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Sushi Den (“equal parts manufacturing and art”), Zum XR (performance beverage), Epic Brewing Company, Patsy’s Candies, Fresca Foods, EVOL (burritos), Door to Door Organics, Good Belly (probiotics), Mile Hi Foods, Kitchen Coop, Boulder Soup Works, Ska Fabricating (brewing), High West Distillery, Two Rivers Winery & Chateau and White Girl Salsa.

The Lifestyle category as included posts from the making of longboards to mountain bikes, but also inexplicably such food and beverage enterprises as Epic Brewing Company and Growing Spaces (off-grid greenhouses for growing vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs of all sorts year-round, without the need for heating). Thanks to Bart Taylor for hiring Wendy Aiello, Denver public relations diva, for spreading the word on this valuable site. Click here to subscribe to the newsletter.

Locavoring in Utah

Utah chefs tap into locally grown and raised ingredients to elevate culinary scene

UtahsOwn-logoWhen people think of Utah, the food association is often stereotypical: a year’s worth of canned (often home-canned) foods in every Mormon home’s cellar, and such church supper specialties as tater tots and Jello salads leading the hit parade. But times have changed, and contemporary food is on the ascendancy in Utah — not yet at the peak, to be sure, but rising. In addition to local foods, and again contrary to long-held stereotypes, local distilleries and craft breweries are producing fine adult beverages in a state where purchasing alcohol was, in many places, so inconvenient that it was considered almost dry.

If you’re traveling to Utah to visit any or all of the state’s five magnificent national parks and other public lands and wish to ignore the over-abundant chain restaurants and fast fooderies that infest Utah cities, take the time to try some of the Beehive State’s freshest and “bestest.” Here are some restaurants suggested by the Utah Office of Tourism. Additionally, an initiative called Utah’s Own is devoted to the state’s artisanal foods, farmers’ markets and other local food resources. For more details about these restaurants, including addresses, phone contacts, hours and more, click on the desired restaurant name in boldface at the beginning of each paragraph.

Forage, Salt Lake City. This restaurant is known for bountiful fresh ingredients found and foraged in the region. Menu items change seasonally and include goods foraged in the wild foraged and sources from small farms and ranches.

Pago, Salt Lake City. Pago partners with local artisans and farms through a Restaurant Support Agriculture (RSA) agreement to obtain the freshest native meats and vegetables. The restaurant offers brunch, lunch and dinner in a setting of contemporary and Old World design aesthetics.

The Sky Lodge, Park City. This upscale resort has recently opened two new restaurants: Table One for fine dining and The Tavern as a more casual option. Both use locally sourced products including a family-owned cattle ranch that raises Angus cattle for renowned Niman Ranch, local artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, fresh-caught trout and Silver Bean Coffee.

Communal Restaurant, Provo. Provo is often called the Garden City because of its extensive fruit orchards and gardens. Communal Restaurant was founded as part of the Heirloom Restaurant Group, which focuses on buying local. It provides as many locally sourced, sustainable products as feasible, presented along a communal table that is reminiscent of an Old West bunkhouse or farmhand table. Hearty menu items include roasted winter squash with house-made sausage, crispy pork belly with pickled red onions and pan-seared Utah trout in slab bacon vinaigrette. 

Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm, Boulder.  Hell’s Backbone serves regional cuisine in the majestic setting of the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument. Menu items change weekly to reflect seasonal availability, while continually encompassing Western Range, Pueblo Indian and Southwestern flavors, showcasing fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, many of which are grown on its own on its six-acre organic farm. Preserves, jams, butter and chutney are produced and sold throughout the year.

The Rocking V Café, Kanab. Often called “Little Hollywood” for the many Westerns filmed there, Kanab has sensational scenery and a go-to eatery. The Rocking V Café serves “real American slow food” with a Southwest flair. Chef Dan Potter uses ghost chilies, tomatoes, corn, peppers and melons from the cafe’s own garden, plus fruit from its own peach and cherry trees.

Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa, Moab. With its petrified sandstone dunes, Moab is a picturesque Western town located on the eastern banks of the Colorado River. Last year, the resort’s River Grill Restaurant initiated a dedicated farm-to-plate program with 80 percent of all food purchases sourced from within 500 miles of the ranch. Fruits and vegetables come from the resort’s own gardens or are foraged from the 160-acre ranch. The restaurant also collaborates with Utah Artisan Foods for seasonal cheeses, baked goods and Utah honey. The creative locavore menu features items such as Utah buffalo short ribs, wild arugula and foraged dandelion salad, and artisan cheeses served with Utah’s best honey, apple butter and sundried cherries.

One place they missed is the North Creek Restaurant in Escalante’s Slot Canyon Inn. I wrote a blog post after dining there last year. The patios overlook pastures where cattle are graze on grass, ultimately producing the restaurant’s excellent steaks.

Escalante’s Good New Dinner Restaurant

The North Creek Grill brings dining — not just eating — to southern Utah town
Small American towns are not generally known for their food. Southern Utah is not generally known for their food. That makes the North Creek Grill in Escalante, Utah, twice remarkable, because Escalante is a very small town in southern Utah. Owners Adam and Kristen Rex, who opened this mom and pop restaurant not long ago, serve fine beef from their own cattle, specialty sourdough-crust pizzas, fresh salads and a bit more. Actually, they will really be mom and pop later this year, when their first baby comes into the world. Right now, their attention is focused on their seasonal rstaurant located in the family-owned Slot Canyons Inn. Go around the side of the inn entrance to find the restaurant.

The tiered outdoor dining patios that Adam himself constructed are beguiling on a summer evening when southern Utah’s searing summer heat finally cools off, and evenings are pleasant. Some tables provide excellent views of the pastures and rock cliffs. Cattle graze in the distance, and with luck, some wild animals will wander by. Other patios are half-hidden or secluded between stone walls.

Expansive views of pastures and distant cliffs from some of the North Creek Inn’s tables.

The menu is limited to a choice of three starters, a couple of salads, a selection of 12-inch pizzas baked in their outdoor pizza oven, variations on the theme of beef and a couple of desserts. Nothing is fancy, but everything is very good — something of a miracle when they must make a weekly excursion to St. George, a drive of several hours, to buy provisions. With a population of only about 850, Escalante is the largest community within a 70-mile radius — and I’ll bet the North Creek Grill serves the best dinners in a significantly wider radius than that. (Click below to see food photos.) Continue reading Escalante’s Good New Dinner Restaurant