Archive for the ‘food’ Category
6055 S 900 E
Murray UT 84107
This is a second location, the first being in Midway. Although they’ve only been open a few days, it’s clear that this is a cafe that is about doing a few simple things, centered around a wood-fired oven and the owner’s farm-raised cheese, and doing them very well.
First up for us was a fried egg and bacon bagel sandwich. The star here was the fresh, scratch made bagels. We had our sandwich on an asiago topped one, but they have a full variety of flavors. The texture of the bagel was definitely lighter and more airy than any I’ve had before, though it stood up nicely as a platform for the fillings. If I had a single quibble with the meal it’s that I’d have loved the fried egg on the sandwich with a runny yolk, as it would have provided a bit of sauce for a sandwich that was otherwise a tad dry.
The main event for us was a roasted mushroom pizza. In a world of Pizzeria-712-puce-Himilayan-salt-roasted-corn-and-kumquat pizza, nobody will mistake these for innovative. Instead, they are simple, traditional, and executed extremely well. Perfect char on the bottom of the crust, good chew, and all the crisp bits that indicate a perfectly cooked pizza in a very hot wood-fired oven. Although we added some roasted sausage to ours and removed the gorgonzola because my wife dislikes it intensely and thus didn’t have their stock version of this menu item, the flavor combinations here were elegant. I appreciated most of all how well handled the rosemary was. That tends to be one of those herbs that can quickly overpower a dish and make all the ingredients taste like they were dragged roughly across the floor of a pine forest. Here, though, the touch was light and provided a nice counterpoint to the earthy mushrooms.
Between our pizza and dessert, we were offered tastes of various cheese from the owner’s farm. My advice: indulge here a bit and enjoy the flavors coming from Duvall Farms. There’s a beautiful cheese tasting to be had just comparing the various kinds of cow or goat milk cheese flavors that can be coaxed from a single farm’s output. My favorite was a harder cows milk Young Tomme. There were eight being offered for purchase by the ounce, and we grabbed a few ounces to go.
They offer cheesecake, ice cream, and gelato for dessert. We opted for some pistachio gelato, which my wife decided was her favorite pistachio that she’d ever had.
I suspect given how close this is to us and that the prices are fair bordering on inexpensive, we’ll be exploring that pizza menu quite a lot in the coming days. It’s nice to have a place nearby that can do a nicely charred crust.
The Food and Wine Festival at Epcot at Disney World is a long-time favorite vacation for me. I couldn’t be more excited, therefore, to discover that Salt Lake City now has its own version of all the good parts of those Epcot trips. By which I mean, I get to wander around, tasting small plates of amazing food, pretending that the walk between each plate is helping to burn off the calories, and eventually becoming very, very full.
Tastemakers is Salt Lake Magazine’s showcase of local culinary talent. Held at the Gallivan Center, it consists of a collection of 14 local restaurants and food providers collected in tents, each offering bites for your sampling pleasure. Also included in the $30 passport price is the opportunity to stroll to an additional 10 restaurants near Gallivan for a bite served on their home turf. Live music and potables for purchase round out the offerings.
We had extremely limited time last night and so focused on the food that was available at Gallivan. Among them, the Churrasco Flank Steak with chimichurri and horseradish mashed potatoes from Texas de Brazil and the Black Garlic Tortellini with wild mushroom, black truffle, and roasted bone marrow cream from Silver in Park City were the two standouts.
Considering that plates at my Epcot festival cost $3 and that the price per offering here is just over $1, that $30 passport is kind of a steal. I’m headed downtown this evening to eat live ebi at Naked Fish, a tenderloin filet slider at Ruth’s Chris, a bite from my established favorite Oh Mai, and some Wild Boar Bolognese at New Yorker.
I had such an amazing evening judging this. Thanks again to Caputo’s for the invitation. My fellow judges couldn’t have been more personable and welcoming. I felt so honored to sit with them.
Oh Mai Vietnamese Sandwich Kitchen
3425 S. State St.
6093 S. Highland Dr.
It’s a joyful thing when a local business becomes a regular haunt because they make consistent, amazing product.
Oh Mai has become one of those for me. It’s a rare week that I’m not there twice buying two sandwiches at each visit. I eat one for whatever meal I’m servicing at the time, and put one in the fridge for the next day. It’s immediately a better day if I wake up and remember that there’s Oh Mai waiting for me in the chill chest for lunch.
My family loves it, too. I get sandwiches, my wife is stuck on pho. My daughter devours the Mai Roll, expertly gutting them for the shrimp, and then slowly deconstructing them from there. My mom goes there constantly, too.
Their newest creation is the chicken shiu mai, a chicken meatball sandwich. As is the norm for their food, it’s a complex dish. The ethereally tender meatballs swim in a delicious, dark red tomato-based sauce and are topped with a dark soy sauce that, when I first opened the little to-go container to assemble my sandwich and took my first whiff, smelled almost like chocolate. Add to that the usual cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, and jalapeno and you have a really fantastic feast.
Oh Mai sandwiches all exist on a spectrum between fairly clean like the S2 roast pork, and a dripping, delicious mess like the S12 brisket pho. This newest sandwich, due to the combination of sauces, is definitely on the messy end of things. I was glad that I got mine packed with the sauces and vegetation on the side. Eating it there wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
It takes a lot to break me out of my usual “S2 and S5 with extra pickled vegetables” habit when it comes to Oh Mai, but I’m already looking forward to tonight’s chicken shiu mai special.
Caputo’s is holding a competition among three local pastry chefs who will all be using Valrhona Chocolate’s new Dulcey blond chocolate in their creations. Details here:
It appears that the event is now sold out, but I’m excited that I’ll be joining Viet Pham of Forage, Ryan Lowder of Copper Onion, and Takashi Gibo of Takashi on the judging panel. I’m a big fan of all three of their restaurants, and can’t wait to see what impressive secrets this new Dulcey holds.
Pop Up Pantry
717 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Summary: The food is really good, with about as many misses as your above-average restaurant meal and some high points that meet or exceed most of them. Shipping was initially troublesome but appears to be sorted out. Overall, this is a really impressive service at a price comparable to that you’d pay for an evening out.
Full disclosure: I was contacted by Pop-Up Pantry and offered an invitation to an evening they were holding in LA. Because I wasn’t going to be in town, they kindly offered to let me try the service on them instead.
Pop Up Pantry delivers three-course, restaurant style food created by well-known chefs to your door. It arrives frozen, for the most part requiring either a large pot of boiling water or an oven to prepare. None of the menus I tried took longer to get ready to eat than 30 minutes from the moment the water boiled to sitting down at the table.
Choucroute garnie with braised red cabbage with apples, flammekueche, pear almond tartlet
The main was a great mix of hearty German winter fare including a tender slice of pork roast, beautifully seared brat, and a boiled potato. The cabbage was heavy on the apple cider vinegar, but worked well with the mains to cut the fat and add a bit of brightness. The flammekueche, a thin Alsatian tart with creme fraiche and ham lardons, was a tasty starter and the pear almond tartlet for dessert was beyond delicious. This menu was by far our favorite overall.
Wild boar ragu with truffled polenta, asparagus salad with crispy pancetta, rosemary olive oil cake
The main was transcendent – fall-apart tender boar in a slightly spicy, unctuous sauce. The truffled polenta had just enough of that distinctive earthy truffle flavor to stand out from the boar but complement it well. Thinking about the dish, I wish I had more right now. On the other end of the spectrum, the asparagus salad was limp and nearly flavorless, mostly due to a lot of vegetation unthawing and dumping water into the dish. The rosemary olive oil cake with lemon glaze was fine, though nothing outstanding.
Hoisin ginger braised shortribs with star anise congee, warm asparagus salad, coconut sesame bread pudding
The main was tender and well cooked, if a bit lacking in the advertised hoisin and ginger flavor. The starch was pretty awful, gloppy and tasteless. The salad was not terrible, and was by far the better of the two asparagus salads, but still nothing to write home about. The coconut sesame bread pudding was pretty bland and mushy, though I will admit to being a real snob about bread pudding, either loving or hating them without much middle ground.
I don’t know what trick of perspective is involved, but when I was pulling each meal out of its shipping cooler, my first reaction was that it didn’t look like very much food and that I might need to make something to make a meal of it all. And in each case, once it was all plated and served, the portions turn out to be generous and filling.
Basically, this service trades the convenience of being at home but having to reheat and plate the food for convenience of having to drag yourself to a restaurant, pay for parking and a babysitter, to have everything prepared and cleaned up for you. Speaking of prep, it’s all very simple. If you can boil water and heat an oven, you’re pretty golden. Not all the instructions make equal sense or even work, though. For instance, the German food contained a packet with some mustard and pickles. Prep instructions said to leave the packet on the counter to thaw while the rest of the meal cooked. I’m not sure in what universe a pickle that’s frozen solid would thaw at room temperature in 20 minutes, but it’s not this one. Even with my intervening and cutting it up after about 10, we ended up eating a picklesicle.
Had I paid the same cost or a bit less for similar food, I’d have been pretty happy. Add in the convenience of it coming to me, and this business has a real winner of a concept. It’s a perfect service for a person with a budding interest in food that doesn’t want the hassle of tramping all across town to sample great food.
I find that as I browse menus, there are often one or two items in a particular menu that sound great and one that doesn’t appeal. In my perfect world, I’d get a pick list where I could substitute in a dessert – the most frequent offender of my interest – that I might not be interested in for another that I know I’ll love.
I’d also love to see a customer rating system on their site. It would make the selection process feel less daunting and blind.
It seems worth mentioning some shipping trouble that I had, both since it describes a potential issue with the service, but also how impressively the Pop Up Pantry service staff were at correcting and compensating for mistakes.
I scheduled the first delivery for a Friday and got a confirmation of the order, but no tracking information. On 5pm the day of the expected delivery, I called to see if there was a problem. It turned out there was – the order had never been shipped, though I’d heard nothing about it until I called. They apologized profusely and rescheduled me for the following Wednesday after giving me a credit for my inconvenience.
I didn’t receive a confirmation email of the change or tracking information for the second attempt either. I called the day of the delivery early to check on the status, and the same problems were going on. The service Escoffier mentioned that the Masterchef meal that I’d ordered was coming from a satellite location that was having trouble in general. He refunded the order, added an additional credit for two full dinners, and recommended that I make a different selection. When I mentioned that I would do so, but that was I slightly disappointed in having to switch because I was excited to try the bourbon pecan bacon tart, he added that dessert to my order for free.
What could they have done better? Open communication would have taken care of most of the trouble. After the first missed shipment, my knowing that there was a problem with the shipper and facility creating the food might have led me to make another meal choice. There also needs to be some way of setting an alert for shipments that are scheduled but do not go out so that those customers can be alerted and arrangements made. Both times I had to reach out to resolve a problem that it feels like Pop-Up Pantry should have been aware of, but clearly were not.
That said, it’s refreshing to deal with a company who realizes that lapses in service deserve compensation, especially when the service in question is a bit of a luxury. While the initial responses may have left a bit to desire, the disposition of the entire shipping experience was a net positive for me.
The final shipment went off without a hitch, as did the subsequent one. It seems that whatever problems might have existed have been handled now.
2121 S. McClelland Suite 101
SLC, UT 84106
It’s a marketing truism that your messaging works best when it hits one note solidly rather than many notes all over the scale. It’s interesting to see a business, then, that has chosen to focus so squarely on flavor and yet managed to hit another more timely one: value.
Granted, it’s easy to say that when your food comes free via a Yelp event. So, full disclosure, I didn’t pay anything for my food last night. That said, I won’t mind paying the prices that The Habit is asking for their food. At $2.95 for a generously sized burger, the cost seems more than fair. More ridiculous in the favor of the customer is a seared tuna sandwich with fish imported from Fiji several times a week for $6.25.
The flavors were great with the chargrilled note at the front of all the protein. My favorite was a BBQ bacon burger which has a substantial amount of bacon on it.
The Habit is an import from Southern California that has been around since 1969. This Sugarhouse location, which opens officially tomorrow, is their first in Utah, with another two currently in the works. With a beautiful appointed interior, solid food, and prices that rival all but the most styrofoam of burger purveyors, it’s hard to imagine how they won’t hit with the Utah audience.
various locations throughout the valley – http://www.chowtruck.com
I have many hopes for the future. Balanced budgets, a sane health care system, peace in the world, all over the world.
One hope trumps them all right now, though. And that hope is that SuAn Chow decides to make the current shrimp bahn mi slider with garlic ginger aioli & pickled radish special a permanent part of the menu. It would put to rest forever what my go-to at Chow Truck should be. One of these and an order of calamari and I’d be set in perpetuity.
The panko-encrusted shrimp is cooked perfectly. It’s tender, moist, and rather generous in portion so that it doesn’t get lost in the slider bun and all the rest of the sandwich fillings.
A shrimp slider of some sort has graced the specials menu many times in the past. This is, by far, the best of the lot, and mostly because of some beautifully balanced pickled radishes and carrots. The sandwich also hits another common bahn mi note with some julienne cucumber.
Subbing in for the usual pate and mayo is a devilishly delicious garlic ginger aioli. I’ll admit that I miss the pate. Then again, if the pate were to magically appear, it’s entirely possible that my head might explode from the beauty of it all.
11259 Kestrel Rise Rd
South Jordan, UT 84095
This place is a welcome oasis of comfort on the far west side in Daybreak, which is usually, as grandpa used to say, a fur piece from where I usually dine. It’s a full-service, one-stop shop for a night out – dinner and dessert, all here.
On the dinner end, the Ferrari sandwich stands out as a highlight. Pancetta, smoked gouda, and mushrooms may not be the usual sandwich fare, but it’s a tasty combination that is highlighted with some heat from a chipotle sauce. Enzo would be proud to share his name.
We also enjoyed the Maserti, also an unconventional sandwich. While using roast beef for protein, nor is the cream cheese spread, a peppery and sweet jelly is a beautiful addition to the sandwich. Both sandwiches are served on a soft, pillowy artisan flatbread that allows the stuffings to shine.
The there’s the gelato. Kudos to Bella Rue for thinking outside the box when it comes to flavors. Sure, you’ll find traditional gianduia and stracciatella here, but mixed among them are things like chili chocolate and ACE, a fruity sorbetto that is bright orange from the orange and carrot juices used to make it. My favorite was a salted caramel that was light and airy.
435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Why bury the lead? I had the second best meal of my life at Animal.
There wasn’t a single misstep or a dish that I didn’t love without reservation. The service was prompt, friendly, and not overbearing. The plating was uniformly beautiful. The food was absolutely delicious. Best of all, our table of three shared a completely satisfying amount of food and left for under $30 per person, tip included. I’ve paid much more for much less, and that’s earned Animal a spot on my must-visit list for every future LA trip.
And that’s good, because a few years ago, I made a very serious Animal-related mistake. Look, the backlot tour was long, I planned food poorly, and having not seen a JB’s Big Boy sign in a while, I got excited. A burger and hot fudge cake later, my room to enjoy Animal ended up consisting of one dish and dessert. I regretted it ever since, so having this meal go as well as it did felt like a win.
chicken liver toast
pig ear, chili, lime, fried egg
tandoori octopus, tamarind, mango, raita
shrimp & rabbit sausage spring roll, eggplant, sprouts, green curry
chicken fried sweetbreads, finger lime aioli, cumin
flat iron, sunchoke hash, truffle parmesan fondue
bacon chocolate crunch bar, s&p ice cream
The chicken liver toast was so tasty that I’d have been up for another order if we didn’t have all the rest of the food already on its way. The bread was hearty, crisp, and delivered the unctuous, meaty payload nicely.
My favorite dish of the night was the tandoori octopus. In fact, it single-handedly changed my opinion of octopus. I’ve enjoyed it prepared many ways in the past, and they all shared one thing, extreme to mild chewiness. I had pretty much assumed that, regardless of the preparation, that was what you got with octopus. I was wrong. The tandoori octopus was so tender that, even once the Indian spices registered, I had a hard time believing it was octopus.
The was my first taste of pig ear, aside from the bit that was likely in a porchetta di testa at Incanto a few years ago. Certainly my first taste of it as the main ingredient, front and center. There was just enough texture in this version to register it as the cartilaginous member that it is, nothing overpowering. Tons of pork flavor with the heat of the chili and acid of the lime playing beautifully together. I enjoyed it so much that when I visited UMAMIcatessan the next day and saw pig ear on the menu, I jumped at the chance.
It’s rare that I order a steak at a nice restaurant. I tend to think of it as a last resort when nothing on the menu appeals. I see it that way because I’ve been to more places that screw steak up than I have ones that do it right, and even when it’s done right, it is only so good. Wrong again. The flatiron steak was beautifully cooked and very tasty on its own, but the addition of that truffle parmesan fondue sent it into the flavor heavens.