Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Friday Night at Sapa

My thoughtful husband took me out for a Friday night dinner at Sapa recently. The restaurant itself has a rich and warm setting that is beautifully decorated . . . and it is busy. The place was packed, but we managed to score a couple of seats at the sushi bar.

Our sushi chef was a wonderful man who began talking with us when he noticed me taking pictures of our food. He was excited to hear that I wrote a food blog and talked with me about Julie & Julia. I didn't know then what I know now - that Julie wrote a blog and he was drawing a parallel. But, the conversation was wonderful and his sushi was delicious!

We started with gyoza that, unfortunately, was not to my taste. I should be clear that Sapa serves Asian fusion cuisine, so variations on old favorites should be expected. However, unless you are a huge fan of ginger and want that to be the overwhelming, overpowering flavor in your Gyoza, then I would avoid including them with your dinner. Not to worry though, the miso soup was fantastic. It was warming and filled with delicious bites of tofu, green onion, seaweed and fresh mushrooms. The mushrooms were a welcomed addition and added texture and variety to the flavors of a traditional miso soup.

The piece de resistance was the beautifully prepared sushi. We ordered two of Sapa's signature rolls and some ono ngiri. The ono was sweet and mild and melted in our mouths, just like it should. The Luscious Lover was luscious indeed; filled with tempura shrimp, avacado, cucumber, and eel and then topped with sliced strawberries and eel sauce. It was a wonderful melding of flavors and textures. We finished with the Blazing Jazz roll, which included asparagus, avocado and tuna wrapped into a roll that was topped with seared albacore. The roll was then garnished with two sauces, one of which was delightfully tongue-searing Sriracha, cilantro and tempura scallions. It was mouth numbingly wonderful and not designed for the weak tongued.

The lychee tea was subtly complementary to the overall meal. But, of course, it only made the Blazing Jazz all the more blazing.

Sapa Sushi Bar and Asian Grill

Master Chef: Billy Le

722 South State Street

Salt Lake City, UT

(801) 363-7272


Open for lunch Monday - Friday from 11:30AM to 3PM

Open for dinner Monday - Thursday from 5:00 to 10PM and Friday - Saturday from 5:00 to 11PM

Reservations would be wise

Monday, October 26, 2009

Two Creek Coffeehouse & Buying Local

I've stopped in and had coffee at Two Creek Coffeehouse periodically over the past two years. As a resident of the Salt Lake Avenues, it's a wonderful resource. But, as a foodie, I've grown to adore their coffee and the atmosphere of the tiny, small-townish feel of the place.

Last week a good friend and I stopped at Two Creek to recover from losing and finding a dog in a matter of an hour and a half. We were hungry, exhausted and in need of raised spirits. I had their amazing Mocha Latte and a tempting and savory pesto and parmesan danish. After a brief discussion of the impending loss of Gourmet Magazine with the Barista there, I asked her if their business was doing well. Attempting to hide any alarm or worry, she informed me that they were "struggling." This worried me.

At first I thought only of myself. I didn't want to lose Two Creek's delicious, beautifully prepared coffee. But, after some thought, I realized what I had to do. I had to try and help them. I planned my attack. I would write about Two Creek here on Salt City Foodie and then brag about their wonderful coffee in my Facebook status updates. Maybe readers of Salt City Foodie and Facebook friends would patronize them and give them the business they need to survive.

Of course, this was a very altruistic thought process. The problem is larger than Two Creek Coffeehouse or my dining preferences. Small, local businesses have been and continue to suffer due to large chain companies. It's a struggle that has progressed over decades of urban sprawl and convenience commercialism. Small, local businesses can't compete with big box stores that move into communities, drive down wages and force their small competitors out of business.

I hadn't intended to lecture you all about the benefits of shopping and eating locally. But, the fact of the matter is, your purchases make a broad and lasting impact on your immediate community. The people who open and run small, local businesses are your neighbors. They live in your communities. Money spent at locally-owned independent businesses goes around longer in the local economy. Especially since local businesses pay for all kinds of local services, spend their profits and pay taxes locally, they yield two to four times the economic benefit to you, the local resident, as compared to large corporate businesses. This means more local income, wealth, and jobs.

Yes, buying local helps to create jobs. It also guarantees economic diversity, helps define a fair global economy and can also preserve the environment. Most local restaurants and service providers buy their ingredients and materials from other local providers, therefore far less fuel is used in the transportation of provisions. And, oftentimes, local restaurants focus on using organic produce and ingredients, ensuring healthy soil, vibrant crop production and a customer base for local, organic farmers.

And finally, local, independent businesses add a unique flare and feel to a community, ensuring diversity.

So, next time you're thinking of grabbing a bite to eat or stopping for a cup of coffee, consider stopping at your local, neighborhood business. It seems to me that we as customers need them as much as they need us.

Two Creek Coffeehouse
502 East Third Avenue
Salt Lake City

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gourmet Farewell

I heard some heartbreaking news today. I don’t know how I missed it, when word has been spreading for nearly two weeks. But, the foodie’s monthly bible is soon to be history. Gourmet magazine, a publication to which I’ve been a subscriber for the past 13 years (my entire adult life), is going under. November’s issue will be the last hurrah of this amazing 70-year-old dining and recipe resource.

Gourmet has been a foundation of joy and comfort for me for so many years, I feel as if a good friend is dying. Gourmet’s own editor, Ruth Reichl, didn’t even know until after the November issue had gone to press. No final editor’s letter, no real farewell, just an empty hole in the souls of foodies around the world.

I once purchased a used copy of a 1960’s issue of Gourmet magazine from Sam Weller’s Zion Bookstore and felt as if I had found a priceless treasure of food history. It’s yellowing pages and period recipes still sit on the shelf with my cookbooks, nestled amongst its friends Larousse Gastronomique, The Joy of Cooking and Baking with Julia.

I’ve used Gourmet magazine as a resource on multiple levels. I keep several binders of categorized recipes and travel tips which I’ve clipped from Gourmet’s pages. Every trip I embark upon requires a thorough review of Gourmet information on the location and its best dining spots. I’ve had some of the most memorable and delicious meals of my life in some of the most diverse cities because Gourmet was there, right at my figure tips. Clippings from several issues even accompanied my husband and me on our honeymoon to Scotland a few years ago.

There are so many things about Gourmet I can’t imagine living without: Ruth Reichl’s fantastic editor’s letters, written with such eloquence and passion as to draw in the most skeptical of diners; the “Travel + Culture” articles, guiding diners to the best of everywhere; the features about restaurants and chefs; and the wonderful and diverse recipes. Gourmet made being a Foodie a journey of spiritual enlightenment.

Ruth Reichl has said “There’s no better way to experience a culture than to stand at the stove with a wonderful cook.” And, of course, she’s right. Food is the essence of every culture. The blending of colors, flavors, artistry and love. Gourmet was the epitome of culture. I will miss it so.

Thanks Ruth and thank you Gourmet, for everything.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Favorite Salt Lake Restaurant

I've decided that my first review should be of my favorite restaurant in Salt Lake City. And, that restaurant is Takashi. Located on charming (when it's not under construction) Market Street in downtown Salt Lake, Takashi by far serves the best sushi in Salt Lake, Utah, and maybe anywhere. It's not the traditional sushi restaurant you may find elsewhere. The menu has an array of rolls and treats that you will find at other Japanese restaurants which can lead to a fresh and beautiful meal. However, it's their specials and fusion-like fare where the real dining adventures begin.

My first experience at Takashi was during the most wonderful time of the year - the Salt Lake Downtown Alliance's Dine O' Round. My husband and I went in two years ago for a three course meal at $30 each. When the appetizer arrived, I knew I was in love. The "deconstructed california roll" was elegantly presented in a small glass filled with a creamy avocado soup topped with lump crab meat and flying fish eggs. Served on the side was a seaweed crisp. It was amazing. Takashi is now our favorite restaurant for birthdays, anniversaries and Valentine's Day.

As far as sushi goes, I doubt you can lose with any of Takashi's fresh and expertly prepared rolls, nigiri and sashimi. There was a time when the thought of raw fish made my stomach churn and I wouldn't eat it for anything. But, and I never thought I'd say this, eating sushi at Takashi is like eating candy. Candy that is comprised of only the best, most flavorful confections known to man. With each bite of sushi I close my eyes, savor the subtle flavors and textures and feel my stomach well with joy from the act. Eating sushi at Takashi can't be described as just dinner out, but only as a spectacular taste experience.

Personal favorites include the Torched Sablefish Nigiri, Agadashi Tofu, and Crunchy Ebi Roll.

Contemporary Japanese Dining
Chef: Takashi Gibo
18 West Market Street
Salt Lake City, UT
(801) 519-9595

Open for lunch Monday - Friday from 11AM to 2PM
Open for dinner Monday - Thursday from 5:30 to 10PM and Friday - Saturday from 5:30 to 11PM
Reservations are wise @ http://www.opentable.com/rest_profile.aspx?rid=6798

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Welcome to Salt City Foodie

Hello food lovers! I've started this blog so that I can pursue a dream of mine, to become a food critic and writer. Since I work professionally in a non-food related field, but am passionate about food, I felt this was the best place to start. I talk about food all the time and several friends over the years have told me to write about food. I'm the resident foodie at work and am known by friends and acquaintances as the person to consult when planning to dine out. After years of writing poetry and prose in my personal time I recently wondered what genre suited me best. When I realized that I was channeling so much energy and passion into food and restaurants, I decided that was where my writing should focus. So, please join me on a journey of food discovery. Sometimes I'll be enthusiastic about the restaurants I'll discuss. Sometimes not so much. But, I'll attempt to actively engage those foodies who choose to follow this blog.

More soon, I guarantee!