The Old Dutch Store: Insulate my Heart for Winter

Old Dutch Store, Sandwiches & Soup 1

In the Netherlands, there’s an old folk belief that a layer of fat around your heart keeps you warm and happy throughout the winter. And though the concept is contrary to current health trends, food that contributes to such a layer certainly tastes good.

The Old Dutch Store on Highland Drive sells traditional foods from the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia that will make you happy. In addition to chocolates and sweets, the shop boasts a deli counter with soups and specialty meats and cheeses.

I ordered turkey, havarti, tomato and lettuce on a wheat roll—and, following Dutch tradition, I passed on all condiments except butter. Americans know that butter is great on toast, and now I know it’s wonderful on sandwiches, too.

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And So I Write

The funny thing in life is that we all crave security. We desire everything to progress but with little difficulty. Ironically, the place that has the most security, and that has all your needs taken care of is prison. We all want that dream job but want it to come to us. We want to make a change in some aspect of our life but will start tomorrow. And then many tomorrows later we are still waiting for the right time.

Back in 2011 & 2012 I wrote for Hometown Slop and I mean that I really wrote–3 times a week consistently. There was a lot of reaction as people were noticing the platform. I really loved it and felt in the zone. Restaurant invites came; as did invitations to food shows and cateing events. Never could I have dreamed that simply getting in the game would lead to so much.

And then in February, 2013 something wonderful happened. City Weekly, a local publication in the Salt Lake area, invited me to write for them. The stars did align because a friend of mine, who is a freelance sports writer, had done some work for them and introduced me to the editors. My friend only did that after following my blog  He didn’t just do it because he felt like it. There was a natural show of confidence there and one that I appreciated very much. The editor asked me to pitch some ideas and the pattern of being a regular contributor was born.

Dan Miller, famous Life & Career coach, says that we interview for our jobs everyday whether we realize it or not. There is a joke in the real estate industry that you wake up everyday unemployed. 11 years in that field and I know exactly what that means. The same thing as a contributor–I was not an employee and therefore had no guarantee of consistent work. I had to Pitch them ideas and then was given the green light to write. It would have been great for me for them to say, “here is your column, just write what you want and have it submitted each Thursday at Noon.” But that didn’t happen, I had to prove my value.

When I became a contributor to the Second Helping Column, it started taking a lot of my focus. The 325 word column wasn’t just about sitting down and spending an hour writing. I would research restaurants, write a compelling pitch and if accepted, I would reach out to the restaurant and hope to sit down with the Chef, Owner or both. From there it was getting a draft to my proofer, make the recommended changes and then submit to the editor. Often I was a little worn out by the time I got the final draft submitted at Noon on a Thursday.

I got use to being a contributor and honestly most of the pitches I sent to my editor were approved. It was fun. As life had more demands on it I dropped the regular blog writing and just focused on the column. It wasn’t as regular but I was busy. I missed the consistency of 3 times a week.

We all want change but want it to happen to someone else. Our change should be gradual and when we feel like it so that there is no discomfort right? Not always! Late last week I received an e-mail from City Weekly that as a result of their page count dropping, they will be publishing the Second Helping Column only sporadically; maybe once a month.

What? But I was in the zone. There is the saying, “don’t cry because it’s over, be grateful that it happened. In 2011 I set a goal of becoming a Food Writer. It took a lot of work regularly writing on my blog and in early 2013 I was published; and continued to be so. This has opened the door to many opportunities and will continue to do so.

Thank you for your support. I may be thrown out of my comfort zone some but that is where we grow. If anything, this has shown me what is possible when you get in the game.

Happy Eating and Writing.

Siam Noodle Bar: Hospital food just got a lot better

Siam Noodle Bar Exterior

Rare is the day that anyone enjoys a trip to the hospital. But now there’s a good reason to visit the hospital—specifically, the Intermountain Medical Campus in Murray and its Siam Noodle Bar.

Far from typical hospital fare, this is a Thai noodle restaurant with delicious options, including a build-your-own noodle bar. Before going the DIY route, though, it’s worth trying the restaurant’s signature dishes, like the beef stew noodle soup: rice noodles, bean sprouts, bok choy, celery, green onion, cilantro and fried garlic in a clear broth—was recommended as a signature dish. The beef was falling-apart tender, and the veggies were all al dente and delicious, giving the dish a fresh, authentic taste—as though it had been cooked over a fire in a quiet mountain village.

Siam Noodle Bar Beef Stew Noodle Soup 2

Another recommended dish, the teriyaki pulled pork, was beautiful both in its presentation and in its flavors. It’s more rustic than what you might usually expect from a pulled-pork sandwich, as the food at Siam Noodle Bar is truly Asian, not Americanized Asian.

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Happy Eating

Siam Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

Cafe Seoul: A Cafe On The Move!

Cafe Seoul Chicken Bulgogi

Tucked among the buildings of the Cedar Park office complex near Interstate 15 and 5300 South lies a cafe on the move. A few years and one owner ago, Café Seoul was located at 4500 South. And prior to that, the Korean barbecue and Japanese restaurant occupied a tiny location by the Century 16 Theaters on 3300 South and State.

Café Seoul does feature sushi, but I tried the entrees, which looked particularly enticing. The bibimbap (say that 10 times fast) and the chicken bulgogi are highly recommended as signature Korean dishes, and cheese tonkatsu as a signature Japanese dish.

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Cafe Seoul on Urbanspoon

Tarahumara: Midway Utah’s Finest

Tarahumara Sign

A much-needed long weekend to Midway was in order a couple of weeks ago. Just the 40 minute drive up there was relaxing as life had been hectic. I was looking forward to rest, relaxation, time with family, and definitely food.

We use to visit here regularly but it has been a couple years. Each time we visited, we noticed that some new restaurants are open, and others closed. On this trip we drove down Main Street to find that the former Mountain Line Restaurant, is now a funeral home. The food there was pretty good but I wouldn’t try it now. I was also excited about Fanny’s restaurant at the Homestead Resort where we were staying.

But one thing that excited me most what the chance to find new restaurants. Last year I wrote of meeting the founder of Firehouse Subs when he came to Salt Lake City. He gave each of us five $10 gift cards to promote the store. When I put that on the site, I asked for new restaurant recommendations. One of those was Tarahumara in Midway. Because of our previous challenge of knowing that many restaurants don’t last long, I wondered if it would be there.

Salsa Bar

Salsa Bar

We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and played in the pool. Venturing out for dinner, we decided to drive past Tarahumara. There were a few groups outside waiting, and it was a dogfight to park. So we left and decided to come back another day. Monday was our last full day there so it was time.

At 2:00pm, we walked up to the building and there were 3 signs for Tarahumara, all a little different but all having the name. The first door was the bar. Something about “You must be 21 to Enter” and holding a 9 month old doesn’t work well to eat there. So to the next door we went. This was a small grocery store/bakery. Those pastries looked delicious but where do patrons sit down and eat this delicious food I had heard about? The third door had to be it right? Well we entered that and it was even confusing. There was a counter there and someone found us, grabbed some menus and walked us down a hall. There was the restaurant; it looked and smelled wonderful.

Tarahumara Specials Sign

On the way to our table we walked around the salsa bar. It is the same equipment as a salad bar but loaded with about 30 salsas. You help yourself with little plastic cups. Since they bring you nachos, it’s fun to try many of them, which we did. It’s like a PhD level class lab-every concoction you can think of; and some that you can’t.

Being a Mexican Restaurant, the drink menu is larger than the food options; but the food looked good and a plenty. There was a dry erase board with 5 or 6 specials and it being 2:00pm, I wished I could try them all. A neighboring table had a large margarita glass full of ceviche. Mouth watering to the sight but they may have beat me for trying to take a photo.

Avocado Enchiladas

Avocado Enchiladas

My mind was focused on 3 things: Tacos Carnitas, Tacos Barbacoa or one of the specials–Snapper Veracruz. When I asked about the special, he wasn’t sure that they had any left but went back to check. This being America, I immediately craved what I didn’t think I could have so I desperately wanted the Snapper Veracruz. There was one left, I snapped (no pun intended) it up. Well played Mr. Waiter, well played indeed.

At this point I realized something that my wife has known for years-that I ordered it based on the name and didn’t know what was in it. Time to figure out what “Veracruz” meant in the culinary landscape. Veracruz sauce is a spicy and tangy sauce that melds the flavors of old Mexico with flavors imported from Spain: including onions, beans, chilis, peppers, olives and capers. All of this piled onto crispy red snapper. This is the epitome of healthy, exotic and fresh. The flavors were a wild explosion and a see-saw competition with each other. A competition that ended with everyone happy.

Now I realize here that I am reviewing a dish that was a special and not available everyday. But this is indicative of the flavors you will find at Tarahumara. Once, while in Roatan, Honduras, I ate a meal in a bamboo hut right on the beach. It was the fresh catch of the day mixed with local veggies and herbs. I didn’t have a care in the world then and eating here gave me the same relaxed feeling.

Snapper Veracruz

Snapper Veracruz

Good thing that we did not try to go here twice during our three-day vacation. It is popular, it is busy, but it is worth it. The dessert list was long and looked wonderful. I had no room however.

As your favorite sports team knows, it’s not getting to the top that is the hard part, it’s staying there! In the restaurant world it also seems that you can go to hero to zero in no time at all. Just a hunch however that Tarahumara is here to stay and to thrive for a while. Check it out.

Happy Eating
Tarahumara on Urbanspoon

Puro Pero: Sandy eatery dishes up authentic Peruvian cuisine

Lomo Saltado

Lomo Saltado

It’s nice when a place stays around long enough to make it part of your routine.

Puro Peru in Sandy just celebrated 18 months in business in a rather obscure location where you might not expect to see an eatery. But the restaurant must be doing something right—and that something is a little taste of Peru right here in the Salt Lake Valley.

Puro Peru sports a festive atmosphere with Spanish music, soccer on TV and a stage for weekend entertainment. The restaurant’s atmosphere perfectly complements the authentic cuisine. The waitress recommended the lomo saltado (jumping beef) as a way to try some true Peruvian food. It’s a sautee of sirloin, tomatoes, onions and french fries, cooked in vinegar and spices, then dusted with fresh chopped cilantro and served with rice. The vinegar gives it some mouthwatering tang, while the red onion gives it a delectable sweetness. It’s a beautiful dish, both visually and to the palate.

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Puro Peru on Urbanspoon

Qaderi Sweetz ‘N’ Spicez Market: An International Trip Within City Limits

Qaderi Market

There’s nothing like jumping on a plane and heading to a new land. There are new sights, sounds, customs and tastes to explore.

If, however, your time, money or even courage are limited, all you need to do is travel to Qaderi Sweetz ‘n Spicez Market on Redwood Road or State Street for an international experience.

Qaderi is a family business, launched 20 years ago at the Redwood Road location, and carries foods from 25 nations to satisfy your appetite and curiosity. You’ll find a huge array of oils, sauces, rice, flours, breads, teas, chutneys, relishes and veggies, plus a vast spice collection.

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Happy Eating

Fiana Bistro: Majoring in Food!

Chefs Chaz & Brandon from Fiana Bistro

Chefs Chaz & Brandon from Fiana Bistro

What an honor to meet Chaz and Brandon and write a feature for their Bistro–Fiana at the University of Utah. Link to article here.

College memories get better with time. The fun experiences—athletic events, social activities and spontaneous road trips—are what we remember, replacing our memories of stressful project deadlines, final exams and overall anxiety. Sadly, one memory that often remains is of raiding vending machines or trying to find a meal among bad student-union options.

Well, now, more than a decade later, I’m returning to the University of Utah—not for an advanced degree or a football game, but for Fiana Bistro.

Fiana is the brainchild of Brandon Price and Chaz Costello, two creative culinary minds who opened the bistro in the Sorenson Biotechnology Building in late 2012.

This isn’t a place where you have to settle for processed options. You have your choice of freshly made pizzas, sandwiches, salads and daily specials. Get that sandwich on a baguette, brioche, French-style sourdough or whole-wheat bread studded with fennel and caraway; all breads are made in-house, even the pizza dough.

Fiana New York Doll Pizza

Fiana also gets 70 percent of its vegetables—radishes, sorrel, heirloom tomatoes, kale, chard and more—right on campus, from the Sustainability Resource Center. These veggies provide freshness that you might not typically associate with campus food. The Kale Caesar salad is packed with flavor—recently picked kale sprinkled with Parmesan in a creamy dressing—and paired well with the New York Doll pizza, with pepperoni, roasted red peppers, onions and fresh mozzarella.

Price and Costello have made Fiana a destination eatery on campus, not just something you rush through before your next class. It’s working-class gourmet: affordable, high-quality, unprocessed, from scratch and hyper-local. Even if you’ve earned your degree, it’s time to return to the U—for studies of the culinary variety.

36 S. Wasatch Drive

 Fiana on Urbanspoon

I’m Doing What I’m Fearing and The Fearing is Disappearing

Since I was a little kid I have been able to Swim; at least a loose definition of the word. I could tread water, play in lakes, rivers, the ocean and swimming pools with little difficulty. Racing across a pool was fun because I often won and didn’t have to worry much about technique during short bursts.

However, There is one aspect of swimming that has bothered me for a while; That is the inability to swim any distance of note. I would kick my way, breath my way (which entailed bringing my whole head out of the water). It was all thrown together with how I have done things for a long time-I was on the cow path.

For a while I have been desperate to improve my swimming but I thought that since I was in my mid-30′s, then what was the point? I intended to improve but it was one of those goals that I would get to when I had time.

In early July of 2013 I took my daughter swimming at a local recreation center. I picked up a flyer for “Swimming Lessons for All Ages.” The next day I called the number. Someone called me back in a couple days and I signed up for 3 lessons; the first one being that Saturday.

To say I was nervous would be an understatement. My teacher was 13 years younger than me and was a State High School Swim Champion. He didn’t want to know much about me. Just told me to jump in the pool and show him what I got.

I practiced hard for each one of those lessons. Here I was paying $25 per half hour to have him coach me. I prayed that the 30 minutes would go by fast. I was usually exhausted after 10 minutes but found the strength to continue. After a few minutes in the pool with him giving instructions, you were afraid that you would drown. Towards the end of the lesson, you were afraid you wouldn’t drown.

Now it is 1 year later and swimming is what I often do for exercise. I love it! All those years of wanting to do this and nothing happened until I pick up the phone and took the first step.

There are some beautiful opportunities in life if we take the first step.

Vito’s: A Philly on Picturesque Main Street

It was an honor to meet Vito and write about his restaurant. Link to article here; also posted below.

Vito's Exterior

Often, it’s the simplest things in life that work their way to greatness. Vito Leone started as a Bountiful street vendor in 2007, serving meatball subs, sausage sandwiches and ravioli from a food cart. Eventually, he started appearing at farmers markets and graduated to a 20-foot trailer. Leone now has a permanent location on Bountiful’s picturesque Main Street.

But even with the brick & mortar location, Leone is still the man behind the counter, calling many of his customers by name, taking orders and cooking them up himself. He can serve you 10 different types of Philly sandwiches: blue cheese, cream cheese, deluxe, tomato, mushroom, jalapeño, garlic, Alfredo, Italian and classic. You can choose between 7-inch ($8.50) or 14-inch ($13.50); both options come with chips and a drink.

Philly Cheese at Vito's

I had the classic Philly, with thin-sliced steak, powerful peppers, onions and Swiss-blend cheese all melting onto a stoneground Tuscan roll. It was a lesson in excellence.

One other example of Leone staying true to that old-school sensibility is his low-tech cash box on the counter. There are no checks or cards taken here—it’s the Vito Leone way, which he’s followed for years because it’s worked for him. He wants to focus on food and leave the business side to us.

If you walk in and find your wallet short of cash, don’t worry. The on-site ATM is well used—because once you smell the aroma, there’s no way you are going to want to turn around and leave.

100 S. Main, Bountiful

Vito's on Urbanspoon

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