RoDizio–The Return!

Can I pile this higher?

Can I pile this higher?

A number of years ago, I found a good way to make the budget all get spent before the end of the year. Let me clarify: I wasn’t committing white collar crime. I was in the leadership of the youth ministry of my church. We had a budget each year for activities. Whatever was left over by years end was deducted from next years budget. You really didn’t need it if there was some left over right? As practical as that may be, who wants to live with less?

That thinking led me taking the youth, right around December 28th, two years in a row to RoDizio. Fun get together, enjoy each other’s company and talk about the good times right? Well yeah but we are forgetting the most important part–food! It was all you can eat and these kids were ravenous. I told them to be careful at the salad bar as more meat will be coming to the table than they can handle.

Well that was years ago, I am no longer in that position, life gets busy and I had honestly forgotten a little about RoDizio. I was invited there to try their 2nd annual RoDizo BBQ Fest–their wonderful Brazilian grilled meat items along with some American BBQ classics. I went last year and I couldn’t resist again.

I mentioned in last year’s post about being part of the Kansas City Barbeque Society: judging events and talking classes from grand champions. I felt weird as most people at last year’s dinner loved the ribs; I didn’t. I also didn’t want to prejudge them this time. I was grateful to try a couple and RoDizio really made them well. That and some BBQ chicken, along with the traditional Brazilian favorites and you have yourselves a meal and a wonderful evening.

I told him to pace himself

I told him to pace himself

Restaurants come and go. I am a little embarrassed to admit that many of the places I wrote about for City Weekly are now closed. You want them to succeed and many don’t.

Even places that stay around for many years often lose their popularity. Getting good isn’t hard; it’s staying there. Places have to change things up, appeal to new tastes and keep the regulars coming back and new customers coming to. RoDizio has done just that. I was worried that when they introduced American BBQ that it was all dying; that this was a desperate attempt to stay in the game.

Oh no, the classics are still there. Honestly, the new BBQ options aren’t many and you won’t even recognize anything has been replaced. RoDizio has been wonderful, is wonderful and will continue to be for the coming years. It’s with the trip and is much more than just a meal.

Back to my story earlier of taking the Youth here: it was not only a contest (between themselves) of how much food they could eat, but how much Guarana they could drink. They asked the server not to take away the empty cans. There were over 20 on or table when they were finished.

Somehow I found room for this

Somehow I found room for this

If you think that turning in a receipt for over $300 for a youth activity isn’t awkward, it is. Yet the food, drink and time together we’re all worth it–just like my visit there last week.

#rodiziobbqfest

Thank you RoDizio and Happy Eating.

A Taste of Old Florida

Bean Depot Cafe Menu

A visit to the Sunshine State in the early months of each year, does a few beneficial things for my soul: the warm weather and sun rays brighten you both physically and emotionally. You get a change from the normal rat-race routine, and you get to go out to eat often–okay, very often. Thanks to a wonderful friend (who is also my cousin), I get to do these things each winter.

In the 5 years that I have been visiting, the Southwest Florida region gets more crowded each year. More snowbirds, more tourists and many more people who came down as snowbirds or tourists, are now there permanently. My cousin’s neighbor joked that Florida was going to start sinking into the Ocean.

Deep Fried Jalapeno Poppers

Deep Fried Jalapeno Poppers

Along with that development from all the money moving in to the state, comes high-rise condos, elegant homes, expensive restaurants, shiny yachts and well-manicured golf courses. So my ears perked up when my cousin’s friend suggested a restaurant just over the bridge. “It’s an old Florida place,” he said. I replied, “what is Old Florida?” He indicated that I will know as soon as we get there. Was he ever right.

We drove down the two-lane highway, past the yacht clubs and nice condos–what we know as the vacation vision of Florida. We turned left off of the highway onto a small road where my cousin said, “here it is.” The sun was going down but what you could see was an old wood porch connected to a dilapidated building. Plastic tables and mismatched chairs were outside on the ground in front of a small stage. There were  dogs, beer signs, and a backyard-grill /deep-fried aroma. Some dim out-of-season Christmas lights helped you see your way around. Once inside, dollar bills autographed by proud patrons were stapled to the walls.

Low key but fun interior designing

Low key but fun interior designing

We sat down at a table with chairs that would make an estate sale proud. The menus were already on the table–stuffed between the paper towel roll and the ketchup. This was the Bean Depot Café. One thing was apparent here–they like their meat dead and they like it deep fried; they liked everything deep fried. We got jalapeno poppers as an appetizer. They were crisp, they were filled with cream cheese, they were deep fried and they were delicious.

You had your choice of an assortment of burgers or fish with fries, onion rings, macaroni & potato salad as sides. I had a grilled filet of some fish whose name I had never heard and may never hear again. My sides were homemade macaroni and potato salad. I actually liked the fish and the sides were doable.

Deep Fried Filet of Fish of Some Name. It was awesome

Deep Fried Filet of Fish of Some Name. It was awesome

What I did like was the atmosphere. It was apparent that this was the place where the tourist do not come. There was nothing to draw them in and I’m sure the cooks and wait staff could care less whether they ate here or not. Our waitress knew a few people by name and went on conversing with them about their lives.

A lone singer belted out some music on the outdoor stage. A few people were gathering out there, drinking beers, holding their dog’s leash and waiting for more music.

A couple of rough looking locals who invited me to sit with them

A couple of rough looking locals who invited me to sit with them

Bean Depot Café is tucked right against the water and not many yards from a newer condo complex. The atmosphere is down home and relaxing. Even though I was a tourist, it’s easy to feel like a local. These are places like these that hang on and stay around. They hang on to what they love, the hang on for the regulars. And most importantly, they hang on for the sheer desire of just hanging on. Just like the greatest time of your life–you know it will end eventually but that makes the moment that much better.

what you see when you drive up. It not bad picture taking at night, it really is that dim.

what you see when you drive up. It not bad picture taking at night, it really is that dim.

Happy Eating!

Up Next: Dancing with Hippies, Searching for Alligators.

The Beehive Grill in Logan: A ROOTBEER Brew Pub!

The Beehive Grill Menu

As the NFL Draft approached a few years ago, an executive was interviewed by the media. When asked what he was looking for in a player, he replied: “We don’t know what we are looking for but we will know it when we see it.” How often do you want something but don’t know what it is? It could be a snack, vacation, meal or movie. There is something inside us that knows, but our mind holds us back. We have to search and experiment before the answer comes.

Last week, my family along with Sous Chefs Sam & Jesse and their family were heading to Bear Lake for the weekend. We needed to take 2 cars and I rode with these 2 up and coming culinary geniuses. You have a choice when driving to Bear Lake– either going the route through Logan, Utah or Evanston, Wyoming. Knowing that we needed to pick up dinner, we chose Logan. Nothing against Evanston; we just didn’t want Subway, Burger King, or a gas station hot dog.

In Logan, we pulled up to one place just off Main St. Sitting in the car, we just didn’t feel drawn inside. It was that moment where it would be easy to go inside and order just to get it out of the way, but you didn’t really want it. Sous Chef Sam mentioned that we had passed The Beehive Grill just a block back. We looked up the menu on our phone and the appetizer menu was enough to get us there.

The Beehive Grill looks just like a pub, because it pretty much is as they serve their own brewed beer. But you have to look closer at the sign as you walk in, “Logan’s only Rootbeer Brew Pub.” Rootbeer you say? This was sounding more delicious by the second.

We sat down at our tables to order an appetizer, get food to go and now definitely enjoy a Rootbeer. How could we turn that down if it is one of their signature items? It was sweet, smooth and dry. Something (mainly my personality) told me that this wasn’t going to be a quick stop.

Sumptuous Clam Chowder

Sumptuous Clam Chowder

The menu is loaded with sandwiches, burgers, seafood, pasta, BBQ, mouth-watering appetizers and soups. An appetizer to share turned into one each with us ordering Battered Mushrooms, Potato Skins and a bowl of Clam Chowder. With each spoonful of that delicious chowder, my urgency to arrive in Bear Lake moved slower down the priority lane. We did wake up to the fact that we still needed food to go. Oh this was going to be fun.

It felt like one of those blank check moments–where someone is wining an dining you so you can order whatever you want. Except I was the one wining and dining the others so I knew whatever we ordered would be coming out of my bank account. That was okay, it was family. We got some more battered mushrooms to go, crab and artichoke dip, BBQ pork sandwich, ribeye steak, French dip, rainbow tortellini with pesto–add chicken, triple grilled cheese and a southwestern wrap. Later on in the drive I wished that we had taken a 1/2 gallon of that rootbeer. Was it too late to turn around?

It was too late for more rootbeer, but we were so excited to share these delicious dishes with those waiting at the lake. It was hunger, it was excitement, it was delicious. All of those things conspired to make us inhale our food. What did remain was eaten for breakfast the next morning; it didn’t even need to be re-heated to taste good.

No in-depth review of each item here. Just pure excitement in finding The Beehive Grill. If the 9 items we did order are indicative of the quality & taste of this place, then I wouldn’t hesitate ordering anything from the menu.

Usually you plan the vacation and get whatever food you can find on the way there. Now I know that I am going to plan my lunch at Beehive Grill, and the vacation can come together as it was meant to be–priorities people!

Happy Eating!

Beehive Grill on Urbanspoon

Tom Garwood: From Carpentry to Beverage!

Tom showing off his beverage creation at Liberty Heights Fresh

Tom showing off his beverage creation at Liberty Heights Fresh

Isn’t it human nature to have a plan, and to think that this plan is set in stone for the next few years, or decades? This past Sunday I was talking to a gentleman who told me that if his work doesn’t become more regular, he is going to go back to school and find something that is. I told him that this isn’t the world we live in anymore. We have to prepare for the ups & downs. The days of 30 years at a company with a pension and benefits are gone. Such is the story of Tom.

Tom is young, ambitious, and was kind enough to share his “Carpentry to Ginger Beer” story with me. When Tom was a teenager he worked in Carpentry. He kept doing this until he was 22, when he got a job washing dishes in a brew pub in Massachusetts. At this time he wasn’t excited about restaurants or attempting to get into cooking. It was a job that was flexible enough to allow him to go on tour with his band.

While working in the restaurant, he would finish the load of dishes from lunch and then help with dinner prep. This was involved with many items to get ready for the evening rush. The Chef noticed his increasing interest in food and threw him on the line. This was exciting for Tom–the rush of adrenaline giving you the energy to push through the evening–like a sprint to the finish line.

The job continued to allow him to go on tour with his band, sometimes for 4-5 weeks at a time; all the while sleeping in a van. Each time he returned for work at the pub, he moved up the line; eventually taking the lead on sauté. Tom felt that the prep was true cooking, and that the line was assembling. He appreciated the building blocks but 80% of it was the prep. If the prep was done right, the line moved along during the dinner rush and things didn’t fall apart.

When Tom was 25, he came to Salt Lake. He thought that it would be fun to come and hang out for the summer. He got a job doing dishes and prep at Tin Angel. Feeling like he wasn’t sure if this was what he wanted to do with his life, he went back into carpentry. It could only be best described by him. “Those three weeks back in cabinet making were the most miserable job experience of my life.” Feeling like the universe was telling him something, he went looking for a restaurant job again.

Ian Brandt, the owner of Sages Café and Vertical Diner called him back on his application. Ian started the vegan/vegetarian dynasty of Salt Lake and had a part time position available at Sages. Tom worked there for 2 months before Ian moved him to his juice bar–Supernatural Café. The concept was smoothies and meals where the ingredients were all fresh, all raw. Tom began experimenting with raw juices at home. The work at Supernatural, and his own practice gave him a deeper perspective and burgeoning interest in raw juices.

With a baby on the way, again the question of what to do with his life came up. Knowing that 20 hour days in restaurants wasn’t what he desired, he re-entered the music world. This time, not as a touring musician living like a vagabond, but a sustainable career in music focused on recording and editing. He also went back to school for musical composition and production. This occupied a good year and a half–all this time away from the restaurant scene.

While school is great, it’s also a money taker and not an immediate money maker. With that in mind, he needed a part time job. He had a friend who was serving at Pago and got him a job on the line. He liked the fine-dining, farm-to-table, wholesome food concept. It interested him with it’s modern takes on classical dishes. This got him excited about cooking again. This was a challenge, on a level that Tom hadn’t done before–really fast paced with a focus on presentation. He pushed himself and enjoyed the thrill of the rush. He worked at Pago for 8 months when he needed to return to school full time.

Part of his school requirements was a business class. I remember little from those classes but Tom took it in. One particular class taught him how to get a creative business started. His music studies focused on the theoretical standpoint–the building blocks (much like the prep work in cooking). The excitement about how to build a business with the knowledge he had gained, really intrigued him. Anyone who is of the Chef mindset, can’t sit still for long–either mentally or physically.

While dreaming and planning of what he could put together, he saw an opportunity in Ginger Beer. There was nothing like it–no market other than a international brand or two. And because it’s based on raw juice, unlike a soda, he could bring something new & unique to the food scene. Although Supernatural Foods (one stop on his culinary education) ultimately was boring, the passion he gained for raw foods and juices remained. He used his spare time (whatever there was) for business planning and to get in touch with his connections from the restaurant industry.

Many late nights and missed school classes later, we have arrived at Garwood’s Ginger Beer! When asked what makes this product unique, Tom responded that the only ingredients are organic produce and organic cane sugar. He cold presses the lemons–raw juice–as his flavor base rather than syrup or extracts. It is sweetened with a simple syrup made from the organic cane sugar.

Tom’s philosophy with his Ginger Beer is that by keeping the ingredients in their raw state, he is maintaining the full nutritional value and exposing remarkable taste. Ginger is incredibly healthy and has many nutritional and medicinal qualities. Oh and by the way, it’s delicious!

What’s coming for Garwood’s Ginger Beer? He is partnering up with Sugarhouse Distillery for promotion. Many bars use ginger beer as a mixer and Tom’s goal is to have it on tap as a non-alcoholic option. Giving tap space away for a non-alcoholic drink will prove a challenge (it already has), but Tom is prepared to move through those roadblocks. Nothing good ever came without work.

You will also find it bottled at Liberty Heights in April, 2015. They are also hoping for shelf space at Real Foods and they are looking into some Farmer’s Markets this summer.

I know Tom. I have cooked with him. To say that this guy knows food and knows the process would be an understatement. He has taught me so much. I have also tasted the Ginger Beer and mentioned it’s deliciousness above. There are a few ginger beer options in select stores. This could even be a lemonade with a kick–it has more lemon juice than any ginger beer I have tasted! You feel the stuff, it wakes you from your early afternoon grogginess. It’s healthy and a treat at the same time.

One fun story. Tom was making the ginger beer one gallon at a time. He tried to scale it up to ten gallons by simply taking the recipe and multiplying it by ten. It didn’t work; he didn’t think it would but gave it a shot. Being newly business minded and culinary-trained, Tom went back and re-engineered the mixtrue. Don’t those things in life that we think will be a simple change, not work out so? Tom learned and made it work; oh did he ever! Meet for a ginger beer anyone?

You can find Tom and his delicious drink of choice at: www.facebook.com/garwoodsgingerbeer
Instagram: @garwoodsgingerbeer
Twitter: @slcgingerbeer

Happy Drinking

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