In tandem with an incremental “greening of America” has come the greening of our dinner tables, both at home and in restaurants. In fact, many chefs, restaurateurs and home cooks were on the green bandwagon long before there even was one. The international and local Slow Food movement is one good example. And local eating establishments and purveyors like Sage’s, Em’s, Omar’s Living Cuisine, Liberty Heights Fresh, Emigration Market and Squatters were way ahead of the green curve in utilizing locally produced food products and, especially in Squatters’ case, putting substantial amounts of time, effort and dollars towards becoming a truly green business. Squatters even went as far as to hire James Soares as its director of environmental & social responsibility. How many brew pubs can you name with such a position.
Still, it’s important to look into the kitchen beyond what sometimes turns out to be green-tinged smoke and mirrors. For every restaurateur truly making strides to be “local,” “organic,” “sustainable” or “artisan,” there are half a dozen more using those words as window dressing but not really delivering the goods. I’m not going to name names, but it’s a matter of “buyers beware.” So take responsibility. You ought to know where the food you’re eating comes from. If you don’t, ask. If you’ve got an out of-season, supposedly “local” arugula salad in front of you at a restaurant, it might behoove you to inquire as to the origin of the ingredients.
Two new restaurants on the horizon (soon to open) have me cautiously excited. Tipica—Tony and Matt Caputo’s new eatery with chef Adam Kreisel at the helm—promises to be a true “farm to fork” effort, with 100 percent wind-powered electricity, all meat on the menu from sustainable farms, the vast majority of produce to come from small organic local and regional growers and so on. And Scott Evans’ just-about-to-launch restaurant Pago promises seasonal cuisine which is farm fresh, local, artisan and incorporates the RSA concept (Restaurant Supported Agriculture). To this end, both Pago and Tipica will offer locally produced foods such as Clifford Farms eggs from Provo, Morgan Valley lamb, Creminelli sausage and salami, Bell Organic Farms’ produce … you get the idea. I’ve also heard enticing rumors about a new place with the brilliant name Forage. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, you can take control of your own table at home by doing the same thing environmentally conscious (not to mention flavor-conscious) professional chefs do: utilize locally produced wholesome foods in your everyday cooking. Here are a few purveyors (all we have space for) whose numbers you should have on your speed-dial:
Beehive Cheese Company (BeehiveCheese.com) of Uintah makes small batch, handcrafted cheeses using fresh, natural ingredients only. Its award-winning cheeses can be found in mac & cheese dishes on restaurant menus all over town, including at the Grand America’s Garden Café.
Bell Organic Gardens (BellOrganic.com) of Draper has been supplying local chefs with fresh, organic produce for more than a decade now and offers public shares in their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) partnership program. David and Jill Bell’s loyal restaurant customers include Acme Burger Co., Bambara, Café Trio, Em’s, Faustina, Fresco, Lugano, Martine, Oasis, One World Everybody Eats, Sage’s, Squatters and The Paris. ’Nuff said.
Borski Farms (BorskiFarms.org) has been growing organic and specialty produce in Kaysville since 1992. Like Bell Organic Gardens, the farm also offers CSA shares to the public. You can find John Borski and his farm-fresh wares at the Downtown Farmers Market during summer and at the Borski Farms Produce Stand in Kaysville.
Cakewalk Baking Co. (CakewalkBakingCompany.com) is a Woods Cross-based vegan bakery specializing in organic, fair trade and gluten-free baked treats— everything from cookies, cupcakes and muffins to pies, cheesecakes and their “Caketastrophe” items.
Clifford Family Farm (1461 N. 2100 West, Provo) sells not only delectable organic fruits and vegetables from its Provo farm but certified organic eggs, too. You’ll find the eggs in use at restaurants like the Tin Angel Café. Julie and Rich Clifford are visitor-friendly, so stop by for a visit and take a farm tour.
Creminelli (Creminelli.com) artisan salamis and sausages are handmade with Old World love and care by Italian-born Cristiano Creminelli. The products are available locally at Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli, Liberty Heights Fresh and Emigration Market, plus Ye Ol’ Geezer Meats in Moab. If you haven’t sunk your teeth into Creminelli’s salami tartufo (made with black summer truffles), you really need to get on the salami stick.
Crumb Brothers (291 S. 300 West, Logan) artisan breads are the bomb, which is why you’ll find them all over town, such as featured with the fine sandwiches at Caffe Niche.
Dolcetti Gelato (DolcettiGelato.com) is all handmade, using fresh, natural, locally grown seasonal fruits and berries, along with fresh milk from family dairies. In a word: wholesome. For those watching their fat intake, the sorbetto is dairy-free, with no fat.
Drake Family Farms (DrakeFamilyFarms.com) produces goat milk, goat cheese and even goat soap at its 10-acre spread it occupies in West Jordan. By the way, the Drakes have been doing it the old-fashioned way—with happy, contented goats—for six generations, since 1880. Need a goat of your own? You can order one directly from the Drakes.
Morgan Valley Lamb (MorganValleyLamb.com) supplies premium, all-natural lamb to restaurants and homes locally—a great source of rich, meaty lamb shanks and racks, like those served at Em’s.
Ranui Gardens (Ranui.com) of Dog Holler (near Coalville), is where John and Sue grow the tastiest arugula (among other things) I’ve ever tasted.
Taylor Natural Farms (TaylorMadeBeef.com) of Emery produces grass-fed, organic beef and pork. You can find it at Emigration Market and in the tasty burgers at Alta’s Watson Shelter.
Vosen’s Bread Paradise (Vosen.com) offers Old Worldstyle baked breads in the German tradition utilizing only wholesome ingredients (no fat, sugar or chemicals). A must for the perfect Reuben sandwich.