City Weekly's year-end guide to getting through the holidays and closing out those Christmas lists. | Cover Story | Salt Lake City Weekly

December 06, 2023 News » Cover Story

City Weekly's year-end guide to getting through the holidays and closing out those Christmas lists. 

Gift Guide 2023

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  • Cover by Derek Carlisle

Gifts of the Wise(?) Men

Well folks, we've made it through another year.

As I write this introduction to City Weekly's 2023 Gift Guide, the sky above me, seen through the office skylight, is thick and gray and even with the aid of whatever air filtration the Axis Building provides, I can taste it in my throat. Perhaps it's fitting—a smoggy end to a sloggy year.

With any luck, the air has cleared by the time this issue reaches you, and you're entering December excited for the adventures that lie ahead, energized by a 2023 that was bright and colorful and pushed you in ways that made you stronger.

Sure, Salt Lake City is still in the hangover of an exhausting election—crammed into Thanksgiving week by the ever-disappointing, now-former Congressman Chris Stewart. And yeah, we've been relentlessly beset by construction for what feels like our entire lives.

But damn it, this city rocks! And there's no better time to pay back the love SLC has given us all than at the holidays. Got family in town? Take them to your favorite joint! Got gifts to buy? The internet is toxic; walk into a neighborhood shop and put your dollars to work locally! Filled to the brim with righteous wrath over the moral and political failings of our state, national and global leaders? It's OK, you're among friends!

In the following pages, our writers offer inspiration for getting to January, with books to read, boutique shopping suggestions, gift ideas related to Utah's food scene and reminders that it's OK to take a break from the hustle and bustle and treat yourself. You'll also find ads from local retailers, ready and waiting to address your holiday shopping, dining and entertainment needs.

And in the spirit of gratitude, allow me to say "thank you" to the State of Utah for its recent contributions to our great city, which include:

Ranked-choice Voting
Even if you still don't buy into the upsides of ranked-choice voting (less taxpayer expense, more civil campaigning, mathematically assured consensus victories, etc.), Salt Lake City's now-two election cycles under this balloting format have demonstrated that there's really no downside. The Utah Legislature allowed cities to test out RCV under a pilot program that will expire unless it is actively extended or codified. Not only was the Salt Lake City Council right to participate, lawmakers should make it a permanent option available to municipalities (if not used for statewide elections as well).

State Street Mid-block Crossings
Did you know that Salt Lake City can't make alterations to State Street, of any kind, without the permission and oversight of the Utah Department of Transportation? It's called "State" Street for a reason, and it's one of the deadliest stretches of asphalt in all of Utah. So when you see (and hopefully use) the new crosswalk at Gallivan Avenue or the under-construction crossing between The Bayou and The State Room, understand that those seemingly minor, but very much necessary, interventions came only after years of lobbying and only after a sufficient amount of pedestrian death had occurred under federal highway guidelines that are, at best, deeply flawed.

Rep. Celeste Maloy
Elections are stressful, for everyone, so maybe Utah lawmakers did Salt Lakers a kindness by preempting our ability to select meaningful representation in Congress and just deciding our "leaders" for us (that's about the only other explanation beyond "naked partisan gerrymandering"). Sure, most of us had never heard Celeste Maloy's name until she became our de facto congresswoman in September. But on the flip side, it's not like we need to bother to get to know her, either—smart money says we won't be seeing her around town any time soon.

2034 Olympic Winter Games
Does it ever feel like everything in Salt Lake City is, like, 20 years old? It basically is, since the 2002 Olympics triggered the last major capital improvement period in Utah and before the 2008 financial crisis slammed the brakes on state spending in a way that we've never really bounced back from. But like the cicada, which emerge out of the dirt en masse after years of dormancy, Utah is going for the gold once more, and you better believe that the governor and Legislature intend to clean up the house before company arrives.


Bon Appétit!
Local books, classes, ingredients and gadgets for cooking in Utah.

Gift Guide 2023
By Aimee L. Cook

As the festive season draws near, it's time to think about gifts for our loved ones. And why not mark the occasion with gourmet gifts that have their own local charm?

Below is a gift guide curated for the foodies in your life, highlighting some of Utah's best local products and artisanal delights.

For the Book Lover
Valter of Salt Lake City: The Magic of the Table by Elaine Bapis: Winner in the Coffee-table Book and Regional Cookbook categories by The NYC Big Book Awards, this book, published in 2018, describes the culinary journey of local legend, the late Valter Nassi (of Valter's Osteria). Illustrated with more than 100 stunning photographs that depict Nassi's 50-year journey from the hills of Tuscany to the safari capital of Kenya and beyond, Nassi's narratives offer readers a unique insight into the experiences behind each dish he served, giving a heartfelt understanding of the vibrant food culture and the remarkable individuals who contribute to it.
Find at:

Enjoy! by Lisa Childs (@tried_test_true): With more than 100 pressure-cooker recipes from breakfast dishes to desserts, this cookbook will help you gain confidence and time while using a pressure cooker or Instand Pot. Each recipe is accompanied by photos, professional tips and a QR code that leads to a detailed blog packed with additional insights, substitution suggestions, freezing instructions and more.
Find at:

Let's Eat Cookies: A Collection of the Best Cookie Recipes by Maria Lichty (@twopeasandpod): This book is both practical and visually appealing, with nine delectable cookie chapters featuring new recipes. Each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful photograph, showcasing the artistry of cookie creation. Lichty shares her best tips and tricks for achieving the perfect cookie and recommendations for kitchen and baking supplies.
Find at:

All You Can Greek by Eleni Saltas: Featuring 65 meticulously crafted recipes from Eleni Saltas (daughter of City Weekly's founder, John Saltas), this cookbook gives a taste of Greek favorites with its dips, salads, spanakopita and comforting avgolemeno soup. It also includes a glossary of Greek culinary terms, enthralling travel sections highlighting Greek beaches and monasteries and even a chapter on life lessons that celebrate the essence of Greek culture.
Find it at:


For Gourmet Ingredients
Mico's Micro Farm Home Microgreens Kit: Microgreens offer concentrated flavors and essential nutrients that enrich your meals and your well-being. Packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, microgreens surpass their fully grown counterparts in nutrient density. Not only are they a delicious way to fortify your diet, they look great as a garnish. This home kit has everything you need to grow microgreens at home.
Find it at:

Beltex Meats: This local butcher shop proudly offers pasture-raised, hormone-free, locally sourced meats, from Berkshire pork to Wagyu beef. Take advantage of their house-made sausages and bone broths for your next dinner. But hurry; availability changes frequently. 511 E. 900 South, SLC, 801-532-2641,

Beehive Cheese: Great meals often start and end with cheese, which is why a variety of sliced cheese on a charcuterie board or an elevated mac 'n' cheese casserole are always crowd pleasers. Whether it's the creaminess of Seahive or the elevated flavors of Teahive, Beehive's high-quality cheeses are always sought after and appreciated as gifts. Available at various local grocers.

Ritual Chocolate: Drinking chocolates, chocolate bars and cacao nibs make the best gifts for the chocolate lover or baker on your list. The handcrafted small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate is pure joy. Available at various local grocers and specialty markets.

Cooking Classes to Up Your Game
Orson Gygi: Classes here cater to all skill levels and are taught by qualified instructors offering an engaging and personalized learning experience in small class sizes. Participants receive hands-on instruction for a variety of culinary techniques from pizza making to decorating cakes, and much more. 3500 S. 300 West, SLC, 801-268-3316,

Park City Culinary Institute: For those who wish to take their cooking skills to a professional level, give the gift of a class or a comprehensive certificate program. The institute's programs offer a cuisine certificate as well as a pastry and baking certificate. They provide hands-on training to teach foundational cooking and baking skills. This includes mastering professional knife handling, technical cuts, food science and classical and modern cooking techniques. The certificate can be earned over a 10-week course or part-time over a period of four months. 1484 S. State, SLC, 801-413-2800,

SLICE: Do you or someone near and dear to you wish to be the best pie maker in the family? Salt Lake Culinary Education aims to enhance your culinary skills and boost self-confidence through engaging and informative classes. Whether you're a novice or an experienced cook, the in-person culinary classes provide the knowledge and techniques needed to create world-class meals at home. 2233 S. 300 East, SLC, 801-464-0113,

Harmons Cooking School: Available at multiple locations, Harmons' fun and low-stress cooking classes offer numerous culinary instructions. Classes—from crafting a cheese and grazing board, to rolling your own sushi, to perfecting delicate macarons—cater to a variety of age groups and skill levels. There are courses for Little Chefs (age 5 to 8) and Junior Chefs (age 6 and up), as well as adult-oriented courses with wine and liquor pairings taught by a team of talented chefs. Experience the art of cooking with ease.

Gadgets for the Outdoor Cook
Note: You can find the following items at BBQ Pit Stop (6212 S. State, Murray, 801-314-7173, and various retail locations around Utah.

Traeger Grills: The company that invented the original wood-fired grill also offers a pellet grill/smoker—a great introduction for outdoor cook enthusiasts who want to elevate their game. Traeger Grills come in various sizes and include WIfire technology that you control with an app—no babysitting required—which is especially helpful with a long smoke, such as a brisket. The app also includes step-by-step recipes.

Gozney: With two styles and sizes, this on-the-go oven gives pizza lovers a reason to rejoice, especially for those who love to cook outdoors or in a remote setting. Gozney's portability and ease of cooking with propane make it an excellent choice. In addition to pizza, this versatile oven cooks a perfect steak in a cast-iron skillet using Gozney's high-temperature capabilities.

Thermapen: With readings in mere seconds, this cooking thermometer is just what you need so you never serve undercooked or overcooked foods again.

Bear Paws: Created by Jordan Checketts, a local BBQ aficionado, Bear Paws offer the perfect solution for effortlessly shredding meat. The ultra-sharp "claws" allow for handling and shredding of pork, chicken, beef and more. Made with BPA-free nylon, these easy-to-use, FDA-approved tools are meltproof and dishwasher safe, withstanding temperatures up to 475 degrees. Featured on BBQ Pitmasters, Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and America's Test Kitchen.

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About The Authors

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Katharine Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses column. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.
Carolyn Campbell

Carolyn Campbell

Campbell has been writing for City Weekly since the 1980s. Her insightful pieces have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists chapters in Utah and Colorado.
Benjamin Wood

Benjamin Wood

Lifelong Utahn Benjamin Wood has worn the mantle of City Weekly's news editor since 2021. He studied journalism at Utah State University and previously wrote for The Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News and Entertainment Weekly

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