Dining Guide 2019 | Dining & Bar Guide | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Dining Guide 2019 

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Ah, simpler times. Salt Lake City's dining scene is ever exciting, thriving and on the go. Still, for our annual take on all things local food, we decided to look back—way back.

A time when recipes weren't looked up but passed down, manners were minded and the comfort of a home-cooked meal or a treat lovingly made by Grandma were met with an ear-to-ear grin, not the click of a cell phone camera.

With that in mind, City Weekly's bakers, butchers and preservers worked hard to cook up this special (and tasty) issue. In it, you'll come across everything from a master class on canning to a spotlight on fermented foods, a rundown of must-try local pickles and a Nailed It!-worthy attempt at aspic. We'll also encourage you to load up the station wagon, pull out the foldable map and venture out to some rising noshy neighborhoods. And then there's Jell-O. Our cover superstar finally gets the jiggly royal treatment it deserves, along with a slew of recipes from local notables—including a past Relief Society president.

Ready to grub? Go wash your hands and tuck in your napkin, we saved you a spot at the grown-ups' table.

—Enrique Limón,

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  • Ally Bally

Fermentation Sensation
Find true harmony from within at these local shops.
By Alex Springer

While the process of fermentation has been used for thousands of years in several different cultures and communities, it's only become trendy within the past decade or so. Once the foodie elite started to extol the virtues of probiotics and other beneficial bacteria present in fermented foods, maintaining a healthy intestinal ecosystem became the thing. For an example of what I'm talking about, a restaurant analytic organization called Upserve surveyed data from approximately 9,000 different restaurants to get a sense of what trends will be driving the industry in 2019. As it turns out, fermented food consumption is up 149% from last year—unless you're serving sauerkraut, which was actually down 18%, making it the Joey Fatone of the fermentation boy band that's taking the nation by storm.

The funny thing about this spike is that it seems to have less to do with the fact that the wellness community has gotten super horny for probiotics, and more to do with the fact that fermented food tastes good. It doesn't hurt, either, that diners are getting a bit more daring these days. The fact that fermentation creates probiotics which have been linked to helping our bodies absorb nutrients, fighting intestinal infections and keeping our metabolisms in check just happens to be a nice fringe benefit for a dining crowd that's becoming increasingly adventurous.

Luckily, any locals interested in trying out the acidic heat of homemade kimchi or welcoming some friendly bacteria into their digestive system with a cool bottle of kombucha happen to live in a surprisingly fermentation-friendly state. Read on for a rundown of a few locals that were meant to ferment.

Mamachari Kombucha
Kombucha is a fermented variety of green or black tea that is typically spiked with natural flavors and served cold. It has many of the same health benefits of tea with the added benefit of probiotics and acetic acid, which can help your stomach become a bacterial utopia. According to Lorrie Vorkink, co-owner and brew master at Mamachari, the booch has gained popularity over the years in wellness circles and mainstream society because it's starting to curb people's craving for sugary soft drinks. "People want an alternative to soda," she says. "Not everyone who buys our products are interested in the health benefits—a lot of people really like having a low-sugar alternative."

Vorkink and partner Benjamin Phillips bought Mamachari in 2015 and have grown the brand considerably since then. "We've just launched our water kefir, and our kombucha has been picked up in California and Hawaii," Vorkink says. "Fermentation has definitely taken off and is continuing to grow. I think we've been able to ride that wave."

When the team took over Mamachari, there was a steep learning curve—despite the fact that kombucha has been around for millennia, the right techniques are surprisingly hard to come by. "The information that's available to you as a commercial brewer of kombucha is next to nothing," Vorkink says. "It's trial by fire because you have to figure out how to scale up and how to keep your consistency the same. But, the challenge was fun and it's been great to learn and develop our product line."

Mamachari continues to innovate with new flavors all the time, and their taproom is a great place for booch enthusiasts to stock up and try out some of their upcoming tastes, so give it a go.
1415 S. 700 West, Ste. 4, 385-202-3391, mamachari.cc

The Angry Korean
We can't have a conversation about fermentation without bringing up the Korean treasure that is kimchi. The recipes and variations of this traditional dish are too numerous to quantify, but the basic premise of kimchi comes from salted Napa cabbage which can be combined with shredded daikon and packed into a jar with some chili paste for a few days or a few weeks depending on how funky you like your flavors (read Darby Doyle's expert canning tips to perfect your technique). It's a perfect complement to Korean dishes like bulgogi—its acidic and spicy flavor cuts through the richness of the beef for a combo that is hard to beat.

For Peter Kim, chef and owner of The Angry Korean in South Jordan, that complement is why he makes kimchi to begin with. "Any time you have something naturally fermented, it has natural bacteria which is very good for your digestive system, but that's not why I eat it," he says. "I eat it because it was something I grew up with and it pairs really well with Korean cuisine." Throughout Kim's time in the restaurant business, he's noticed a definite change in the frequency with which American diners order kimchi. "I grew up eating Korean food, but I had a lot of non-Korean friends," he says. "It would sometimes be embarrassing if I invited them over to my house and my mom had a big batch of kimchi out, they'd be like, 'Oh my God! What is that smell?' Now it's become a hipster food item. People who try it either love it or hate it, but they remember that flavor because there's nothing else like it."

While Kim maintains a love/hate relationship with kimchi, he never skimps on coming up with interesting ways to serve it. "I do a cheesesteak with bulgogi and you have the option to add kimchi to it. I offer that to customers who have never had kimchi in their lives—I just call it Korean spicy cabbage," Kim says. "I don't explain what it is—the word fermented can sometimes scare people away—but they get it, and it works really well." Trust me—one of the best possible introductions to kimchi comes from this cheesesteak sandwich. Try it here, and you'll be hooked.
11587 District Main Drive, Ste. 300, South Jordan, 801-307-8300, facebook.com/theangrykorean

Abigail's Oven
Thanks to commercial baking trends designed to get bread baked and distributed quickly and uniformly, the carbohydrates they deliver are now quickly and uniformly packed into our waistlines before we know what hit us. It wasn't always this way, though. There was a time when bread wasn't reviled for its carb content, and actually helped the body metabolize carbohydrates at a slower rate. Thanks to revivalists like the Levi family who operate Abigail's Oven, such bread recipes are returning to the limelight.

Their sourdough bread, for example, harnesses the fermentation process before it goes into the oven, creating loaves of tasty bread that hang out near the bottom of the glycemic index. It's something that the Utah County-based bakery has been passionate about for the past four years. Abigail's Oven started when 10-year-old Abigail Levi approached her parents about starting her own bread business. Her father, Allen Levi, who now runs the business, recalls the day his daughter came up with the idea. "We had a CSA farm at the time, so she just came into the field one day and told us that she had decided to do a bread business," he reminisces. "I said OK, but told her she'd have to answer phone calls and do everything herself, so she did." The family ended up getting 300 regular customers in the first year until they moved from Cedar City to Provo so the Levi patriarch could go back to school.

After working as an urban-development consultant, Levi and his family decided to give the commercial baking business another shot. "We ended up renting a commercial kitchen from a friend of ours who happened to be a bread baker and one of the founders of Colonial Fest," he says. "He wanted to teach us the colonial method of making bread, which involves fermentation. Because it was such a good bread and so good for you nutrition-wise, we chose to do that full time." As of now, Abigail's Oven has five flavors of sourdough bread, and it's for sale at natural grocers and health food stores across the Wasatch Front.

The health benefits of sourdough bread come from the natural yeast starter that, once added to flour, ferments the mixture into a dough that delivers its carbs to the body slowly, which makes it a healthier alternative to commercially produced bread. "We've traded a lot of nutrition for convenience," Levi says. "Bakers got used to a comfortable business model, and the sourdough method is slower, but it's so much better for you." It's nice to know that once that bread craving hits, I can munch on some sourdough as a tasty snack that also happens to be good for my long-suffering stomach.
421 S. 200 East, Spanish Fork, 540-817-5441, abigailsoven.com

  • Wes Ulrich

Pickled Pink

My pickle passion was set off by a bowl of chili at Publik Ed's (210 S. University St., 385-549-1928, publikcoffee.com). I'll stand by this chili forever, reader; it was so damn good. But the main reason I kept returning to it in my fond food-filled daydreams was the pink pickled onions and jalapeños topping the bowl. I started craving them so much I made a batch of pickled onions at home, which was surprisingly easy, as pickling simply requires immersing veggies for as little as 15 minutes in a brine or vinegar mixture. However, making food at home is kind of a pain in the ass in the sense that none of us get around to it as often as we'd like. So, to sate your tastebuds, a pickle tour. While large-scale artisan pickle-making has yet to come to Utah, there's still a wide variety of local iterations on this tangy, crunchy staple.

1. Proper Burger's (865 S. Main, 801-906-8604, properburgerslc.com) house-made zucchini pickles add the right amount of tang to just about all of their menu options.

2. The pickle medley at East Liberty Tap House (850 E. 900 South, 801-441-2845, eastlibertytaphouse.com) goes great with a glass of beer or cider and typically includes a trio of pickled cauliflower, beet and zucchini.

3. Find the pickled beets, beans, carrots and onions of Cache Canning Co. (cachecanning.com) seasonally at the Downtown Farmer's Market.

4. Nomad Eatery (2110 W. North Temple, 801-938-9629, nomad-eatery.com) offers dishes with a multitude of pickled vegetables, from zucchini, Fresno chili and red onion to cauliflower and even raisins.

5. Pig & A Jelly Jar (Multiple locations, pigandajellyjar.com) does pickles Southern style: slipped onto a barbecue pork sandwich; in green-bean form on their fried-chicken salad; and fried, with a side of buttermilk peppercorn dipping sauce.

6. Speaking of fried pickles, you can find this top-notch iterations of this classic bar food at four local establishments: Wasatch Brewery, Lucky 13, Whiskey Street and R&R Barbeque.

7. And last, no pickle piece would be complete without the inclusion of curtido, a Salvadoran pickled cabbage, onion and carrot mixture traditionally served on top of pupusas. Try it at Café Guanaco (499 E. 2700 South, 801-484-6584).

—Naomi Clegg

  • Darby Doyle

Shut Your Lid and Can It
All hail the Mason jar!
By Darby Doyle

There are times in life when even the most adept homemaker must defer to the experts. For instance, I still don't understand how electricity works, so I'm not going to dive in screwdriver-first with the attitude, "Welp, I'll just mess around with these here wires and hope for the best."

Canning, my friends, is in the same category for food science. You just don't fuck around with botulism.

Unlike a lot of my friends who are brand new to canning, I grew up in kitchens where "putting up" our household bounty was a year-round endeavor. I took jars of my mom's homemade plum jam to college to slather on biscuits when I was feeling homesick (Hello, freshman 15). At my Grandma Audra Belle's farmhouse kitchen, we regularly dragged out her heavy pressure canner to preserve their steelhead haul, venison stew, chicken stock or garden tomatoes.

Years later, I started out my first solo canning season with a mish-mash of inherited canning equipment, jars I picked up at Deseret Industries and a stack of earmarked cookbooks. The super-cautious side of me thought it might be a good idea to check in with the most up-to-date info on the food science side of things. Again, botulism. No bueno.

Also, I was seriously shook from hearing horror stories of exploding pressure cookers and suspect jar seals. In retrospect, I realized my grandma had probably played a little fast and loose with the chemistry side of things and relied on memory for most of her recipes. My husband was convinced that I was going to kill us all if I didn't do a little modern recon.

It was time for a reboot.

Fortunately for we denizens of Deseret, there are plenty of free or very affordable professional mentoring programs out there to make sure people are approaching canning with safety and confidence. Several years ago, I took a few community outreach classes led by the Canning Queen of SLC, Alison Einerson, and other local experts. There, they covered the fundamental science and protocols for safely preserving the basics: pickles, salsa and jam. These "Summer in a Jar" workshops are now run by Urban Food Connections of Utah in partnership with Slow Food Utah and Harmons Grocery (see more at slcfarmersmarket.org).

Take-aways from those early days of my canning re-education? Trust the science.

Like assembling pesky IKEA furniture and setting the cable remote, following the goddamn directions will save you a lot of time and grief when it comes to canning. It's crucial to have enough acid involved to inhibit dangerous cooties from taking over—in pickles that usually comes from vinegar; in jams and jellies, lemon juice. Einerson was adamant on this point: use recently-published cookbooks and recipes developed under laboratory conditions where they've established reliable pH levels. Meticulously clean your equipment. Also, most recipes are developed at sea level, so canning at higher elevation requires adding more minutes to the total processing time (there are charts; use them). If in doubt, defer to the long-standing Mason jar experts at Ball & Kerr (freshpreserving.com). These folks know their shit.

Next up? Getting over my terror of pressure canning. While water bath (you know, the boiling water method) preservation works by creating a sealed environment detrimental to microbial growth via high acid levels, pressure canning is used whenever you're putting up low-acid foods like meat, broth and most fresh-from-the-garden veggies.

Fortunately, the established go-to pros at Utah State University have this topic covered in depth on the USU Extension websites (livewellutah.org and canning.usu.edu). I signed up to learn more about advanced food preservation techniques as part of their Master Preserver Program, with week-long classes held all over Utah (extension.usu.edu/masterfoodpreserver).

Boy howdy, y'all, it was a jam-packed (heh, heh) week of eye-opening food science wonder. During the classes I attended at the Utah State Fairpark, instructors dove deep into the biology and chemistry of the myriad ways food storage can go wrong, including graphic descriptions of food-borne illness that will give you potluck potato salad aversion for life. They also covered the gamut of home-preserving methods, from dehydrating fruit to freeze-drying vegetables, fermenting foods to making a plethora of pickles. At the end of the week, the couple-dozen happy attendees celebrated with a delicious meal made from the class' hands-on efforts.

And yes, I finally got over my fear of the pressure canner.

  • Amanda Rock

Garfield Glasses, Fish Molds and Pyrex, Oh My!
Looking to add some kitsch in your kitchen? These vintage retailers have you covered.
By Amanda Rock

Funky casserole molds, cutesy salt and pepper shakers and adorable vintage cookie jars all have a place in my heart, as well as my kitchen. Nostalgia drives my passion, but I've found collecting vintage kitchenware to be a practical hobby. After all, I can use most everything I buy.

Shopping for vintage kitchen goods at my local thrift store is my idea of fun. I live for the thrill of the hunt, and the shot of adrenaline when I score. It's inexpensive retail therapy, and I've learned a lot by researching the things I buy. Sometimes, I even discover a handy device I didn't know I needed. I can't believe I settled for un-crushed ice before I found my vintage Ice-O-Mat, for example. Besides thrift stores, there's quite a few places in Salt Lake to buy vintage kitchenware; check out yard sales, estate sales and antique stores.

Pyrex is one of the most popular and collectible kitchen items; everyone is crazy about its vibrant colors and cute silkscreened patterns. The vintage Pyrex we know and love first appeared in 1945 with cheerfully primary colored nesting mixing bowls. Through the '80s there's been a lot of different patterns and colors released, and some are more rare than others. Consider yourself lucky if you find any vintage Pyrex at a thrift store—it's in high demand! There are also Pyrex-adjacent brands that are just as charming. I especially like Fire-King. The patterns and colors are gorgeous, plus I love the fact that some pieces were promotional items given away inside bags of flour in the '40s. If you're looking for some extra oomph, be on the lookout for their line of Jadeite Restaurant Ware: it's a dreamy shade of green and extremely valuable.

Remember those fast-food glasses from the early '80s? They're highly collectible and sometimes show up in thrift stores. The Garfield mugs from McDonalds are my favorite, and they're sturdy enough to use everyday. Just don't put them in the dishwasher or the colors will fade. (It's a good rule of thumb to not put anything vintage in the dishwasher.) Over the years, my husband and I have collected Smurfs glasses from Carl's Jr., Camp Snoopy from McDonald's and Looney Tunes and Star Wars from Burger King.

If you have the time and don't mind sorting through a lot of crap, thrifting can pay off. Here are some good thrift stores to check out:

Prices are reasonable at Goodwill, and they have daily sales on different colored tags. There's a modest selection of kitchenware, and I've seen some unusual items. If you're looking for a good starter pack, it's worth stopping by the trio of locations in Salt Lake City. Multiple locations, goodwillncw.org

Ah, the wonder of Savers! The retailer prices their merchandise a tad higher than other thrift stores, but selection is fantastic, and there's always great vintage stuff to discover. You can stretch your buck by signing up to their Super Savers Club, which yields coupons and sale notifications. There are five locations, one near you. Multiple locations, savers.com

Deseret Industries
The DI, as it's lovingly known around these parts, is my favorite place to shop. Prices are ridiculously low and there's a good turnover of merchandise. When you visit, be sure to skim the collectibles area. I've discovered more kitchen treasures here than anywhere else. There are five locations close to Salt Lake City, and more throughout the state. Multiple locations, deseretindustries.org

But, wait. There's more!

When you're short on time and want to get right to the good stuff, hit the antique and vintage stores. There's quite a few in Salt Lake City, here are two of my favorites:

Cobwebs Antiques & Collectibles
Tucked away in a strip mall in historic downtown Murray, this antique store has everything you'd ever want. You could spend days here and still not see everything. They carry an impressive collection of vintage lunch boxes and more cartoon character drinking glasses than I've ever seen under one roof. 4901 S. State, Murray, 801-598-0901, facebook.com/belinda.cobwebs

Copperhive Vintage
When you're in the mood to shop for retro goodies, Copperhive Vintage is your destination. This is one of the cheeriest, most-colorful shops in Salt Lake City. They consistently have a great selection of kitchenware like vintage Pyrex, linens, mugs and canisters. 2219 S. 700 East, SLC, 801-702-9884,



Molded and Set in The Beehive State
Inside Utah's love of Jell-O.

By Carolyn Campbell

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, serves Jell-O on Wednesdays. He's given more than 9,000 cups of Jell-O to visitors at his Washington, D.C., office since he began representing the state in 2011. "Everyone is welcome to enjoy the Jell-O event whenever the Senate is in session," Lee's communications director, Conn Carroll, says. "We do not deviate from the printed recipe on the Jell-O box, but we do offer whipped cream as a topping."

On Tuesday afternoons, before he leaves to go home, Bradley Beck, Lee's staff assistant, prepares five-ounce plastic cups of green Jell-O and leaves them to set in Lee's office refrigerator. He discovered—as many Utah salad makers have learned—that making Jell-O is more complex than the package instructions claim. "If you mess up any of the four steps, it all breaks down. The first time I tried to make it, the Jell-O didn't set. That was embarrassing," he says. "I made four batches after that, to be sure it would work. Now I have it down to a science. But I still need to make sure there are no bubbles." True to form, the Jell-O is always green, except on special occasions. "It's red, white and blue on the Fourth of July, and red and green at Christmas," Beck points out. He also sometimes prepares the treat for high school visitors in their school colors.

Potential attendees can call ahead to make a reservation to attend the Wednesday afternoon Jell-O event, or they can just show up at 3 p.m. "It's like an open house," Beck says. Adds Carroll, "We usually have somewhere between five and 50 visitors per week, plus we make large batches for special occasions like when high school groups come to visit or the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce comes to town." He explains that while some other senators host coffee meetings for constituents, because Lee doesn't drink coffee, he originated the idea of serving Jell-O. "It's a way for Utahns to taste a little bit of Utah while they are here visiting," he adds. Carroll says Lee loves to tell the story of how the Utah Legislature declared Jell-O to be the official state snack back in 2001. In the declaration, it says Jell-O brand gelatin was introduced to the country in 1897, just one year after the Beehive was admitted to the Union as the 45th state. New York construction worker and entrepreneur Pearl Wait originated the gelatin creation. His wife named it Jell-O. The first flavors were strawberry, raspberry, orange and lemon. "Jell-O was a food wonder of the scientific era," says Marsha Stornetta, a researcher who has studied the sticky stuff. "Gelatin, which had once taken several onerous hours over a stove, could be produced by simply dissolving powder in water."

Because three boxes cost just 25 cents in the 1930s, Jell-O helped the Depression-era housewife stretch her budget. Before it became a state symbol, lime Jell-O, introduced in 1930, was an instant favorite with cooks who recognized how well its flavor blended with additions ranging from leftover meat to tuna to garden vegetables and fresh fruit. Mormons seemed to follow that trend. In 1934, The Relief Society Magazine published its version of Fannie Farmer's famous Ginger Ale Salad—a cup of ginger ale added to gelatin and grapes, celery, apples and pineapple. The church-wide distribution of several Jell-O recipes in the magazine not only helped spread the Mormon preference for Jell-O throughout its stakes, but also reflected a national trend: In the 1930s, almost a third of the salad recipes in any cookbook were gelatin-based, according to Carolyn Wyman, author of Jell-O, a Biography.

The Midwest was once considered the highest-consuming Jell-O area in the nation. But, in the early 1990s, Salt Lake City residents bought the most Jell-O nationwide—a total of four boxes per year per person, about four times as much as the average American. "Local food experts attributed Jell-O's popularity to the city's extensive Mormon population with their large families and low alcohol consumption, and compensating high sugar intake," Wyman says.

In 1999, Kraft Foods, owners of the Jell-O brand, announced that Des Moines, Iowa, was now the highest-consuming Jell-O population. "We don't like to talk about that," Beck says. Utahns then rallied to take back the title. The Salt Lake Tribune's editorial cartoonist Pat Bagley penned a cartoon persuading Utahns to purchase more Jell-O. Bambara chef Scott Blackerby hosted a recipe contest, which yielded entries such as "Pool Party," "Erupting Volcano" and "Seagull Splat." Utah Holiday Magazine hosted the Last Annual Jell-O festival, where one sculpture depicted a Utah basement—an artfully arranged pile of diaper boxes and Jell-O packages. "It was astonishing what people could make from Jell-O. There was a Delicate Arch made out of orange Jell-O," recalls Sharon Swenson, widow of Utah Holiday editor Paul Swenson. "It was a way to unleash creativity." Throughout 2000, BYU students campaigned at festivals and fairs across the state, in an effort to make Utah's love of Jell-O known far and wide.

A year later, when Utah won back the title by narrowly surpassing Iowa in annual Jell-O consumption, the Utah Legislature designated Jell-O as the state snack. They named Bill Cosby, Jell-O's official spokesman, as an honorary Utah citizen. He praised Utah for once again landing the title of "Jell-O capital of the world." The 2002 Olympic pin that features a bowl of green Jell-O has become a valuable collector's item. Last month, one such pin was offered for sale on eBay for $90.

Lynne Galia, corporate affairs representative for Kraft-Heinz, says that while she's aware of Jell-O competitions in the past, the company no longer tracks sales totals by state, so there isn't an updated winner. Still, Beck adds that as far as he knows, Utah is still the highest per capita consumer.

"Frankly, for all its talk, I think Utah likes the idea of Jell-O more than it likes eating it," researcher Stornetta says. "Jell-O is a very Midwestern concept. I found many, many states and religious traditions that thought they were unique in their Jell-O traditions.She feels that the ubiquitous Jell-O salad at LDS church gatherings has long been replaced by tossed salads. "There is always a tossed salad. Doesn't require much thought and can't offend anyone," she says, adding, "and yet, the funeral potatoes—which also occur throughout middle America—persist in Utah."

Stornetta admits that her own Mormon childhood included a lot of Jell-O. "It was my job to make the Jell-O salad every Sunday morning. I dipped a quarter cup into the big commercial size boxes of Jell-O my mother had, added the water and some fruit, and put it in the fridge to set," she recalls. "We enjoyed our salad by the time we returned home from Sunday School for Sunday dinner." She also remembers recipes for special occasions, a strawberry Jell-O with a sour cream layer, and an orange one with whipped cream frosting. "But to be honest, we rarely ate lime Jell-O. The first time she had lime Jell-O was during her freshman year at BYU. "My new roommate had prepared a recipe with cottage cheese and pineapple. I choked it down." And it was not the worst Jell-O recipe Stornetta ever saw. While some say that popularity of green Jell-O in Utah stems from Utahns' propensity to add shredded carrots to the green gelatin, in years past, adding other main dish foods to Jell-O was actually common. There were numerous main-course Jell-O recipes in the 1960s. "I seem to recall one with hot dogs," Stornetta says. "I am not sure who ever thought those recipes were a good idea, much less who ever ate them."

Mouth watering yet? Here are some prized Jell-O recipes from a few Utah notables:

Ann Cannon, Salt Lake Tribune advice columnist
Patti's Blueberry Mold

2 packages (3 ounces each) raspberry flavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water
1 package cream cheese (3 ounces)
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple with juice
1 15-ounce can blueberries with juice
1 pint whipping cream, whipped
2 bananas, sliced
Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add cream cheese, pineapple with juice and blueberries with juice. Fold in ½ cup whipped cream. Pour into a six-cup ring mold and chill until set. Unmold and fill center with ½ pint sweetened whipped cream and sliced bananas.

Arlene Bascom, Founder, Latter-Day Woman Magazine
Mostly Fruit Jell-O Salad

1 package (6 ounces) raspberry Jell-O
1 ¼ cup boiling water
1 package (10 ounces) frozen raspberries and juice
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
2 bananas, diced
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Combine Jell-O and boiling water and stir until dissolved. Add all the fruits and the nuts, and refrigerate until firm.
Yield: About 8 servings

Julie Ulrich, banquet manager (retired), The Lion House,
SLC's Pear Whip Salad

1 large Black Cherry Jell-O
1 large can pears-reserve liquid
1 cup whipped cream
Using the liquid from the pears and enough water to make 2 cups, dissolve Jell-O and set it. Mash the pears.
Whip the cream (do not sweeten).
When the Jell-O is set, use two forks and shred it.
Stir in the pears and then fold in the whipped cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Gloria Bagley, past Relief Society president
Cran-Raspberry Jell-O Salad

In a 9-by-13 dish, dissolve 1 large package (6 ounces) raspberry Jell-O in 2 cups boiling water. Blend until Jell-O is dissolved.
Add 1 cup cold water; 1 can whole cranberry sauce
Blend together until cranberry sauce is broken up.
Add 1 10-ounce package frozen raspberries and 1 large apple, peeled and diced. Refrigerate until set, then spread on the following topping:
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
8-ounce container Cool Whip. (Thaw frozen Cool Whip for five hours in refrigerator so it will be the right consistency to blend with the softened cream cheese.)
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread on top of set Jell-O.

Gail Miller, owner, Utah Jazz
Jazzy Jell-O Salad

1 regular container of Cool Whip
1 container 16-ounce cottage cheese
1 can of crushed pineapple (drained)
1 6-ounce package of lime Jell-O (can also use pistachio pudding)
Mix all of this together and then set in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. Enjoy!

  • Felecia Helms

Rest In Potato
An ode to Utah's favorite savory casserole.
By Amanda Rock

The first time I ate funeral potatoes, I was celebrating Christmas with my future husband and his family. I was delighted by their cheesy goodness and macabre moniker. (Growing up Catholic in Salt Lake City, I missed out on a few things.)

Made by The Relief Society, the female auxiliary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, funeral potatoes are a mainstay of social gatherings. No post-funeral luncheon in the LDS faith is complete without a few families' versions of 'em. Ever the versatile hotdish, funeral potatoes show up at happier times, too. They are delivered to homes with new babies, and appear as a side dish at potlucks and holiday meals. "When we serve them at Christmastime, we call them 'Christmas Potatoes,'" quips Beckie Rock, my mother-in-law.

In a pinch? They can be made the night before—just pop the casserole in the oven for an hour or so to reach crunchy perfection. Made from ingredients you have on hand: creamy soup, sour cream, potatoes, onions, butter and potato chips or cornflakes, it's a cinch to double the recipe in order to feed a crowd, and the casserole travels well. With a versatile recipe (every family seems to have their own version), the mellow flavor welcomes experimentation. Two popular additions are bacon and broccoli. Representing comfort food at its comfiest, funeral potatoes are delicious and satisfying.

Like its lime-green sweet counterpart, the dish is such a huge part of Utah's food culture, it also appeared on a souvenir pin during the 2002 Winter Games. Yet, they still seem weird—not to mention a little macabre—to the outside world. Augason Farms, a local business specializing in emergency food supplies, advertised their instant funeral potatoes (just add water and top with cheese) across Facebook last spring, bringing the beloved Utah casserole to the attention of a very confused, and slightly offended, wider audience. People took to Twitter to figure out the cultural phenomenon while Utahns were delighted to take center stage on social media, proselytizing about the cheesy potato casserole.

Just how ubiquitous are they? Funeral potatoes can even be found at local restaurant menus across town. "I love them, they're one of our top sellers, and I can talk about them for hours." says Chef J. Looney. The Fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes ($8) at Garage on Beck are the stuff of local legend. They're rolled in cornflakes, deep fried, and served with cool, creamy ranch dressing. "This is Utah, and no meal is complete without ranch," explains the chef, referencing Utah's favorite salad dressing and dip. Their original recipe is studded with bacon ("Because we can," he points out). There's also a fiery version with added habanero and a vegetarian offering.

My mother-in-law's famous funeral potatoes are based on a recipe from her ward cookbook, Happiness is Homemade. Winnie Rohde, who wrote the recipe, grated her own cheese, and parboiled and grated her potatoes. She preferred chopped green onions and cornflakes for the topping. It seems like every family takes pride in their own recipe, and has their own distinct take on the dish. "Some friends add a half teaspoon garlic powder, a teaspoon salt, and a half teaspoon pepper," Beckie says. "I have a friend who adds a mixture of cream cheese and sour cream, which makes her's extra creamy."

I recently made Beckie's funeral potatoes for the first time, and like everyone else, I slightly altered the recipe to my taste. I opted for vegetarian cream of mushroom soup, added plenty of salt and pepper, as suggested by my co-worker, and decided on a topping of crumbled potato chips and shredded cheese. I cooked them for a little over an hour because I was after a golden brown, crispy crust. I was impressed by how simple and quick the dish was to make, and imagined what a lifesaver this casserole would be to a busy mom with five kids underfoot—everything comes together in one pot, then you pour the mixture into a casserole dish and throw it in the oven. It doesn't get much easier than that. My potatoes turned out great I must say. They were velvety smooth and just the right amount of creamy. Sharp cheddar added a nice zing and the potato-chip crust was delectable. The recipe produced so much I decided to make two small casseroles. I brought the other one to my mom because, after all, It seemed only right to share funeral potatoes with a loved one. Onto the good stuff!

Beckie Rock's Funeral Potatoes:

Start to finish: 1 hour and 15 minutes (15 minutes active)
Servings: 8

¼ cup butter
⅓ cup diced onion
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, or cream of celery soup
1 8-ounce package of shredded cheddar cheese. Reserve some cheese to sprinkle on top.
30-ounce package of frozen shredded hash browns.

Topping: Shredded cheese and/or ½ cup bread crumbs mixed with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, sprinkled with dried parsley for color.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13 casserole dish.

In a large pot, melt ¼ cup butter over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook 3-5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the soup, sour cream and cheese. Stir to blend. Add the hash browns, and stir until everything is blended.

Pour the mixture into the casserole dish. Top evenly with the shredded cheese and breadcrumb mixture, sprinkle with dried parsley. Bake 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how crispy brown you want the top to be, and dig in—no mourning attire required!


Throne of Game
For nearly 40 years, Meier's Game Processing has been helping hunters get the most of their meat.
By Alex Springer

Although I haven't been deer hunting since high school, I will always remember the profound role that a good game-processing plant plays in the overall experience. For my dad, my brothers and I, hunting was first and foremost about getting some quality time with one another while tromping through the wilderness. When we did happen to shoot ourselves a buck, we wanted to make sure to be as conservative as possible with the meat, which was why we trusted that process to local professional butchers. It's a specialty that's been practiced since humans first learned to hunt, and one that's very much alive and well in Utah.

Among the most prominent of these game-processing plants is Meier's Game Processing (12835 S. Minuteman Drive, Draper, 801-572-5039) which has been in business since 1980. It's owned and operated by Clay and Elizabeth Meier, who are both veterans of the meat-processing industry. "We just opened our own meat market and started processing game meat, and it grew from there," says Elizabeth Meier, who was enjoying the off-season in California when reached on the phone.

Come August, once the Meiers high season is in full swing, it'll be back to business as usual through January. "I don't ever plan—is that terrible?" Meier says of her prep for next season. "I try to do the best job I can for everyone along the way." With the amount of experience she and her family bring to the table, it's clear they'll have everything in hand once the orders start coming in.

The basic package for any piece of game that comes through the door includes steaks, roast and ground hamburger, but customers can also get jerky, salami and sausage for a little extra. "We use good, clean meat," Meier notes. "Anything that is edible is cut into steak, roast and hamburger, which can take anywhere from two to six weeks depending on how busy it is."

Although recreational hunting isn't the pastime it once was—Meier recalls whole school districts shutting due to hunting season when she was younger—the presence of a dependable, clean and efficient game-processing plant can make or break the whole experience. "A lot of the time, people will try to process their own game, and just like anything, if you don't know what you're doing, you're not going to do a good job," she says. If hunting game is your game and you're looking to get the most bang for your buck—or buck for your buck, for that matter—it's best to leave it to the professionals.


What Would Ms. Darby Do?
Navigating modern manners doesn't have to be a big ol' crapshoot. Just ask the expert.

Dear Ms. Darby,
Is it ever OK to show up early to a party?
—Always Prompt

Dear Prompt,
Short answer: No.
The long answer: Please, no. Just ... don't.
That last half hour before a party starts is peak shit-show; scrambling to get appetizers set out, queuing up music, bitching at your partner for not getting enough ice, lighting candles, putting on pants. Unless you are the host's BFF and they've specifically requested you help set up, showing up early almost always throws a big glitch in a host's giddy-up. If you, Prompt, are right on time and keep asking what you can do to help, pitch in where and how the host suggests, but don't take it upon yourself to clean, rearrange furniture, or plate unless specifically asked to do so. You don't want to be the person who well intentionally cleans up the countertop only to find out that you threw away all of the clamshells that the host was planning to stuff for serving. True story. My job for early guests? Grab yourself a drink, and get me one while you're at it, pretty please.

Dear Ms. Darby,
What the hell is a "Hostess Gift," and when should I bring one?
—So Confused

Dear Confused,
General rule of thumb: never show up empty handed.
Unless it's a casual "stop by later" sitch with your closest friends, bringing a small token of appreciation to acknowledge the host's effort in opening up their home and in thanks for the invitation is a thoughtful custom. It doesn't need to be extravagant or expensive. Flowers and food items are lovely, but keep in mind that the point of the host gift is to add to the host's joy, not make more work for them with a whole country ham in need of refrigerator space, or demanding they open up your bottle of wine to breathe, stat. Some of my favorite host gifts? An engraved bottle opener (thanks, Enrique!), seed starts for a countertop herb garden, artisan chocolate, homemade jam, notecards or a vintage cookbook. I always appreciate it when guests include a short personal note with the gift, or a favorite cocktail recipe jotted down to accompany a bottle of booze.

Dear Ms. Darby,
It was recently my turn to host our monthly book group. Ten people replied "yes" to the Facebook group invite, but only three people showed up. I put a lot of time and expense into cleaning up, preparing lots of food and buying wine. I'm pissed off, but also kind of paranoid. Does everyone hate me?
—Really Sad Very Perplexed

Dear RSVP,
You're not alone, my flummoxed friend. It's an unfortunately flaky trend that seems to be getting worse every year, if complaints on my own Facebook and Twitter feeds are any indication. It may seem at first that last-minute ditching is a relatively minor mannerly infraction. But as we see in your case, the downside is bruised feelings and leftover cheese platter sadness for days.

Like many instances of consciously using our good manners, following through on a "yes" reply is essentially an application of empathy. That "do unto others" shtick is no bullshit. To be fair, it's probably not about you personally, RSVP, and more about your book group's demographics. If many of you have young kiddos, there's a good chance someone's going to be sick or child care falls through. Although shooting a quick "Sorry! Something came up!" text seems like a nicer option than totally ghosting the host, this casual out is no less hurtful when it's amplified by many. Maybe the members of your book group need a not-so-gentle reminder that all of you are all in the same hosting boat, so to speak. This seems like a good time to re-evaluate your responsibilities to each other and the group to build up, rather than undermine, your friendships. Perhaps monthly meetings are just too much commitment, and an every-other-month schedule might have higher attendance? Maybe y'all decide that meeting at a coffee shop or for cocktails could take more pressure off individual hosts' time and pocketbooks? There's no easy answer, RSVP. On the bright side, you're stocked up on wine and got the vacuuming done, which is more than I can say for my own casa right now.

  • Derek Carlisle

Fledgling Foodies
Thinking about expanding your progeny's palate? Check out these kid-friendly restaurants.
By Alex Springer

When my wife and I started talking about having kids, we talked a lot about raising open-minded eaters. Part of this motivation was selfish, of course—we sure as hell didn't want to find ourselves in the awkward spot of asking a server to rustle up a hot dog because our kid won't eat anything else. Most of our reasoning, however, came from the idea that food should be fun. It's also one of the most convenient and enjoyable ways to experience cultures outside of our own, and we wanted our offspring to associate the enjoyment of new food with the enjoyment of diversity as a whole.

Now that our daughter is almost 2, this experiment is in full swing. When she agreed to give chicken feet a try at a local dim sum restaurant, I had a proud realization that our efforts just might be paying off. While I don't know if she'll maintain this adventurous attitude as she gets older, I think we've done a pretty good job at setting the stage. We couldn't have done it, however, without a few local kid-friendly restaurants. Here are a few places that have either given some thought to their younger diners, or became unexpected favorites of our fledgling foodie.

Mahider Ethiopian Restaurant
When I tried Ethiopian food for the first time, I didn't quite understand how awesome a place like this would be from a kid's perspective. One of the main tenets of eating Ethiopian food is that it's done without utensils. Instead, diners are given liberal slices of injera, a spongy, sourdough-like flatbread that they use to scoop up their food. Two-year-olds are still eating most everything with their fingers, so a place where that's actually encouraged means a lot. Toddlers don't often get to see their parents eat without utensils, and when everyone at the table is getting hands-on with their food the fun factor starts to climb. My daughter was a fan of the shiro wot, a vegetarian dish of split peas, garlic, tomatoes and onion. She's very much into dipping, so we just ripped her some pieces of injera and let her go to town.
1465 S. State, Ste. 7, 801-975-1111, mahiderethiopian.com

Bruges Waffles & Frites
Sure, waffles and fries are universally kid-friendly, and the stuff at Bruges aims a bit higher than your typical Eggos and Ore-Idas. Bruges cooks up the renowned Liège waffles created by Belgian chefs hundreds of years ago, which are essentially the Rolls Royce of the waffle world. They're rich, dense and boast a pleasantly caramelized exterior. Bruges offers several different variations and toppings, but the dish designed with the young in mind is none other than the Waffle Monster. It's a Liège waffle stuffed with speculoos, and topped with vanilla bean ice cream, strawberries and blueberries that have been arranged into a goofy face. Not only will this appease any kid's sweet tooth, but it's actually quite adorable once it arrives at the table with its strawberry grimace.
Multiple locations, brugeswaffles.com

Twisted Fern
I've been around the block enough times to see that, when it comes to kids' menus, most restaurants tend to phone it in. I get that restaurants serve an adult clientele, and their focus should remain on pleasing those folks, but there was a pleasant surprise to peruse the kid's menu at Twisted Fern and see it included some dishes that appeal to younger diners. For example, their kids' menu includes an entrée of grilled trout, asparagus and fries. Your kid not a fish fan? Then try some cauliflower grits with summer squash instead. They're both lovely, healthy options you just don't see every day.
1300 Snow Creek Drive, Ste. RS, Park City, 435-731-8238, twistedfern.com

Mr. Charlie's Chicken Fingers
While chicken fingers are likely to show up on a kid's menu regardless of where you go, let's not fool ourselves and think that all fingers are created equal. Mr. Charlie's is for that kid in your life who has transcended the everyday affection that youngsters have for these strips of fried chicken and become a true connoisseur. Not only are these some of the best chicken fingers I've ever tasted, the fact that their poultry is cage-free and devoid of antibiotics and steroids is something conscientious parents will appreciate. Since chicken fingers are the only thing on the menu, it's a place where adults and children can eat in harmony with one another—there's nothing wrong with letting the future generation know that their love of chicken fingers will endure well into adulthood.
554 W. 4500 South, Murray, 801-803-9486, mrcharlieschickenfingers.com

  • Enrique Limón

Neighborhood Noshing
Load up the station wagon and check out these local foodie oases.
By Alex Springer

The dining scene along the Wasatch Front has evolved to the point where each neighborhood offers some slices of international flavor. From West Valley to Canyon Rim, here are some places to tempt your sense of culinary adventure.

West Valley
The force of pho is strong in the WVC. I've been slowly making my way through the city's vast collection of Vietnamese restaurants, and I'm always surprised at how each establishment approaches traditional Vietnamese dishes. Gossip Tapioca (1629 W. 3500 South, 801-886-2868, gossiptapioca.com), for example, offers a wide variety of noodle soups that don't skimp on the tripe and tendons. They're also boasting one of the largest and most delicious menus of boba teas and smoothies around—the PPMS ($4.25) is a tropical dream of passion fruit, peach, mango and strawberry.

On the banh mi side of things, I've become a fan of Hot Banh (2662 S. 5600 West, 801-964-6558). Their menu is full of sandwich staples like short rib ($4.99) and the sunny-side-up egg ($2.99) which are always tasty. They're one of the most wallet-friendly joints in town. I'm always happy to recommend the avocado ($3.99) or vegan ($3.99) banh mi to those looking for something plant-based—both sandwiches are filling and delicious.

Rose Park/Poplar Grove
If you're running a Mexican restaurant within a 5-mile radius of a local powerhouse like Red Iguana, you've got to pull out all the stops. It's a challenge that the residents of Rose Park and Poplar Grove have met head-on, and fans of Mexican food get to reap the benefits. If you're in the mood for tacos, burritos and quesadillas, look no further than Santo Taco (910 N. 900 West, 801-893-4000, facebook.com/santotacoslc). This up-and-coming taquería brings all the charm of your favorite downtown taco cart—and its corresponding menu of tacos de lengua ($2.50) or de cabeza ($2)—into a stylish, fast-casual restaurant.

Those looking for a Mexican food menu that specializes in traditional dishes like meaty albóndigas ($10.50) soup or the eye-catching mojarra frita ($14.50, pictured) will want to check out the cozy confines of Julia's Mexican Food (51 S. 1000 West, 801-521-4228). Not that their menu of tacos and burritos can't stand on its own, but this is a place where one can get a more pure sense of the range that Mexican food really has.

Holladay/Canyon Rim
Thanks to our wide variety of Indian food restaurants, I've come to associate the savory scents of butter chicken and tikka masala with the crisp mountain air that wafts down from the Wasatch mountains from Cottonwood Canyon. The foothills are no stranger to tasty Indian restaurants, and Bombay House (2731 W. Parleys Way, 801-581-0222, bombayhouse.com) is among the most revered. It was one of the first Indian restaurants to combine the ambiance of a destination dinner with some truly delicious interpretations of Indian classics. Their flavorful rogan josh ($14.95) and chicken tikka masala ($13.95) never disappoint.

For fans of the tandoor oven and its ability to supercharge kabobs and veggies, the aptly named Tandoor Indian Grill (4828 S. Highland Drive, 801-999-4243, tandoorindiangrill.com) has you covered. Their house special kebab ($15.95) will make you second guess your favorite barbecue joint, and the mixed grill ($17.95) is a showcase of how that tandoor process complements both chicken and shrimp.

  • John Taylor

Send Noodles
Pho is out, Ramen is cooling down ... so what's next?

By Alex Springer

We now take a break from nostalgia and travel to present time. Thing is, as much as I will always love the intoxicating, anise-tinged broth of a good pho, it's time to officially declare the reign of this tasty Vietnamese soup has ended. It enjoyed a good run with its ability to cater to diverse audiences—pho is universally loved by vegans and meat eaters alike—and will always have a place in the noodle soup hall of fame. The logical successor to pho is Japanese ramen, which is still exploding in a big way, but I'm sensing the winds of change a-blowing. More and more diners still are enjoying their ramen, but there's a wistfulness among them—almost like they know ramen is in its twilight, and are uncertain about where to take their noodle soup cravings next. We're never going to stop enjoying our pho and our ramen, but there'll come a time when they cease to be "cool"—and I have a feeling it's not far away.

If you've found yourself a little bored by egg noodles and bone broth, fear not—ramennui is a common but diagnosable affliction. Rather than give up on noodle soups completely, the best cure for the ramen lethargies is to seek out and slurp up some Chinese noodle soups—their basic components are the same, but there's a whole other world of flavors and textures to explore. The best part? You don't even have to go very far for this curative pilgrimage because Chinese noodle restaurants have been flourishing in Utah for years. Choosing the right kind of noodle—udon or soba?—alone is enough to jumpstart your drive for customization, and that's only the beginning. The variety present in different combinations of broth, protein and veggies is endless and I have a suspicion that a trip to one of our fantastic little noodle joints will recharge your enthusiasm for hot soup and chewy noodles.

I recently discussed the nuances of traditional Chinese noodle soups with Wayne Ye, owner and chef of CY Noodles House (3390 S. State, Ste. 18, 801-485-2777, cynoodlehouseut.com). "We had this idea to create your own noodle soup," Ye says. "You could choose your own broth, style and meat." The build-your-own concept had already gained traction in other fast-casual restaurants, and diners loved to customize their experience. The natural variety of Chinese noodle soups made this process easy, individualized and familiar, which started to put CY Noodles on the map.

The restaurant has since moved locations within the Chinatown Supermarket commercial area to accommodate a larger audience. "We added some Sichuan dishes when we moved to the new location, which is popular right now," Ye says. He also notes that the main difference between Chinese noodle soup and Japanese ramen is the use of different levels of heat. "Japanese style is more like a bone soup," Ye says. "We do a North Chinese style soup, so it's different—it's a little spicier."

It's the most fun to get creative with their BYO section of noodle soup, but their dan dan noodles with ground pork ($9.25) will suit you regardless of your mood. Something about the hand-cut noodles and rich broth always warms me up from the inside out.

Noodle soup enthusiasts can also visit One More Noodle House (3370 S. State, Ste. N5, 801-906-8992, onemorenoodlehouse.com) which actually took over CY Noodles' old locale. Despite the cool indifference of its name, One More is bringing a lot of unique style and flavor to the Chinese noodle soup game. It boasts a well-stocked chalkboard menu of traditional Chinese noodle soups which also features some sides and appetizers to further customize your meal. Even with a few visits under my belt, I've only started to scratch the surface of this monolithic menu. I have a tough time veering away from the numbing spicy beef noodle ($9.58) with a stew egg ($1), a broth-boiled egg that has turned a chocolatey color in the process. It's spicy, smoky and the homemade noodles are absolutely lovely.

Travel a bit further north on State and you'll find the gem known as Mom's Kitchen (2233 S. State, 801-486-0092, momskitchensaltlakecity.com), a cozy Taiwanese restaurant that can whip up a bowl of beef stewed noodles ($9.99) that will make you forget all your woes. This is a soup that has a deep, unctuous appreciation for the beef flavor that permeates every bite. Thin slices of beef brisket float leisurely in the rich brown broth, and the noodles soak up all that flavor in magnificent slippery slurps. It's perfect for a cold, miserable day. Or on a warm, sunny day. Or any day that you feel like eating something, really.

Time will tell if Chinese noodle soups start to take up the mantle of most on-trend noodle soup, but whether they become trendy or not, you'll have a whole new world of noodle-based goodness to explore once that ramennui sets in.

  • Enrique Limón

Toast With the Most
An actual millennial's guide to the best avocado toast in the city.
By Naomi Clegg

Look, millennials get a lot of shit. We're too lazy; we work too hard. We spend too much money on non-essentials (verifiably not true, thank you, though); we don't spend enough to keep the economy going. We can't do anything right, which is basically every new generation's curse. About three years ago, one Australian millionaire's offhand complaint turned avocado toast into a meme synonymous with millennial excess. But you know what? I think it's pretty hard to argue that avocado toast is something we're doing wrong.

The bread-plus-avocado combo has been around basically since avocados existed (maybe in tortilla-plus-avo form, originally, at least according to a Taste article) and now is practically blasé because, duh, who doesn't like a well-salted, perfectly ripe avocado on crusty bread? And spending six bucks on toast made by someone else isn't going to make our student loan debt evaporate or help us save for that unattainable mortgage. Plus, fun fact for thrifty dads out there: In the '70s, avocados cost the equivalent of five of today's dollars; now, on a good day, you can get them three for a buck.

Thus my quest for the best avo toast in Salt Lake: Five days. Five toasts. One 26-year-old writer. Downtown SLC is a veritable mecca for avocado toast. Seriously—all of the below options are within walking distance from each other. Alas, this writer has an inherited gluten intolerance (thanks, mom and dad). Thus, you'll see gluten-free bread when available, but for you, dear reader, I braved the wheat and its consequences. All the toasts I've tried are arranged roughly by rank, though the last three might as well be tied given their pure goodness. All right, now keep calm and avocado on. (Too much? Sorry.)

5. Palo Alto ($6)
The trendy fast-casual Pulp Lifestyle Kitchen (49 E. Gallivan Ave., 801-456-2513, pulplifestylekitchen.com) offers two types of avocado toast: the Hipster (plain smashed avo on wheat, $6) and the Palo Alto, a Tex-Mex-inspired creation covered in corn, black beans and green onions. I chose the latter, which was pitifully wimpy: thin, generic wheat bread and a very skimpy layer of already browning avocados. Sadly, the promised cilantro-lime cashew cream seemed to be missing, or at least unidentifiable. It's hard to mess up avocado toast, but this fell short.

4.Avocado Tartine ($7.50)
I expected great things from The Rose Establishment (235 S. 400 West, 801-208-5569, theroseestb.com). To be fair, I suspect I missed out by opting for gluten-free bread here ($1), which was not bad but not special—I spied a glutenous house-made bread that looked thick and seedy. The side of lightly dressed butter lettuce was perfect, but despite the fancy name, the toast was simply run of the mill. Eaters can choose from three optional toppings: pickled beets, pickled onions or a soft-boiled egg ($1.50), and I will say that the egg was well worth it.

3. Roasted Beet & Avocado Toast ($10)
Eva's Bakery (155 S. Main, 801-355-3942, evasbakeryslc.com) is a patisserie á la française with a full selection of baked goods; their avocado toast comes in a stripped-down version ($4.50) and as a full meal alongside soft, perfectly cooked potatoes and a small side salad. This is not casual toast. This is eat-with-a-fork-and-marvel toast: chewy, expertly browned seedy bread with crusty edges; perfectly ripe avocado arranged atop thinly sliced, cooked red-and-yellow beets; a tangy lemon-herb vinaigrette glistening on top. It's almost too pretty to eat and tastes as good as it looks.

2. Avocado Toast ($6)
Publik Coffee Roasters (multiple locations, publikcoffee.com) has earned a well-deserved toast reputation all on their own. My usual order: gluten-free bread, goat cheese, seasonal jam. But they do savory just as well. My toast sported a good centimeter of smashed avocado and a heavy dose of black pepper, flaky Maldon sea salt, and good olive oil. And oh, that magical bread—crumbly, but still moist; substantial, but not too dense; thick and pillowy and flecked with brown. It's the best gluten-free bread I've ever tasted; I could write a love song to it.

1. Avocado Toast ($7)
The pared-down grub menu at Rugged Grounds (29 E. 400 South, 385-309-3003, ruggedgrounds.com) serves their toast well. It's perfect in its simplicity: two thick slices of crusty sourdough bread, your choice of olive oil or butter (I went with the latter), and an entire avocado gently sliced and heaped high on top. The final, thoughtful touch: a scattering of sesame, poppy and caraway seeds. Divine.

  • Darby Doyle

Aspicalypse Now: Resurrecting the Jell-O Salad
By Darby Doyle

They were a common feature at every church potluck, family dinner and neighborhood barbecue of my youth: the molded gelatin salad. The especially fancy ones had colorful layers dotted with glistening fruits and vegetables, although most had very little "salad" involved in the mix. One of my grandmother's go-to recipes used a combination of this week's cover star in all its green glory, shredded carrots, pineapple chunks and cottage cheese, and no Thanksgiving table was complete without a molded ring of cherry gelatin with cranberries, pecans and cream cheese.

And that's just the sweet side of the Jell-O salad selection. Long before commercial gelatin appeared in store shelves, thrifty households boiled beef or pork bones, releasing collagen to create aspics. They clarified and strained the resulting goo and re-molded it to chill with savory additions of meat, hard boiled egg, seafood and vegetables. Scholars have noted references to thickened meat broth aspics back to the Middle Ages, and elaborate molded aspics later set the standard for classical French cuisine and elaborate Victorian repasts. SLC's own Beltex Meats utilizes the delicious utility of this tasty technique on the regular; check out their spectacular head cheese as an example.

With the early-20th century advent of home refrigeration and inexpensive commercial gelatin packets, savvy American home cooks took this 'fancy' culinary technique and adapted it to the frugality of using up kitchen leftovers. Flipping through my vintage cookbook collection, the pages are filled with recipes for all kinds of jellied and jiggly creations. While some of the combos might not appeal to modern palates (Cherry-Catsup Salad ca. 1964, anyone?) there's something mighty appealing to the notion of utilizing a bunch of stuff you've probably got squirreled away in the pantry and creating something fun to look at, am I right? Fits right in with the post-Depression era generation's legendary thriftiness and affinity for easily portable dishes made to feed a crowd. No wonder Jell-O became a staple of Utah family dining.

Looking to embrace my inner mid-century mama, I took on CW editor Enrique Limón's request to do a little Nailed It!-inspired gelatin experiment. My friend, Pastry Chef Amber Billingsley, graciously lent me her set of molds and we drank a lot of very good rum while we perused vintage recipes and settled on this Vegetable Gelatin Salad from a 1965 Woman's Day magazine cookbook to meet the challenge.

Vegetable Salad from Woman's Day magazine, 1965

2 boxes (3 ounces each) lemon-flavored gelatin
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
¾ cup cold water
dash of black pepper
¼ cup white vinegar
2-3 stuffed green olives, sliced
1 small tomato cut into wedges
1 8-ounce can sliced carrots, drained
2 cups canned green lima beans

To serve: salad greens and mayonnaise

Dissolve gelatin and salt in boiling water. Add cold water, pepper and vinegar. Pour a little into a 1 ½-quart mold and arrange olive slices; let set. Add tomato wedges and a little more gelatin; let set. Chill remaining gelatin until slightly thickened. Divide and fold carrots into one portion and pour into mold. Then fold Lima beans into other portion and pour into mold. Let stand to chill overnight. Unmold on greens and serve with mayonnaise. Makes 6-8 servings.

So, did I nail it? My grocery store didn't have canned lima beans, so I cooked and cooled some frozen ones which seemed to be a solid substitution. Also, a lot of vintage cookbooks leave out the very crucial detail that you need to lightly oil (or, modern short-cut: coat with cooking spray) the mold before filling to keep things from sticking.

But, the crucial verdict: How did it taste?! Well, it wasn't as awful as I'd expected. Canned carrots are just about as flavorless and soft as you'd imagine, so that layer was a spit-pass in my book. Adding the salt, pepper and vinegar provided a nice balance to what I'd assumed would be a too-sweet overall profile from the lemon Jell-O; it actually was a nice foil to the earthy notes from the lima beans and olives; tangy mayo and bitter greens as the garnish definitely helped round out this flavor combo, too. Would any of my other family members even try it? Not even on a dare.

Diving back in to aspics gave me a lot of inspiration to jazz up some mid-century recipes with modern twists. I'm thinking next up is a bloody mary pickled okra aspic, or maybe a gin-and-tonic gelée. Happy experimenting, and see you all next year!

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About The Authors

Enrique Limón

Enrique Limón

Editor at Salt Lake City Weekly. Lover of sour candies.

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