Tulips & Tea at the Grand America

The sun is shining, the flowers are finally blooming and it’s time to enjoy the fresh air of springtime!  The Grand America Hotel has a perfect way to take advantage of the blooms and warmer weather with their Tulips & Tea series in their courtyard.

Tables for tea in the Grand America courtyard.

Tables for tea in the Grand America courtyard.

Throughout April and May, The Grand America is serving traditional English tea service outside in their lovely garden.  The tea service includes lunch and your choice of premium tea for $25/person.  If that’s not enough, the afternoon is topped off with a live harpist to complete the atmosphere.

Tea sandwiches, tea and pastries at the Grand America in Salt Lake City.

Tea lunch in the spring sun.

The lunch is a package deal complete with your choice of tea (selections include everything from white and green teas, oolong and black teas, and caffeine-free teas) or gourmet hot chocolate, a handful of finger tea sandwiches, English scones and an array of desserts.  The tea is served on Tunisia China designed especially for the hotel.

A pistachio tart at the Grand America's Afternoon Tea in Salt Lake City.

A dainty tart for a dainty lunch.

Tulips & Tea was such a break from my ordinary day (especially for a Tuesday!).  It was so wonderful to enjoy the spring weather, my lovely girlfriends and a light lunch during the week!

Tulips at The Grand America in Salt Lake City.

Tulips.

Go to the Grand America Afternoon Tea for :: a unique afternoon you can’t find anywhere else.  Notes :: Tulips & Tea takes places on April 15, 22 and 29 at noon and 3 p.m.  Afternoon tea is $25/person or grand traditions tea is $43/person.  Mother and Daughter Afternoon Tea is available for Mother’s Day on May 3, 4 and 10 at noon and 3 p.m. for $25/person.  Reservations available online or by calling (801) 258-6707.

Afternoon Tea is served at the Grand America on a regularly basis in the Lobby Lounge.  More information is here.
Afternoon Tea - Grand America Hotel on Urbanspoon

Caputo’s on 15th & 15th in Salt Lake City

Caputo’s Market and Deli is well known around Salt Lake City as being an excellent resource for artisan cheese and charcuterie, an overwhelming supply of chocolate (the world’s largest selection, actually) and a great place to learn about all things food and alcohol related.  But what many people don’t realize is that Caputo’s also serves food to enjoy on site.  The Caputo’s on 15th and 15th in Salt Lake City debuted their cheese flights on Saturday and it was a reminder of how awesome their patio is to enjoy a glass of wine and some food.

Flight No. 1 paired with Planet Oregon Pinot Noir.

Flight No. 1: Housemade Mozzarella, Rocchetta, Fontina.

Caputo’s on 15th and 15th sits in the cozy neighborhood near Mazza, Fresco and Starbucks.  The store is much smaller than its downtown counterpart, adding to the neighborhood charm, and its patio is perfect for people watching.  On Thursdays throughout the summer the patio hosts a live band while a steady stream of people walking their dogs or going out for a run maintain the visual entertainment.

Flight No. 2: Shepherds Fresh Chevre, Ossau Iraty, Grotte Caputo.

Flight No. 2: Shepherds Fresh Chevre, Ossau Iraty, Grotte Caputo.

The menu offers light fare typical of deli-style classics like sandwiches and salads.  The sandwiches are not to be missed!  They even serve a small selection of breakfast items, perfect for a quick bite before you get on with your day.

The recently-introduced cheese flights are my new favorite.  There are three available (ranging between $8.99 and $9.99), each progressing in intensity and meant to complement each other.  All have a suggested alcohol pairing; each one corresponds to a beer, white wine or red wine.  Each cheese flight comes with bread and “antipasti nibbles” of olives and sun-dried tomatoes.

Cheese Flight No. 3: Brie Ermitage, Chabrin and Landaff.

Cheese Flight No. 3: Brie Ermitage, Chabrin and Landaff.

We tried all three flights while we listened to a live jazz band and enjoyed the patio weather that is finally here.  I think Caputo’s patio, surrounded by friends and cheese, is going to be my new summer hang out.

Go to Caputo’s on 15th & 15th for :: The cheese flights!  Notes :: Open Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.  Reservations are not necessary.

Disclaimer :: I was graciously treated to a cheese flight by Caputo’s.  All opinions are my own.
Caputo's Market and Deli on 15th and 15th on Urbanspoon

Omakase at Naked Fish

One of the philosophies on life I try most to live by is one of the simplest: “Collect moments, not things.”  After discovering the saying years ago, I was inspired to shift the focus of my monetary spending to creating lasting memories instead of purchasing stuff that would eventually wear out, get old or grow bored with.

Hatsu pâté with cherry blossom at Naked Fish.

Simply beautiful: hatsu pâté.

This mantra of creating moments eventually led to my focus on traveling and cherishing food.  The concept is simple: live each moment and savor the memories created from them.

Baby squid on a bed of cucumbers at Naked Fish in Salt Lake City.

We started with baby squid and cucumbers.

As a result, I’m more likely to give the gift of an experience rather than a tangible object.  I want to create a memory with those I care about that can be cherished forever instead of giving them something they’ll likely forget about in a few months.  After having the omakase dinner at Naked Fish last summer, I wanted to treat my parents to the same experience.  So I recently gave them gift cards to the restaurant with a promise of an omakase together.

The sashimi plate at Naked Fish, complete with still-moving botan ebi.

The sashimi plate, complete with still-moving botan ebi.

Omakase is the Japanese equivalent to a chef’s tasting menu, served as a series of small plates that is largely up to the chef to decide.  In fact, the translation of omakase is “I’ll leave it to you.”  It’s similar to the Japanese kaiseki, a multi-course meal based on regional cuisine focused on the complementary tastes, textures and visual beauty of food.

Scallops, dashi and puffed rice.

Scallops, dashi and puffed rice.

When my parents and I were in Japan in 2012 we went to a traditional kaiseki dinner, one of the most elaborate and extravagant meals any of us have ever experienced.  I knew that the omakase at Naked Fish would transport the three of us back to Japan, back to our kaiseki dinner at Kichisen, back to our sushi breakfast at Sushi Dai in Tsukiji Fish Market and back to our life-changing trip to visit the land of our ancestors.

The meal did even more than that.

Flash-fried botan ebi.

Flash-fried botan ebi.

The meal started with a series of three bites: a tiny sous vide squid, seaweed with ginger in a shot glass and tuna sashimi.  A sashimi plate followed, complete with botan ebi so fresh that it was still moving (even sans body; see it on instagram here).  As the head wiggled around, the body was for consuming.  Served sashimi-style, the shrimp was delicately sweet with a slightly crunchy texture, much more preferable (in my opinion) than when shrimp is cooked.

Chicken heart pate on parmesan tuile with thyme and honey.

Chicken heart pate on parmesan tuile with thyme and honey.

An eye-pleasing and palate-tickling plate of hotategai (scallops), dashi (sea stock), puffed rice and fish eggs arrived next.  The crunchy eggs were like bursts of salt, contrasting the melt-in-your-mouth hotategai.  Then came a beautiful display of hatsu pâté (chicken heart paste) on parmesan tuile with thyme, a drizzle of honey and an edible cherry blossom.  Next was more nigiri; followed by avocado, pickled cucumber, cilantro and squid in a green tea broth; and the return of the botan ebi head, now flash-fried and as crunchy as potato chips with a seaweed salad and spicy sauce.

Avocado, cucumber and squid in green tea broth.

Avocado, cucumber and squid in green tea broth.

As the omakase progressed the dishes got heavier.  Next came the kurobuta, Berkshire pork belly with black radish and umeboshi (pickled Japanese plums).  This was mind-blowing.  Tart, savory, juicy and phenomenal.  Yet, it got better: then came the wagyu miyazaki striploin, the best steak my tongue has ever touched, served with asparagus.  And, finally, an ice cream sandwich composed of ginger-cocoa nib shortbread.

Pork belly, radish and umeboshi.

Pork belly, radish and umeboshi.

The omakase was easily one of the best meals I’ve had in Salt Lake City.  And beyond that, it was an amazing experience.  We tried fish and foods we’d never had before, including shrimp so fresh it was still moving; we tasted combinations of flavors and textures we’d never dream would go together; and Chef Sunny even convinced my mom to retract her hatred of uni (sea urchin).  My dad said it was one of the best meals of his entire life.

Wagyu beef.

Wagyu beef.

The evening was an extravagant collection of moments, strewn together by tastes and textures, enjoyed with my wonderful parents.  It will definitely be a dinner that I won’t soon forget.

Ice cream sandwiches with ginger cocoa nib shortbread.

Ice cream sandwiches to end the meal.

Naked Fish‘s omakase changes regularly and varies by price.  It starts at $65/person with an optional wine pairing for an additional $35.  Some dishes, like the wagyu beef, are additional.  (My friend Stuart wrote a great review with all the details of the omakase on The Utah Review here.)  The chef will start by asking about dishes or fish you don’t like, so don’t worry if eating a recently-moving shrimp is not your thing.  The omakase requires reservations with at least 48 hours notice; they are available online here.

Related :: My full review on Naked Fish is here. 

Disclaimer :: I was graciously treated to my omakase by Naked Fish.  All opinions are my own.

Kodiak Cakes Minute Muffins

Mornings are not my specialty.  As a night owl, waking up early is particularly difficult and my definition of early is what most people consider normal.  To make matters worse, eating breakfast is a must or I morph into a screaming banshee.  The problem with squeezing breakfast into my already-tight morning routine is that I don’t like cereal so that means I usually have to scramble for time to make eggs or something substantial for breakfast.

Kodiak Cakes come in four flavors.

Kodiak Cakes come in four flavors.

On those mornings when time is not on my side and my stomach is rumbling from the minute I wake up, I’m put in a bind to find something to eat.  But I recently discovered a solution: Kodiak Cakes Minute Muffins, whole grain muffins in single-serve, microwaveable cups that are ready in only one minute.

Making Minute Muffins is easy! Just add water to the cup and microwave.

Making Minute Muffins is easy! Just add water to the cup and microwave.

Kodiak Cakes is Utah company that makes whole grain and all natural waffle, pancake, brownie and cookie mixes plus hand-made berry-based syrups.  The Minute Muffins are their newest product, following their philosophy to use only natural ingredients with a just-add-water ease.  They come in four different flavors: Apple Cinnamon Oat, Lemon Chia, Double Dark Chocolate and Mountain Blueberry.

Kodiak Cake Minute Muffin Double Dark Chocolate.

A freshly made muffin in under a minute.

I gave the Double Dark Chocolate Minute Muffin a try (I’m a huge fan of chocolate cake for breakfast so it seemed fitting) and was surprised that the directions seriously say to slowly fill cold water to the line inside the cup, stir until combined, then microwave on high for 1 minute.  Let stand for another minute and viola! breakfast is ready.

Kodiak Cake Minute Muffin bite and cup of coffee.

A muffin and coffee is a complete breakfast in my book!

The muffin was fluffy and airy, with a light chocolate flavor—nothing overpowering for breakfast.  I’m a fan of eating everything with a fork so I didn’t think to take the muffin out of the cooking cup, but it would be great on-the-go this way.  I think I’ve found the solution to my “I’m running late and I’m starving” panic.

Kodiak Cakes Minute Muffins are available at all Associated Foods Stores, Target, and online here (12 for $20).

Disclaimer :: I was treated to these samples of Minute Muffins by Kodiak Cakes.  All opinions are my own. 

Cheese Flights at Caputo’s

Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli is now offering cheese flights at its 15th and 15th location starting this Saturday.  They are debuting the flights, reintroducing cheese monger Andy Fitzgerrell (who formerly worked at the downtown location and is now back on the Caputo’s team) and celebrating the spring weather this Saturday with an open house at 4 p.m.  And they want you to join in the fun.

Caputo's cheese flight #2.

Caputo’s cheese flight #2.

Caputo’s will be serving three different cheese flights, like mini tastings of three cheeses, that complement each other in flavor and intensity.  Each flight starts with a subtle cheese and increases in flavor and complexity with the next flight.  And each flight is paired with a suggested spirit, whether your choice of libation be white wine, red wine or beer.  Learn more about Caputo’s cheese flights on their blog here.

Come try out the cheese flights on Saturday, April 12th at the Caputo’s 15th & 15th location at 4 p.m., enjoy the spring weather and listen to live music.  Admission is free.  Full cheese flights and alcohol can be purchased separately.

Brunch at Eva in Salt Lake City

What makes a great brunch spot?  For me, there has to be plenty of egg-based dishes or dishes topped with eggs, since eggs seem to be the quintessential qualification for a dish to be in the breakfast category.  There needs to be breakfast cocktails like mimosas and bloody marys; bonus points for any drinks garnished with bacon.  And the restaurant needs to be an inviting place where friends can casually enjoy their food.  Eva, the small plates restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City, is an excellent brunch spot that covers all these bases.

Eva's Bloody Mary, with jalapeno-infused vodka.

Eva’s Bloody Mary, with jalapeno-infused vodka.

Eva is better known for its great dinners and has recently been overshadowed for breakfast by Eva’s Bakery, its sister restaurant located down the street.  While Eva’s Bakery focuses on French-based foods like quiche and frittata, Eva’s brunch menu is full of heavier items, more options and has a cocktail menu.  Their whole cocktail list is available, but brunch specials include Bloody Marys ($4), classic mimosas (orange juice and sparkling wine, $4), Eva’s Mimosas (with your choice of blueberry, cranberry, apricot or pomegranate juice, $6), and a Bacon and Maple Old Fashion ($7).

The breakfast version of pizza, with ham, a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.

The breakfast version of pizza, with ham, a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.

The menu follows a small plates format, like its dinner offerings, with offerings like Roasted Sweet Potato Hash ($8) with spinach, caramelized onions and topped with poached eggs.  But many dishes are able to stand alone, like the Brunch Pie ($9) with ham, gruyere, Hollandaise sauce and, of course, a poached egg, a rich but creative combination of favorite breakfast ingredients.

A modern version of egg's benedict with chicken sausage, arugula and artichokes at Eva in Salt Lake City.

A modern version of egg’s benedict with chicken sausage, arugula and artichokes.

Following the rich trend is the Croque Madame ($9), a baked ham and cheese sandwich covered with bechemel sauce and a fried egg with a side salad, one of the best I’ve had in the city; and Eva’s Eggs Benedict, a hearty version of the classic with artichokes, arugula and chicken sausage on crusty French bread topped with Hollandaise sauce ($10), a delicious combination of flavors but the bread was so crunchy I felt like I was sawing through it with my knife.  (Hopefully that was an odd inconsistency for that day.)

Potatoes with a spicy kick balanced with a poached egg at Eva in Salt Lake City.

Potatoes with a spicy kick balanced with a poached egg.

The menu covers the sugar-infused dishes for those that like to disguise dessert as breakfast, like Honey-Walnut Cream Cheese-Stuffed French Toast with Blueberry Compote ($7.50), the Belgian Waffle with fresh berries, blueberry compote and whipped cream ($8.50) and the Brunch Loukamades ($7), Greek donuts with cinnamon, honey and Greek yogurt—practically taken right from their dessert menu.

Croque madame at Eva's in Salt Lake City.

The croque madame, a ham sandwich turned into a breakfast dish.

Other dishes from Eva’s dinner menu make appearances on the menu are the Greek Mezze Plate (with tatziki, roasted red peppers and white bean puree puree with flatbread, $7), the mac and cheese with bechamel (one of my favorite dishes on their dinner menu, $7) and Parmesan Fries with garlic and rosemary ($5).

Eva's biscuits and jam.

The menu offers plenty of sides, like these biscuits, for $3.

Needless to say, the menu is well-rounded and can satisfy any of your brunch cravings—whether they lean toward the breakfast side or the lunch mode.  Eva’s inviting atmosphere is always relaxing and it’s no different at brunch time.  A lot of restaurants look at brunch as an afterthought but Eva really seems to make it a priority.

Go to Eva for :: Brunch!  (Their dinner is good, too.)  Notes :: Eva only serves brunch on Sundays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.  Reservations are available online here.

Eva on Urbanspoon

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