Monday, December 31, 2012

La Fountain: Truly Authentic Mexican Food!

In a previous post here, I have written about my quest to find authentic Mexican food. This obsession started on a vacation to Southern California. Obviously there are a few more options down there. In many of attempts in Salt Lake, I have failed in this endeavor. Hope has been found however!

At the corner of 2000 East and 3300 South in Salt Lake, you will find a run down looking restaurant named La Fountain. Don't let the look of the building scare you off; the food is fabulous. On my first visit here a few years ago, my friend recommended the smothered burrito from the ala carte section of the menu. The price was $4.57 and my reply was "but I am really hungry and that won't be enough food." I was wrong. It was a large burrito, very filling, and very delicious. The inflation epidemic has also hit La Fuente, but not by much. You can still get the same burrito for $5.54.

Last Tuesday while driving, I had one of those uncontrollable food cravings. While looking for a Mexican restaurant downtown, I was coming up empty. My memory saved me and I jumped on the freeway and sped to La Fuente.

On each table is a list of the specials for each day of the week. On Tuesdays, the special is two quesadillas with your choice of beef, chicken, or chile verde, smothered in cheese and enchilada sauce with spanish rice and refried beans on the side. All of this for the fabulous price of $6.99 including a soda, chips and salsa.

The chips and homemade salsa are a treat in and of themselves. The chips are also homemade with a delicious crispiness. Make sure you get your soda and your water before you start dipping the chips in the salsa. There is some fire there for sure as they use hot peppers and plenty of them. Despite the fire, you won't stop until the bowl of chips is empty.

About the smothered quesadillas: they were wonderful, filling, and addicting. It's not just a sprinkling of cheese on the top; it's almost a meal itself. The enchilada sauce is spicy and, like the chips, leaves your mouth craving fluid. The chicken was moist, tender and delicious. The only downside to the meal: the spanish rice. It was dry and tasteless. But after the chips and quesadillas, it didn't matter. There was plenty of food; even enough for breakfast on Wednesday morning.

All of this for $9.55 with tip. Definitely an inexpensive meal. They don't have the same specials for dinner but you won't spend much more for that meal either. Overall: delicious, inexpensive, and (for me) close by.

Happy Eating & Happy New Year.

La Puente on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cafe Old Bridge: The Best of Bosnian Food!

Originally, I had written this post back in March. During Christmas break, Rachel and I find fun restaurants to eat at on our stay-cation. We drove past this place last night on our way to see Christmas lights. She said that she needs to go here soon. Our stay-cation may be just the time. It's great food. Enjoy! 

About once a week I go to lunch with a friend. In many of my posts he is referred to simply as "friend." A good friend he is but he does not share my adventurous nature of finding authentic foods. If it isn't burgers, fries, sandwiches or BBQ, he is a little hesitant. Last week he texted me about going to lunch. He seemed busy at the time and left the eatery of choice up to me. I texted back: "Old Bridge Cafe, 249 E. 3300 S., 12:45pm." I knew that if I would have explained what type of cuisine, we would not have been going there. Upon arriving and reviewing the menu, he admitted that he had been suspicious of my motives. Too late to turn back now.

Old Bridge Cafe is traditional fare from Bosnia & Herzegovina. There are many items on the menu that you have likely never heard: Buredzici, Zeljanica, Cevapi, Kajmak, Pljeskavica, Beckna Snicla. It all looked delicious.

My friend ordered Cevapi - traditional Bosnian beef sausages. It is served in pita bread with kajmak (cheese spread) and onions. He said that he liked it and I will take him at his word. I appreciate him staying for lunch even after he knew he had been fooled.

For my meal I chose the Stuffed Peppers Dolma. It is three bell peppers and one smaller, much spicier pepper; all stuffed with beef and rice, served with roasted potatoes and pita bread. The stuffing is similar to the consistency of risotto and is spicy, heavy, and delicious. Whatever cooking process they use and spices they add all equals perfection. The pita bread is like none I have ever tried. It was like a meal in and of itself: thick but fluffy and obviously cooked with a large serving of butter.

All of this for $6.99; not a bad price for a great lunch. The food is so filling that I ate a very light dinner that evening.

Will I be back? Definitely! On the drive home I called my Parents to say that we should meet there for lunch soon. My only problem will be what to order; I want it all: Sour Cabbage Rolls Sarma, Cevapi, or Balkan Platter? Maybe I will try them all.

If you are near 3300 S. State St. stop by. The strip mall housing the restaurant is a little run down, but the food is tough to beat.

Happy Eating.

Old Bridge Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Last Year's Christmas Present: Truly a Gift, Not a Murder Weapon!

Last year, I wrote this post shortly after Christmas. It goes to show how some presents are truly gifts.

Often in life, we don't know how wonderful something is until we have it. Rachel got a Orbital Hand Sander for Christmas from me and I received two very nice All-Clad Fry Pans from her. Laugh all you want but she loves house projects and I love cooking. It's a great balance.

Rachel thought that I was on to her plan to get me the pans for Christmas. I actually had no idea. She even told me that as she was pulling out of the Trolley Square parking lot after leaving Williams Sonoma with the pans, I was driving west on 500 S. and passed her.

Her brother asked what fry pans I would recommend for a gift for his wife. I have only used all-clad pans once and they were wonderful. We cooked Indian food at our house with a fabulous home chef from Rachel's work. I wrote about the delicious creations here.

Eggplant and Tomato dish cooked in All-Clad Pans

Rachel and her brother colluded and both myself and Tim's wife got the All-Clad Fry Pans. They are heavy, tough, durable, and they heat up very fast; so here is where I ask: does she want me to use the pans for cooking or it's it for her comfort knowing that with one swing of the pan I am left for dead?

On Christmas morning I found out just how wonderful they really are. In my excitement to use my new toys, I made french toast for Rachel and Ruby. I burned the second batch of french toast and my hand. Painful but worth it. The "wonderful" part is how uniform everything cooks and how quickly. I am still giddy inside.

Happy Eating and Cooking.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wallabys Smokehouse: Some Good Smoked BBQ!

This is a quick shout out to Wallabys Smokehouse in Lindon, Utah. I was in Utah County showing some homes about 3 weeks ago. We only had time for a quick lunch. While checking around, our options were fast food, Kneaders or Wallabys Smokehouse. Kneaders is good but the decision was not hard. We wanted some Southern BBQ.

As soon as you walk in, it's pretty evident that they know what they are doing. The BBQ aroma that filled the air did not come from a novice; it came from an expert. They have 3 smokers; all beautiful looking contraptions. It reminded me of my dream kitchen.

I ordered the Smokehouse Meal with Hand Pulled Pork. For my two sides I got Fresh Veggies and Baked Beans.

The Pulled Pork was fantastic. Just this fall I smoked up a Boston Butt with a Honey Mustard Glaze. At that moment I fell in love with pulled pork. Wallabys smoked it to perfection. I had so much fun drowning the meat in their famous homemade BBQ sauce.

My client had a Sandwich Sanger. It comes with your choice of meat and I don't recall which he ordered. I do know however that for one of his sides he had the Rice and Beans. It looked wonderful and came with the most delicious sauce. I asked the owner what it was and he said it was a Chipotle Sour Cream sauce. I have been attempting to recreate it since.

The baked beans were good. To this day, the best baked beans that I have ever had at a BBQ restaurant are at Sugarhouse BBQ. Those are sweet tasting and second to none.

While you will have many food choices in the Orem/Pleasant Grove/Lindon area, it's worth the trip to Wallabys Smokehouse. Their menu is also 95% Gluten Free. Nothing like a lot of meat to solve that problem.

131 South State Street
Lindon, Utah, 84042

Happy Eating
Wallabys Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Photo Credits: Yelp, Alpine School District, Trip Advisor

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sala Thai: A Groupon got me there, but the food will keep me returning!

After purchasing a groupon to Sala Thai back in July, it was quickly forgotten about. Last week, an e-mail reminded me that the promotional value was expiring soon. A long weekend was a great time to enjoy some Thai Food. Actually anytime, night or day, is a good time for Thai Food.

Sala Thai promotes the fresh ingredients in all their dishes. I was excited to try it out. Everything on the menu looked good but of course I had to start with some Tom Yum Soup. Most mornings I wake up with a Tom Yum craving. Maybe there is a 12 step program to help you break this addiction. If there is a program, I don't want to recover.

We started with some Fresh Spring Rolls: steamed spring rolls filled with fresh vegetables, noodles, shrimp, chicken and Thai basil. It's served with a homemade sauce that is incredibly delicious. A thick, bitter soy-based sauce sprinkled with chopped peanuts. It's a great compliment to the rice paper on the spring rolls. Once you have consumed a couple of these rolls, a fear passes over you. Not a fear that you won't be feeling well, but a fear that you won't be able to fit as much other food in as you had hoped.

Alas, the Tom Yum Soup arrived. Now this moment is a majestic experience for me. I love to savor every second as the steam and aroma float gently up to my face. I inhale with closed eyes then look down to stir the soup and watch with admiration as the meat and veggies glide through the beautiful broth. If the perfect mixture of vinegar and spices are in the broth, the first spoonful is a moment when time stands still. You are content to let the day unwind as it was meant to be. This was a perfect Tom Yum Soup. I was weak in the knees and have had similar experiences at Tasty Thai, Siam Orchid and Pawit's Royale.

All of the curry dishes looked delicious. You can't go wrong with either Green, Red, Massaman, Panang or Yellow Curry. It truly depends on what you are desiring. Since I am a lover of the kaffir lime leaves, I went with Panang Curry. I quickly learned again a lesson that I thought I had mastered at Chanon Thai Cafe. "Medium Spicy" for Thai food means very spicy. It was wonderful anyway with a perfect creamy sauce.

I am so glad that I found Sala Thai kitchen. The interior is just as good as the food. They do a great job of making you feel very comfortable. The menu is large and I can't wait to try it all. You will find them downtown right next to Brewvies, another place with fabulous food and occasional good movies.

677 South 200 West
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84101

Happy Eating

Sala Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

B & D Burgers: A University Grease Pit!

There are a few things that I remember from college. I remember that I graduated in August 2003. I remember that I got a full semester of credit for passing a language proficiency test in Tagalog. I remember that in my elective Life Insurance class, there was a quiz every day and we got 80% simply by showing up. As soon as I realized that, there was no more studying. I remember that getting 27% percent on a test in corporate finance was enough to get a B; thank you for grading on a curve. I remember skipping my Public Speaking class for two weeks and still getting an A. But most importantly, I remember the great food at B & D Burgers. All things considered, I had a great education.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, we were going bowling as a family at the University Union building. We were hungry, not just for any type of food, but for a large greasy burger. Those cravings are hard to contain. B & D Burgers was on the way and I was grateful to reunite after years apart.

Bleu Bacon Ranch Burger

While scanning the menu looking for the biggest, most unhealthy option, "Bleu Bacon Ranch Burger" stuck out to me. You can't go wrong there. That along with an order of fries, a drink, a pumpkin shake to share with the family and I was in heaven.

A good piece of bacon can make a bad burger good and a good burger fabulous. The latter was the case. It was a thick, crisp piece of bacon with lots of flavor. They must also get their buns from Stoneground Bakery. They are very similar to the Better Burger Truck-incredibly delicious. I love a good burger and this hit the spot perfectly.

Avacado Cheeseburger

The fries were average; nothing special but definitely worth eating. Rachel got an Avocado Cheeseburger and loved it. The pumpkin shake was wonderful; all of their shakes are.

I have seen a lot of negative reviews for B & D Burgers but we experienced none of that. Just the look of calls to you. It's like you are on a road trip and it's time for a greasy bite; just like Burger Bar.

B & D Burgers
222 South 1300 East
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84102

Happy Eating

B & D Burgers on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 17, 2012

Battered Garlic Fries: Messy, Fun, and a great Side Dish!

For a few weeks now, we have had some fingerling potatoes on our counter. I was anxious to use them and decided to make some homemade fries. After gathering some ideas online, I pulled from a few sources and came up with the following:

Battered Garlic Fries

2 pounds potatoes, unpeeled and sliced as fries
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup water
2 cups vegetable oil

Place sliced potatoes in ice water, dry thoroughly. Mix all ingredients (except oil) in a bowl. Place potatoes in bowl with batter, mix by hand to coat all potatoes. Drop potatoes one by one in boiling oil. When golden brown, place on plate layered with paper towels.

Ruby loved battering the fries

When I first made this, I thought that they might be weird. They were actually really good. Ruby sure loved helping mix the potatoes and the batter. It was messy, fun and a great side dish. After the fries, I attempted to make some battered grean beans. That was a failure.

Frying in Oil, A Beautiful Sight

Happy Eating.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sammy's: Burger and a Dance!

The week after Thanksgiving is a busy week for everybody. We all seem to be catching up after the long weekend. It can be hard getting back in the groove of work. One evening that week, we were all tired and I hadn't planned any dinner. Remembering that I had seen Sammy's on a groupon e-mail, I went and purchased one. I wasn't sure if I would be able to use it that day as it often makes you wait 24 hours. Not the case, we could use it right away. That was all the motivation we needed to head out for dinner.

Sammy's is located in the same building as a former dance club/event center. It's odd using the restroom when you have to walk across the dance floor to get there. Thankfully, no party was in progress. It will be interesting when you have to walk through during a wedding reception. Of course, if it's like some wedding receptions I have been to, most of the attendees will be ditching the reception to walk into Sammy's for some good food.

Sammy's Masterpiece

The Employees are very excited and enthusiastically greet you when you walk in the door. They are happy to explain the menu and make suggestions. Given the uniqueness of the burger choices, we needed some recommendations. I went with the Sammy's Masterpiece: 1/3 pound burger with provolone cheese, sauteed onion & mushroom, bacon, guacamole, BBQ sauce, lettuce & tomato. Rachel went with Hyrum's Awesome Aussie Burger: 1/3 pound burger with cheddar cheese, ham, fried egg, grilled onions, grilled pineapple, sliced pickled beet, lettuce and fry sauce. Now how is that for unique?

We also ordered some fresh cut battered fries and sweet potato fries. Our total came to less than the $20 value of the groupon so of course we had to add a dessert. Sammy's is known for their Famous Real Pie Shakes so why not indulge? The only problem was choosing one. They have fresh fruit cheesecakes shakes, apple cobbler shakes, peach cobbler, banana cream pie, oreo, blueberry, cherry shakes and more. It was one of those rare feelings of contentment while being overwhelmed.

Hyrum's Awesome Aussie

The Sammy's Masterpiece Burger was delicious. Flavorful grilled onions, mushrooms and bacon can make anything taste good. It went perfectly with the meat. The guacamole flavor was faint, probably due to being drown out by the other ingredients. The buns are also a delicious component. My guess is that they come from Stoneground.

I took a bite of Hyrum's Awesome Burger. Wow, there were a lot of flavors in that burger. When you first bite in you wonder if the various ingredients are pulling everything in different directions or drawing it all together. Whoever thought of a pickled beet on a burger? I do have to say that I liked it. Sammy's knows burgers.

Ruby highly approves of the Chocolate Cream Oreo Pie Shake

For the shake we went with Chocolate Cream Oreo Pie. They have pieces of real pie in there. It was incredible. Most milkshakes are whipped ice cream with flavoring thrown inside. This is a pie whipped into a shake with some cream. I'm sure if you ate one of these everyday, you would die young but it may just be worth it. Pace yourself.

26 East 600 South
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111

Happy Eating

Sammy's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup

Last year I took a class titled "Hearty Fall Soups." Thank you to Chef Todd Leonard. He is a true master of the kitchen. Often I have made the Cream of Mushroom and Roasted Tomato Soup that we learned in this class. Having received a pumpkin and butternut squash from Borski Farms, it was as if all the forces of nature were combining to make this soup.

Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup

1 each small to medium yellow onions, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
2 pounds pumpkin, cleaned, peeled and diced
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 1/2 quarts vegetable stock
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon, ground
1 star anise
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup heavy cream
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Simmer all ingredients together until reduced by about half. Pull out star anise. With a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add cream. Taste and season as needed.

This has to be one of the best and easiest cooking processes for a soup. Simply throw all ingredients in a pot and cook until stock is reduced and vegetables are soft. It's beautiful. Don't add too much cream as it starts to bury the butternut squash flavor.

My sister-in-law is a connoisseur of soup. She arrived shortly after it was ready and immediately fell in love. You will too.

Happy Eating

Monday, December 10, 2012

Boardwalk Pizza: Walk Away!

This post will be brief because that is all it deserves. I met a good friend for lunch at Boardwalk Pizza in Sugarhouse last Friday. It's located in a building that was recently refurbished; a very nice change to a once seedy spot.

While reviewing the menu you could say that price shock hit me. A 12" Sub for $13.49? A 16" Pizza for $21.99? A Calzone from $11.49 -$13.99? I'm all about paying for good food but this really seemed like a lot.

Thankfully they had a lunch special which included a side salad and all you can eat pizza for $7.00. Before I pay $21.99 for a pizza, I will do a taste-test with the buffet.

The salad appeared to be pre-packaged from the grocery store. The pizza was okay at best. Obviously when you serve quantity over quality, that is what you would expect.

They do have a large alcoholic beverage selection. This must be the trick for enjoying the food. They also have televisions in each booth. It might be a good place to watch a game but you will need to go out to eat after. If you want to watch a game and eat good food, including pizza, go to Fat's Grill. It's just around the corner.

Happy Eating

 Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta on Urbanspoon

photo credit: City Weekly

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cooking with Emotion!

Again I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Joel Boggess on his Internet Radio Show. Please click the link and listen.

Cooking with Emotion

After years of fleeing from his emotional triggers and action signals, today’s guest realized that his innermost feelings hid the key that would unlock the door he needed to walk through.

And, by trusting in how he really felt, (rather than in how he should feel) he tip-toed out of his comfort zone and took a chance that immediately lifted him to a higher level.

Jeff from Utah joins us back on the show, (here’s our first show) and shares what he did and how he did it.

Don’t have time to listen to the show? Read his story in Chicago Now.

Follow Jeff on Twitter.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brined and Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

About two months prior to Thanksgiving I was assigned the task of bringing the turkeys. Okay, I might have volunteered. Sous Chefs Sam & Jesse know that when I volunteer, it means all three of us.

I took some time pondering what would be best. Smoking the turkey was definitely a must as I had done this last summer. I heard of brining but never had done this. As I studied more about it, I was getting very excited. There are so many ways to take it, the only question was which one?

Brining is a process where you marinate the meat in a salt solution allowing it to retain more moisture. Basically, salt water and many variations of spices are used. We went with a simple brine.

Simple Turkey Brine

1 turkey, up to 16 pounds
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
2 large sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

Bring salt, sugar and 4 cups water to a boil in a very large pot, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Turn off heat, add remaining ingredients to brine base. Refrigerate uncovered, until cold. Adds 6 quarts water cold water to pot or bucket. Add turkey. Use plate, if needed, to fully submerge turkey. Cover, chill up to 72 hours (The turkey will be more moist and flavorful if allowed to brine the full 72 hours).

Smoking the turkey. Having smoked a turkey this past summer, I had a few key points regarding the process. We mixed rosemary with unsalted butter and rubbed the turkey inside, outside and under the skin. To stuff the turkey, we added sliced apples, oranges and red onion to the cavity, tied the legs and placed in the smoker for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Every 30 minutes we would spray the turkeys with apple cider for a tasty glaze. Last month, I did this with a pork shoulder and it was delicious.

It was a large family gathering so there would be 31 judges of our cooking. Prior to dinner I huddled with Sous Chefs Sam & Jesse to get our story straight. If the turkey was delicious, we all participate in the glory. If it was not good, then Jesse would take the fall. He reluctantly volunteered.

The verdict was unanimous, it was wonderful. I had never experienced such moist, flavorful turkey. The hickory smoke, apple, brine and all other ingredients was a menagerie of taste.

Sous Chef Sam wasted no time gorging himself

This was quite a process. One week prior to Thanksgiving we purchased the turkeys. After 4 days, they were adequately thawed. We then placed the turkeys in the brine from 8:30pm Monday to 7:30am on Thursday. At 8:30am, they were on the smoker. It was a tiring but beautiful experience. Food is an adventure, not a routine.

Happy Eating

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thai Lotus: A Beach Resort in Salt Lake City

Located in Downtown Salt Lake, Thai Lotus has been around for about 8 years. Prior to that, this location was a Filipino restaurant that I frequented. Having lived in the Philippines for 2 years, you could say that I was addicted to the cuisine. The karaoke was also part of the Filipino experience at the restaurant. Not one that I participated in but definitely worth watching.

My friend highly recommended Thai Lotus. With a goal to try every Thai restaurant in the valley, it was time to give it a shot.

Having never been to a Thai beach resort I cannot adequately say what the experience is like. I bring this up however because the music and flashing sign inside the restaurant definitely try to recreate the event. It also is relaxing as you move your head to the music while reviewing the menu.

For $7.50 you get the lunch special: a choice of two entrees with deep fried spring roll and a salad. I learned at Siam Orchid that salad being served at Thai restaurants is something uniquely American. They have added their own flare with peanut dressing. In this case, the peanut dressing had quite a spicy bite. It was really good and went well with the apples in the salad.

My two entrees were the Tom Yum Soup and the Green Curry. The Tom Yum is Thailand's most famous sour and spicy soup with chicken breast and mushrooms mixed with fresh herbs, lemongrass, fresh lime juice and tomato. The Green Curry is hot green curry with coconut milk with chicken, bell peppers, zucchini, and Thai basil. I fell in love with Green Curry at Thai Basil.

Tom Yum Soup

It sure is wonderful to experience the uniqueness between dishes at different Thai restaurants. They often are not following recipes but going on pure knowledge and passion. I love it. Tasty Thai, Siam Orchid and Pawit's Royale sure do have a perfect Tom Yum Soup. The mixture of vinegar and spices leaves you craving it nightly. I fell in love with green curry at Thai Basi and tried Red Curry for the first time at Chanon Thai Cafe. Often I find my car virtually drive itself to a restaurant based on my craving. I have learned to embrace it rather than run & hide.

All of the ingredients in the soup were good but the broth didn't have the kick that I crave. Maybe my spice o' meter is set too high. I still enjoyed it but kept waiting for the WOW factor. The green curry however did have that kick. It was delicious, creamy and spicy. Whoever was first to add bamboo shoots to curry is a genius. The texture and taste of the shoots are perfect. It adds such a unique factor to the dish.

Next time I will try the Tom Kha-Chicken & Coconut Milk Soup. After all, it has kafir.

212 East 500 South
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111

Happy Eating

Thai Lotus on Urbanspoon
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...