Wednesday, January 30, 2013

PAT'S BBQ: The Best Taste of the South!

This was my third trip to Pat's BBQ and each time it gets better. Rachel was getting ready to leave town so the three of us went out for dinner.

The first impression of Pat's is definitely wondering why it's in that particular location. It's an industrial part of town with a few shabby homes. This building likely use to be a warehouse. However, it's proximity to I-15 and many surface thoroughfares, 2100 S., 300 W., and State St. make this a perfect location to draw a huge number of followers. If you arrive around noon, you will find that indeed, there are many followers and few places to park. Dinner has less of a following and is a more relaxed setting. Lunch or dinner, the food is fabulous.

Another impression is the atmosphere: picnic tables and rolls of paper towels on the tables. There are also three types of BBQ sauce on each table: Sweet, Spicy, and Savory. I liked the Savory sauce as it's mustard and vinegar based; just like in South Carolina.

Smoked Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Corn Bread

Rachel ordered the smoked meatloaf and she fell in love fast. I tasted but a small portion-not wanting to risk getting stabbed. Indeed, it was wonderful. I ordered the three meat combo: Ribs, Beef Brisket, and Pulled Pork with Creole Black Beans and Rice for my side. The 2 pork spare ribs have ample meat and are smoked to perfect tenderness. The deep smoke ring shows that these were loved for 5-6 hours in the smoker; likely with hickory or mesquite wood chips. The Beef Brisket was amazingly tender and nearly addictive. Another attractive smoke ring showed that this had been equally loved. The Pulled Pork was good. It didn't have a lot of flavor in & of itself but it was perfectly tender and lots of savory BBQ sauce made it all the more enjoyable.

Pork Ribs, Brisket and Pulled Pork

Creole Black Beans and Rice

I have to also give a shout out to the Creole Black Beans and Rice. The name alone is the reason I ordered it. Thinking that it would be great for my daughter, I quickly learned after one bite that this would not be the case. It is very spicy with some strong Cajun seasoning. It's a very filling dish loaded with beans, sausage and rice. You can't help but to take a big swig of water after each spoonful.

All of this made me feel like I was back at the Blues City Cafe in Memphis, Tennessee. Back in Heaven is another way to describe it. This is the BEST BBQ in Utah. Sugarhouse BBQ is great but Pat's takes it to the next level. Only question for me: how much of our income should we allocate to this food?

Happy Eating

Pat's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 28, 2013

Louisiana: New Orleans or Cajun Country?

A roommate from college called me in early December to let me know that he was back living in Salt Lake after 3 years in Shanghai, China. He asked if we could meet for lunch that next week; not an invitation that I would normally turn down. However, I was scheduled to be out of town. He asked where I was going. I replied "Louisiana." Of course the next question was, "why are you going there?" My answer: "because I have never been to that state." He really didn't say anything other than, "oh, okay then."

Yes, I have a goal to visit every state in the nation. Yes, this might sound odd to some but I have learned to embrace what I love; weird or not. I also love to plan travel around locales where I can experience the cuisine. Often, I book the airfare, usually a place to stay and nothing else. Let the day unwind as it was meant to be. Having traveled with my Dad & brothers to Tennessee & Mississippi in 2011, I thought it would be fun to invite them. I called my Dad and he called me back within 10 minutes telling me that he & my mom were coming. They had booked their airfare, a rental car and a hotel in New Orleans for a couple nights. Okay, I thought; "pick me up at the airport" I said since they were going a few days earlier than myself.

I had a little anxiety figuring out what to do since I would only be there for 3 days. Spend all the time in New Orleans or venture out into Cajun Country? I wanted to do both but over scheduling a vacation is worse than not going at all. Ever been on a trip with someone who schedules every minute? You quickly start to wonder if their sudden disappearance could be traced back to you.

Flying into New Orleans late on a Wednesday evening, I got a cab and made my way to the hotel on St. Charles Avenue. This is one of the avenues in the Big Easy with the historic cable cars. I was excited and a little nervous. The nerves came from wondering how many restaurants I could hit the next day.

Usually I have a hard time getting to sleep my first night in a new place. Some NyQuil in my hygiene bag that had expired 5 1/2 years ago did the trick. So much so that the whole next day I was a little groggy. Being able to walk around in shorts in early December definitely helped my mood.

Thursday morning we made our way to the French Quarter. We stopped to take a picture of a quaint little cafe on Royal St. and ultimately decided to eat there for breakfast. Louisiana is famous for their beignets as it's the official state donut. Ironically this place was called Cafe Beignet. It had such a relaxed feel to it; actually much of Louisiana has a relaxed, laid-back vibe. I ate Cajun Hashbrowns and a Beignet. This place must be famous for their coffee because the food wasn't very good. Here I had flown all this way for great food and the bar was being set low. Maybe I should have sprinkled the food with the "Slap Yo Mama's Cajun Seasoning."

Would the rest of trip disappoint also?

A not-unusal store in New Orleans. They didn't have anything in my size however.

Happy Eating

Friday, January 25, 2013

Eva's Bakery: A Boulangerie!

Boulangerie: A bakery or a place where bread is sold (noun). Chef & Owner Charlie Perry invited some food writers down for a media opening of his bakery. He has operated Eva, a small restaurant located right down the street for a couple years now.

Even if you don't have the address, you will find it as long as you are on the same block. Eva's Bakery likely glows in the dark with it's bright blue exterior. It truly is a treat to the eye. Inside, there are many treats for the mouth; too many to count. They serve breakfast items, salads, lunch specialties and soups. I look forward to coming back and trying all of these. How can you turn down Carbonara Mac & Cheese, especially when the cheese is Gruyere. On this day, we were here for pastries & bread. It was carbo loading time.

Charlie wanted be a Chef since he was 7, after spending ample time with his great-grandmother. She was a fabulous cook and passed on her enthusiasm. They are from Logan and run Central Milling, the oldest operating business in Utah. The milling operation is the largest & best organic flour producer in the United States. Providing the best organic flour helped them develop relationships with restaurants and high-end bakeries in San Francisco and Seattle.

Some partners in Utah ultimately brought him back to his roots to open Eva's. With the success of Eva's Restaurant, it was time to bring a new concept to Salt Lake: an fancy, artisan style Boulangerie which brings the style of french life right to the rocky mountains.

Along with Pastry Chef Alisa Watson and Baker Ryan Moore, Charlie wanted to give Salt Lake what Boulangeries brought San Francisco: artisan style breads & pastries that it would appreciate. These high end bakeries gave people the french style of life where you pick up a croissant or pastry in the morning and a baguette on your way home in the evening.

The Specialty of Eva's Bakery are the Baker's Pies and they are selling like crazy. We had the pleasure of tasting many great pastries & breads: Goat Cheesecakes, Maple Bar Eclairs, Tangerine Bars, Grasshopper Macaroons, Hazelnut Dacquoise, Cannele Bourdelais, Mountain Bread, Ciabatta, Sourdough, Karimata Olive Loaf, Brioche and Bread Pudding.

The Cannele Bourdelais has beeswax & butter on the outside. The Bread Pudding has scallions, tomato and Gruyere in the batter. The Sourdough takes 36 hours to make and is a little sweeter than a San Francisco sourdough would be so that it may appeal to all palates. Their Mountain Bread could be referred to as the house bread. It includes bran, white flour and was made quite by accident. Seems like some of the best things in life are viewed as accidents in the beginning.

Whether you are coming for lunch, breakfast, to load up on pastries or all the above, you will find many things that you like.

Eva's Bakery
155 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111

Happy Eating

Eva's Bakery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pig in a Jelly Jar: how is that for a restaurant name?

For a Divine Foodies event back in October, I was working the grill with the fabulous Penny. We were of course discussing food and she told me that Pig in a Jelly Jar is fabulous. I replied, "what?" I wasn't sure if she was referring to a store, a restaurant or some crazy condiment. She clarified that it's a restaurant and a delicious one at that. If you know Penny, that is the only encouragement you need to try a new place-just a simple recommendation from her.

In many of my restaurant reviews, I have mentioned about a good friend with whom I go to lunch often. He is often suspicious of my motives as my adventurous nature for food is far greater than his. I really fooled him with Cafe Old Bridge and wasn't sure what he would think of the name Pig in Jelly Jar. Thankfully he was busy at the time I sent the information so he had no time to question it. Once we arrived, his apprehension was evident. My excitement was just exploding however.

This place has the look & feel of a joint that calls to you from afar and draws you in quickly. Often I plan vacations based on based on locales where I want to explore the food. Whether I am in Montreal, Boston's North End, Downtown Charleston or San Diego's Gaslamp District, I choose eateries based on the look & feel, often without looking at the menu. Go with your hunch and you will likely never be disappointed.

Pig in a Jelly Jar is the quintessential neighborhood cafe. In their own words, they serve "a fresh, from scratch menu with a unique twist on comfort food." They serve breakfast & lunch daily from 7:30am-3:30pm and Suppers on Sunday from 5:00-8:30pm. The menu isn't littered with choices but when it's fresh and made from scratch, less is more. When you read the description of each item, your anxiety increases due to the fact that you can't have it all in one sitting. You start zealously checking your calendar to see how often you can come back.

I have eaten at Pig in a Jelly Jar twice and for the first visit I choose Chicken & Waffles. Having traveled through South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and most recently, Louisiana, I have never tried chicken & waffles. It seemed odd so I waited. As life often teaches us, it's when we get out of our comfort zone that we find what we truly love. I'm not sure if I would love chicken & waffles everywhere but you can't help but love them here. The chicken is incredibly moist and fried in a batter with house seasoning. The waffle is fluffy inside, crisp on the outside and must be cooked with some Chef secrets. I also have to give a shout-out to their maple syrup. Not sure if it's loaded with sugar, caffeine, both or neither but you cold drink this stuff; which is what I did with the leftover syrup.

On a return visit two weeks later, I brought my family with me. Now it was time to try one of their famous Three-Egg Frittatas. They have six frittata options and I went for The Kitchen Sink: Sausage, Bacon, Tomato, Onion, Peppers, Mushroom, Spinach and Provolone. They are all served with cottage fries and a side of their bloody mary salsa. The flavor was incredible. It's pretty apparent that all the ingredients are fresh because they pack a flavor punch that is unrivaled. Even the potatoes which are traditionally bland, had a wonderful crisp and perfect flavor. Hats off to the bloody mary salsa. I was spooning this into my mouth after I finished my frittata.

My wife ordered the Chicken Apricot Rosemary Sausage Grinder with Brie, Caramelized Onions and Lemon Aioli. It was unique and flavorful. I really liked it. She fell in love with the Lemon Aioli.

Pig in a Jelly Jar is a place that you dream about. Then you wake up and rearrange your schedule to have lunch there. After eating here, you can conquer the world. I look forward to eating their other frittatas, pig specialties, sandwiches, grinders, soups and salads.

401 East 900 South
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84111

Happy Eating

Pig & a Jelly Jar on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cubby's Chicago Beef: Provo's version of the Windy City!

Isn't the name alone enough to visit this place? We went here on New Years Eve while visiting friends in Provo, Utah. This was less than an hour after I picked up food from The Smoking Apple. They love the place and that was enough to say "let's go!"

Apparently, the place is so popular that you typically wait for over 15 minutes just to order. So much so that they recently expanded into the space next door. It was very quiet on New Years Eve however. This made it nice so that we didn't have to wait long for this highly recommended food.

Cubby's has a few salad selections and many sandwich options. On this night, we were not here for a salad. The sandwich menu does have a couple burger options. One of these is the Dragonslayer: Bleu Cheese Burger with Spring Mix Red Onions, Tomatoes, Pickles, Bacon and Buffalo Sauce. Sounds delicious and it was good. It wasn't however the world's greatest as I might have hyped it up to be.

Rachel ordered the Rip City Tri-Tip Steak Sandwich: 6 oz. of Dry Rubbed Tri-Tip, Drizzled with Garlic Butter, BBQ Sauce, Caramelized Onions and topped with Smoked Bacon served Cali Style (with Avocado & Cheddar). It looked like a work of art. It tasted that way also. Talk about a home run. Every ingredient was a 10. The steak was very tender and delicious. You won't go wrong with the Rip City Tri-Tip.

 Another item that won't disappoint you is from the "sides" section of the menu: Bleu Cheese Buffalo Fries. Make sure you have a nice tall glass of ice water when you eat these. They have some real fire to them. Wherever there is fire, there is flavor and these have fire.

Cubby's is definitely worth the stop. I look forward eating there again soon.

1258 North State Street
Provo, Utah, 84604

Happy Eating

 Cubby's Chicago Beef on Urbanspoon

Photo Credits:

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Smoking Apple: They could smoke anything and it would be good!

Now picture this if you will: It's New Years Eve, you are heading to visit friends, it's snowing, you are going to a restaurant in just over an hour with those friends but you have heard of another restaurant within 10 miles of their home that came highly recommended. Do you eat twice? I would have loved to go on New Years Day but the place would be closed.

On the way there I figured it out. We called a head and ordered some food to go, picked it up and headed to our friend's home. You would have thought that our friends would have been shocked and offended that I brought food just as we were heading out to eat. They have known me long enough to embrace my quirks. Placing the food in the fridge, we went to Cubby's-review coming soon.

All evening and through the night I thought of the ribs, brisket, beans and smashed garlic taters. I was too full from Cubby's to eat right after dinner. Since it was new years eve, there was far too many snacks, cookies, crackers and cheese to eat the meal late. For breakfast we had pancakes & sausage so my desire was again delayed. Later that afternoon while watching football, it was time to indulge.

Brisket is one of the meats we judge at the Kansas City Barbeque Society. The Smoking Apple would get the highest review on the scorecard for brisket. It was very tender, moist and flavorful. The Ribs (also judged at KCBS), would get high marks in flavor and presentation but it was pretty dry. It did have a great glaze to it which always adds to the experience.

As for the sides, the Smashed Garlic Taters were unique but not wonderful. It did have some flavor but not enough. The Beans however were fantastic. They were smoked, sweet and just plain good. It would be tough to beat the beans at Sugarhouse BBQ, but these are a very close second. The Corn look like plain old corn kernels but taste much different that that. They must be soaked in sugar for a few days; very sweet and very delicious. It's a wonderful side dish and a take on corn that I have never experienced before.

The absolute best part of The Smoking Apple is their BBQ Sauce. I'm sure that it's a closely guarded secret but it's sweet, tangy with some great herb flavors. You could pour this stuff on your shoe and it would taste good.

The Smoking Apple is just a few blocks north of Wallaby's Smokehouse and was recommended by someone who saw my review on Wallaby's. They are both great. My recommendation would be to go to one for lunch and the other for dinner. Not a better day could be had.

The Smoking Apple
70 N. State St.
Lindon, Utah, 84042

Happy Eating

The Smoking Apple on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Habit Burger Grill: Remember, what's starts as a habit, can become an addiction!

Often when I review restaurants, I wonder if it's a place where everyone has already been or it's so out of the way, that very few have been there. In the case of Habit Burger Grill, it's a new restaurant to Salt Lake, so no worries about it being overdone.

Habit Burger was founded in Santa Barbara, California in 1969. The laid-back, relaxed, inviting atmosphere has continued. You almost feel like you are in a surf shop based on the decor. They are promoting a fun, active lifestyle. Many restaurants in the "fast-casual" niche try to rush you out the door as soon as they can. Here, they make you feel welcome and will even refill your drink for you-more on that later.

The menu is intriguing and incredibly affordable; Charburger: $2.95, BBQ Bacon Charburger: $4.10, Fresh Albacore Tuna Sandwich: $6.25. The most expensive item on their menu is the Santa Barbara Cobb Salad for $7.15. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mike Mirkil, Vice President of Marketing for Habit Burger. He said "We desire to feed a lot of people for a fair price." This is fair price indeed. He also told me that these are the same prices at all their Southern California locations. If you can make enough profit in California with these prices to then expand, you are doing something right.

One thing that they are doing right is the quality of ingredients. All the meat is fresh, never frozen. The chicken and tri-tip are marinated overnight. The albacore tuna is flown in fresh, 3 times weekly. None of the lettuce, tomato or onions come out of bags. It's all cut fresh daily.  The bread is from Puritan Bakery.

"You won't find fancy chuck, a brioche bun or special sauce, not even ketchup or mustard on our burgers. It's standard but high quality." Mike Mirkil.

You would think that a burger without all the extras would be boring but that's not the case at all. A Charburger won't leave you so full that you can't move but it will leave you satisfied and energized. Lite and Fresh are the two best words to describe it. The Caramelized Onions really add a delicious component to each burger; sweet, tangy and flavorful.

The sweet potato fries were introduced 2 years ago. They are delicious, crispy and overall a great side menu item.

One interesting thing about Habit Burger goes by the term "lapping." There are 2-3 employees who are ready to take your tray when you are done. They will even ask if you need ketchup or fry sauce. And best of all, they will ask if you need a refill on your drink. You sit there wondering if you should be leaving a tip; not so, it's all just part of the experience.

If you are not sold yet on trying Habit Burger, download "The Habit Charburger Challenge" App and play away. You will soon be so hungry working with all those delicious ingredients that impulse will take over and you will be on your way.

The Habit Burger Grill is the first business to open in the renovated Granite Furniture building in Sugarhouse. A wonderful change to a former eye-sore.

Habit Burger Grill
2121 South McClelland St.
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84106

Happy Eating

Habit Burger Grill on Urbanspoon

Photo Credits: Sarah Lyman, Panic Button Media

Friday, January 11, 2013

Breakfast Smoothie: My 5 Hour Energy!

Starting back in September, Rachel and I began having smoothies for breakfast. They are healthy, filling and refreshing. Just recently, she made a new smoothie that was wonderful and now we are on top of the world.

Having received a Ninja Blender as a Christmas present, it makes it all the more easy to throw things in the there. Sous Chef Jesse told me that he & his friend even put an old cell phone in their Ninja Blender and it worked beautifully.

Breakfast Smoothie

1 Red Delicious Apple, sliced
1 Cup Fresh Spinach
1 Banana
1/3 Cup Greek Honey Yogurt
1/3 Cup Milk (or Silk Milk)
1/2 Teaspoon Flax Seed

The apple, spinach and yogurt make a perfect plural marriage. It also gets you loaded up on fruits and vegetables to start the day.

Happy Eating

Monday, January 7, 2013

Smoked Turkey Breasts: Citrus Soy & Honey Sherry!

My brother-in-law asked if I wanted a couple of turkey breasts. They give them away at his work and he even had a couple packages in his freezer from last year. The package is not a pretty sight. It's plain, ugly, see-through and weighs as much as a bowling ball. They tried to cook some up but were disappointed in the result. I said that I would be happy to give them a shot.

It took a couple of days to thaw them out. While finishing the thawing process in the sink, Rachel was convinced that they were both Haggis which contains a sheep's heart, liver and lungs. She all but promised at that moment not to taste the turkey, no matter how good I said that it was.

I decided that an overnight marinade would be best. A separate marinade for each breast would give us the opportunity to to see how different flavor combinations worked.

Citrus Soy Marinade

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, basil, and pepper. Rub over the turkey breasts. Insert one clove into each end of the turkey breasts, and one in the center.

In a large shallow dish, blend vegetable oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and brown sugar. Place the turkey breast in the dish, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Smoke turkey breast at a temperature between 225 degrees F. and 250 degrees F. for 2 1/2 to 4 hours depending on the size of the turkey. The breast will be done when it has reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees F.

Honey Sherry Marinade

1 skinless, boneless turkey breast (3 to 3 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup dry sherry
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat honey, sherry and butter in a saucepan over a low heat long enough to melt the butter. Stir until even. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and salt. Let cool. Wash and pat dry the turkey breast. Place everything in a resealable plastic bag. Seal and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, but not more than 24 hours. Prepare smoker. Smoke turkey breast at a temperature between 225 degrees F. and 250 degrees F. for 2 1/2 to 4 hours depending on the size of the turkey. The breast will be done when it has reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees F.

The turkey breasts were incredibly moist and flavorful. I wondered if they would have any taste at all based on the skepticism of the giver. The Citrus Soy Marinade was good but a little overpowering. I preferred the Honey Sherry Marinade. It was sweet and smooth with a delicious glaze.

My brother-in-law said that I could have more turkey breasts upon request. When I told him how delicious they were and that I would love some more, he told me that this would be no problem, as long as I invited them up. Absolutely! It's impossible to eat 6 pounds of turkey by yourself anyway.

Happy Eating

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sakana Sushi: Jalapeno & Hot Sauce on a Sushi Roll?

While arranging a business meeting with a friend, it was determined that we would meet at Jordan Landing-a large shopping development in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. There are many dining options there but we narrowed it down to BBQ, Thai, Sushi or Burgers. Not having had Sushi for a while, I made the decision.

Sakana has some great lunch specials where you can get two Maki Rolls and a bowl of a Miso Soup for $9.56. Now what is a Maki Roll? I didn't know. It includes but is not limited to Tekka, Sagi, Unagi, Futo, Negihama, Tako and more. Since we did not order any of these, I can't tell you know how good they taste. They also have 13 Sushi Rolls for $7.99 each during lunch. We ordered the Playboy Roll from the $7.99 special and a Hotty Roll; no special price there.

Since I didn't have my breakfast smoothie that morning, I was definitely hungry. An appetizer was calling my name. I went with the side salad because of the Honey Ginger Dressing. You could put that dressing on an old shoe and it would taste good. I drank the rest when the lettuce and tomatoes were gone.

The Playboy Roll has shrimp tempura, cucumber and avocado topped with tuna, spicy mayonnaise, eel sauce and tobiko. Tobiko is the Japanese word for flying fish roe (eggs). It was a good roll. The tuna and spicy mayonnaise definitely make it worth the purchase.

My friend loves spicy food which was the reason for the Hotty Roll. It has fresh salmon, avocado and asparagus topped with tuna, jalapeno, lime, eel sauce, hot sauce and sesame seeds. What, hot sauce and jalapeno? It was good but I was drinking a lot of water after each bite. My friend said that he could have used a little more heat.

Sushi is an expensive addiction. It's easy to finish two rolls by yourself; let alone sharing them. That is why Red Ginger Bistro and their "all sushi rolls 50% off" promotion is so attractive. Sakana was good. Next time I am out that way, I will stop in and try the Maki Roll special. It's tough when Kyoto and Red Ginger are so close.

7626 Campus View Dr.
West Jordan, Utah, 84084

Happy Eating

 Sakana Sushi Bar & Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Holiday Appetizer: Asiago Cheese Spread!

For a Christmas party this past month, our assignment was an appetizer. Time got away from us and we were not sure what to make. Thankfully this worked as a delicious compliment to the party.

Asiago Cheese Spread

1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Asiago Cheese, shredded
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon Garlic, minced
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients in bowl, spread over baquette slices, broil for 2 1/2 minutes. Enjoy.

I added a little extra garlic. It gives it the wow factor but there will be no kissing your wife, husband, boyfriend or girlfriend later in the evening. They will push you away. However, if they were at the party also, they will have the same problem.

Happy Eating

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