Coffee Garden

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Sundays are a veritable no-man’s land here in Salt Lake City. It is the second biggest frustration, after not being able to buy any liquor at any grocery store.

But there are still a handful of places open on Sundays. Mainly they are pubs! And a handful of coffee shops. But be warned, DO NOT go Downtown on a Sunday. Unless you just want to walk along empty streets and pretend you are one of the last survivors of the apocalypse.

But luckily for us, there are several coffee shops a few blocks away from our apartment. The one we tried last Sunday was Coffee Garden. As we were walking towards it we saw a crowd of people. The only populated area of the intersection, in fact! Though it was quite busy, we didn’t have to wait long to get our orders in.

I ordered my usual – a chai latte. It was decent here, not anything special. But what wowed me was the quiche. The Mushroom and Artichoke Quiche, to be exact. It was fresh tasting, still moist after being reheated in the microwave, the crust was still flaky (of course soft and flexible, that can’t be helped when sitting out for more than a few minutes) but intact and not soggy in the slightest. And the flavour was superb. While I couldn’t pick out the individual flavours of artichoke or mushroom, the overall taste was fresh and spicey (they definitely went heavy on the pepper. But in a GREAT way.)

Cortney was quite pleased with her coffee drink and the ambience of the place. Which I nearly forgot to describe!

When walking in you are affronted by a crowd of tables with the thinnest walkways imaginable. And you have to walk all the way to the back of the room to get to the counter. Further blocking your way, but also demarking the end of the table-lands is a floating island counter in the center full of one’s coffee and meal supplies. At the right hand side is the line to order, where one can see all the goodies (both sweet and savory). This line then leads back towards the left where you order and then continue to the VERY leftmost wall to pick up your drink and food.

It is a ridiculous set up. But once out of the throng, we found some seats along the hallway around the right side where the entrance to the kitchen can be found. Contrary to what you might expect, it wasn’t suffocating, but cozy. They did an EXCELLENT job of turning that most inconvenient space into a really lovely study nook. There are pictures of the coffee bean harvesting process along the kitchen wall, a wooden booth with several two person tables along the opposite wall and classical music playing to sooth your confusion-and-crowd jarred spirits.

We stayed there for a good while, simply enjoying the ambiance and doing some people watching. Then we headed to the park where we encountered a drum circle hippie fest at the bottom of a tall hill. It was so much fun to watch and commentate on those from our perch at the top while soaking up the sun and enjoying the sounds of laughter, music, and joy in the air (and the not-so-occasional ramblings of someone very high.)

So if you are looking for a great Sunday spot or just a chill place to study or read, check out the Coffee Garden. And DEFINITELY try the quiche.

Kongnamulguk and Gamja Jorin (AKA Soybean sprout soup and potato side dish)

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And thus begins my adventures in Korean cooking. I will master this delicious cuisine. This post is dedicated to my attempt at recreating a delicious soup and one of my favorite banchans.

The recipes for both of these come from maangchi – a great and plentiful source for Korean recipes!

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I didn’t do much modifying, if anything I just left out the kelp (seaweed) from the soup and forgot to buy the sesame seeds for the potatoes. So here are the recipes if you’d like to try it for yourself: Potatoes and Soup.

These were both relatively simple, though the potatoes took much longer than the stated 10 minutes. Though that could be attributed to me getting used to my new stove. And they turned out well!

The soup was hearty but light. Not quite as rich as I remember my friend’s mom’s soup being. I definitely will add the seaweed for the next batch. The potatoes could have had a little more sugar, but I did eyeball the measurements. But we still ate them all. No leftovers for either dish.

In other ethnic cooking adventures, I made jjajjangmyeon again. This time it turned out SPLENDID. The exact perfect consistency and flavor. I mixed the techniques and ingredients from three different recipes just by feel. The next time I make it I will take notes of what I do so you can recreate this.

Overall I believe this is an excellent start to my mastering of Korean dishes. Healthy and delicious meals, here I come!

Jang Soo Jang

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I am so lucky to be living with someone who loves Korean food (and dramas) as much as I do. And maybe a little bit more!

That means that, after having a delicious meal at one of the local Korean restaurants she is more than happy to encourage my exploring the art of home-cooked Korean cuisine. *Hint Hint* There is going to be a series of Korean recipe posts starting soon!

In our immediate area there are 3 Korean places. We picked the one that happened to be open during the apparently odd eating hour of 3pm. It is called Jang Soo Jang. We knew we were in for a treat when we drove into the parking lot and had to navigate through a crowd of Korean college students streaming out the doors. We parked as we surreptitiously spied on the natives of our cultural obsession.

The inside of the restaurant was very minimal and clean. A few Asian decorations here and there, nothing very Korean or distinct. But the menu offered all the variety that the décor lacked. From soups (guk) to noodle dishes to hotstone bibimbap and several Korean beverages I’ve never heard of before, but that Cortney said were delicious.

After much deliberation I ordered the ManduDdeokGuk (dumpling and rice cake soup) over the Jjajjangmyeon which handwritten printer paper signs declared they “Now Served”. Cortney ordered the Dolsot Bibimbap (Hot stone bowl beef and veggies over rice).

Our food came out quickly and the banchan were diverse and plentiful (with one free refill each. Booyah!) My soup was subtly rich and had a slow growing heat in the broth. The mandu were stuffed nicely with ground pork and went with the rice cakes ohsonicely (though I am saddened to report there were only 3 or 4 dumplings in the huge bowl.) The huge portion served to me filled me up to the overflow level and there was still some broth and ddeok leftover.

Cortney JUST managed to stuff all of her bibimbap into her mouth before calling it quits. That didn’t leave us much room for the banchan, unfortunately. Though during our gorgings we managed to spare room for the gamja jorim (potatoes in soy sauce and sugar), the soybean side dish, and the marinated broccoli. Of course there was also the kimchi banchan, but that hardly counts as extra food, now does it? XD The only banchan we weren’t a fan of was what I could only assume was fish cakes or perhaps tofu in fish sauce. Either way it was too fishy for me to enjoy much, though overall it wasn’t unpleasant. That would be a banchan to get accustomed to slowly.

Overall, the service was quick, the restaurant was pleasant, and the food was delicious. While we still want to check out the others in our area, we will be coming back to Jang Soo Jang.

Ahh Sushi

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Funky Vegas

So Cort and I have a bad habit of going downtown on Sundays. Which in this Mormon controlled city means most places are closed. All we wanted was to go to a café and chill for a while. Instead we walked for 20  minutes before we could even pick a place to sit down!

Eventually we settled on a Starbucks and had a lovely little rest. By then, though, we were starving! So we looked to see what was open around the area. Being Sunday, our options were limited, but we decided on the sushi place across the street.

Turns out Ahh Sushi is a really neat and delicious restaurant. Located on the underground level of a building and connected to a pub. They were playing old jazzy music and the atmosphere was cozy.

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Gyoza

We sat at the sushi bar and ordered two rolls and a “tapa.” There was only one other person there, but it took a while for our food to come out. Besides that it was fresh and delicious. Nice mellow flavours blended together into distinct styles for each roll. The fish was nice and fresh. The gyoza can be cooked either steamed or fried. We choose steamed and it came in the absolute most delicious spicy/sweet sauce!!! I could not get enough of it and I dipped everything in it. =)

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Playboy

The restaurant was really cool and offered some great specials including $3 beers on Wednesday and half price sushi for happy hour. We are definitely going back to check out these specials and to explore the connecting bar – O’Shucks.

Desert Edge Brewery

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Our first night on the town my roommate, Cortney, and I went to this nearby restaurant and brewery located a block away from our place of residence in Trolley Square. Trolley Square is a very odd shopping center. It is partly empty and partly filled with the most random selection of stores and companies. From a bookstore selling new, used and antique books, to a yoga studio, to the center for Fantasy Con and more. Needless to say we were both amused and confused whilst exploring there for the first time.

Desert Edge is just around the corner from the main shopping “mall” area, behind Whole Foods. It offers a trendy and relaxed atmosphere that reminds me of one of Tucson’s local breweries – Thunder Canyon.

This is a seat-yourself type place – which definitely threw us when we first entered – and has a lot of options to choose from. There are tables, the bar, and several sections of the restaurant to pick from. I don’t think anyone would have to wait more than 10 minutes on a very busy night to find seating. As it was, on a Friday night and fairly packed, we didn’t see a single group wait for a table.

After our brief confusion and instructions to seat ourselves we picked a spot in the corner that offered plenty of people watching views. The clientele ranged from hipster and lumberjack college students, to young families, and business gentry. The dress was anywhere from casual to business casual and you could make the evening what you wanted.

Now on to the food.

The menu offers very reasonably priced meal options. Nothing over 12 dollars, really. And they also feature a varied Specials menu attached to the back of the normal menu. They offer sandwiches – hot and cold, pasta salad, soup, salad (of course), and “entrées”. Their menu was varied and had options for most moods. They even had several Mexican dishes – tacos, enchiladas, and burritos!

The price of their beers wasn’t too bad either at just under $5 for a pint. And they offer a decent selection!

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I ended up getting one of the specials – a Portabello and Fontina Panini with roasted red bell peppers, ????, served with potato chips and house pasta salad. While it all tasted fresh and it was satisfying, it was mind blowing or amazing. It was all simply DECENT. I’m going to try one of their regualr menu items next time. See if that is any better.

While my tongue wasn’t blown away by the food, the atmosphere and price and location will be drawing me back.

The Bayou

IMG_2991-EditedWonderful news! I have made the move to Salt Lake City to search for passion, fun and adventure. Why? You may ask? Why not! I shall reply. But honestly it just fell into place and I’m lucky enough to have been able to move in with one of mes filles favorites –  Cortney whom I met one fateful semester abroad in France.

Unfortunately, during the move and transferring of files, I seem to have msiplaced my Cali photos. So that series will be put on hold. Fortunately, I have plenty of SLC photos to start into!

It was a monotonous day and a half drive from Tucson to SLC, but it was made without much hassle or hickup (though my tire managed to pick up a nail along the way. No leakage, but that was something to be fixed immediately upon arrival.) The night of my dad’s and my arrival we unloaded all of my furniture. It  went smoothly and quickly and in no time flat all my possessions were placed inside my new home.

Then it was simply running around getting the necessaries and things I didn’t think I’d need. Saturday we were more or less done and we went to celebrate with dinner at one of the pubs near us. The place my dad choose was The Bayou a Louisiana Cajun style restaurant and bar. They had a veritable BOOK of beer choices and a decent food menu too. I was able to try some Jambalaya that my dad ordered – first taste ever – and it was delicious! I had cajun style fettucini – Fettucini Kileene – with alfredo and pesto spices; it was absolutely delicious. I’ve always laughed at “Cajun Style” pastas at other restaurants but this was no laughing matter. It had enough kick and spice to satisfy me and it was such a unique combo of flavors and was I imagine Cajun food to taste like.

Cort had the Crawfish Étouffée and devoured it. And my dad thoroughly enjoyed his Jumbalaya.