Memorable Dishes in Salt Lake City, Utah

To experience Utah is to experience the Beehive state during the winter. The chill from the wind and the fresh scent of  fallen snow was a welcomed change, making dining and having a cup of tea that much more enjoyable. During my short work trip, I was able to eat at few great Salt Lake City staples–The Copper Onion and Red Iguana.

 

Turkish Eggs

The Copper Onion

An intriguing brunch item of two perfectly poached eggs nestled in a sweet, peppery bath of paprika butter, yogurt and mint. I anticipated the hot butter to separate the yogurt but was not at all bothered by the ricotta-like texture as a result of it. As you break open the delicately poached egg, the release of the yolk creates a decadent sauce to slather on your toast. A  chiffonade of mint added an herbaceous bite while  brightening up the dish.

 

Not your ordinary Tres Leches Cake

Red Iguana

There’s a reason why I don’t have a picture of this cake. After a single bite, I repeatedly came back for more and for more…until it was gone. The cake was as small as a muffin, thoroughly soaked in a chilled milky pool of vanilla, tres leches/3 milks of evaporated, condensed and whole milk. The unexpected addition of brandy added another dimension, bringing out the vanilla to the forefront and accenting the lightly sweetened milks.

 

Burrata: Several Ways

Oh, how I just love Burrata with all of its  luscious, creamy goodness.  It’s essentially a sack of mozzarella filled with stracciatella, a mixture of mozzarella curd and fresh cream. The straciatella is enveloped in a perfect little pouch and the cheese is traditionally knotted at the top. After a single puncture of the fork, its buttery filling oozes out. If that’s not food porn I don’t know what is. Due to its high moisture content and zero aging, it’s classified as a fresh cheese.

Burrata is amazingly decadent yet light on the palate with a refreshingly sweet cream flavor. It’s made an appearance on many restaurant menus. What’s not to like, really? It’s simply delicious and versatile. While many restaurants default to Caprese-style with tomatoes, basil, evoo and balsamic *yawn,* I enjoy what others are doing to elevate this delicious product by pairing it with out of the ordinary ingredients.

Note: For those who haven’t had Burrata, you will soon after reading this post.- I apologize in advance if you are now addicted to this cheese.

Burrata with roasted grapes and poppy seeds

Animal Restaurant  //  435 North Fairfax, Los Angeles

The flesh of grapes are transformed when roasted–delicate, almost jam-like and homogenous in texture with the cheese. The subdued sweetness of the grapes bring out the natural sweetness of the cheese. A generous topping of poppy seeds provides the necessary texture this dish needs. Because it’s soo good,  you’ll probably forget that there are a bunch of poppy seeds stuck in your teeth.

Burrata with Plum, duck prosciutto, Oregon hazelnuts, chocolate sour dough

Red Bird  //  114 East Second St, Downtown Los Angeles

A mélange of ingredients that  come together in perfect harmony. The choice of a duck prosciutto lends the perfect amount of salty flavor against the refreshing fluff of Burrata. The aerated and crisp chocolate sour dough are unexpected but play well with others–absorbing the vinaigrette from the greens and glossy fat of the prosciutto. A vibrant salad of bitter frisée, water cress and tart green apples impart freshness and enliven the entire dish. The hazelnuts are buttery and pleasantly crunchy.

 

Burrata lettuce wrap with bib lettuce and crispy guanciale (pork cheek)

Volpi 

This Burrata guanciale lettuce wrap snack was created by a member of the Volpi team at my work’s kitchen during a charcuterie class. What a creation! The sizzling hot-out-of-the-pan guanciale against the Burrata and crisp lettuce leaf was incredibly refreshing. Forget the calories. It counts as a salad.

 

Burrata with fried green tomatoes and crispy Serrano, hazelnut Romesco

Ironwood  //  25250 La Paz Rd, Laguna Hills

An impressive rendition of a Burrata “salad.”  It was warm, comforting and wonderfully savory. With each bite  was a textural crunch from the crispy Serrano and fried tomatoes. The earthiness and zesty spice of the Romesco lifted the Burrata. A briny bite of pickled red onions offset the richness of the dish.

 

Beekeeper’s Burrata with berries, honeycomb and marcona almonds

Foremost Wine Co.  //  570 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo

While most restaurants serve Burrata as an appetizer, Foremost Wine Co. serves it for dessert. Here, Burrata’s fresh and delicate flavors are highlighted with tart berries and local honeycomb–a symphony of gentle, soft flavors coalesced into one.

 

Fun Find: Aplat Pain Tote or what I like to call ‘BAG-uette’

I love the discovery of the unexpected, such as this culinary tote designed by Aplat–convenient and ideal for both picnics and trips to the grocery store. The oblong design secures your baguette and minimizes the potential of falling out, something that I struggle with when using a traditional reusable bag. This tote is much more than a carrier of bread, it can also hold two wine bottles and flowers. This was one of those “Oh, I have to have that!” purchases. I look forward to toting it around in wine country.

For more creative designs, Check out Aplat‘s website.

Moliterno al Tartufo Pasta with Bacon

Envision this:

Warm fusilli pasta and bacon tossed inside a hollowed out wheel of Moliterno al Tartufo. The heat of the pasta melts the cheese as it’s being gently mixed. The natural starch of the pasta acts as thickening agent, creating a decadent sauce. Where could one go wrong?

Moliterno al Tartufo  is a truffle-veined  Pecorino from Sardinia. The Piquancy of the sheep’s milk married with the aroma of truffles is remarkably well-balanced. The addition of bacon added a touch of smoky flavor and the earth of the truffles softened the salty bite of the cheese.

 

Central Formaggio demonstrating their Moliterno al Tartufo pasta dish at Culture magazine’s (the word on cheese) Counter Culture seminar

Harbison

 

Oh, baby.

Google “cheese porn” and you’ll likely find images of Harbison at the top of the search results (capturing its ooey, gooey magnificence). Harbison is the creation of Jasper Hill, a dairy farm and award-winning creamery in Greensboro, VT. This cheese is downright sexy, with a thick, creamy interior that is simply irresistable . This rustic charmer is wrapped in strips of spruce bark harvested from the woodlands of Jasper Hill. The spruce bark might sound odd, but imparts an incredibly woodsy, piney-lemony aroma and taste. The flavor profile is vegetal- yet satisfyingly savory- with nuances of roasted asparagus. The best way to enjoy Harbison is to slice off its top rind and dig into its delectable paste.

 

Manchego, Santa Monica

Nestled on busy  main street is a charming and unassuming  Spanish tapas bar called Manchego. Its small size and simple facade could easily be passed when driving by. The quaint interior is welcoming, and rustic textures gives the space a warmth that encourages you to stay for awhile.

The restaurant is named after an exquisite sheep’s milk cheese, which gives me an inkling of the level of cookery that awaits. I begin my night with a glass of Sangria, the perfect starting off point to a great meal.

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Crispy Jamon Tostado

burrata, fig jam, jamon

The gentle sweetness of the fig jam worked harmoniously with the salty pork. The crispy Iberia ham, rich butteriness of the fresh cheese, and the slight crisp edges of the bread gave the tapas dish nice texture.

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Brussels Sprouts

bacon, mushroom, vinagre de jerez

Acid. salt. sweet. crispy. This little vegetable was transformed into something amazing. The contours of each brussel leaf crisped up, the core was tender, absorbing the the sweet yet slight acidic caramelization of the vinegar. Bits of bacon enriched the dish and the mushrooms added a dose of umami and soft texture.

 

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Membrillo Glazed Pork Belly w. Marcona Almonds

Rich, unctuous, and just fantastic. With each bite, I experienced the layers of flavor and textural variety: the sweet cracklin’ skin from the membrillo glaze, glossy pork fat, and richness of the meat.

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Grilled Octopus

lemon, blistered tomatoes, anchoa olives, garlic

This dish was packed with acidity and freshness. I applaud the chef for cooking the octopus to perfection. The exterior had a desirable char, and the center was tender and supple. Lemon, capers, and tomatoes gave it vibrancy and a healthy amount of acid.

*not pictured but also a must-try are the grilled lamb chops with tzatziki and crispy capers (the best dish of the night, but devoured before a picture could be taken).

The food I experienced at Manchego was splendid. It’s a great place to unwind with a few good friends over great food.

Manchego /2518 Main St. Santa Monica, CA 90405 /visit manchego