Sunday, January 31, 2010


It's not all skiing and beer here at WWW (although it mostly is): sometimes we get a little culture too!  A week ago Saturday, because we weren't feeling all that well plus it was snowing like a banshee up in the canyons, we decided to check out the Pioneer Museum at 300 N. Main Street in Salt Lake City.  This museum, run by the International Society of Daughters of Utah Pioneers (i.e. the Mormons), houses an impressive collection of artifacts focused on the Mormon pioneers who ventured forth starting in 1847. 

The museum definitely has a small town historical society feel to it.  The collection of stuff - ranging from furniture and handmade quilts to oil lamps and buttons and Indian baskets to handcarts and fire engines and Brigham Young's own wagon - is quite broad but it's organized strangely, with less information available than you might think.  Dates for most things would have been nice - it wasn't that long ago.  We spent a good amount of time there, even though two floors were closed off due to renovations.  Admission is free, the Daughters on duty were pleasant and friendly, and it was a good opportunity to learn a little bit more about our adopted city.

And it's not that far from Squatters so we went there afterwards for a beer.

Also we tried a new restaurant that night.  We tried to order pizza from Wasatch Pizza but after being put on hold interminably we gave up on that.  Then we tried that Indian place we'd tried on my birthday but nope, still closed: 'til February 22, actually.  So there was a Chinese place, the Szechuan Garden, right next door with a bunch of folks inside and we gave that a go.  The menu was impressive, including such delicacies as pickled chicken feet, jelly fish with chili, pig's feet and several dishes featuring intestines.  We went with the more plebian szechuan beef and hot and spicy shredded pork.  I had very high hopes based on the menu's offerings but H's szechuan beef was more sweet than spicy and my spicy pork was hardly hotter-flavored, and both dishes were drenched in sauces that were very sticky and syrupy.  Perhaps we'd been better off with the jelly fish and intestines; Salt Lake City Magazine chose Szechuan Garden as the best Chinese in the city, and City Weekly gives it a big thumbs-up.  It's pretty close to where we live so I guess we'll have to try it again.  But I'm still not ordering the intestines.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

a really great deal

Today we ventured to the other side of the Wasatch Front to ski at the Canyons.  Although a regular adult day pass is $81, the resort has been running a Pair Pass deal: two lift tickets, two burgers and two beers for $119.  That was way too good for us to pass up, especially since after deducting the cost of the food and beer, we brought our ticket price down to about $45 each.  That's cheaper than if we'd bought them at a ski shop and although we brown-bagged our lunch, we had the burgers and beers (ick - Budweiser, but probably the best tasting Bud I've ever had since it was consumed mid-mountain in the sunshine) right before we left the mountain at 4 p.m., so that counted as dinner.

The Canyons used to be an American Skiing Company resort, just like H's and my former home mountain, Sunday River.  Although the Canyons is ridiculously huge (3700 skiable acres, 167 trails and 18 lifts), we immediately noticed some similiarities to Sunday River that proved the pedigree:  many of the newer trails were widely cut and didn't follow the fall line; many of the trails had a long, flat run-out (although none traversed quite so much as Kansas); and we had to ski under some snow guns.

However, H and I made a point of skiing from one side of the resort to the other - taking thirteen different lifts - just to cover the most territory, and we did notice some striking differences.  First of all, flat run-outs aside, the Canyons has some serious terrain: we did ski a lot of double-blue (whatever those are!) groomers because there hasn't been any new snow since last weekend's storm, so the bumps were pretty solid and the snow was skied into chop, but we went to the highest lift ("Ninety-Nine 90") and skied Lower East Face which was just ridiculously steep.  It was "toothy" in spots (i.e., rocks were popping through) and I gouged one of my skis pretty well, but we were the only ones on the whole trail.

We were the only ones on the trails often, actually.  We'd been told that it might be crowded, what with being a Saturday and all, but a friendly guy on the first lift (by the way, we took three lifts before we even skied: one from the parking lot to the village center; one from the village to the mid-mountain; and one from the mid-mountain to some actual decent trails) advised us to ski to the far left or the far right of the resort, and we rarely shared the trails with others.  We even found untracked corduroy after 11:30 a.m. - crazy!  We never waited in lift lines (another difference from Sunday River on Saturdays).

The Canyons is beautiful, with gorgeous aspen glades and sweeping vistas out over the Heber Valley.  It's definitely a more resort-y ski resort - there were a lot more tourists and snow bunnies than at Alta, Solitude or Brighton.  And it does not cater to the day skier at all: we changed into our boots in the truck, then took the aforementioned multiple lifts to get to ski, and to brownbag our lunch, we had to come all the way back out from the skiing to the village - which nobody does. 

The snow conditions were not the best but there wasn't any ice and so while it wasn't a great ski day (now that I'm a bump-skiing powderhound, I'm a total snow snob), it was certainly a great day with warm temperatures - one of these days I won't overdress - and bright sunshine and mostly blue skies.  Can't complain about any of that.  Well, one Southern belle we rode a chair lift did complain that there weren't enough beginner trails, but I'm okay with that since I can do double-black bump runs now.

Friday, January 29, 2010

there's something about becky

Some of you have been nice enough to ask how B, the “crazy dog” from the blog’s subtitle, has been doing in the last four months since we left Maine. B says thank you for your interest and concern.  It has been a little bit of a struggle at times (motel rooms and hail storms are scary!), and she definitely doesn’t like hearing all the car and apartment doors opening and closing, but she’s doing fine.

She would like to be able to go for more car rides as she loves being in the car (last winter when we had so many house showings, H would just take her with him to work every day and she’d wait in the truck, happy as can be all day); the restrictions on dogs in the canyons mean we can't take her with us on ski days.  But even though she’s a doofus about a lot of things, she learns – and depends on – routines very quickly, and heads straight to her crate when we pack up our boot bags and tell her "you're stayin'."  (It has to be said like that, with no final g.)

B has embraced the work day schedule as well: up with the alarm, a walk around the apartment complex, breakfast and then going willingly to her crate when H gets ready to leave for work.  It's “willingly” because it means she’s getting a biscuit. Day in, day out, she’s good with it, feeling safe and secure in her cozy crate.

Change just one thing in the regular routine, however, and All Bets Are Off.* H had a 6:30 a.m. conference call one morning this week which meant breakfast first, then a delay before B's walk. I had left before them and later was informed by email that B had gone to work. Apparently the schedule change was just enough to convince her that this was not a regular workday and that she would by no means be going in her crate, quietly or otherwise. Since we live in an apartment and can’t risk her whining all day, H just took her with him.

It just occurred to me that perhaps she’s smarter than I think and we’re the ones who are the doofuses.

* Bonus points if you know the reference.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

let's be honest

Now, I don't want all our friends and family back east to think H and I are Maine-bashing what with all our "Ooh! Utah is soooooo great! We love Utah and we're sooooooo happy to be here!  Ooh - mountains!"  I mean, all of that is true.  But let's be honest - there are, in fact, some things that Maine is better at than Utah.

Like avalanches - Maine has many fewer deaths by avalanche: there was another one just today, someone back-country skiing near (but not at) Solitude; that makes at least two people dead after last weekend's big ol' storm.  Also, I'm still preferring Hannaford to the grocery stores out here, although I am finding a much better variety of Mexican foods now.  Maine drivers are better at driving in snowstorms, I think, and the Maine plow guys are vastly superior to the UTDOT although they don't use sand out here which keeps the roadsides much cleaner.

There.  Does that even things up a little?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Well, it's taken nearly four months but they finally converted me.  What? No! Not to Mormonism - to skiing in waist-deep Utah powder!

The thing is, we almost didn't go.  Both H and I have been battling an icky head cold all week and when the alarm went off this morning, we were like, "Ehhhhh, not sure I want to go skiing."  Then we smartened up, realizing that we FINALLY have snow - like, 80+ inches of new fluffy stuff over the last week, which may have brought our winter back on track - and we would soooooo regret it if we didn't go.  Plus, Solitude was running a promotion where if you bought 10 bottles of Vitaminwater (at $1.39/ea.), and brought in the labels, you'd get a 2 for 1 day pass (at $38/pp - way cheap!).   And I'd already bought the dang Vitaminwater.

So we went, and got up there in time for a parking spot in the front row.  The first run was fully groomed halfway down and when we switched over to the not-so groomed, I sort of squeaked and was like, "Oh dear! The untracked powder is almost up to my knees! I'm an eastern skier and am not sure I know how to handle this."  It's a good thing that I (mostly) figured it out because we had first tracks in knee-deep powder for the next two runs off the Eagle Express lift; then several huge, puffy bump runs down the Challenger trail; then several more knee-deep/puffy bump runs, including some time in the aspen trees (without hitting any!) off the Apex lift.  The snow was just incredible and it gives you such confidence to do bumps without fear of hitting any ice.

Because of all the recent snow, Honeycomb Canyon was closed and they were hitting it with a barrage of TNT to shake loose the potential avalanches.  At noon, however, they dropped the ropes and let us over to the Summit lift.  Honeycomb itself was still closed, but the east-side canyon - Evergreen glades, Headwall Forest, and other glades - was finally open.  We were up at the top of the Powderhorn II lift and dropped into the glades heading down to the Summit lift.  Seriously: I have never skied in that much snow ever. In my life.  At one point, we were in untracked powder up to my waist.  Thank goodness it was so steep (!!) because we would have been totally stuck otherwise.  Notice (1) the snow and (2) how the fall line drops away:

We think we came down through the Milk Run glades (double black diamonds -booyah! and check out the warning signs below ) and at one point had to traverse a bit to avoid the cliffs that were, thankfully, roped off.  It was nuts.  If we stopped, our skinny skis were buried in snow and it was nearly impossible to pull them back out ... so you just didn't stop.  I absolutely had no idea how steep it was because I was so focused on what I was doing; the good thing is that if you did fall - and I did - not only did it not hurt because of the 3+ feet of powder, you didn't slide halfway down the slope because of all the powder.  We took a picture of the glade when we got to the lift but it just doesn't show how steep it was. It was nuts.  And soooooo much fun.

We skied off the Summit lift for a number of runs, taking runs we haven't been able to do before, and it was just a blast.  I made it until just before 2:00 p.m. before my hamstrings started screaming and a massive foot cramp did me in; H stayed out for another half hour, unable to leave the incredible snow behind.  It was funny, too, because later, at the Porcupine (of course) we overheard a couple of dudes complaining that Solitude - which they'd only had to ski because Little Cottonwood Canyon (Alta, Snowbird) was closed for much of the morning for avalanche control - "got skied off in a couple of hours."   Please.  Let me send you to Maine and introduce you to what "skied off" really is all about.  You'll never bad-mouth little Solitude again.

I'm pretty certain that I don't need to ski back East ever again.

Friday, January 22, 2010

let's do lunch

When I lived back east, I hardly ever went out for lunch, preferring to bring my own and browse the interwebs or chat with coworkers.  That's still my preference in no small part because I'm cheap and I find lunch to be the least interesting meal of the day so why waste money on it.  However, I'm at a new job in a new city and it behooves me to accept lunch-out invitations when they are offered.  Here's where I've been since starting my job on 11/09/09:
  • Olive Bistro - Mediterranean bistro/wine bar at 57 West 200 South, SLC
  • Caffe Molise - modern Italian at 55 West 100 South, SLC (I had the portobello panini)
  • Bay Leaf Cafe - Southern and Asian cuisine at 159 So. Main St., SLC (I had bulgogi)
  • Cinegrill - mostly Italian with 1950s booths at 344 South 300 East, SLC (great minestrone!)
  • Benihana - at 165 S West Temple, SLC (can you believe I've never been to one of these before?)
  • Miramar - dive Mexican at 342 West 1300 South, SLC (shredded pork tamales with chile verde)
  • take out from Cafe Rio - Mexican chain (some sort of crispy chicken taco - meh)
I've got my eye on Himalayan Kitchen (my boss's favorite Indian place) so hopefully I'll be adding it to the list sometime in the near-ish future.  Lunch on!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

counting every little bit

We're getting there, snow-wise.  SkiUtah reports Solitude the big winner from the latest storm at 15", with Snowbird coming in at 13" and Brighton rounding out the top three with 12".  It was clear and sunny by this afternoon but more snow is on the horizon through tomorrow and Friday.  And I know I've mentioned this before, but the person who invented 15 inches in the canyons and NONE in the valley was just a genius.  I mean, that's brilliant!  I don't have to shovel my own driveway, due to the present joys of apartment-living, but even if I did have to, I wouldn't have had to.  Brilliant!

Now, where to ski this weekend ...?

Monday, January 18, 2010


We had just a teensy little snowstorm this morning, plenty enough to incur 100+ car accidents for the morning commute (these drivers!), little enough that the roads and sidewalks were completely dry for the evening commute, and just enough to blow the smog out of the valley.  I could feel the clarity of the air quality on my face when I left work and both flanking mountain ranges - Wasatch and Oquirrh - were visible.  Tonight we can see the city lights all the way across the valley ... it's been over a week since that was possible.

Still, we'd like some more because we really want to go skiing this weekend.  There are more storms on the horizon - here's hoping!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

emigration canyon ridgeline

H was a man with a plan today!  We checked the NOAA cameras again when we got up - what a great real-time resource when you can't depend on the forecasts for anything - noticing that it was a sunny day on the east side of the Wasatch, while the west side is STILL gunked in.  Hiking gear was donned; the dog was squirted, fed, pooped and then locked in her crate; and we took off north- and east-wards.

After breakfast at the Other Place (Greek scramble for me; Denver omelet with cheese for H), we drove eight miles up Emigration Canyon to the Little Mountain Summit parking lot.  It was incredible, really, since we had scarcely left the valley and headed up the canyon road when the smoggy murk was just GONE, and bright blue skies and sunshine smiling down on us.  The parking lot overlooks Little Dell Reservoir, at the mouth of Mountain Dell Canyon, and down into Parley's Canyon where I-80 runs to Park City. 

Although there were several cars in the parking lot, we did not have much company on the "trail."  I put that in quotations because the book describes the route as "a  Jeep road [which] leads to a dirt trail, then to a game trail, before it disappears completely" then following the ridgeline over rolling hills to eventually overlook the whole of the Salt Lake Valley.  That description is entirely accurate.  We kept to the snowshoe tracks previously laid out (although we were just hiking which was fine for the outbound trip but the snow softened in the sun and we were post-holing for much of the return); these tracks eventually faded away as folks gave up before the summit, and by trail's end we were following the moose and mule deer tracks as they made their way up to the impressive lookout.

I don't think I've ever seen so much animal sign on a hike.  The foothills were practically plaid with all the animal tracks; there was scat everywhere; and when we had made our way up to the penultimate summit, we were walking through deer bedrooms: trampled spots under the scrub oak and curlleaf mountain mahogony.  Despite the abundance of hoofstock sign, however, we saw only chickadees and a flock of chukkars that startled us as much as we startled them.  I was really hoping for a moose but it was not to be today.  B actually could have come with us on the hike as dogs are allowed [edited: dogs not allowed], but she would have eaten SO much deer poop that it's really better that she stayed home.

The hike was 5.2 miles roundtrip (out and back) with a total elevation gain of 1139 feet, taking us 1 hour 45 minutes outbound and an hour and ten minutes back, with fifteen minutes for water, snack and view appreciation at the top.  Although it had been 20 degrees when we left the apartment, it was quite warm in the blazing sun outside of the smog.  Both H and I sweated through all our layers and, as we'd neglected to put on sunscreen, our faces ended up a little pink - a glorious day out there in the foothills of the Wasatch.

wandering: sundance

Saturday dawned grey and smoggy (a-g-a-i-n!!! but a big storm is supposed to be coming next week ...) so we dragged along all morning, waffling about what we wanted to do.  We checked all the canyon web cams on the NOAA web site and confirmed that it was overcast everywhere, not just down here in the inversion, and immediately succumbed to fair weather hiking sydrome.  Instead, we threw the dog and the gazetteer into the car and drove south to check out Sundance Resort in beautiful Provo Canyon, just north of Provo.

Provo Canyon is a big canyon, with a major road and a big ol' river (the Provo River, as you might imagine) winding through it.  The road is quite twisty and the scenery is dramatic: big mountains falling away into sheer cliffs which are made up of many layers of rock, some pushed skywards in impressive formations.  There are lots of waterfalls in Provo Canyon as well - H suspects there are as many "Bridal Veil Falls" in Utah as there are "Mud Ponds" in Maine ... which may or may not say something about the respective states' populations - and we saw a bunch of crazy folks ice-climbing on the canyon walls.  Ice-climbing is something I suspect I'll never do - it's just too nuts.

We did notice right away that even an hour south, in the shadow of the largest mountain in the Wasatch Front (Mt. Timpanogos, around 12,000'), there still isn't very much snow.  The second thing we noticed was how adorable little Sundance Resort is!  Tucked up in the canyon, two or so miles up from the main canyon, the ski mountain has 450 acres, 3 chairlifts and one "handle tow."  The front mountain is all beginner and easy intermediate trails; the back mountain has the bigger blue trails and all the expert terrains, including some steep bowls that, had there been snow, would have been full of powder.

All the buildings are subtle, one or two stories at most - and a couple of yurts too - and folks find their way around via quaint signposts.  There is no hotel per se, but about 100 units' worth of cabins; there's a whole arts scene, including single-session workshops for jewelry-making, pottery, painting, print-making and photography, and a glass-blowing studio; they show films for the Sundance Film Festival, and have summer theater and lots of live music; there are a couple of nice restaurants; and there's a tiny little bar (of course), the Owl Bar which Robert Redford brought down from Wyoming where it had been since the 1890s and where the Hole in the Wall Gang actually used to hang out.  We stopped in for a couple of beers and a chat with the bartender, a transplant from Philadelphia who spent his childhood summers running around Vinalhaven.  Small world, wherever we go.

Since it didn't look like ol' Bob Redford was going to be stopping in any time soon, we left after our beers (reminding ourselves to come back in the summer: a little creek runs through the center of the resort and I just bet it's gorgeous when the leaves are on the trees and the sun is out) and made a loop of our day trip, swinging up through Heber City to Park City and returning to SLC via 80W.  The murk was still sitting there in the valley when we got back, but it was nice to get out of the thick of it for a little bit, even if we didn't get cloud-free skies.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

friday night date night

With the smog having settled over the valley like an overturned bowl, I guess I was feeling a little cabin fever-ish, wanting to get out of the apartment for a bit last night.  I suggested a pitcher at the Porcupine and then a take-home pizza from Wasatch Pizza; H thought a trip to Lumpy's was in order instead, as the Porcupine is a smidgen expensive [note: the bill at the end of the night was almost exactly what it would have been on the Porcupine/pizza route, so potaytoes/potahtoes].

Lumpy's on a Friday night in the non-college football season is not nearly as crowded at Lumpy's on a Saturday night when the Utes are playing, we discovered.  We got seats at the bar, Full Suspension pale in bottles, a pizza (for H) and a potpie (for me).  We also got to talk to one of the regulars for quite some time: the loquacious Jason, a multiple-pierced snowboarder/drummer/fisherman/Mormon-hater who never met an F-bomb he didn't like.  Seriously, I thought I was in an episode of Deadwood for a while there: every single sentence had some variation of the F-bomb in it, including the very expressive adjective "f--kinest," as in "that's the f--kinest thing I ever saw." 

Actually, he was a nice guy, quite friendly and full of love for Salt Lake City, despite the Mormons (- he really doesn't like the LDS Church and expressed great surprise that we'd been here for 3+ months and no one had tried to convert us yet.)  He's the first person we've met who thinks the downtown is a great place to go, particularly for live music; he gushed over the fact that you can enjoy all four seasons here and "there's SO much to do!"  And while we made the immediate assumption that he was a 20-something doofus flake, we learned that in fact he was a mid-30s homeowner whose house was just a couple blocks away.  Books, covers, etc., I suppose - this is what we're finding all over the place here: friendly people who just like being here.  It's great.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

link me, m'dear

Slow A&H&B news week, so all you get is links!

Where East meets West:  a Salt Lake City man got sentenced to 23 years in prison for a two-day robbery spree in Portland, Maine, last February.

I take this woman, and this woman, and this woman ...:  National Geographic's February issue has an article about the Fundamentalist Church of LDS.  In other related news, HBO's Big Love (about a polygamist Utah family) has their season 4 airing now.

Olympians in the house:  in a recently-filmed promo for Nestle Crunch bars, Apolo Ohno speed-skated down the Olympic luge run at Park City.  You can see the promo on YouTube.

Thanks to the Salt Lake Tribune for the above links!

Squatters has updated their web site - very slick!

Sundance A - Z - Deseret News has a handy alphabetical guide to the film festival, which runs January 21-31 in Park City and SLC.  (I will not be attending any of the showings, but I'll make a list and rent 'em when they come out on DVD more later.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

several reasons

We badly need snow not just because the ski runs are groomed flat, but also because the water managers are starting to get nervous about what we'll drink this summer and also-also to clear the nasty gunk out of our air. 

On the other hand, air pollution lends itself to spectacular sunsets.

Monday, January 11, 2010

doughnut run

We got sort of a late start Sunday morning: sleeping in a little, walking the dog, squinting at the ucky inversion haze out the western-facing windows.  But when we checked the cameras off to the east, we decided to head for the canyons for a bit of a walk. 

First, however, we stopped for a late breakfast at the Cottonwood Heights Cafe, just around the corner from our apartment.  It was busy but we only had to wait a few minutes before a table opened up.  I had my regular diner breakfast - two eggs over medium, bacon and sourdough toast - and H had the "Athenian" omelet which was basically a Denver omelet with bacon.  Now, far be it from me to object to adding bacon to anything, but I'm not sure how that adds any Greek to the dish.

We headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon, intending to park at the Spruces campground and hike (or snowshoe) on whatever trails we found there.  But since we'd gotten such a late start the Spruces parking lot was full, so we went back down the canyon just a bit to the Mill D/Dog Lake trailhead and Jordan Pines campground parking lot.  There had been a ton of foot traffic so we left the snowshoes in the car and headed up the Doughnut (Donut) Falls trail.  This is a short (1.75 mi. one way) and mostly easy hike, wandering up through the evergreen forest and only getting steep right at the falls.  The falls - well, I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't that: the stream comes down the mountain and then plunges underground, splashing down inside a good-sized cave before continuing its way down the drainage.The entrance to the cave was rimmed with icicles and the cave roof was glazed with frost from spray from the waterfall.  Very pretty and I bet it's wicked impressive come springtime.

Since the hike to the falls was so short, we took a short side trip, following a connector trail between the Jordan Pines and Spruces campgrounds.  Again, not a strenuous walk, but pretty with the bright blue sky and bright sunshine peeking down through the trees (no inversion in the canyons!).   There's plenty of snow in the woods for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing - about two feet - it's just up on the ski slopes that it's scarce.  Luckily for us we have plenty of other outdoor options while we wait for the next big storm.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

a salt lake city institution

It was overcast last Saturday morning, the clouds hanging out for the long haul over the canyons, so we opted out of snowshoeing, fully embracing our bluebird-sky snobbery.  Instead we ventured in-town to Kirkham's, 3125 South State Street in SLC.  Founded in 1944 as a canvas tent company, Kirkham's is now what L.L. Bean used to be before it got too big: a local outdoors outfitter proudly featuring its own locally-made products.  They've got everything: shoes and clothing, sleeping bags and backpacks, maps, tarps, skis and snowshoes, tents and camping gear.

Prices seem extremely reasonable for many things - Columbia 4-person tents on sale for $99! - except for dog backpacks/saddlebags.  I had put off buying a dog pack for B before we left Maine, figuring it was just one more thing to pack up.  However, the dog packs at Kirkham's were $125 ... so now I figure it's just as well that dogs aren't allowed to hike up in Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons as I'm certainly not spending that much.  And when we find a place that B is allowed to hike - well, I imagine that H can carry whatever B would have carried just as well.

Friday, January 8, 2010

happy birthday to me

Long ago for my 30th birthday, we were in Jackson, New Hampshire, where the temperatures plummeted to nearly -25 F at night and it was pretty much too cold to ski.  For my 40th birthday (!!!!!), we are of course in Salt Lake City, where it hasn't snowed for a week and so we probably won't ski.  I'm noticing a recurrent theme here.

Regardless of the probably-not-skiing, I had a very nice birthday.  H set his alarm for 12 midnight, just to be the first to wish me a happy birthday.  Our dear friends P&C sent me gorgeous flowers at work.  I had phonecalls from my folks, H's folks, my brother, H's brother and my uncle.  I had eight million felicitations on Facebook.  I got cards from a bunch of folks.  And H took me out to dinner - a journey more epic than either of us had imagined.

H's favorite Asian food is Indian, which I also love, and my current favorite is Thai (although I've had a really craving for pho lately), so I'd gotten a list of five Thai and one Indian restaurant recommendations from my foodie work neighbor Jody.  The Indian place, Taste of Punjab, was the closest to our apartment so we decided to give that a shot instead of driving all over the valley.  (Jody herself has never eaten at ToP but the daughter of a friend who used to live in NYC says that ToP really good Indian food.)  So we tossed the dog in the car - even tho' we were going to 1241 E 8600 S in Sandy - and headed south and west for a bit, finally pulling up in front of a big restaurant ... that was completely dark and had a sign in the window reading "Closed until January 22."  Hmm.

I pulled out the little list Jody had given me and Bangkok Thai was the only place below 3000S so again, to keep the driving to a minimum, we drove north to 3142 So. Highland Drive ... except that, "current" website notwithstanding, Bangkok Thai is no longer in business there and instead there's a brand newKathmandu/Tibetan/Himalayan/Nepalese restaurant instead.  That's not yet open.

Now what?  We scrolled through the closest restaurants to our location on our GPS; when I said we could go to Crown Burger, H growled "we are not going to Crown Burger for your 40th birthday."  I wracked my brain and came up with this:  there's a restaurant I've read about that's up near REI (3285 E 3300 S), which isn't too too far away, but I don't remember the name and don't remember what kind of food it is - not Mexican or Asian, probably "New American" or somesuch.  Since that was as good as it was going to get, we started driving towards REI, staring myopically at all the signs as we went past.

CITRIS GRILL - that's it!  That's the one I was thinking of (at 2991 E 3300 S), and that's where we ended up.  I had a beer and H had a diet Coke to try to stay awake; for dinner I had spinach and cheese raviolis with chicken and a pesto cream sauce (quite rich and each of the four raviolis was nearly the size of my palm - I had to give 1 1/2 of them to H) while H had a little pizza and a mixed green salad, and 1 1/2 of my raviolis.  And we split a chocolate brownie sundae for dessert.  The food was okay, not great, but the prices were pretty good (H's pizza and salad together were only $9), including the specialty martinis for $6 (which I did not have) and the on-special margaritas for $3 (which I also did not have).  The joint was jumping, full of people, and the service was quick (rather too quick, actually, but it's hard to complain about not having to wait for your food) and super-friendly. 

I'm not sure we'll go back anytime soon - too many other places to try, especially after January 22nd - but yes, it was nicer than going to Crown Burger for my birthday.  (Maybe I'll get to go to Crown Burger this weekend: you get pastrami on top of your burger instead of bacon!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

a call to dinner

Slowly we are accumulating restaurant recommendations aside from the brewpubs and dive bars we are drawn to on our own.  It seems like we should know more places already but then I have to remind myself that we've only been here for three months, one of which I was entirely unemployed, so easing into the restaurant scene is fine.  My work neighbor Jody, a self-proclaimed foodie, has been great about giving me places to try; we've got a list of Thai, Indian and dim sum prospects, not to mention the Red Iguana that we STILL haven't been to.  Soon, I promise, soon.

But I feel like I need a couple of go-to restaurants - good, solid places where you always know you're going to get a good meal, dependable for when folks come to town to visit.  What I'm looking for is one place like the Front Room and one place like Street & Co., but in SLC.  The Front Room and Street & Co. were two of H's and my favorite restaurants in Portland.  The Front Room is a popular, noisy, long-wait-on-the-weekends, neighborhood kind of place, with great food at great prices, serving "New American comfort food" with entrees ranging from $11.00 homemade macaroni and cheese to $19.00 planked salmon (and great dirty martinis too!).  Street & Co. was our go-to place for special occasions - birthdays, anniversaries, etc. - where we always split an appetizer of the mussels, and then H got blackened swordfish ($26.95) and I got the scallops pernod ($same).  The atmosphere at both places is busy and casual/sophisticated, but these are spots where people go specifically to enjoy the food and don't mind the noise and the wait for a table.

So all you Utah folks, past and present, who read this blog: what are your suggestions?  I'm not looking for seafood here in the desert, but I definitely need new go-to restaurants.  What does greater SLC have to offer me here? Where do I go?

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Last week I was asking what "off-piste" meant; this week I was skiing it!  I rule, by the way.

We totally called it on which day to ski this last weekend of vacation week: today was warm (in the 30s), sunny (per the weather forecast, "mostly cloudy" and if so, I'll take "mostly cloudy" any damn day of the week) and uncrowded.  Apparently they don't call it "Solitude" for nothing - while the trails at the center of the resort were pretty well skied off by 2:00 p.m., we never once waited in a lift line and there was plenty of snow on the periphery.

We got a little more adventuresome this time, heading into Honeycomb Canyon (which is labeled with signs like "Unmarked Obstacles," "Avalanche Danger" and "Cliffs") for a couple of outstanding, if exhausting runs.  The entrance to the canyon is off the highest lift (10,035 ft.) and once you're in the canyon, you have the choice of traversing for as far as you want on either side before dropping down into chutes that eventually bring you to the run-out at the bottom of the gulch.  We didn't traverse too long because there was plenty of gorgeous snow not too far in, but if you're willing to do the work, the rewards are deep and fluffy, despite the fact that WE NEED SNOW PLEASE.  The other very cool thing about this canyon is that it takes a darn long time to get back to a lift; the canyon pretty much runs the length of the resort from east to west and your legs are grateful for a chair back to the center of things by the time you're done with it.

Other than the runs in Honeycomb, we largely sought out bumps wherever we could, as long as our knees could take it, because while the groomers eventually got skied off, the snow stayed quite good on the mogul runs.  I even willingly did bumps runs under the lift for the first time in my life, enjoying the conditions too much to care about any commentary from above.  Rollercoaster, under the Sunrise lift, was my last run of the day and the snow there was fantastic; I wished we'd done it sooner because my legs were just toast by then, but even so, it was a great run.

Afterwards, we stopped into the Porcupine (of course) to celebrate our three month anniversary of being in Utah.  I can't believe it's only been three months: it seems like we've done so much already that it must be longer. 

Also, first fall of the season goes to H, who found himself in a clump of deep powder after maneuvering to avoid a little tree in Honeycomb.  If I'd had the camera, I totally would have taken a picture for you all.  I did sit down once on Rollercoaster but it was because I was soooooooooo tired and not an actual digger on my part.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

maybe, just maybe

On the advice of my work-neighbor Jody and Catherine, I gave Harmon's a shot grocery shopping-wise yesterday.  First plus: not located in Sandy, so Becky can go with and wait in the car.  Also good: the produce is much better, the bakery looks wonderful and the variety is much better.  They still have the foolish "cashiers-unload-your-cart-for-you" thing; they don't carry the yogurt H likes; and both my frozen lunch entrees (you know, like Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones) and the deli counter are more expensive than Smith's or Fresh Market, but still.  Hatch green chile and pork for $3.00!  Produce that isn't limp!  Cheese curds - many varieties!  Big bags of fresh pinenuts!  I just may have found my regular grocery store ... if H doesn't mind picking up his own yogurt and lunch meat from Smith's.

Friday, January 1, 2010

alta, new year's eve

Once again H continued his tradition of skiing Alta on an Eve.  The difference between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve: seventeen inches of new snow and about a kajillion people since it's holiday week for schoolkids.  Still, it was "awesome" and he skied all day, and on stuff that he never would have considered skiing back East.  Enjoy the photos - and just look at that blue sky!