Wednesday, July 08, 2009

(Excerpt from) The Short List: SLC Eats [Downtown]

From Vanessa Chang @ she craves
"...People can think what they want about this adopted city of mine. We, like Buffalonians and Oaklanders, travel beyond our city limits with stereotypes and a barrage of lame jokes. The reality is, Salt Lake City is a bit of secret. Some of us like to keep it that way (those who already think there are enough California refugees in state limits) and some who love to preach the affordable cost of living, gorgeous landscape and the fact that not everyone is "of the faith."

I often tell my baffled out-of-state friends to think of SLC (all cities seem to have a hip or diminutive moniker, NYC, Sac-Town, Philly...) as a Chicago. A cultural — and in Utah's case, a political — capital surrounded by perceivably less enticing realms. The only difference: Red rock is infinitely cooler than acres of government subsidized corn.

Thanks to a variety of factors, we are a surprisingly diverse lot on this blue island in a very politically red sea. And despite the officializing of Jell-O as the state food, we regularly consume other cuisines. Some are of the innocuous chain variety. But a good deal are local endeavors that feature talented chefs, local products and even — get this — alcohol. Private club laws that plagued the city have gone the way of the covered wagon. I'll drink to that.

My day job means that I get to troll much of the state in search of the best molé, tom kha ga, frites, hand made pasta, micro brews, wine lists, pastries and more. I often get asked for dining recommendations through the day job, my work with Slow Food Utah and this blog. It's safe to say that downtown SLC has a high concentration of the good eats, all within walking distance of the public transportation. I even urge locals to use since parking is a nightmare. Plus, Trax trains are free within the downtown area.

So, for curious readers and soon-to-be travelers, I offer what I consider my shortlist of good, interesting Downtown SLC eats. [NOTE: This is by no means a comprehensive list of what I dig in the state. For advice beyond city limits, i.e. if you have a car to take you into other neighborhoods and cities, contact me. I'd love to dish.]

For another perspective on the City of Salt, check out this thoughtful blog from a fantastic writer and food-lover.

Caffe d'Bolla [249 E. 400 South, #B, 801.355.1398]

For caffeine freaks and connoiseurs alike. SLC's teetoling and caffeine-free stereotypes belie the coffee geniuses who have set up shop in the city. Most notably, is John Piquet's Caffe d'Bolla. Along with his wife, Yiching, he micro roasts high quality beans, sourced from all over the world. He talks coffee the way a sommelier talks wine.

This is not the place for lovers of Java/Espresso/Joe/Cafe/Etc. "Express," or "On the Go." This is thinking man's coffee. You come in, order one of the daily brews or a finely pulled espresso shot and sit down and sip like a civilized person.

Caffe d'Bolla is one of the handful of cafes in the country that offer Japanese siphon brewing. This laboratory-looking contraption brews elegant cups free of grit (sorry, Greek coffee lovers) and full of nuance. Watching John measure and grind the beans, track water temperature and set the timer is akin to watching the rituals of a Japanese tea ceremony. Only this time, you sit at the bar, with a tall glass of water and a shot of sparkling water to cleanse the palate.

Plus, richly flavored, densely smooth gelato, spun in small batches, on-site and some of the best Boba Tea (tapioca pearl tea) in the region.

Take TRAX to the Library Square stop, Caffe d'Bolla is right across the street on the north side."