Monday, October 27, 2008

Mormon Root Beer

There's no rootbeer like the homemade rootbeer found at LDS Ward parties where the dry ice makes it all cold and just carbonated enough, and it's so sweet and refreshing. Mmmmmmmm :)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Porcupine Restaurant

At the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon there is a lovely little restaurant called The Porcupine. Well, actually I guess it's technically considered a pub, but since I don't drink I forget about that part.

Anyway, my good friend and former roommate Emily introduced me to this great little spot. It's got a lodge-y sort of feel, perfect for the end to a day on the slopes. Her favorite is the fish 'n chips, which are great. My favorite is this Ahi salad with a Mexican-esque twist, as in there's black beans, salsa, and tortilla chips involved. They're sandwiches and pizza are also very good, so there's pretty much something for everyone.

What I really want to write about, though, is their signature dessert: the Chocolate Porcupine. This adorable little guy is made of a layer of chocolate cake, then a custard filling and a layer of chocolate mousse covered in a hard chocolate shell. On the back they stick slivered almonds into the mousse before they dip it into the hard chocolate so it has quills, then they use white chocolate chips dipped in dark chocolate for eyes. They serve him with a delicious vanilla bean ice cream and a sliced strawberry and whipped cream. He's cute and so tasty! He's really the reason we go there.
Here he is peeking out from behind his whipped cream cloud.

Does he look nervous to you, too?

The waiters are typically attractive, which is like an added bonus, and when we went this weekend they were having a special for Oktoberfest, so all the waiters were in Lederhosen, and the waitresses in German-looking outfits with skirts that were way too short when they were walking up the stairs. Emily was kind (or brazen, take your pick) enough to ask if I could take a picture with one of the waiters (alright I admit it, I had been checking him out the whole time, but he was cute).

And here's the pic:
He was going to get some steins for us to hold, but he couldn't find any, how sad. Geez, I look stiff.

And here's the girl that got me into this mess...
The trick is in knowing there is no spoon...which is probably why she looks so confused at the fork.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Carmel Apples

In an earlier post (Pretty Chocolate) I mentioned two of my favorite carmeled apple sources: the BYU bookstore candy counter, and the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. These are indeed very fine sources for amazing carmeled apples, but the winner is *drum roll* V Chocolates. They are located at Kiosks in some of the malls around here and Tai Pan Trading Co.

They win for presentation and both carmel quality and quantity, plus the fine layer of chocolate is just the right amount to compliment everything. The texture is good, and they come in these wonderful little cellophane bags perfect for a gift, and I love that the tag is a leaf. It's just cute, and the edges of the ribbon are a nice touch too.

BYU comes in first for price, but last for availability since you have to be in Provo by 6 to even have a shot at one, and they usually run out before then. They are definately competative, though, since they are the only one of the three that offers just carmel, and just carmel with pecans. I know it's hard to believe, but sometimes chocolate just isn't necessary with these things.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory definately comes in first for variety. They have apples covered with anything from M&M's to various nuts, to Oreos, to English Toffee (my favorite). I actually think they're slightly overdone, and never have as much carmel, or maybe you just don't notice the carmel since there's so much other stuff. They are, however, the only ones who will cut your apple for you, which is nice if you're sneaking it into the movie theater next door.

I suppose it all depends on what you value in a carmel apple. I like the simple route, and I like to be able to taste all that carmely goodness, and the carmel texture is important too. It's all about the sweet/tart and gooy/crisp contrasts between the apple and the carmel. There are few things I like better about fall than that.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I was just going to include this in my 'favorite books' section, but it wasn't letting me get the format how I wanted, so I decided to make it a post instead. I hope it's useful.

So, here are some tips for finding a good cookbook:

So what makes a good cookbook? I like cookbooks with pictures of what the final product looks like. If you're not salivating in the middle of Barnes and Noble, put it back. Most of mine have been bargain books or on sale, but they're still fabulous. They don't need to cost an arm and a leg to be tasty.

It helps if you know a little about the person who wrote it, but isn't necessary. For example, if it's somebody from the food network, and you've watched their show, you'll know approximately what will be in the cookbook. Paula Dean for example, will have very tasty things with lots of butter; Rachel Ray or Giada de Laurentiis will have Italian stuff. Alton Brown will just be all together awesome. But don't shun a cookbook just because it's not by somebody famous!!! Heck, even those Ward or Neighboorhood cookbooks can contain some pretty good stuff. Just make sure you have time to flip through, salivate at the photos, and check over the ingredients and instructions so you know that they're clear. My best cookbooks are by people I've never heard of, in fact I tend to not go for the Food Network ones because they're pricier, though a caution with the neighboorhood or really local ones--I was looking through some 'Mormon cooking' cookbook, I forget the name of it, but it was on some deal rack at Macey's grocery store, and in one of the recipes they had completely left out one of the ingredients in the instructions. It was something important too, like the leavening agent or something. This just indicates a badly written book. If you're an experienced enough cook it's probably less of a problem but still. Watch for that in the neigborhood/really local books. The ones that have been through a publisher are usually better about that sort of thing, but like I said, neighboorhood cookbooks do have their place, especially if you're just dying to know how Mrs. Whatever made that amazing Jello salad at last year's Christmas party.

The recipes should include things you actually eat, otherwise you'll never use them. Also, if you get a European cookbook be prepared to also get a kitchen scale since they don't really use our standard measurements like cup, teaspoon, etc.

Avoid cookbooks from the DI or other thrift stores unless you know they can be trusted. There's a reason why they're there...lest you end up with a cookbook full of strange Jello-mold recipes from the 70's or something.

And, Don't look at them when you're hungry, it's just like going to the grocery store when you're hungry, you'll walk away with more than you intended.

There are also lots and lots of fun specialized cookbooks, like Lord Krishna's Cuisine that I picked up for pretty cheep at a Hare Krishna festival. Where else could you find a book like that. Always be on the lookout. Especially if you have some special dietary need, like Gluton free, or Vegetarian. More and more gluton free stuff is becoming available which is really nice for you poor celiacs. My heart goes out to you. Gluten is in everything.*

Resteraunt cookbooks can be awesome too, like Junior's Cheesecake Cookbook. Junior's is a resteraunt that started in Brooklyn. I only got to the one close to Times Square, but this resteraunt single handedly proved that New York Cheesecake is, in fact, all it's cracked up to be, and they were good enough to write a cookbook so poor me stuck in Utah can now have amazing cheesecake whenever I want. Sometimes the recipes don't turn out quite as well as the resteraunt's product. I figure this is for two reasons. One: They've had more practice getting it right, and Two: They don't want yours to be quite as good or esle why would you come pay them to do it. Now people would anyway because fewer people are cooking, but you get my point. Some, resteraunt cookbooks, though are really just great. Thanks Junior's.

About family cookbooks--These are great, at least in my family we always have large family get-togethers and everybody brings their favorite dish. Often we gather at my sister's house since it has lots of room to put everyone and she has lots of family events, besides she's a really great cook, and so are her kids. One Christmas she gave out packets of her family recipes that we always have at her house, which was awesome because we all love her recipes and then we didn't have to bug her everytime we had a craving for her raspberry Jello salad thing that's surprising good, even though I make fun of Jello a lot. Now if I could only get a hold of the rest of my siblings' recipes....

So see, you too might have a little sister out there wishing for your wassail recipe (hint hint Elizabeth) or a friend dying for your Versailles Chocolate Torte (Thanks Emily), so make your own cookbook and give it out for a holiday.

*I'd just like to mention for people who tend to over-react to health things, gluten is not inherently bad for you unless you are Celiac. This means that your body doesn't process the protein found in wheat and some other grains. For everyone else gluten is a good thing, so don't swear off gluten unless you have to.

P.S. Sometime I'll talk about internet recipes, but that's for another post.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apple Party

These are some fun photos from last April when
we decided to have a party commemorating the birth of Apple computers, and what better way to celebrate than with Mac themed food.

First we had to decorate, and what better to decorate for an Apple party than with Macintosh Apples.

This doesn't have to do with the food, but I thought I'd mention it anyway...we expressed our feelings toward PC.

We decided to serve pizza in honor of the programmers.

Emily provided the mini fridge full of soda, Melanie was the Vanna White of the evening.

Notice the apple sticker.

On top of the fridge was the apple pie, made with Macintosh apples, notice the faint logo in the middle of the top crust.
Zoomed in:
This apple pie turned out all rustic:

That's it for the food, but here we all are with our Macs. Emily ended up showing us some fun Mac tips and we watched Cars, which was made on what else but Mac computers. Yay Pixar, we love you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pretty Chocolate

So now that I've started this blog, I walk around the Salt Lake Valley looking for fabulous food to take pictures of to put on here...not that I ever get around to it, but I have some awesome pictures of food, anyway. Well, one night I was wandering about the Gateway Mall because really I wanted to end up in one of my favorite shops, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I wanted a Carmel apple, because there really is nothing better for fall than one of their English Toffee carmeled apples, except the carmeled apples that the BYU bookstore candy counter makes, which are absolutely divine. Especially the ones covered in Pecans, but avoid the ones that are dipped in any sort of fudge, it just ruins the whole thing. Maybe I've just never much cared for the BYU fudge.


I was getting an apple, and I turned and saw the most beautiful piece of chocolate I have ever seen. Perfect for the blog! It was a chunk of what's called Tiger butter, which is a mixture of white chocolate, Milk chocolate, and peanut butter (which I did not know at the time). I'm not actually much for white chocolate, so I debated for a bit about whether it was truly worth it to purchase a chunk just to take a photo of, but I didn't have my camera with me, and it was just so pretty. So with my carmel apple I asked for a chunk. The shop boy of course gave me a piece from the back of the stack, which was also very nice looking, but not nearly as much so as the piece in front was. I was feeling rather non-confrontational so I didn't say anything, but I made the purchase, found out they didn't validate parking, (which I may have already known) and left the shop. I ony got a few steps before I realized how silly I had been not to ask for slice that I wanted. After all, it's not like I was going to eat it, so it was actually important what the thing looked like. I debated, I even got several stores away but my impracticle side got the better of me and I went back.

Now I knew that the same shop guy would still be there, and since he was moderately attractive, and a human, I felt I had to make some excuse for why I was coming back 5 minutes after I had left just to buy more tiger butter, so I muttered something about forgetting a friend's birthday, (which was true, I did have a friend's birthday coming up, but I didn't give her the tiger butter anyway) made my purchase, and left quickly. And there it is. Proof of how rediculous I can be.

I did munch my way through the less attractive peice bit by bit, and I did enjoy it. It took me a while to figure out what it was made of, though because it had been sitting next to something mint, which was a bad move on the part of the shop, and had aquired the flavor so I kept thinking, 'who would put mint and peanutbutter together in chocolate' but eventually the mintyness subsided, and it was pretty good, even though I don't even like white chocolate.

And now here are the pics:

This is the first one I bought, still very cool looking.

I just love the swirls in this one!

And now after a month it's still on my kitchen table, too pretty to eat.