I've never been to Chez Panisse. I've only read about it, imagined it. Its food is legendary, but just as vital as its revolutionarily simple yet divine menu is the philosophy of the great Alice Waters: from local farm to table with a focus on community. Bringing that philosophy to life in Salt Lake is Avenues Bistro, a comfortable little Avenues restaurant where I was greeted one recent afternoon by a friendly hostess, and an old chalkboard with the hand-written words: Community, Conversation, Cuisine.
There are still signs in my garden that tell of the once prolific abundance of food that grew there this summer. The long stalk of my black beauty zucchini, a four-foot long green boa constrictor with leafy appendages some reaching two feet across, displays dozens of stump scars where I severed the pulpy fruits from the plant's hearty rope of vine. I still harvest from it, a small anemic club here and there, but it's glory days are over. Like the tomatoes, the peppers, the green beans, the potatoes, everything is slowing down and pulling back towards the earth.
With the exception of the Wasatch Front, where we get an average annual 16 inches of rainfall, Utah is a true desert with an annual average rainfall of 10 inches. This puts the state in a continual zero-sum tug-of-war with the powers of nature, more specifically the power of osmosis. The 1902 Reclamation Act guaranteed Utah farmers cheap, subsidized water, no matter what the cost to the American taxpayer. Those costs are high and going up. Alfalfa, the state's traditional crop of choice, is a stark example. An acre of alfalfa needs somewhere between slightly less than three acre-feet of water per crop (with an average three crops per year) to over six acre-feet, depending on what irrigation system is used. The cost of this water to the American taxpayer is greater than the return to Utah farmers.
The Arabic word, Laziz, means tasty, enjoyable, and lighthearted. Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity couldn't have chosen a better word to label their brand of Middle Eastern spreads.
A relaxing retirement is well earned by Ardean Watts. But he doesn't seem keen on spending it reclined in an overstuffed chair. Watts, after all, has always been a man of activity and engagement. One of Salt Lake's living institutions, Watts spent the greater part of his long life in this city nurturing and growing the arts. Despite his numerous achievements it's Watts' peculiar admiration for mushrooms that has earned him, more recently, an extraordinary amount of attention.
The omnivore's solution.
—by Jane Laird
One night in 1974, a young man named Demetrios Agathangelides, a Greek immigrant who had studied agriculture in his home country, sat down at his kitchen table in his adopted home of Logan, Utah and pulled out a package of seeds. A plant geneticist at Utah State University, Agathangelides had been testing and researching high altitude, short-growing season varietals. He knew almost better than anyone what vegetables would grow well in that mountain town's gardens.
It's been great to watch the fast growing locavore movement blossom here on the Wasatch Front. It has grown so much, in fact, that it's getting hard to keep tabs on all the new restaurants, stores and organizations. By contrast, I remember the bleak old days—I mean like seven or eight years ago—when people thought a Rhode Island Red was some kind of wine imported from New England.
Nepalese homestyle cooking in the mountains of Utah.
—by Jane Laird
Katie Weinner is a woman who craves change. The one-time competitive snowboarder earned a teaching degree, only to find she hated it — "It was horrific, catching kids watching porn during computer class," she recalls. That's what drove her to restaurant work. Once there, as she moved from making tiramisu to pasta to pizza, Weinner found a career to which she could devote herself.