Regulars and Shorts

Chef Profile: Mandy’s 5

By Mandy Jeppsen

Mandy shares her list of 5 Things to Eat Before You Die…In Utah. I read at least 50 foodbloggers’ lists this week, including the one printed in last month’s CATALYST. The topic, “Five Things to Eat Before You Die,” started online by Melissa at The Traveler’s Lunchbox, sparked the imaginations of foodists all over the world. Favorites ranged from simple items like a ripe fig straight from the tree, to poshy-poshy like dinner at the French Laundry. I decided to create my own twist to the list, and since I’m a Utahn born-and-raised, I decided to name my five favorite local specialties —treats that make living in Utah most enjoyable. So, without further ado, here are my picks: Five things to Eat in Utah before you kick the bucket.

1. Grilled trout caught fresh from a Utah river or reservoir. There’s something primal, exciting and at the same time, humbling, about catching and preparing your own rainbow or cutthroat trout. Prepared in a simple way, using sage, almond crust or lemon-butter, the taste and experience of being outdoors and of being grateful for life leaves your body sated, nourished and calm. Yum.

2. Fresh Baked Bread from Crumb Brothers, Logan. I have my favorites: the five-seed loaf, fruit scones, a simple baguette. Not only is this, in my humble opinion, the finest bread in the state, but the company also strives to maintain green business standards —utilizing solar panels and a heating and cooling system which is geo exchange-based. If you’re in Logan, drop by for the very freshest product, and if not, buy a loaf from Wild Oats. You’ll thank me later.

3. Homemade Chocolate Cake, Urban Bistro. My yia yia (Greek for grandma, if you didn’t know) made the most spectacular chocolate cake I have ever tasted— it was moist and rich, filled with heaping layers of double-chocolate frosting and topped with chopped walnuts. Nothing has ever compared, until now. Ricc Esparza, chef and owner of Urban Bistro, makes a chocolate cake that comes ridiculously close. His menu rotates, depending upon his mood, and upon the seasons, but if you happen to be dining when this dessert’s on the menu, don’t hesitate! And, take a slice home for seconds.

4. Sunday brunch at The Foundry Grill, Sundance Resort. Spectacular views and a fantastic drive through Provo Canyon almost didn’t hold a candle for me, once I stepped into the bounteous feast a la Sundance. I could’ve turned my back on a breathtaking hike to Stewart Falls, if my husband hadn’t reminded me that I’d been grazing for almost two hours already— the brunch is that good. The spread includes fresh cheeses, salads, made-to-order omelets, seafoods, desserts, and much more. This is by far the best brunch I’ve eaten, hands down.

5. Red Iguana Mole. Mole is the richest, most sensuously satisfying Mexican specialty I have ever tasted. The complex sauce is traditionally made with dried chiles, nuts, seeds, vegetables, spices and chocolate (preferably ground, toasted cacao beans) but it varies from town to town and family to family. The Cardenas family, owners of Red Iguana, make some of the best mole you’ll find anywhere. My personal faves include mole negro, a rich, dark chocolate-like concoction, and the red pipian, a slightly tangy and spicy mole with chiles, pumpkin seeds and peanuts. I have only one caution: Please don’t overeat; a little goes a long way. I suggest ordering several moles at your table, and sharing with friends.

Mandy Jeppsen is Catalyst’s food writer.

This article was originally published on December 31, 2006.