Monday, March 21, 2011

Little Dave's Deli - Great Sandwiches and Nostalgia

I have eaten several times at Little Dave's, and it is always a treat.  Today we were out and about, and hungry, so Little Dave's was suggested by my dinning partner, Bernie.  When walking in the door, you are greeted by an old REO flatbed truck, on the front seat, a gramophone is on the front seat, and music of the big band era is quietly wafting from the cab of the truck.  On the bed of the truck are old wooden soda boxes filled with old sodas.  A back lit shelf rings the interior near the ceiling, and on the shelf are full soda bottles from around the country.  The floor of black and white tile, dark wood paneling and furniture add to the  warm nostalgic feeling.Step up to the counter to order, and you notice the cooks are in white t-shirts or just white shirts, aprons, and classic white paper cooks hats, reminiscent of the 40s and 50s.

Today I wanted something different, so, not having had it before, I had a hot dog, and Bernie had the 6" Italian sandwich.  The dog arrived plain, though I was expecting a little onion on it, but a little ketchup and mustard, took a bite, and wow, I think this is the best hot dog I have had in a long time, especially in Utah, and real close to Angelo's Coney Island in Flint Michigan (though I have not been there for 30+ years).  This dog was great, and even had a bit of snap from the casing (though I don't think this had a natural casing.  I went back to the counter and asked Dave what brand he used.  He told me Chicago Red Hots, though searching on the net when I got back to the computer, I think he may have meant Red Hot Chicago brand.  Anyway, a great hot dog.

Bernie's Italian was great, according to him.  They have the best bread/buns there.  They are like great hoagie rolls, and the hot dog is served on the same bread.  This is not the soft mushy damp bread of Subway.  And, Little Dave's has the best fries in town

In the past, I have had the Philly Steak, and requested the Cheez Whiz for the cheese, I think this was the best Philly I have had.  The prices are a little high compared to other sandwich shops, but the quality and quantity of food more than makes up for it.  Oh, you can also order online to pick up.  I should also mention the great selection of 'vintage' bottled sodas, the Double Cola is great!

Little Dave's Deli
41West 3300 South
Salt Lake City. 

Little Dave's Deli on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pho Tay Ho - Best Pho in Valley

Right off the bat, I must confess that I have had the Pho at Pho Tay Ho at least a dozen times.

I was first introduced to Pho in the early 90s, by a friend everyone knew as 'Little Joe".  He worked for a social services charity that helped relocated and refugeed Vietnamese.  He was not Vietnamese, but a veteran of that war, and spoke the language fluently.  He invited me over one Sunday afternoon for Pho, and he had a few of his Vietnamese friends as well.  I remember walking into his kitchen and seeing a huge, and I mean huge pot on the stove, a restaurant type pot, hot a home kitchen pot.  He told me what it was, and how he made it, usually taking all day and all of the ingredients he put in it.  Then when time to eat, he walked me through the garnish and eating it.  As I recall, he said most Vietnamese just eat the meat and noodles, and not the broth.  (I maybe way off on this, it was 20 years ago) Please correct me if I am incorrect.  I eat the broth anyway because it is so good!

Fast forward a bunch of years and the love of Pho that was instilled back then kept me looking for it where I could.  10 years ago, I would eat it at Shanghai Cafe on 1300 South and State, it was good then, but I have not been back for a long time.  And I really liked Cafe Trang's, back when they were back at their old location on Main Street, I have not been to the new location downtown.  I did just recently try the Pho at the new Cafe Trang location on State in Murray, it seemed a mere shell of the old Trang Pho, and paled in comparison to Pho Tay Ho.

When I go to Pho Tay Ho, I always order the Pho tai bo vien, which is the noodles with rare beef and meatball.  This combination is not actually on the menu, but they never bat an eye when I order it.  The broth at Pho Tay Ho is rich and flavorful.  You just know it is 'home made', especially when you walk in the door and you can peek into the kitchen and see the pots on the stove.  Pho comes with the traditional condiments, Thai basil, sliced jalapeno peppers, a mound of bean sprouts, and lime wedges, although many times they serve lemon wedges.

Squeeze the citrus in, then drop it in the broth, drop the sprigs of Thai basil in, add the sliced pepper, and the bean sprouts.  For me, the eventual heat from the peppers is plenty, however, if you like more heat, red pepper paste and Sriracha is on the table along with fish, soy and hoisin sauce.  I then add a squirt of hoisin, a swirl of soy, and dig in.  Chopsticks and Asian spoons are on the table.  If you are a fork lover, you have to ask.  The combination of the broth, meat, condiments and garnishes all come together to  create a bowl of love that sooths the soul.  Pho is best in the winter, however, give me a bowl of it in the middle of Summer, I will be one happy camper.  So far, this is the best Pho I have had since that day 20 years ago. 

The menu offers a variety of combinations of Pho, spring rolls and few appetizer options and a few Bun options.  I have yet to try anything else off the menu.  When I go, I tell myself to get out of my box, but that Pho tai bo vien always calls my name.  They also have many traditional Vietnamese beverages.
Pho Tay Ho 1766 South Main SLC

Pho Tay Ho on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Utah Foodies Time to Rise Up

We have reached the point in this state that the Utah Legislature has over stepped it's boundaries.  At the end of this month, our esteemed elected officials have seen fit to close 5 state liquor and wine outlets, with the possibility of more to come.  These closings are part of cutting the budget.  In doing so, the state will loose money because each of these stores adds well over $1,000,000 to the state coffers.  Not to mention state and local sales taxes, and the school lunch program taxes.  10% of every bottle of alcohol or wine goes to the School Lunch Program, for FY 2010 that was $27,921,283 combined for all of the stores.  It is estimated that these closures will put 150 out of work, just what we need right now.

The stores being closed are #20 Main Street Salt Lake City, #14 Miller Avenue South Salt Lake, #17 Orem, #5 Provo and #32 St George.  There are others on the chopping block including #35 the wine store on 300 East Salt Lake City.

This is an effort of the Legislature to further restrict alcohol sales in the state, making all of us drive further to purchase.  If you are in Utah County, you will now have to drive to Pleasant Grove or Springville to make your purchases.

Some legal background now . . .

The Utah Code, Title 32A, The Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, Chapter 1, Section 104 states:

(1) The administration of this title shall be nonpartisan and free of partisan political influence.

(2) Alcoholic beverage control shall be operated as a public business using sound management principles and practices. The business shall be governed by a commission and operated by a department. The business shall function with the intent of servicing the public demand for alcoholic beverages.

(4) The commission shall conduct, license, and regulate the sale of alcoholic beverages in a manner and at prices that:

(a) reasonably satisfy the public demand and protect the public interest, including the rights of citizens who do not wish to be involved with alcoholic products .

Closing profitable stores is not sound management principles and practices, and not satisfying the public demand.  If there was no demand, there would be no profit.  The Utah State Legislature is violating Utah law with these closures.

The DABC is the only state department that is self sustaining. Alcohol does not cost the State of Utah one red cent. In fact, last year, fiscal year 2010, the Department had retail sales of $277,720,186, with a gross profit of $129,176,178. Upon removal of the operating expenses of $30,348,395, which includes the salaries, wages, and benefits of the department employees, the DABC was left with a net operating income of $100,970,042.

Not only does the DABC have the unique ability to generate income directly for the State of Utah, it contributes to the School Lunch Program and Sales Taxes to state, county and local municipalities. Again, for fiscal year 2010, $27,921,283 was paid to the School Lunch Programs across the state, and $14,688,985 was paid in sales taxes to every city and town that has a liquor outlet. When all is said and done, the DABC sent $58,359,774 directly to the State of Utah general fund. Can any other state agency make this claim?

Write your Legislator, all of them.  Write the Governor . . . Write Sam Granato at the DABC Commission . . . write all of the Commissioners.  We have to have our voices heard to stop these stores from closing.

2008 Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne

For dinner at Tucci's, I took a bottle of 2008 Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne.  Upon opening and tasting for the first time, I could tell this really needed to breathe for awhile.  Medium garnet color, the nose was rather closed to start, but certainly opened up after sitting in the glass awhile.  Notes of berry and tobacco on the nose.  In the mouth, it is not the fullest, biggest of wines, but what this medium body wine lacked in stuffing, it made up with nice acidity and tannins, which lent itself perfectly to the dinner we were having.  Richness developed by the end of the meal, into a nicely balanced wine.   This was was perfection with the heavy chocolate dessert we had as well.  This is one of the better Barberas I have had in a long time.  This wine definitely needs air and food.  Available in local wine outlets for $18.99, and well worth it!

Dinner At Tucci's

We have been going to Tucci's for a long time, however, we have been absent from this establishment for many years.  On the occasion of Bernie's birthday, that is where he wanted to go.   We have always enjoyed it in the past.

We started out with the calamari appetizer.  Bernie ordered the Linguini E Salsiccia, and I ordered the Pollo Marsala  The calamari arrived, served with lemon wedges and a marinara style dipping sauce.  We like to think ourselves as connoisseurs of calamari.  The best we have found was previously mentioned in another post, at Cafe Madrid.  Tucci's calamari is tasty, lightly battered, and most of all, it was very tender, something rarely seen around town.

Bernie's Linguini E Salsiccia was interesting . . . . billed on the menu as "Linguini pasta with Bolognese sauce, Italian sausage, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses".  What came out was the linguini tossed in a tomato based sauce with sliced sausage in it.  Not really close to a Bolognese sauce, though flavorful and enjoyable.  As Bernie put it,  . .  "it was a variation of Bolognese, with the sausage substituting for the meat in the sauce."  He cleaned his plate, well, he ate what he could and took the rest for lunch the next day.

My Chicken Marsala was interesting as well.  When it arrived I was a little leery, the sauce, dark brown and thick, over 3 pieces of chicken.  The sauce had portobello and cremini mushrooms and thinly sliced onions.  As it sat in front of me, I was still leery . . . it was still dark brown and thick.  Served with it was a medley of steamed veggies, broccoli, carrots and red peppers. For anyone familiar with this blog, I don't like my veggies, so they went to Bernie, though they did look nicely done.  This is not the Marsala sauce I am used to.  When I think of a Marsala sauce, generally think of it made with sweet Marsala, not dry.  So first, there was no sweetness,, and not much of a taste of Marsala at all.  Though I must say this sauce was tasty, once I adjusted my taste buds to it.  It was the chef used a demi-glace to make it.  I made the comparison that it really reminded me of a Chinese type sauce with the color and richness of it.  Did I eat it . . . Yes,  Was it good . . . . Yes,  Was it Chicken Marsala . . . . hmmm, not sure.  Will we be going back . . . . Yes, we still like the place.

For dessert, we ordered and split the Chocolate Decedenza, a chocolate decadence type of dense possibly flour less cake. . . I assume it is made in house, but it does not matter, it was delicious, and very, very rich.

I took a bottle of Vietti 2008 Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne  available at state wine outlets for $18.99.  I will blog about this in a separate entry.  It was great with the meal, AND, the dessert.

Tucci's Cucina Italiana on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Winemaker Lunch at Caffe Niche

Thursday March 10th found me at Caffe Niche for a Winemaker Lunch.  It was a triple play with Ashley Hepworth from Joseph Phelps, Kristen Belair from Hoing and Bayard Fox from Renard.

I have never been to Caffe Niche before, but I will be returning.  I thought the food was fantastic, though a little heavy with the veggies . . . . but yummy nonetheless.

First out was a stunning vegetable platter with perfectly roasted fingerling potatoes, heirloom spinach, cheese stuffed pepper with balsamic drizzle, grilled artichoke, shredded sweet potato with citrus chimichuri and beets. A stunning opener!  See the Photo.  We had the 2009 Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc and 2007 Freestone Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.  See previous post for the Phelps.  The Freestone is a very nice elegant Chardonnay, very Burgundian in style.  Freestone is a side project of Joseph Phelps on the Sonoma Coast. We also had the Renard Viognier, as mentioned in the previous post.

Second out of the kitchen was braised or roasted lamb nuggets over more nicely roasted fingerling potatoes.  Great flavor on the lamb.  Wines poured were 2 vintages of the Honig Cabernet 2006 and 2007.  Both really wonderful wines. Also poured was the Renard Syrah, again, check out the previous post for details on this wine... It is great!

For desert, the perfect sized morsel of chocolate . . . 'stuff' was served with unsweetened whipped cream.  No wine was served, we all just finished the reds in our glasses and they paired great with the chocolate.

Granted, this menu was special for the lunch, though I am told the veggie platter is on the dinner menu, I have become a big fan of Chef Ethan and Caffe Niche.  This is really a nice tiny gem in the Salt Lake dinning scene.  I will be back to try the other menu items.

Caffe Niche on UrbanspoonCaffe Niche on Urbanspoon