Friday, September 28, 2012

Sweetly Divine (Pastries and Sandwiches) Review - Logan, Utah

It's official. I am no longer a Cache Valley-ite. Last week the movers hauled away our belongings and the sale of our house closed. There are so many things I'll miss about Cache Valley

One place I'll miss desperately is Sweetly Divine, a world-class pastry shop in Logan that also serves homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches. You might be thinking, "World class? In Logan?" Yes, it's true. I've had pastries at Sweetly Divine that are the equal of treats in fancy, well-known shops in New York City and San Francisco. It's the perfect place for a lunch, and has awesome treats to bring your friend on her birthday or your wife on the way home from work. Just look:

Beautifully delicious Sweetly Divine pastries. Clockwise from top left: Lemon Bar, Apple Strudel, Palmier, Pear Mousse, Cannoli 

I don't think Cache Valley realizes or appreciates what it's got in Sweetly Divine, and I'd like to see that change. A lot of new chain bakeries have come into town. Their food for the most part is pretty good. Their prices for the most part are pretty high. They do not measure up to Sweetly Divine. This is the real deal!

Sweetly Divine
1309 North Main, Suite 90, Logan, UT
(directly north of Costa Vida in the Shopko shopping center)

Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am - 10pm
Prices: Pastries: $.80 - $5.75, Lunch/Dinner Items: $3.25 - $7.75, Whole Specialty Cakes & Pies: $16.50 - $40.50 (special order)
Liquor: No
Year Opened: 2006
FYI: Breakfast items and additional items are available by special order. Sweetly Divine jellies are available by the jar, and are great for spreading and recipes

Pastries are a tricky business. Don't we each have our own dear little favorites? When I first went to Sweetly Divine I tried some pastries that were great, no doubt, but they weren't MY pastries. The next time I tried some others and, wowie! I hit the jackpot and created a Sweetly Divine craving that will probably never be satisfied no matter how many I eat. It's the Lemon Bars and the Pear Mousse that did me in.

And that's to say nothing of the Pickle Soup.

Yes, you heard me right. Pickle Soup. It's soup. It's got pickles in it. And it's amazing! It's a special that's only available every other Tuesday. The recipe is a traditional one from chef/owner Mark Godrowski's home country of Poland. I'd liken it to cream of potato soup with a slight, dill-y kick from the shredded pickles. They really mellow out when cooked. Mark's soups are homemade, something that can't be said about most of the other restaurant soups in the valley. The selection changes daily. Other choices include Bacon & Spinach, Clam Chowder, Italian Wedding Soup, Borscht, and Tomato Basil.

The sandwiches feature savory fillings between slices of soft, house-made focaccia bread. Each sandwich is spread with interesting condiments including Sweetly Divine's signature line of sweet pepper jellies. My favorite is the turkey sandwich, and my husband likes the ham.

But enough about all that savory stuff! Let's go back to the sweets.

I've always liked lemon bars, and Mark's lemon bars are the best I've ever had (with apologies to my sister, who also makes a mean lemon bar). The custard on these lemon bars is so perfect -- bright, vibrant, glistening yellow, smooth and tart in the mouth. Mmmmm. And the pear mousse! Divine! sweet and heady pear-infused cloud fluff mousse, layered on a moist cake base, encased in a delicate shell of icing. Too good!

Then there's the cannoli. I thought I didn't like cannolis, but it turns out I just don't like BAD ones. Sweetly Divine's cannolis set a new standard. I'm convinced you can't get a better one outside of Philly, Boston, or NYC.

A newer occasional specialty I haven't been able to try yet is kouign aman. A croissant-like pastry from France's Brittany region, the kouign aman (also spelled kouing aman, and pronounced roughly "queen ah-mahn") is a current darling in the culinary world. Les Madeleines bakery in Salt Lake City has a famous version that's been featured on Food Network, and that's where I first started my addiction. They're known, basically, as "crack". Chewy, creamy, buttery, sweet, and delicious, they are labor intensive to make and worth whatever price you have to pay. I'm so disappointed I moved away before getting to try Sweetly Divine's version.

Service at Sweetly Divine is friendly and competent. There are several tables for dining in the restaurant, and everything is really convenient for taking to-go, as well. A few little changes could improve experience. Labels on the wares would be helpful. Earlier morning hours to take advantage of pastries for breakfast would be wonderful. And I wouldn't mind if the sandwiches were a tad thicker (with more vegetables?). I guess that's my American appetite coming through. But please don't change a thing about the pickle soup!

Have you been to Sweetly Divine? What's your favorite? Your mouth should be watering after seeing the photos, so get up and head to Sweetly Divine!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lisa Loved Logan

Has anyone been wondering what happened to me? Something big. Something that upended my plans for this blog and my life.

I moved to Salt Lake City. I've been here for five days.

The move was unexpected and happened quickly. Early in July my husband (who was gainfully employed in Logan and accepting a new position with his company in Smithfield) was contacted about a job opportunity in SLC. He was semi-interested, but I didn't really think anything would come of it. Hence, I just chugged along posting daily on Lisa Loves Logan, house hunting in Cache Valley, and living my regular life. At the end of July things started moving quickly and Tyson was offered the job. Before I could catch my breath we decided to take the leap and change our lives all over again. In case you don't remember, we just moved (back) to Logan from Pennsylvania only a year ago. In fact, this is our 13th move together as a married couple. Lucky number 13?

Tyson started his new job this week. We put our home in North Logan on the market last week, thinking it might take a couple of months to sell. Instead we got two offers within the first few days, and we are now under contract. If all goes well, someone else will own my sweet little Cache Valley home as of September 20.

We are hanging at my parents' house downtown while we wait for our temporary rental to finish being remodeled. We are house hunting again. A whole new house hunt in a whole new area. So, move number 14 is likely to follow shortly. Hopefully it will be a few years before number 15!

I still have a post coming about Sweetly Divine, as well as one about Tandoori Oven. I hope I can still post here from time to time when I visit Cache Valley, but Lisa Loves Logan will never be the comprehensive resource I once hoped it would be. Life goes on! Thank you for reading, friends.

Cache Valley sky and mountains I won't be seeing out my boys' window anymore

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Getaways to SLC and Lava Hot Springs

Hey there, long time no post! I've been away on vacation since Saturday. We made two trips to Salt Lake City and two trips to Lava Hot Springs (Idaho). Don't ask. Well, actually, do ask! You know I'll tell! (Using as many words and exclamation points and parentheses as possible.)

We went to SLC on Saturday for the Neil Diamond concert, which was great! Old Neil actually sounded a lot better than I thought he would (I had prepared myself for the worst), and he put on a great show. After the concert we ate a laaaaaate dinner at Bayleaf Bar & Grub downtown on Main Street, the only place I could think of that was open all night besides the pancake places. It was hot and busy in there, but we very much enjoyed our fried pickles, Korean bulgogi, and fried Twinkie a la mode.

The next morning we left for a family reunion in Lava Hot Springs, ID. Though Lava is very close to Logan (the drive takes just over an hour and a half), I had never been until I got married and started going to this reunion. What a place! I'm not sure I can explain it. Let's see. It's a resort/tourist community, but very unlike, say, Park City. All the main attractions in the town are water-related and within walking distance of each other, so the sidewalks and restaurants are filled at all hours of the day with people of all ages and all body types in all sorts of swimwear. A tiny little grocery market serves the town. Accommodations have...character. Nightlife consists of bars and bingo (or in our family, card games on the motel patio). If you've never been...GO! :)

We went swimming at the city pool complex, which features four large water slides and huge diving platforms, as well as an indoor pool. We also floated the Portneuf River, which is very popular tubing. We had to skip the biggest rapids at the top because we took our two- and four-year-old sons on the big tube with us, but we still had a fun little ride and got all wet. We only got to make one pass because we missed most of the tubing day due to our other trip to SLC, which was for a final job interview for my husband. Usually we spend several hours being ferried through Lava Hot Springs to ride the river again and again.

The only water-related activity in Lava Hot Springs we skipped out on was the hot springs themselves. Too hot for our little kids! Instead we enjoyed the warm spring-fed private pool next to the reunion site.

Dining options in Lava Hot Springs have improved over the last few years. We had some decent Thai food in a converted gas station and some very good burgers and fries at 78 Main, which is a new place at the site of the old (bad) Johnny's. Tyson had the Bacon & Blue burger, and I had a chicken burger with brie and fried green apple slices. Service was great and the restaurant has been freshened up inside.

I highly recommend staying at the Alpaca Inn, and I can't recommend any other motel in town. I love the off-Main Street location, grassy courtyard, and personal touches at this place. The owners are great and the rooms are clean and fresh (somewhat of a novelty in Lava) -- and alpaca-themed! Can't beat that! The other place in town I like isn't actually in town - it's up in the mountains. It's a fun little cabin (with running water, etc.) the owner rents out by the night. It's called the Abracadabra Lava Guest Home and it's a great little hideaway.

After three trips on I-15 that weekend, we drove back through Downey and Preston and saw the most gorgeous sunset ever. Right after I reminded my husband to watch his speed now that we weren't on the highway, he got pulled over for speeding. He was given a warning and we went on our way. Seriously, watch your speed if you ever travel through there!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Montez Brothers Menu and Review - Logan, Utah

I mentioned before that there were changes afoot at Hamilton's, a fine dining steak and seafood restaurant that has been a fixture in Cache Valley since 2004. Hamilton's has now become Montez Brothers. This Herald Journal article clarifies the ownership changes. I will report on the changes to the decor, menu, and service. I also photographed the menu, which isn't currently available online.

I'm torn here. I always encourage everyone I know to support our unique locally-owned eateries over national chains, and to visit the great restaurants we already have instead of wishing for one chain or another that we don't have. I don't like to be negative on this blog because I want to be a fan and a champion of local.

That being said, I am going to report the truth: my experience at Montez Brothers was uneven, both in terms of food and service. I hope this can be chalked up to early-days kinks that will be ironed out as the new restaurant finds its legs.

There's always a danger in reviewing a restaurant based on a single visit. I hope to return to Montez Brothers soon with Logan Foodies to sample a wider variety of dishes. In the meantime I'm going to abbreviate this review. If any of the owners/managers read this and would like to discuss in more detail the positives and negatives I saw in the restaurant, I welcome them to contact me. I want local places to succeed! 

Montez Brothers
2427 N. Main Street, Logan, Utah
435-787-8450 (under construction as of 7/27/12)

Hours: Open for dinner only, Monday-Thursday 5-9pm, Friday-Saturday 5-10pm, closed Sunday
Prices: Appetizers/Salads: $6-12, Entrees: $13-24
Liquor: Yes, full liquor license, wine menu, and bar
Year Opened: 2012

Quick Review of Montez Brothers - Logan, Utah

Montez Brothers -- described by the owners as a "Latin-influenced" restaurant -- makes a worthy attempt to rise from the ashes of Hamilton's, but this phoenix seems to have a clipped wing. Sometimes it soars, as with the inventive ahi tuna tostada appetizer ($8) and improved interior touches. Sometimes it bombs -- bland sea bass entree ($24), service issues. Montez Brothers lacks focus as it tries to walk the line between being Latin-influenced and being just another Latin restaurant in a town overflowing with them. Not a hint of Latin influence in the chicken and pasta dishes, more so on the beef and appetizer list. Our meal started on a high note with the tuna tostadas, but went downhill when our entree order wasn't "put in", leading to an extremely long wait time and the offer of a comped dessert. It didn't help that the sea bass entree in question ended up being not at all worth the wait (or the price). The helpful manager and huge portion of tasty creme brulee helped the meal end on a sweeter note. I'd like to see Montez Brothers work through these food and service issues, but will it ever fly higher than Hamilton's once did? I'll reserve my final opinion and give the restaurant another chance in a few months.

Detailed Review of Montez Brothers - Logan, Utah

As we approached Montez Brothers, we noted a sign on the door that said "original" Hamilton's gift cards would be honored until July 31st, with the proper gift card posted. We later heard a server explaining that there were many other types of Hamilton's gift certificates and cards that were not being honored. I understand that the financials of the two restaurants are entirely separate, and that the new owners have every right not to honor old certificates and cards. On the other hand, their decision is causing a lot of bad feelings about the restaurant right out of the gate, and seems like a bad p.r. move. Companies can gain a lot of favor with the public when they "pick up the pieces" of a failed enterprise. Montez Brothers is leaving themselves open for a competitor to step up and honor the Hamilton's cards, even at 50% value. I've seen this done before, to great effect.

Moving on...

Upon entering Montez Brothers we were promptly greeted by a friendly hostess who told us the wait would be about five minutes. Another party was waiting as well. She offered both parties seats at the bar, which we both declined. We knew that Montez Brothers was a "Latin themed" restaurant, but wondered what that meant in the context of semi-fine-dining, so we quickly grabbed a couple of menus to see what was in store. The menu, which featured a few Latin ingredients and preparations among other influences (chicken cordon blue?), seemed to lack direction but looked promising.

Soon we were seated in the cavernous main dining room, which was about 1/3 full. That caused me to wonder why we hadn't been seated upon arrival, but I suppose there were only so many waitpersons available. The room has been freshly painted deep red and gold, and has had a few minor changes to the decor. Casual drapes line the booths along the walls, new artwork is featured above the double-sided stone fireplace, and green pendant lights hang above the booths. Notably, the dark wood floor that was looking extremely rough and scratched on my most recent visit to Hamilton's has now been refinished in a lighter and more rustic stain that will better hide wear. Nothing about the ambiance screams "Latin" (other than the music), which I appreciated but at the same time found confusing -- how much has the restaurant really changed?

My answer would be...not enough (YET) to not meet the fate of Hamilton's. Rather than continue with a long and detailed review I will quickly note some of the positives and negatives we experienced.


  • Friendly and prompt hostess
  • Clean, refurbished restaurant that feels "nice". This is still a gracious place to eat a meal. The big round tables are great for larger parties, too.
  • Interesting menu with several appetizing descriptions
  • Tuna tostada appetizer ($9), which featured slices of seared soy-glazed ahi tuna accompanied by fresh guacamole and pickled cucumber salsa on 3.5" diameter tostada crisps - a fun Latin-Asian fusion appetizer, four per order.
  • Attentive and friendly front-of-house manager who visited our table several times after a service snafu
  • Creme brulee, which was comped and arrived in a trough-sized ramekin (troughekin?)

  • Our server, who was monotone, unenergetic, and unsmiling, and who poured water in my husband's soda glass from the halfway point of the meal on, instead of asking if he would like a refill, and who may or may not have forgotten to put in our entree order.
  • Timing issues. After we waited a significant amount of time for our entrees to arrive we were informed there was a "mix-up" and our order hadn't been "put in" at the right time. We were offered a comped dessert.
  • Sea bass entree ($24). Bland, overcooked (shrimp especially), and overpriced. Waiting so long for it made it doubly disappointing.
  • Typographical errors all over the menu. That kind of stuff in a printed piece drives me crazy and really downgrades a "fine dining" restaurant in my eyes. (Don't judge me for typos here, haha!)

Could go either way:
  • White queso appetizer ($7), which featured roasted poblano peppers and was much better than the version at Chili's, though not as good as one I used to get at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Bountiful ages ago. I was hoping for natural unprocessed cheese, so for me it tasted too much like elevated gas station nachos, but I think this appetizer is probably a crowd pleaser.
  • Grilled peach salad ($11). Great in theory, it featured arugula, fresh mozzarella, lemon dressing, and balsamic reduction. If only the peaches had in fact been grilled, but there was no evidence that they had been, and they were far under-ripe to boot. It still tasted good and fresh.
  • Lack of focus. The restaurant is supposed to be "Latin influenced", but features a lot of French-, Italian-, and New American-style dishes instead, with a few Latin ingredients and dishes thrown in here and there. Maybe this was an attempt to keep some of the popular dishes from Hamilton's? I note that a coujple of the chicken dishes, one of the pastas, one salad, and one seafood dish remain from the Hamilton's menu.
  • Prices. The only significant price reductions are in the Steaks and Appetizers areas of the menu. Prices are unchanged on the Hamilton's dishes that remain. The prices overall are very comparable to The Elements restaurant and not all that much higher than, say, Olive Garden

As you can see, that's a bigger list of positives than negatives, and the negatives are easily fixed with training and refinement of the menu. I hope to see improvements the next time I visit.

What about you, anyone else been to Montez Brothers? How was it?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Labyrinth at St. John's Episcopal Church - Logan, Utah

What: Labyrinth at St. John's Episcopal Church
Where: 85 East 100 North, Logan, Utah
When:  The building is open Monday from 9am-noon, Tuesday-Friday from 8am-noon, and Monday-Friday from 1pm to 3pm. Worship services at St. John's (Service of Holy Eucharist) are Sunday at 9am and 11am and Wednesday at 5:30pm.
Cost: FREE
FYI: The open hours outside of worship times provide more solitude for the sacred walk.


Did you know that inside this lovely old church (St. John's Episcopal church in Logan) I mentioned as a venue of the CVCA Gallery Walk, there's a labyrinth? It's true.

Now, I grew up in the '80s so it's impossible for me to say labyrinth without thinking of this.

Great show. My three-year-old little sister endearingly called it "The Goblet King" [the Goblin King], and we had "Dance, Magic Dance" sing-offs bi-weekly. I think I have the entire movie memorized to this day.

...Oops, I seem to have gotten off track. Anyway, when I say "labyrinth", I'm still referring to something pretty cool. It's this...

In the entry to St. John's is a walkable labyrinth modeled after the one in France's Chartres Cathedral. Labyrinths of this type are considered a non-denominational symbol to be used as a "sacred walk". A labyrinth, unlike a maze, is unicursal - which means there is only one path, with no decision points. Walking a labyrinth is said to quiet the mind and allow for meditation, reflection, and prayer. The St. John's website even suggests helping young children walk the labyrinth when they do not wish to sit during church service.

There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth, but most enter and proceed slowly to the center, pause for as long as wished to reflect, then turn around and proceed by the same path to exit. The many turns in a labyrinth often cause those who walk the path to lose sense of the directions of the outside world, allowing for an inward focus and the opportunity to find one's own direction.

The labyrinth was installed during a 2004 renovation and expansion of St. John's, which was originally built in 1909. When it opened, St. John's featured the valley's first lending library and first indoor shower (in the church basement). At that time, Sundays found the priest preaching to as many as 30 Mormons to 1 "gentile", since the church was an important community center for all. The congregation has grown and Sunday service now has close to 200 attendees who worship in this beautiful Sanctuary.

The exterior of the church is described as "Western-Romanesque-Gothic".

A stone at the southeast corner of the building memorializes some important dates in the history of St. John's. The first St. John's Episcopal Church in the valley was a small adobe building at 91 West 200 North in Logan, a former bakery the Episcopalian congregation first occupied in 1873. A simple wooden church was later constructed at 263 West Center in 1877, which was used until the "new" St. John's was constructed in 1908-1909.

The church originally had clear glass windows, which were replaced over time by stained glass.

St. John's also acts as a concert venue from time to time, such as last March when singers and musicians under the direction of Dr. Craig Jessop performed portions of J.S. Bach's "St Matthew Passion" in concert on Good Friday. I'll be watching for further concert announcements.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

First Splash Pad In Cache Valley - Alma Leonhardt Park, Providence, Utah

When I compiled my list of fun places to swim or get wet with kids in Cache Valley, I didn't know that the first splash pad in the Logan area had opened while I lived in Philadelphia. Three different people happened to mention it to me the next week, in different contexts. Talk about a message! I knew my little boys would love it, so I took them for a visit last week.

What: Splash Pad at Alma Leonhardt Park
Where: 310 West 250 North, Providence, Utah
Hours: Park open daily, dawn to dusk. Splash pad water feature available from 10am to 8pm.
Cost: FREE
FYI: Trees are small so you may want to bring your own shade (umbrella, beach tent, etc.), and of course towels!

Cache Valley's first splash pad opened at Alma Leonhardt Park in Providence, Utah in the summer of 2010. The pad is 1,200 square feet and has 63 jets, including a tall and powerful column spray in the center. The jets are activated by the push of a button at the side of the pad, and run on a cycle for a few minutes before the button needs to be pushed again.

The different jets and water features at a splash pad provide a lot of soaking wet fun for kids - much like running through the sprinklers, but with more variety and an element of surprise. For parents, it's a great spectator water activity that doesn't require them to get wet. Yay! (Some days you just don't want to put on your swimming suit, right? Or is that just me?)

Alma Leonhardt Park also has a fun playground that is partially wheelchair accessible, a large grassy area, restrooms, and a good-sized picnic pavilion. My boys enjoyed running back and forth from the splash pad to the playground, while I huddled in the rapidly decreasing shade of the restroom building. There are a few small trees that provide a minimal spots of shade around the perimeter of the splash pad, but in-the-know moms had come armed with pop-up beach umbrellas and tents.

In February 2012 the North Logan City Council heard a proposal from Public Works Director Alan Luce regarding addition of a splash pad to Mountain View Park. I haven't heard anything further about this possibility, but I hope it comes to fruition.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy Pioneer Day!

I'm off for the holiday, but I'll be back tomorrow. Sit tight, because I have posts about Sweetly Divine and Montez brothers in the hopper, plus more. I hope you have a happy and safe holiday!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pick Of The Week : That Famous Preston Night Rodeo, July 26-28, 2012 - Preston, Idaho

Did anyone make it out to the Gallery Walk, last week's POTW? (Pick of the Week, in case my acronym threw you.) I would have loved to go, but my children came down with the, Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (not as horrifying as it sounds, but still no fun). It's been making its way through the under-10 set in our neighborhood and family at a rapid pace this summer. We had to quarantine ourselves, and we missed not only the Gallery Walk, but a company party at the Bees baseball game/firework show in Salt Lake City. Boo for viruses!

Hopefully it will be all cleared up in time for this week's POTW, "That Famous Preston Night Rodeo" in Preston, ID, which runs this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday July 26-28, 2012.

Morgan Heaton on Wendy's Rocket in 2011. Quoted in article here.
Though not in Utah, Preston is definitely still in Cache Valley. They have one of the best little small-town rodeos around, and it's surely worth a visit if you haven't been. My brother-in-law Morgan (sometimes "Moe") Heaton will be riding on Saturday night if you want to know who to cheer for. He's been a bareback rider for going on eight years now. That's him pictured above. You can also see an awesome photo of him and his little son getting ready in the bucking chutes here (lots of amazing rodeo photography at that site,

Have you ever been to a rodeo and felt clueless about the events and how they are scored? A little knowledge can make the rodeo a lot more fun for spectators. Check out the Preston rodeo's website for helpful explanations of the events and scoring. The website also explains something I've always been curious about: why this rodeo is called the "Famous Preston Night Rodeo". After all, every rodeo I've ever been to has been at night. I guess that wasn't always the case. Preston rodeo says they are recognized as the first night rodeo in the world, and they became famous for it. I guess with a start time of 8:30pm it is one of the latest/darkest rodeos I've ever been to. That adds to the fun, I think. There are lots of pre-events like a parade and carnival and even helicopter rides that caught my eye ($25 per person). Check this page for the full schedule.

What: That Famous Preston Night Rodeo
When: July 26-28, 2012 - Rodeo pre-events at 8:15pm, rodeo starts at 8:30pm. Associated events all day.
Where: Preston Rodeo Grounds, 198 W 2nd N Street, Preston, Idaho
Rodeo Ticket Prices: Thursday $9 and $8,  Friday $12 and $11,  Saturday $12 and $11 for more information and online ticket purchase


As for me, I'll be missing Morgan's ride on Saturday because my husband and I have tickets to a concert in Salt Lake. Okay, I'm just going to go ahead and say it. We're going to the Neil Diamond concert. We've actually never been to a big concert together, and this, THIS, is the first one??!? Well, I figured we may not have many chances left to see old Neil, and I hear he's a great performer. Anyone ever been? We'll have to hit the Preston rodeo on Friday night.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pioneer Day Celebrations in Logan and Cache Valley - 24th of July, 2012

I'll be back tomorrow with the regularly scheduled Pick of the Week, but I wanted to pop in and mention the Pioneer Day (24th of July) celebrations happening on Tuesday this week.

Do Other States Have State Holidays?

For those who don't know, Pioneer Day (aka the 24th of July) is Utah's state holiday. The day commemorates the arrival in the Salt Lake Valley of the first party of Mormon Pioneers (LDS - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I've always been curious about whether other states have state holidays, and it's been my impression that most don't. My curiosity led me to this list of state holidays. It seems that Utah is, indeed, one of a few states to have a true state holiday. Pioneer Day follows so closely on the heels of Independence Day that for Utahns July is a huge party and firework month, full of state and national pride!

Local Celebrations

Logan and North Logan both have Pioneer Day celebrations/parades/firework shows. Info here for Logan (warning, PDF may be slow to load), and here for North Logan. For those who want firework info without clicking, the Logan fireworks are at Willow Park and the North Logan fireworks are at Elk Ridge Park.

Have a safe and happy holiday week!

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Fair Lady At Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre - Logan, Utah

Sorry for being MIA yesterday. Sick children and dear out-of-town house guests kept me away from the computer. Before this gets too out of date I want to review Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre's production of My Fair Lady, which I saw on Saturday, July 19, 2012 at the Ellen Eccles Theatre on Main Street in Logan.

Vanessa Ballam as Eliza Doolittle, photo from UFOMT website

For those who don't know, UFOMT is a yearly festival of operas, concerts, and musicals founded 20 years ago by opera star and local Loganite Michael Ballam. (Read more about Ballam's background in this interesting Deseret News article, "Michael Ballam: Utah tenor's career comes full circle".)

Each year my grandparents drive all the way up to Cache Valley from the far southeast corner of the state to see the UFOMT operas and shows. They aren't the only ones. Most of the festival's 20,000+ attendees come from all over the state and country. This year's productions are the operas Faust and Tosca and the classic musicals  My Fair Lady and Kiss Me Kate. For more information on the shows, visit this blog post about Logan on Salt Lake City View.

The season is designed so patrons can see all four shows on one weekend, in a combination of matinees and evening performances. My dear grandparents purchase extra tickets each year so they can treat their children and grandchildren to the shows. How sweet of them!

I have been lucky enough to see several lovely UFOMT operas over the years. This was my first time seeing a musical, though. I was not disappointed! From the actors to the sets to the orchestra to the beautiful theater itself, nearly every detail was perfect. We are indeed lucky to have this caliber of performance available to us in our own little city. In my experience the UFOMT shows far surpass the quality of the national touring productions I have seen in Salt Lake City.

My Fair Lady Review

In Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre's production of Lerner and Loewe's classic musical My Fair Lady, Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle (the lovely Vanessa Ballam) transforms into a sophisticated lady of society under the tutelage of dialect coach Professor Henry Higgins, ably played by Kyle Pfortmiller. The sets, costumes, staging, singing, and acting are all top-notch in UFOMT's rendition of the show. If one "fault" could be found with the production, it's that Vanessa Ballam's beautiful, classically-trained voice shines too brightly through the harsh, flat tones of Eliza's native dialect. Vanessa's acting, though, perfectly suited the role. It's in her blood, of course. Her father (and UFOMT founder) Michael Ballam, disguised under a bulbous nose and layers of makeup, stole the show in his comic turn as Eliza's father Alfred Doolittle.

Another stand-out was the quartet of men who sing with Eliza on "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?". I particularly noticed the sweetly soaring voice of the tenor. The whole chorus, in fact, was excellent as an ensemble and in their individually highlighted parts. A strong ensemble is a hallmark of UFOMT's shows. The performers come from all over the country, and are auditioned and hand-picked by Michael Ballam.

Costumes and sets were attractive and well-designed. I did wonder why we didn't see the black-and-white dress pictured above during the show. (It's a distinctive costume from the "Ascot Opening Day" scene.) Instead Eliza wore a pastel confection and carried a ruffly parasol that gave her a lot of trouble, to hilarious effect. The whole scene is traditionally one of the showpieces of My Fair Lady, musically and comically, and it lived up to expectations.

Funny and heart-wrenching by turns, and filled with catchy tunes, My Fair Lady is a good introduction to musical theater. Whether you're a longtime musical fan or not, I encourage you to see this performance. The remaining show dates are July 20, 25, 28 (matinee), August 3 (matinee), 9 (matinee), and 11. Single ticket prices range from $12 to $76, with half price tickets available for students and children. Or take advantage of UFOMT's season design, which allows one to attend all four shows in one weekend. Visit for details.


Special mention should be made of UFOMT's venue, the beautiful Ellen Eccles Theatre. Read about the theater's history here. The neoclassical interior rivals theaters I've visited in San Francisco and New York City.

Interior of the Ellen Eccles Theatre, photo from UFOMT website

Detail of balconies and phoenix mural. Photo credit: Wally Bloss, Executive Director of the Cache Valley Center for the Arts


Have you been/are you going to any shows this year at UFOMT or at the Old Lyric? What's your favorite musical?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So Messy, Yet So Good: Philly Cheese Steak by Street Eats Food Truck

As I mentioned yesterday, I stopped by Street Eats for lunch on Monday when the Culinary Concepts food truck was parked at CenturyLink in North Logan. I ordered the Spicy Vietnamese Pork Wrap ($5), which is quickly becoming one of my food vices, two sides of Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese ($2 each - for my kids), and the Philly Cheese Steak special ($7 - ostensibly for my husband, but he works night shift and would be asleep for several more hours - so who was it really for?).

The picture I took of the cheese steak looks pretty disgusting - which means Street Eats is TOTALLY doing it right (and I say this as someone who spent the past couple of years living in Philadelphia and experiencing the real deal). Gently charred strips of tenderloin mixed with grilled onions and peppers overflowing from a soft Italian roll, all topped with ooey, gooey cheese. Oops, I mean Cheez. Personally, when I make a cheese steak at home I like to use melted provolone or mozzarella cheese, but if you want a traditional, true Philly style cheese steak you gotta use the whiz. The Cheez Whiz, that is. Hey, don't mess with tradition!

I stole several bites of my husband's sandwich before lamenting about how it would suffer under refrigeration and wrapping it up for him to eat later. My one suggestion for a better sandwich would be a few more peppers, but overall it was an excellent rendition.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I photographed this on the asphalt parking lot. What, you think I was going to wait till I got home to dig into it? I had to photograph it fast before it was gone!

The macaroni and cheese wasn't really a hit with my kids, perhaps because the pepper jack cheese gave it a slight spicy kick they didn't enjoy. I've never met a pasta that I didn't like, so it was fine by me (yes, I ate their dishes of macaroni and cheese for dinner that night). It's worth noting that the pepper jack used is of the processed-cheese variety (most pepper jack is of that variety), so if you don't like the taste of processed cheese it might not be for you. If, on the other hand, you're like me -- denied Kraft singles and any other processed cheese as a kid, and therefore developing a taste for it as a "special treat" -- you'll like it just fine. It's definitely comfort food.

Lucky for my waistline and my pocket book, Street Eats usually parks at the south end of town in the ThermoFisher parking lot on Hyclone Drive. You can follow their Facebook page for updates on their specials and locations.

I saw several people order the BBQ sandwich. Anyone tried it? What did you think?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Local Blogs - Know Any?

I've started working on a list of local blogs. Check it out on the Local Blogs page and also at the bottom of the right sidebar. This will be a work in progress. Go visit the ones that are listed so far, and be sure to suggest more!

Ding! Ding! Ding! FREE Cathy Ferrand Bullock Handbell Performance & Lecture, July, 18, 2012 - Logan, UT

Cathy Ferrand Bullock, USU professor and director of the Westminster Bell Choir, will deliver a free educational lecture and handbell performance at the historic Cache County Courthouse on Wednesday, July 18 at 7pm as part of the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau's summer speaker series.

Cathy Ferrand Bullock (front row, far left) with the Westminster Bell Choir -  Logan, Utah - from here

Dr. Bullock was one of my communications professors at Utah State. I can vouch that she is an energetic and engaging speaker. Her talk is entitled "Ring Those Bells! The Magic of English Handbells". She will discuss the history of handbells and demonstrate the variety of techniques players use to achieve different sounds with the bells. Solo and quartet performances will be part of the lecture, which will last one hour. Sounds lovely and fascinating!

What: Lecture and Handbell Performance by Cathy Ferrand Bullock, part of the Cache valley Visitors Bureau Summer Speaker Series
When: Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 7-8pm
Where: Historic Cache County Courthouse, 199 N. Main Street, Logan, Utah (photo)
Cost: Free
FYI: Seating is limited, so arrive early. For more information, call 435-755-1890

The Westminster Bell Choir is an interfaith group sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church of Logan. Here is a 40-second YouTube video featuring the Westminster Bell Choir performing Christmas carol "Il Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant". Dr. Bullock is featured as the director. The choir's annual Christmas concert at the Logan Tabernacle is a popular event.

Vietnamese Salad @ Da Nang Bistro - Logan, Utah

I grabbed some good eats on Saturday at the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market when I finally got to try the Vietnamese cuisine from Da Nang Bistro. My salad featured a savory and fresh mix of chicken, cabbage, cilantro, nuts, chili peppers, carrots, green apples, and a very light dressing(?), and was accompanied by delicately-flavored rice cakes. I also sampled the Da Chanh, Da Nang Bistro's riff on the ice cream sandwich. So good! I will definitely be back for a full-size next week. Da Nang Bistro will only be at the market for two more weeks (July 21 & 28), so get over to the market and grab some Vietnamese food before your chance is gone! Visit the Da Nang Bistro Facebook page for info and updates.

I've kind of been on a Vietnamese kick, because yesterday at lunch I took advantage of Street Eats' close proximity to my house (the food truck was in the CenturyLink parking lot), and ordered the Spicy Vietnamese Pork Wrap once again. I also tested the authenticity of the Philly Cheese Steak, the specialty of the city I just moved here from. Tune in tomorrow to see how this Utah cheese steak compared to the real deal in Philadelphia. See you then!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pick Of The Week: CVCA Gallery Walk (Including Map and Recommendations), July 20, 2012 - Logan, Utah

How was your Cache Valley weekend? Mine was busy and fun. I hit the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market on Saturday morning in Logan before a matinee of Utah Festival Opera's "My Fair Lady". Then I headed down to Salt Lake for a family dinner featuring finds from the Downtown Farmers Market. The weekend ended with another family dinner at the south end of Cache Valley in Paradise. I'll fill you in on these events later this week (well, not the family dinners - that would be kind of weird-slash-boring?).

From the CVCA website,

Starting today I plan to write about my "Pick of the Week" each Monday. This will be the local event I personally plan to attend, or most want to attend. I'm doing this in lieu of providing a comprehensive calendar or a whole week of picks. If you'd like to know about more things to do during the week I encourage you to check out the Calendar page for links to lots of other event calendars for the area. This week my pick is the CVCA Gallery Walk. Read on for all the venues and artists, plus my picks. The painting featured on the poster below is "Snow Canyon" by Brooke Lambert, who will be exhibiting at Caffe Ibis. A Lisa Loves Logan reader recommended her last week!

What: CVCA Gallery Walk
When: Friday, July 20th, 2012, 6-9pm
Where: Various venues, downtown Logan, Utah

On Friday, July 20th, galleries and other businesses in downtown Logan will open their doors from 6pm to 9pm and host the works of local artists as part of the CVCA Gallery Walk. The Cache Valley Center for the Arts (CVCA) puts on the Gallery Walk about six times a year, and it's one of my favorite activities in Logan. It's so fun to see Main Street alive in the evening and to see the local artists' talents on display. A few venues have live music (see below) and some of the restaurants provide little samples of their fare. It's probably not the best activity for kids, but it makes a great and inexpensive (free) date, or a fun adventure with friends or solo. 

You can click on the map to enlarge it, but it still may be difficult to read. I've listed the venues alphabetically below. You can start at any venue and pick up the map of the rest of the Gallery Walk. If you want to start at one end or the other, Jack's Wood-Fired Oven is the northernmost venue and Gia's Italian Restaurant is the southernmost. You can also make a nice loop by parking near Federal Avenue and starting at Caffe Ibis.

CVCA Gallery Walk Venues

The Photo Art of Mike Bullock Photography

“Field and Fountain” by Brooke Lambert
Oil and pastel paintings
Music: Street Dance (Church & Federal)

The Fine Art of Michael Langenheim
Carvings and Paintings

“Transitions and Interplay” by Sam Capasso
Digital Printer Ink on canvas - abstract interpretations

Pastels by Susan Dunker
Ceramics by Andrea Steffs

“Wilderness Watercolors” and acrylics by Ernie Verdine

Pottery by Scott McClellan

"Other Worlds – Other Art”
Visit for details.

Cache Valley Cruise-In Photo Contest
The Cache Valley Photographers
On display through Aug 30

Mixed media prints by Vincent Cobb
Woodcut, intaglio, stamp and stencil

Landscape Photography by Logan Simmons

One Man & Women Shows by David Jackson & Kristi Grussendorf
Paintings by Barbara & Glen Edwards

MOUNTAIN PLACE GALLERY, 123 N MAIN ST (above The Sportsman)
Paintings by Russ Fjeldsted 

David Holmes and Logan High School students and Mt. Logan Middle School students

Utah Watercolor Society – “Small Works Show”

Photography by Josh Munns

Mixed media – polymer clay by Sharon Ohlhorst

Oil collage by Haley Cliften

Paintings by Scott Bushman & watercolors by Neena Plant

Strata: Mixed Media Paintings by Holly Conger
Transfer collage, oil, & acrylic
Music: Celtic harp by Julie ni Hewkin

Watercolors, oils & GicleĆ© Prints” by Jeremy & Larry Winborg

My Faves

Some of these venues are new additions since the last time I went to the Gallery Walk. Some are old favorites like Caffe Ibis (which usually has live music and some yummy treats) and St. John's Episcopal Church, a lovely church downtown that was first constructed in 1909. In addition to its striking Western-Romanesque-Gothic architecture, St. John's has one very interesting feature I intend to write about later this week.

From the website of St. John's Episcopal Church. Additional website here.

I'd love it if you'd comment and share your weekend adventures, your own "Pick of the Week", or your past experiences with the CVCA gallery walk. Do tell!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Elote (Mexican Corn on the Cob) at the Cache Valley Garedeners' Market

I was first introduced to elote, or Mexican corn on the cob, at the Cache County Fair in Logan in about 2007. I've looked forward to it as a summer fair stand tradition ever since (along with my beloved mini donuts), and I have even taken to making it at home. I was happy to see that the Mexican food stand at the Cache Valley Gardener's Market (click the link for location and times) had elotes last Saturday.

Mmmmm. Now I'm not going to tell you this is healthy, but I am going to tell you it's delicious. Corn on the cob with mayo, lime, cheese, and seasonings. This version used parmesan cheese, which isn't traditional, but was still tasty.

I had pupusas (again), and also a Brazilian fresh limeade. My brother-in-law makes this for some of our family gatherings, and I really enjoyed an icy cupful at the market.

Head over to my other blog, A Farewell To Can't, if you would like my recipes for elotes and Brazilian limeade. I didn't manage to get any produce at the market on Saturday, but I'm excited to see what's new this weekend.


Downtown Logan Sidewalk Sale

For anyone who hasn't heard, downtown Logan has a big sidewalk sale going on this weekend. Head down to Main & Center Streets to check out the great shops and prices in our historic downtown.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chocolate for Cheap! Alvey's Chocolates Factory Sale, July 9-14, 2012 - Richmond, Utah

Local Cache Valley candy company Alvey's Chocolates (or Alvey's Candies, I've seen it both ways) has a factory sale going on through Saturday, July 14 at their factory store in Richmond, Utah. I hadn't realized Alvey's has a factory store, so I left Alvey's off my list of factory tours and stores in Cache Valley. I'll have to add it! Since the Pepperidge Farm factory and store is also in Richmond, you could go to both in one trip and stock up on lots of yummy goodies at great prices. Here are the details of the Alvey's sale.

Alvey's Chocolates Factory Sale
63 E. 300 S. Richmond, Utah
9am-4pm - July 9-14, 2012

Factory Seconds, regularly $7.50/lb., NOW $6.00/lb.
Milk Mint Wafers (seconds), 5 lb. bag for $25.00
Dark Mint Wafers (seconds), 5 lb. bag for $20.00

Overstock Firsts, regularly $16.50/lb., NOW $8.25/lb.

While supplies last!

Alvey's has been creating handmade chocolates and candies in Cache Valley since 1980. Alvey's has a retail store in Logan at the Cache Valley Mall, and its products are also available at a few grocery stores in the area. (I'm sure they're at Lee's Marketplace, because I sometimes succumb to buying an Alvey's treat in the check-out line).

The Alvey's website appears to be under construction, but it does have some information about the company. Watch the two-minute video below to learn more about Alvey's and to see the retail store and some of the yummy products. Warning! You might have a craving chocolate after you watch this!

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