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
www.montezbrothers.com (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.

Positives:

  • 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?)



Negatives:
  • 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.

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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 plague...er, 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, www.mattcohenphoto.com).

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
www.prestonrodeo.com for more information and online ticket purchase


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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 www.ufoc.org for details.


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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


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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, www.cachearts.org


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
www.cachearts.com
http://www.facebook.com/cachearts

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

CACHE VALLEY VISITORS BUREAU, 199 N MAIN ST
The Photo Art of Mike Bullock Photography

CAFFE IBIS GALLERY DELI, 52 FEDERAL AVE
“Field and Fountain” by Brooke Lambert
Oil and pastel paintings
Music: Street Dance (Church & Federal)

CITRUS & SAGE and THE CREPERY, 131 N 100 E
The Fine Art of Michael Langenheim
Carvings and Paintings

CREATIVE THREADS and THE IMAGE FOUNDRY LOCATION, 55 N MAIN ST
“Transitions and Interplay” by Sam Capasso
Digital Printer Ink on canvas - abstract interpretations

THE DIAMOND GALLERY & SEGO EVENT PLANNING AND FLORAL DESIGN, 41 N MAIN ST
Pastels by Susan Dunker
Ceramics by Andrea Steffs

FUHRIMAN'S FRAMING & FINE ART, 75 S MAIN ST
“Wilderness Watercolors” and acrylics by Ernie Verdine

GIA’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT, 119 S MAIN ST
Pottery by Scott McClellan

GLOBAL VILLAGE GIFTS, 146 N 100 E
"Other Worlds – Other Art”
Visit www.globalvillagegifts.org for details.

JACKS WOOD-FIRED OVEN, 256 N MAIN
Cache Valley Cruise-In Photo Contest
The Cache Valley Photographers
On display through Aug 30
meetup.com/cvphotographers

JOYRIDE BIKES, 65 S MAIN ST
Mixed media prints by Vincent Cobb
Woodcut, intaglio, stamp and stencil

LOGAN DOWNTOWN ALLIANCE at INDIAN OVEN, 130 N MAIN ST
Landscape Photography by Logan Simmons

LOGAN FINE ART, 60 W 100 N
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 

OASIS BOOKS, 25 W CENTER ST
David Holmes and Logan High School students and Mt. Logan Middle School students

SDESIGNS AT THE THATCHER-YOUNG MANSION, 35 W 100 S
Utah Watercolor Society – “Small Works Show” www.utahwatercolor.org

S.E. NEEDHAM JEWELERS, 141 N MAIN ST
Photography by Josh Munns

THE SPIRIT GOAT, 28 FEDERAL AVE
Mixed media – polymer clay by Sharon Ohlhorst

THE SPORTSMAN, 129 N MAIN ST
Oil collage by Haley Cliften

ST. JOHN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 85 E 100 N
Paintings by Scott Bushman & watercolors by Neena Plant

UTAH PUBLIC RADIO, 43 S MAIN ST
Strata: Mixed Media Paintings by Holly Conger
Transfer collage, oil, & acrylic
Music: Celtic harp by Julie ni Hewkin

WINBORG MASTERPIECES ART GALLERY, 55 N MAIN ST, 208
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.
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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.

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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.

LLL





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!





Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Reader Suggestions From Around The Valley

Whew! Keeping up with daily posting on this blog and A Farewell To Can't (www.afarewelltocant.com), plus the rest of my life, has me feeling like I'm falling behind. You should see the state of my house! Today's post will be brief. That way I can spend some time cleaning my house, and some time taking my kids to do fun things like this:

Playing on the playground at Willow Park, Logan, Utah


Not only will today's post will be brief, but and I'm letting someone else write it for me: YOU!

Here are some recent reader suggestions of fun things to do, see, and eat in Logan and Cache Valley.

Green Canyon

"Green Canyon might be a fun one to do a post about with all the things there are to do up there. My husband especially loves the single track for mountain biking and we are planning on back packing higher up the trail (we've heard it's good to backpack further up past the very top where you can't drive anymore?? I don't know much about it yet) and doing more camping. We like it for a great (and FREE!) camping spot."

Belly Dancing

"I really love the belly dancing shows on the last Saturdays of the month at Indian Oven. The dancers are from the Shimmering Sands school at the Whittier Center (formerly the USU Middle Eastern Dance Club). Speaking of them, you can take belly dance lessons from Shimmering Sands, I have and it is good exercise and a lot of fun. You should contact the Whittier for a list of their tenants and the classes they offer to the public, they are a great resource."

Logan's Heroes and Other Great Local Sandwiches

"The owner of [Logan's Heroes] is from Iran, he has a fantastic memory and loves chatting with everyone who comes in (I love the roger's special). For local, non-chain restaurants I'd say to also check out Logan Burger & Sandwiches (chicken parmesan sub), the Italian Place (a Beaver or a 4 Seasons), Sweetly Divine (Turkey with jalepeno jelly), Crumb Brothers, The Factory, Firehouse, Jack's Wood Fired Pizza, Papa Kelsey's & Henry, and Juniper Take Out (Turkey steak sandwich). They all have different styles, try them all and find the one that you love!"

Other Food Trucks Besides Street Eats

"This isn't actually the first. There are a couple taco trucks in town, 2 BBQ trucks, the Pauni's food truck, and the Gossner's Grilled Cheese truck that actually goes all over the state. They don't all always have a set spot but I know Rollin' West BBQ likes to park in front of Aaron's on main or Sears up on 100 E. Tacos El Ray is all over town. Most of these places have facebook pages where you can track where they are going to be...


...The taco trucks and bbq truck tend to have 3 or 4 locations they stick with but do move around a bit. One of the BBQ trucks did apparently go out of business. As far as I know the school bus taco truck North of Hamilton's isn't really a mobile operation and is there all the time. We used to have a hot dog stand on Main street that moved around a bit, but they seem to have disappeared. I kind of wish we had more and I'd love to seem them be allowed to set up on campus where I'm sure they'd do great. My friends in D.C. and L.A. wax poetical about their food trucks."


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Thank you for your contributions, I'd love to hear more. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

La Tormenta - North Logan, Utah - Restaurant Review

Note: La Tormenta does not have a menu available online or in hard copy form at the restaurant. I took photos of the wall menu. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see the full menu, including prices.

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Dollar tacos. Need I say more? Oh, I do? Well, okay. Authentic Mexican dollar tacos with savory meat fillings ensconced in a double layer of soft corn tortillas, sprinkled with fresh cilantro and minced onion, with fresh limes on the side for a squeeze of puckery juice. I have half a mind to end this review right here and go get some!

La Tormenta is one of those places my family returns to again and again. It is definitely one of our favorite Cache Valley restaurants. It's cheap, walkable from our house, has delicious sodas and ice cream treats, and then there are those tacos.


We're clearly not the only people who like La Tormenta. It used to be located in a smaller location in the Pinecrest Village shopping center (on 1400 North, east of Cafe Rio), but a few years ago it expanded into a larger building north of Walmart in North Logan. I don't know if I've ever seen it not busy during open hours.
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La Tormenta
105 East 1600 North, North Logan, Utah 84341
435-787-4640
http://www.facebook.com/pages/La-Tormenta-Restaurant/111573685547384

Hours: Monday-Sunday 9am-10pm
Price range: $1 - $11

Take-out Available: Yes
Delivery Available: No
FYI: Candy and snacks also available for purchase



Quick Review of La Tormenta - North Logan, Utah


La Tormenta is a Mexican restaurant that might be referred to as a dive or a hole-in-the-wall, but what it lacks in ambiance it more than makes up for in tasty food at a low price point. Don't worry, the name La Tormenta doesn't mean "the torment", but actually means "storm". With fluorescent lights, a crowded dining room, a brightly-colored double-height mural on one wall, and a cacophony of Spanish and English conversations, La Tormenta *is* a bit of a storm for the senses. But it's the sense of taste that matters, and La Tormenta delivers.
Pick up a Mexican Coke or a Sangria Senorial from the plentifully-stocked beverage case, then proceed to the counter to order. Your food will be brought to your table along with a caddy of condiments, and you'll pay at the counter when you're done. Authentic tacos are $1 each and are available with many choices of filling, all topped with a pile of cilantro and onions. My favorite are the carnitas (sweet shredded pork) and the chorizo (spicy pork sausage), while my husband goes for the asada (steak) and the lengua (beef tongue). Tortas, the carne asada plate, smothered burritos, and tamales are other good choices. A paleta (ice cream bar) from the freezer case - coconut and creamy strawberry are my favorites - completes the meal.



The meat choices for tacos and other dishes are as follows: asada (steak), adovada (spicy pork), al pastor (sweet & spicy pork), carnitas (sweet pork), buche (pork stomach), lengua (beef tongue), cabeza (beef head), tripas (beef stomach), pollo (chicken), and chorizo (spicy pork sausage).





The beverage case includes a wide variety of Mexican and American sodas and juices. Fountain drinks are also available, as well as horchata (my favorite).




A variety of ice cream treats are available in the freezer case.


The menu is on the wall, and is also printed on the ordering counter.


A whiteboard announces any daily specials.



A colorful mural covers the west wall of the dining room.


One of the best features of La Tormenta is the condiment caddy, which features grilled onions, pico de gallo or salsa verde, and pickled carrots and jalapenos.


Clockwise from top: four carnitas tacos, shrimp tostada, four lengua tacos, quesadilla. We also had chorizo tacos and a torta. $18 for three adults and two children.


A selection of seven hot sauces on our table. I like the Bufalo chipotle sauce, third from the left.



Shrimp tostada with a cocktail-type sauce and perfect, creamy avocados


Chorizo tacos, my favorite. La Tormenta also offers tacos dorados, crispy fried tacos that come with crumbled queso fresco.

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Here are the photos of the La Tormenta menu. You can click on the pictures for slightly larger versions.



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