Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sea Scallops and Escolar with Gin Sauce

Pan Seared Scallops.JPG
Pan Seared Sea Scallops over Smoked Bacon and Turnip Puree with Mustard Greens Oil and Dill

Earlier today I had a menu planned around beef, but after visiting our favorite fish monger everything changed. Once I saw that they had fresh escolar, it was all over. I cannot pass up the rich meaty-flavor of escolar: particularly when sushi grade is available. Oh, and while there, I picked up a few fresh sea scallops just for fun.

Pan Seared Escolar.JPG
Pan Seared Escolar Over Braised Mustard Greens. Served with Green Olives and Gin Sauce.

Usually, we simply slice off a few thin pieces of raw escolar, serve it with rice, a squeeze of lime and a touch of soy sauce. But, today I needed to get rid of the mustard greens in our garden because it was snowing. Yes, SNOWING, in September!! So, I figured I could use the spicy mustard greens as a base, and about halfway through, I realized that I had enough to make an oil from the mustard greens. What can I say, I love making colorful oils...after all, we eat with our eyes first!

Here is how it all came together (or so I remember after a few bottles of wine)

Turnip Puree:
1 Turnip
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Cut turnip in half. Slice halves into 1/8-inch thick pieces. Add turnip slices into boiling salted water. Cook until tender (about 15 minutes). Drain through colander. Place turnip in food processor and add butter and whipping cream. Blend until smooth.

Pan Seared Sea Scallops:
4 Sea Scallops
2 strips of smoked bacon (used in recipe for braised mustard greens)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp canola oil
Mustard Greens Oil, as garnish (see following recipe)
Fresh Dill as garnish

Remove muscle from scallop. Pat dry with paper towel; sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Heat canola oil in skillet over medium-high heat. When oil begins to shimmer add scallops and cook for 5 minutes, turning half-way through.

Mustard Greens Oil:
4 cups (or so) of fresh mustard greens, trimmed and chopped
1 cup canola oil (or olive oil)

Boil salted water in medium sauce pan. Blanch mustard greens for about 1 minute. Remove from boiling and place in ice bath. Strain and squeeze water from greens. Place strained greens in blender. Add oil and blend for about a minute. Strain through cheese cloth. Refrigerate and store in a squeeze bottle (lasts for about 2 weeks).

Plate scallops over turnip puree and bacon (from braised mustard greens recipe) and garnish with Mustard Greens Oil.

Pan Seared Escolar & Braised Mustard Greens:
1/3 lb Sushi-grade Escolar
4 cups Mustard Greens, trimmed and cut into 3-inch squares
4 cups Chicken Stock (total)
2 slices of thick-cut bacon
2 Tbsp butter
1 shallot diced
1 Star of Anise
1 sprig of rosemary
1 sprig of fresh thyme
4 Tbsp Gin
2 cloves of sliced garlic
2 Tbsp canola oil
Sliced green olives
2 garlic cloves sliced

Braised Mustard Greens:
Heat saute pan over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until fat is rendered (about 5 minutes). Set bacon aside for scallops (see recipe above). Add mustard greens and garlic, cook until greens start to wilt. Add 2 cups of chicken stock. Cover and cook over low heat for about twenty minutes, until tender.

Gin Sauce:
Heat 2 Tbsp of butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add shallot and cook until aromatic and tender (about 5 minutes). Remove pan from heat and add Gin (if Gin bursts into flames when placed over heat, just let alcohol burn-off, about 30 seconds). Add rosemary, thyme, star anise and remainder of chicken stock (2 cups). Cook until reduced by 3/4, or until proper consistency. Add butter and whisk to add sheen. Set aside off-heat.

Pan Seared Escolar:
Heat 2 Tbsp canola oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan. Add escolar when oil begins to shimmer and cook for about 2 minutes. Flip and cook another two minutes.

Plate escolar over braised mustard greens, and spoon gin sauce over top. Garnish with sliced green olives. Serve with a bottle (or two) of Oregon Pinot Noir.


View Google Map for Aquarius Fish Company

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Indochine Vietnamese Bistro


Last weekend started with drinking bubbly out of Pilsner glasses at a friend's 40th birthday party (which is what happens when your friends are beer connoisseurs as opposed to wine). We kicked this weekend off in a much more civilized fashion, sharing only one bottle of wine Friday night, getting a good night's sleep, and even making an appearance at the gym this morning. What better way to reward ourselves than with a warm meal at Salt Lake City's newest Vietnamese restaurant?!

Indochine occupies the space formerly known as Gepetto's (and for about a minute, The Flying Scotsman) on University row near the University of Utah. Gepetto's had been dark, mysterious, and the site of a handful of first--and last--dates for me in college. I was curious to see how the new tenants had fixed the place up.

Our knowledge of Vietnamese food is certainly limited, but Indochine's menu, at nearly five pages long, is not. We finally narrowed it down from the array of interesting and diverse choices, and then sat back to take in the space. It's nothing fancy, but with white walls meeting up against those painted in crimson, bearing black and white photographs of French Indochina, Indochine is a vast improvement on the once lurid space.

Coconut-Curry Mussels.JPG
Coconut-Curry Mussels - $7.99

With lemongrass, lime leaves, tomato, coconut, curry and--oh yeah, mussels--this appetizer was right up our alley.

Ha Noi Beef Noodle Soup.JPG
Ha Noi Beef Noodle Soup - $8.99

The dish had a sweet and spicy smell: think vanilla or cinnamon. Deliciously comforting on a cool September day. (Of course, J loaded it with a selection of spices from the condiment tray.)

Braised Shrimp in Crab Paste.JPG
Braised Shrimp in Crab Paste - $12.99

Sweet, light, and somewhat healthy--or at least, that is what I convinced myself in ordering the brown rice.

The menu promotes Indochine as being open 7 days a week, and our server indicated that beginning in November, Indochine will indeed be open for lunch on Sundays. In a city where Costco is about the most happening thing taking place on the 7th day, it just doesn't get much better than that.

- K

Indochine Vietnamese Bistro
230 South 1300 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84102

View Google Map

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Porcupine Pub & Grille

Porcupine Grill.JPG

The leaves have started to change along the Wasatch Front, making way for fall, which is quite possibly Salt Lake City's most beautiful season. When the night temperatures start to dip and the foothills have a sprinkling of red, I start craving beer cheese soup from the Porcupine Pub & Grille.

Nestled at the mouth of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons (the source of some of Utah's the World's best skiing) Porcupine Pub & Grille starts serving up its beer cheese soup in September. In October they celebrate Oktoberfest with an array of other treats: think bratwurst, sauerkraut, and female staff running around in dimdl dresses.

Beer Cheese Soup.JPG
Cup of Beer Cheese Soup - $2.99

Comes with a nice warm Baci roll riding sidecar. We were both nursing hangovers from a friend's 40th birthday party the night before, and some bread dunked in beer cheese soup (and a few aspirin) ended up being just what the doctor ordered.

- K

Porcupine Pub & Grille

3698 East Fort Union Blvd.
Salt Lake City, UT 84121

View Google Map

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tacos El Paisa

Carne Asada and Carnitas Tacos.JPG

It is always a challenge to to find something cheap and easy to eat in Salt Lake City on Sunday. To make matters worse we had already blown our weekend food budget with several trips to our new favorite spot, Acme Burger Company, so we needed something affordable.

My numero uno taco cart happens to be located at 7200 South State Street in Murray, but on this particular Sunday it was nowhere to be found. Such is the risk when your restaurant is mobile. With my preferred restaurant on wheels closed we rolled downtown to the taco cart epicenter: located at the downtown Sears (between State Street and Main on 800 South).

Tacos El Paisa Dining Room.JPG
Tacos El Paisa Dining Room

K likes Tacos El Paisa because she can get a veggie burrito there. I happen to think that this particular cart also has excellent beans, and a nice thin flour tortilla (they also have cheese, which some do not offer).

I ordered a carne asada taco and a carnitas taco. The carne asada had a grilled smoky flavor and was my favorite. The carnitas was chunky and tasty, but I usually prefer my pork shredded. The salsa was bright and fresh...not to mention spicy.

Carne Asada Burrito.JPG
Carne Asada Burrito -$3

I accidentally ended up ordering an extra burrito because of my poor Spanish skills, so in addition to K's veggie, we got this bulky carne asada number. I swear the burrito weighed well over one pound, no joke. It took me two days to finish the whole thing.

If you are looking for a great deal, don't be afraid to try one of these mobile dining establishments. The ambience might not be worthy of a Michelin star, and the seating is usually in the form of a curb or a brick wall, but the food is the real deal.

- J

Tacos El Paisa
800 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

View Google Map

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Hamiltons Steak & Seafood


We really wanted to get out of dodge for Labor Day weekend but that old, unshakable relative known as "the budget" prevented us from doing so. By Monday we were stir crazy, and in need of anything remotely approaching the word "trip"--even if it came in the form of a drive to Logan, Utah, about an hour and a half north of Salt Lake. What better excuse to visit a small, agricultural college town and dine at its finest restaurant?

For three years Hamiltons has been serving up seafood and steaks in a fairly rural, and still relatively undiscovered, town. I was surprised to find a blackened ahi tuna on the menu for a mere $18, along with a bottle of Adelsheim Pinot Noir for around $50ish...definitely a fair mark-up.

Though I hate to chat specifics on meat, I will report for J that Hamiltons offers corn-fed USDA stockyard beef aged up to four weeks. Locally ground organic flour is used for the house made bread, and we were thrilled with the restaurants extensive menu of wine and spirits. Hamiltons also hosts seasonal wine dinners, which are reasonably priced, and surely a nice way for local heathens to connect. Check out their upcoming schedule by emailing

Oysters on the half shell - $3 each

A little pricey, since a dozen can usually run you around $15, but they were fresh, delicious and worth the added investment.

Bouillabase - $22

Mussels, clams, halibut, salmon, and crab in a tomato basil broth. Probably a perfect selection in December or January, but for early September, it felt a bit heavy.

Kansas City Strip Steak.JPG
Bone-in Kansas City Strip Steak - $35

Beautifully cooked with a rich beefy flavor. Let's just say it could be a meal all by itself. J had a difficult time finishing the creamy mashed potatoes after topping off the 16 oz. steak.

Chantilly Chocolate Cake.JPG
Chocolate Chantilly Cake with Pistachio Ice Cream - $7

Hamiltons desserts are made in-house, though I'd rather not ask for a calorie-check. Ignorance is bliss on this one. The pistachio ice cream was the perfect fit to tame the rich chocolate. But once the ice cream was gone, there was still a huge chunk of cake left. After three days later I finally managed to eat every last bit.

- K

Hamiltons Steak & Seafood
2427 N. Main Street
Logan, UT 84341
View Google Map

Tuesday, September 04, 2007



We've loved the look of Faustina since it took up residence in downtown Salt Lake City a little under two years ago. Between the smooth gray river rocks lining the front path and the avocado green walls inside, it embodies more than a few of our favorite things.

And yet we could probably count on one hand the number of times we've been to the Italian-inspired eatery. Given that we both work in the burbs, it just isn't a convenient lunch spot for us. So with Friday being the conclusion of a grueling workweek and the launch of a holiday weekend, we decided to get the party started with a decidedly downtown meal.

Shrimp Bisque.JPG
Shrimp Bisque - served with grilled prawn and cilantro confetti - $4.25

The soup was poured table side: silky bisque cascading into a bowl of shrimp and cilantro.

Lobster Ravioli.JPG
Lobster Ravioli - $11.25

Light and refreshing. J cleaned his plate.

3-Cheese Mac and Cheese.JPG
Three-Cheese Macaroni - $9.95

Comfort food Faustina-style: thick, creamy and not the least bit hip and thigh friendly. I'm thinking this is a little combo of asiago, cheddar and romano.

Faustina's such a beautiful little retreat...hopefully we'll get back sooner as opposed to later.

- K

454 East 300 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

View Google Map

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Acme Burger Company

Acme Burger Company.JPG

Don't let the name fool you: There is nothing generic about Salt Lake City's newest eatery. While burgers may be the focus, Acme Burger Company's menu not only proffers a burger for everyone's taste, but a wealth of other intriguing selections as well.

With a foundation built on quality ingredients Acme offers burgers made from grass-fed beef, ostrich, wild Northwest salmon and even a housemade 3-Bean veggieburger. For those not wanting to dabble in burgerville, Skirt Teak Tataki, Curried Acorn Squash Bisque and Fresh Hummus & Eggplant Tahini with warm Pita hold their own on this creative and well-planned menu.

The restaurant is a collaboration between executive chef Adam Kreisel, Kipp Kelley and Alan Ireland. Locally, Kreisel previously served as co-owner of The Globe Cafe and executive chef for Sundance Resort. Outside of Utah he spent time exercising his culinary passion in Italy, as the private chef for NBC Executives during the 2006 Winter Games, and in the Bay Area, at Mecca and Acquerello. He and Ireland both visited our table during our meal to talk about their restaurant's approach to fine ingredients served up without an ounce of pretension. It is evident that both men believe in what they are doing and hope it will change the way Salt Lake City dines. Given their grace and humility, Kreisel and Ireland are careful to tiptoe around the obvious: despite being knee-deep in its soft-opening, Acme has already succeeded.

With so many delectable offerings to choose from, here's how we narrowed it down for our first--of what will clearly be many--visits to Acme Burger Company:

Grandma Sari's Potato Pancakes.JPG
Grandma Sari's Potato Pancakes - $4

Light and fluffy on the tongue, these little slices of heaven came with applesauce and crème fraîche . For 10 bucks you can get the version with house-cured salmon.

Acme Breathe Enhancer.JPG
Acme Breath Enhancer - Grass-fed beef, bibb lettuce, red onion, roasted garlic aioli, garden herb toast, provolone cheese - $8

Pure bliss! J was thrilled: hands-down the best burger in the state. Perfectly cooked and seasoned. The ingredients complemented one another seamlessly, so that no one element took center stage on the palate. The shoestring potatoes were delightful: crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. Tres bien!

Salmon Burger.JPG
Salmon Burger - Curly endive, pickled ginger cream cheese, shiso vinaigrette, pumpernickel and marble rye bread - $11

The last time I ordered a salmon burger in town I ended up with a fried patty in the shape of a square, nestled between two pieces of enriched white bread. As a Washington girl, I was entirely offended. In contrast, this little beauty from Acme is everything that a salmon burger should be--and more. The salmon was fresh, and the cream cheese and vinaigrette provided a nice zing. Very thoughtful choice on the bread, too--a tangy alternative to your basic bun.

Thick-Cut Steak Fries.JPG
Thick-cut steak fries - $4

Burgers come a la carte at Acme, but alas, potatoes can be ordered "your way" from the array of side options. Thick-cut steak fries, shoestring potatoes, rosemary potatoes and the potato pancakes can all be ordered in single ($4) or family ($11) helpings. The fries arrive in a cone-shaped basket, reminiscent of a smoky cafe on St. Germaine.

Chocolate Shake.JPG
Chocolate Shake - $6

As far as I'm concerned, a chocolate shake creates the perfect ménage à trois when paired with a burger and fries. Whatever your pleasure, Acme delivers the quintessential food orgasm by offering strawberry, vanilla or chocolate shakes. The small comes in a chilled, oversize flute, with an ample sidecar of excess to keep your dining partners out of your glass. If the small serving makes a menage a trois, then the large must be a full-on orgy.

While I think a frosty shake is the perfect accompaniment to a burger and fries, J insists on a good glass of red wine. Fortunately, Acme has a full bar, which includes wine, beer and spirits. As I indulged in my sugar fix, J sipped a silky smooth Tempranillo.

Just when we thought we couldn't muster another bite, Chef Kreisel kindly sent out a trio of housemade sorbet: prickly pear, peach with thyme and triple berry with terragon. We managed to clean yet another plate, including the handful of bite-size snickerdoodles, still warm from the oven. Waddling out to our car, we were already planning what we want to try on our next visit. Hope to see you there.

- K

**Editor's Note: 8/03/08 We learned that as of some time in late June of this year, Adam Kreisel is no longer with Acme Burger Company. We are sorry to hear this, but glad to have seen him around at another Gourmand Syndrome fav, Tony Caputo's Market & Deli. A few teasers online suggest a risottoria may be in the works. We can't wait to find out.

Acme Burger Company
275 South 200 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101

View Google Map

Sunday - Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday - 11:00 a.m. to midnight (or so)