Saturday, May 16, 2009

Red Iguana

Red Iguana

When my parents decided to pay us a visit over Mother's Day Weekend, mom made one thing clear: Mother's Day brunch was not to involve anything remotely approaching an omelette station. Fortunately what I had up my sleeve was far more exciting than a chocolate fountain and all-you-can-eat petits fours.


Many years ago the menu at Salt Lake City institution Red Iguana promoted paella as being available via special order for parties of two or more. I'm not certain when the Spanish dish of saffron rice, sausage, chicken and seafood disappeared off the printed menu, but every now and then it still makes an appearance on the specials board. Paella was always a favorite in my family growing up, but enjoying it also meant that mom had to make it happen.

Determined to serve mom this special dish on Mother's Day--without actually having to prepare it--we visited the folks at Red Iguana and discovered they would indeed make the family favorite for our party at $24.99 per person. We were sold.

We arrived at the Red Iguana on Mother's Day, armed with a bottle of rosé and healthy appetites. Something about the moved expression on mom's face immediately told us this was going to be a memorable meal. Indeed, following starter salads and guacamole, an entourage of people including the chef, owners and our server proudly carried the paella to our table with much pomp and circumstance. We learned then that the chef who typically prepared Red Iguana's paella was back in Mexico, but his brother had stepped up to the plate to prepare our beautiful meal. As he stood at our table beaming, I took stock in the incredibly rich moment. We were strangers bonding over a dish for presumably differing reasons, but ultimately, I'd like to think, a shared appreciation for the value of a meal spent with the people you love. As we began to dig in to our lunch, the chef et al returned to the kitchen, followed moments later by a round of applause, celebrating a job well done.

The above-pictured dish was created for our party of five, and after everyone had seconds, J and I were still able to take home enough for dinner the following night. We all loved the addition of green olives, which mom's recipe does not call for. But more important than the food was the unique experience the folks at Red Iguana helped us put together in appreciation of a very special lady.

- K

Red Iguana
736 West North Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84116

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Anonymous Stuart said...

Wow! Fantastic stuff, totally unexpected! :)


4:48 PM  

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