Yes, we live in a desert here, but it's not a food desert. Utah's food culture is bountiful—the same great local foods that our chefs keep in their pantries are available for home chefs to use. Here are some essentials for eating well in the Beehive.

 

Dave Jones
Dave Jones, chef at Log Haven, generally considered one of the West's finest restaurants, gives grape jelly the attention normally reserved for premiers crus. Jones trained at the California Culinary Academy, has cooked at the Beard House and with such luminaries as Louis Palladin. He has a gleam in his eye as he tastes jelly made from mahonia, or Oregon grapes. He knows just where to pick some in the hills behind Log Haven. The landscape surrounding the historic cabin is integral to Log Haven's ambiance and Jones is making it part of the restaurant"s menu, too. An avid organic gardener and forager and an outspoken advocate of local and organic foods, he scours the mountains for mushrooms and other local edible plants. With the advice of Dr. Ty Harrison, a botanist, naturalist and forager, Jones is planning Project Wild, a native edibles garden at Log Haven, to supply the restaurant kitchen with wild onions, nettles, watercress, purslane, rosehips, cress, elderberries, chokecherries and Oregon grapes.

5 Intense Local Flavors Chef Jones Keeps On Hand, and Recommends for Every Utah Pantry:

1) High West whiskey
Essential for deglazing pans and adding oomph to sauces. (Not to mention the chef.)

2) Creminelli salami...
and speck made the Old World way right here in Utah.

3) Dried, fresh and frozen porcini
Jones likes to find his own mushrooms in the Uintahs, but if Nature runs short, he uses dried or frozen.

4) Gold Creek smoked parmesan
Besides its usual uses on salad and pasta, this nutty parm can adds umami to soups, breads and crusts.

5) Koosharem steelhead trout
Harvested in the morning, on the menu in the evening, these fish are sustainably farmed in the greenest possible way.

Develop Your Pizza Palate

Utah cuisine is growing by leaps and bounds, but the fastest and best-growing category has to be pizza. Take your pizza palate to the next level. You'll find fabulous pizza in most Utah towns: Orem, Bountiful, Logan, St. George.

Learn to Love Beer

Cocktails, schmocktails—Utahns still love beer best. Local award-winning breweries like Squatters come out with new brews all the time. This year, Uinta introduced "Birthday Suit," an unfiltered sour farmhouse ale, with 6.3 percent alcohol by volume and a label by local artist Travis Bone. Plus, The Beer Bar opened, serving over 140 different beers.

Learn to Forage

Mushrooms, wild watercress, spring onions and ramps, elderberries, chokecherries, nettles and fiddlehead ferns—these are just a few of Utah's natural edible treasures. And that's not even going into the wild game possibilities. Learn to harvest from the mountains we live in; classes in mushroom hunting and foraging are available through the continuing education program at the U, continue.utah.edu.

Solve Market Gridlock

Utah is almost over-endowed with Farmers Markets. Holladay, Mill Creek, Park City, Ogden, Garden City, Spring City-pretty much every burg has its farmers market. Most are on the weekend and then jammed with strollers, pets and noshers, so our advice is: Shop the Tuesday night Harvest Market that pops at the height of Northern Utah's true growing season: September. For the market nearest you, go to utahsown.utah.gov/farmersmarkets for an interactive map of markets.

Support Your Eating Habit

Immigrant and refugee newcomers to Utah learn to market their skills with the food of their homeland at Spice Kitchen Incubator, a new project by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), in partnership with Salt Lake County. It's a community kitchen space bringing together refugees and other disadvantaged community members interested in starting a full or part-time food business. Get inspired by U graduate Erik Larsen and his wife Cori. The University of Utah's Lassonde Institute helped them open their first cupcake business—Heaven Cupcake. Last year, the Larsen's opened the first of what they hope will be 30 or 40 Boston Cupcakery cupcake shops in Mumbai, India. Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, University of Utah, 105 Fort Douglas Blvd., SLC, 801-587-33836

Get a Meal on a Sunday

There comes a time on Sunday afternoons, between Saturday's partying and the looming reality of Monday, when you need some comfort food. Then the harsh reality hits: It's Sunday in Utah. Everything is closed. You can get good pizza, but for Sunday night supper, you need to go to The Copper Onion or Pig and a Jelly Jar, happily re-opened after a kitchen fire. Pig and a Jelly Jar, 401 E. 900 South, SLC, 385-202-7366. The Copper Onion, 111 E. Broadway, SLC, 801-355-3282

Be a Backyard Farmer

Plant a garden, raise some chickens, keep some bees. Wasatch Community Gardens can show you how to do it all. 

Polish Your Kitchen Skills 

Sometimes your kitchen is the best place to eat. Improve your skills and pick up new tricks at the Salt Lake Culinary Center, which offers a range of cooking classes. The Park City Culinary Institute relies on local chefs as instructors; besides kitchen skills, the Institute uses cooking to teach team building. Salt Lake Culinary Center, 2233 S. 300 East, SLC, 801-464-0113. Park City Culinary Center, 7720 Royal St., Park City, 435-659-5075

Know Where to Get Wine by the Glass

If you're looking for a more complicated answer than "red or white" when you ask for wine by the glass, you can now depend on BTG (By the Glass) wine bar-it has over 50 ever-changing selections. 63 W.100 South, SLC, 801-359-2814 

Eat Your Vegetables. And your chocolate. 

Former Deer Valley pastry chef shares her love of vegetables in her blog, Letty's Kitchen, offering recipes like black rice veggie burgers. But Letty also loves chocolate: try the dairy-free Chocolate Honey Pie. lettyskitchen.com 

Enjoy Coffee for Coffee's Sake

Forget caramel low-fat soy milk macchiato. Try a cup of coffee from a bean so rare, roasted so perfectly you don't need to cover up the flavor Starbucks-style. John and Yching Piquet do this so well at Caffe d'Bolla we should call them super-baristas. Or, as Food & Wine writer Al Franco suggested, "Cafeliers." 249 E. 400 South, SLC, 801-355-1398

Find Yourself a CSA

Community Supported Agriculture
is how citizens can support farmers in the simplest way: Buy a weekly delivery of fruits, vegetables, cheese, meats-CSA's offer different packages. 6782 S. 1300 East, Cottonwood Heights, 801-209-7321

Support Co-Dependence

Utah food producers are remarkably mutually supportive-they use each other's products to flavor their own. Creminelli uses High West Boureye to flavor its salami. Beehive's Seahive Cheese is rubbed with local honey and Redmond's salt. Butcher's Bunches uses local fruit in its spreads. 

Remember How to Converse

You CAN enjoy a cup of coffee without the internet. The Rose Establishment's ultra-hipster no-WIFI ambiance encourages leisurely sipping and talking with live people sitting right there with you. 235 S. 400 West, SLC, 801-990-6270

SURVIVAL KIT

 

Clockwise from top: Start your garden with plants from Red Butte Garden’s annual sale. The holy trinity of Utah produce is Green River melons, Bear Lake raspberries, Brigham City peaches. You can buy High West’s Campfire from the Park City distillery on Sunday. Solstice Chocolate is the latest great Utah chocolate. Dutch oven: We may be the only state with an official cooking utensil. Find the coolest vintage bar accessories at Now & Again, on Broadway. Creminelli bacon or birra salami and a pizza kit. Small wineries (like Bucklin) get a DABC discount, meaning a good deal for you. Frody Volgger’s handmade sausage is a Caputo’s star. 

Back>>>Read other sections in the 2014 Best of the Beehive.

Back>>>Read more stories from our July/August 2014 issue.