Before I left Salt Lake, my old office manager asked me if there was anything about Salt Lake I was going to miss. I said no without hesitation. I may have qualified it by saying I would miss the mountains. But on the whole, I didn't think I was going to miss anything. On the whole, I guess there's really not a whole lot that I do miss, but it turns out I miss a few more things than I predicted I would. Here's the list in no particular order:
(1) Cafe Niche. This is a little coffee shop / bistro cafe / sunday brunch spot / posh wine and cheese dinner joint at 800 E 300 S. I love everything about Cafe Niche. It was literally around the corner from where I used to work, and within walking distance from where I used to live, so I was a frequent patron of the Niche. Their lattes are delicious and cheaper than any of the other coffee shops in Salt Lake. Their quiche is to die for. The sandwiches are unique twists on standard favorites. Their fruit and cheese plate is always good. Their sunday brunch had an amazing french toast in a bread pudding style. God, I miss Cafe Niche! Now, there are a lot of fine places to eat in P-land. Fine places. But there is no Niche.
(2) Late night coffee shops (Roasting Co., Coffee Break, Coffee Connection, et al.). Would you be surprised if I told you that Portland does not harbor a late night coffee shop scene? I would have been surprised if you had told me that before I moved here. I mean, if Salt Lake City has more late night coffee shops than a coffee shop fanatic like me knew what to do with, surely the hip town of Portland would be swimming in them. Not so. All my neighborhood coffee shops (most of which are either Starbucks or Peets [which I do love]) close at around 7:PM or 8:PM. That is precisely the hour that I am thinking a third cup of joe would go really nicely right now, thank you. Now, I guess I should say that I can only really speak with authority about southwest Portland. It is possible that late night coffee shops exist in NW, SE, or NE. But I don't live in those places.
(4) Bees Baseball. I love watching baseball. Portland had a baseball team in the same minor league as the Salt Lake Bees, but they have left town now. Last summer was their last season, because they kind of lost their place to play now that the Portland Timbers have gone Major League in Soccer and converted the baseball stadium into major league compliant soccer stadium (which I am thrilled about). But I miss my baseball. Ian is not a huge fan of the sport, so it's not a lot of hair off his back. I am planning for us to take the train up to Seattle this summer to catch a Mariners game in order to fill my void.
(5) Mrs. Cavanaugh's Flips/Fluffs. Mrs. Cavanaugh's is a chocolate maker that sells candies at the same rate per pound as solid gold. Or so it seems. But they have a particular candy that is very nostalgic for me. Mrs. C's calls them "Fluffs" and they are made out of that marshmallow fluff stuff coated in chocolate and rolled in toasted coconut bits. My grandfather used to buy them at Christmas time, and he always called them "Flips", so that's what I call them. They are so good. You can order Mrs. Cavanaugh's chocolates online, but for some reason they do not list the Flips online, so once again my desire is just out of reach but within mocking distance.
(6) Monk Honey. In Northern Utah somewhere (exactly where is escaping my mind, but it's North and East of Salt Lake) there is a little modest monastery of Trappist Monks. They keep bees and make delicious honeys. The best, most to die for honey ever, is the Brandy honey, flavored with real brandy. Also excellent is the banana nut honey. I would kill for a jar of this honey right now.
(7) Italian Village. A cult classic in Utah. I once described it as the Italian Dee's. But that really doesn't do justice to the joint, because their food is much better than Dee's. Their decor, on the other hand... well, it could use a little less early 90's flair. But I miss the tossed salads with oil and vinegar dressing. These are my favorite salads in the world. So simple, and so right. And the pizzas are damn good too. Damn it, I miss that stuff.
(You may have noticed that most of the items on this list are food. I am surprised about that, because I still think Utah has crap food on the whole. Crap. I mean crap. But there are gems out there, some of which cannot be easily replaced even in the gastronomically rich town of Portland.)
(8) Acai Frozen Yogurt from Au Naturale in Sugarhouse. It's just so good. I get brain freeze every time I eat it because it's too delicious to eat slowly. No comparison here. We have a lot of self-serve yogurt joints, and they are ok, but they don't have acai flavor, and they overcharge for something I have to fix myself.
(9) Chinese food. There is Chinese food in Portland, but it is all bad. Ok, we recently found a couple establishments that are pretty alright. One is even pretty good. But none of them are even close to things like Canton Village in Salt Lake -- which is admittedly pretty crappy as it is, but so much better than the Chinese food here. I miss this place called Kwan's on South Temple that I was convinced I was keeping in business. Every time we went in, the owner remembered us and said it had been a long time since she'd seen us. I guess now it's been a really long time. In Portland, the best Chinese food is probably Panda Express, which is like saying the best pizza is Little Caesars. I mean, sure, they are good, but Panda is not really Chinese, and Little Caesars is not really pizza. They are both pseudo. There is a P.F. Chang's here, but every time we go in, they ask for our reservation and when we say we don't have one, they tell us the wait is two hours. Seriously? I mean, P.F. Chang's is good, sure, but have you ever had to wait two hours to get into the one in Salt Lake? No, you haven't, because there are plenty of other decent Chinese joints in town.
Those are the things I miss. I may have forgotten a thing or two, but those are the ones that pop up in my head on a regular basis. Of course, my list is glaringly missing any mention of people. But, yes, there are people I miss too. Some quite a lot. Maybe even you.
Subscribe to Bunsnip