AA Pub Crawl: SLC

Last month we traveled to Salt Lake City, during the day while my husband spent hours inside a windowless conference room in a large franchise hotel while I lounged by the window of a sunny cafe and planned our adventures for the evenings. During one of these episodes I decided to design our very own SLC pub crawl.

I had booked us a condo via Air BnB called the Adventurist’s Urban Retreat. It was great, a very hip loft in a very hipster part of town. I likened it to what Gastown was about 20 years ago when it was just starting to get the attention of condo developers and restauranteurs. Our hosts, as the owners are called on Air BnB had complied a list of places near and far with brief descriptions on what to expect. From this list I formulated our pub crawl.

So one hot, hot afternoon we met at the BeerHive it was just around the corner from where my husband was attending his conference, perfect location to get our feet wet. BeerHive was everything I hoped for in our pub crawl. A long wooden bar backed by a wall of assorted bottled liquor and more taps than I could count. The dark interior environment illuminated mostly from the large front window was laden with wood features, formerly a barrister’s office, and accented with brick walls.

DSC_0193

The service was not too intrusive and just the right amount of help with the long, long list of beers to choose from. These bartenders knew how to bartend. We were handed our glistening pints of beer topped with the perfect amount of frothy foam onto the 3 inch strip of ice built into the middle of the bar and before you think otherwise this is a brilliant idea. My last gulp of beer was as cold and welcoming as my first.

From BeerHive we moved onto Bodega a few blocks down the road. Needing to fill our bellies with a bit of food we signed up for a few $2 soft tacos and $3 Tecates. Tecate is not exactly the best beer but at $3 a can, why not? Bodega has a tiny front room and apparently a back room as well although we found a spot in the front window to munch our tacos, sip our Tecates and watch the world of SLC walk by. Bodega is nestled into a former stock brokers office with minimalistic vintage Mexican decor and excellent cheap fish tacos it’s worth a stop.

DSC_0209

With a bit a food and a few more beer under our belt we merrily sauntered a few more blocks to Gracie’s.

Gracie’s was only a few blocks from our loft and may have been a bit disappointing after BeerHive and Bodegas. A large bar with an up and down stairs sports bar feel we initially opted to sit on the covered patio until I found the continuous spray of mist above our heads a bit too offensive, even in the heat it was weird being wet while sitting in a pub. The section of beer was adequate but we opted to stay for only one pint here.

DSC_0215

We would have moved onto Salt Lake Brewing Co, right next to Gracie’s but we were a bit too teetery and decided to pack it in for the night back at our loft. We did check out the graffiti art and peeked inside the brewery located in a beautifully restored old brick building.

DSC_0217 DSC_0219

Besides these establishments we also hit up Red Rock Brewing on our first night in town, we had flown in late so our options were limited even on a Saturday night but it was a great introduction to SLC night life and we enjoyed great pizza along with a few brews.

As a side note In SLC you must have your photo identification with you at all times and are requested to present it everywhere you buy alcohol no matter how old you are. They even write down all your info.

A travelling momma’s Mother’s Day

In true to me form I took my two boys to the “big city” this past weekend for a few days of fun with my best friend. Of course when we scheduled the trip I completely forgot it would be Mother’s Day.

So, my Mother’s Day wasn’t exactly full of blissful breakfast in bed followed by a lazy morning or some family time mixed with some “me” time. It started with an 0630 wake up call from my youngest, we snuggled on the couch after I got up and ran downstairs for coffee because my friend who we were visiting is not a coffee drinker and doesn’t keep any in the house. This meant I was dressed and in public by 0645, ugh.

On my way to get coffee, totally uncaffienated, I actually ran into a Dad pushing a baby in a stroller nearly knocking the poor thing over. While apologizing profusely and trying not to rub my now painful crouch I commented on what a good Dad he was letting this little one’s momma have a sleep in. He responded with “ya, she really needs it too!” Which led me to reminisce about my first Mother’s Day it’s a special one for sure.

Back to my now fifth Mother’s Day, coffee in hand, sandwiched between my two little fellas watching cartoons I was certainly happy even though my tummy was rumbling for some sort of breakfast in bed or not.

I was quickly distracted from the grumbling with preparing for us to leave and getting some food into my growing boys. Once everyone was awake and ready to hit the road we drove to Granville Island, one of my favourite public markets in the world. While my friend had the boys amused for a few minutes, buying them donuts of course, I took the opportunity to check out a new place just outside the market. I found myself face to face with a pistachio chocolate croissant, I figured I deserved a treat. Happy Mother’s day to me 🙂

Now this wasn’t breakfast in bed but it was certainly blissful. I admit I have a weakness for pistachios and chocolate so now I know putting them together in a nice flaky fresh out of the oven so it’s still warm in your hand croissant is a really, really good idea. Of course I would never make these at home, too much work, which means I HAVE to go back. Funnily enough the bakery is called A Bread Affair, which was clearly what was happening in my mouth, tastebuds meet you new lover.

Afterwards we left Granville Island and headed to Kits Beach for a play in the park before heading to the ferry and the rest of our journey home. At this point I realized I hadn’t taken many photos of the trip and I chalk this up to traveling alone with the kids. You almost always have one or two hands to hold, manage luggage, etc so typically the camera is an after thought. I did try however and managed to get an honest photo of my youngest mid temper tantrum, he did not want to go to the park or wear shoes or walk anywhere. He just wanted to roll around on the grass, rubbing his eyes and yelling “NO!”

DSC_0216

 

On our journey back home both boys fell asleep in the back of the car and I listened to music for the 90 minute drive from the ferry home contemplating my Mother’s day.

It felt good, it felt like me, not perfect, a little crazy, but grateful for the memories we made, the new experiences we shared. Grateful to be a mother and to be able to share this day with every other mother out there including my own.

My love affair with street food

I have no idea where it started but I have this love affair with eating food made on the street, from a cart, food truck, a small hot plate on the sidewalk, sold from the trunk of a car it always peaks my intrigue and then my appetite.

I’ve heard it a million times the “don’t eat that you’ll get sick” but I always throw caution to the wind and do it anyway and yes, I have been ill many, many times while traveling. I’m more skilled now though. It has to be hot, like scorch your mouth you have to wait 20 minutes for it to cool down enough to eat hot and I like to see it being made. I make exceptions though, rules are meant to be broken, right?

One of my favourite things to get in Chile is ceviche. Fresh, juicy, salted morsels of white fish “cooked” in an ungodly amount of lemon juice sprinkled with finely chopped onion and fragrant cilantro what’s not to love? With it’s long coast line Chile is a seafood lovers paradise. There are so many types of fish and seafood in two weeks of travel you will have barely scratched the surface. The best part, it’s cheap.

Ceviche can be found at vendors on the various beaches our favourite is Totoralillo (pronounced toe-toe-ra-lee-yo) just south of La Serena. There you can find multiple vendors barely arm’s length from where the fishing boats dock to unload their catches. We scooped up a couple of cups for $3 each.

DSC_0078

Maybe because it’s usually cheap or readily available or the food of the people I really don’t know but what I do know is my kids are already veterans of street food and I like it that way.

Ok, ok but what about the food in Chile

I’ve been writing a lot about traveling with kids, visiting in-laws, even doing yoga on vacation and a spontaneous winery stop but what about the food. Don’t think I’ve forgotten. I haven’t. I’m actually still dreaming about one place we stopped that stole my heart.

Pan Pan Vino Vino.

We stopped here on a recommendation from the fella at Estampa winery, which is just down the road and I couldn’t have been more overjoyed with the result. We hit the end of the lunch rush with the few remaining tables getting up to leave on our arrival, lunch is the main meal in Chile so you usually find full tables for most of the afternoon, and quickly nestled into a rustic outdoor table in the shade with just a slight breeze diminishing the hot humid day.

Since we were headed to my father in-laws for a BBQ that evening I choose to sample the appetizer cheese plate with four locally made cheeses, a few dates wrapped in bacon and complemented it with a Pisco Miel. Pisco Sour is the traditional drink in Chile at Pan Pan Vino Vino they substitute the sour for a slightly sweeter version with honey; a delightful result. With my Pisco Miel in hand I settled back into the chair to watch my boys finding their own shady comfort zone in the nearby hammocks. My husband ordered a fuller lunch opting for succulent stone oven roasted lamb and root vegetables cooked to perfection served with a side of mashed garlic cauliflower. Hearing him moan over the lamb, dripping hot savoury broth with every forkful, I admit to thieving a few bites for myself.

The food, the food, it was divine, but the atmosphere stole the show. Just off the bustling highway you enter into a completely different world. The quiet and understated front exterior opens into an open air courtyard dining experience where the owner has perfected old world rustic charm with touches of the modern perfectly placed as evidenced in the bathroom pictured below. Actually, I’ll just stop talking now and let you see what I’m talking about.

DSC_0310DSC_0292
DSC_0298
DSC_0299

DSC_0307DSC_0312DSC_0289DSC_0324 One thing I’ve learned while traveling it’s ALWAYS a great idea to get a locals recommendation, seek them out, most of the amazing places I have been directed to aren’t obvious but are always, always memorable.