Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rise and Shine! Breakfast Adventures in Utah

It's not too often that I actually contemplate moving back to Utah, the gorgeous Rocky Mountain state where I had the pleasure of spending my youth. Visit? Absolutely - wish I did it more... but actually move back? Not so much (sorry mom). But during my most recent visit to the Beehive State, I found myself actually missing a great Utah weekend ritual that almost - ALMOST - made me nostalgic enough to see myself back amongst the fold: Breakfast.

Sure, we've got breakfast here in Napa Valley (if you've ever been a guest and enjoyed the brunch at The Villagio Resort & Spa... I rest my case), but not a prolific amount of choices. Randall and I rarely go out to a real sit-down, full-menu breakfast because I can count on one hand the places worth frequenting (iHop and Dennys don't count). You simply want coffee and pastries? We've got adorable, delicious options out the wazoo... but a couple scrambled eggs and toast with a charming view or ambiance? Few and far between. And I find this to be the case pretty much Bay Area-wide - this corner of the world is a breakfast black hole! (Readers - prove me wrong! Send me local breakfast options... please! And yes - I know of Toast... it's my current fave.)

But Utah - now there's a place that does breakfast right. Drive up any canyon: breakfast with a view. Visit some of the more eclectic neighborhoods in most towns: breakfast with ambiance. So, my Utah itineraries always include breakfast. Always.

This time around, I got out for two amazing breakfast meals. First up: Silver Fork Lodge in Big Cottonwood Canyon, a rustic inn that holds a special place in my heart. The place is a funky old log cabin, complete with lodge pole ceiling beams and cowboy motif. The deck is the place to be on a nice day, with its unbeatable mountain views. And the food is good - and hearty. Everything you would expect to be served up in a mountainside cabin: sourdough flapjacks, corned beef hash, omelets. I had myself the house special: pan seared trout and eggs. You know how it is... when in Rome!

The other place I enjoyed breakfast during my short stay was new to me, and turned out to be a real treat: Em's Restaurant on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake. I learned of Em's from fellow blogger, Becky of Vintage Mixer. Her Twitter alias is @SLCFoodie... so I figured any recommendation from her would fit the bill, and I wasn't disappointed. The restaurant is tucked in amongst one of SLC's fantastic residential neighborhoods, and honestly, the locale really spoke to me. If I ever find myself back in Utah, I'll plunk myself square in that part of town and make Em's my local haunt.

I didn't even look at the menu. I'm sure I passed up a lot of potentially amazing dishes, but the waiter had me when he uttered the special: Eggs over cheddar grits with fresh market corn, chorizo and heirloom tomato sauce. Side of fried apples. I wasn't feeling well that day, but my appetite came to life when the dish came to the table. I think I might have actually licked my plate clean.

When I returned home here to Napa, I kept thinking about those damn grits (really - SO good!); I had to recreate the dish. My version turned out equally good, so I thought I'd share it here. But it's not a hard and fast recipe - there's lots of room for improv, so I've left it mainly as an ingredient list for you to play with as it suits you. But try it - it'll make your next lazy Sunday morning complete.

Breakfast Cheddar Grits, My Way
  • Grits, prepared according to package directions (go for the Cadillac of grits - order yourself some from Anson Mills - you can thank me later)
  • Smoked cheddar cheese, grated and stirred into the grits to melt
  • Sundried tomato chicken sausage, diced and added to the grits
  • Fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob and added to the grits
  • Ladle the grits onto a plate and top with an egg or two cooked over-easy or over-medium (you want the oozy yolks - trust me)
  • Top with a simple tomato sauce made from seeded, pureed and slightly reduced heirloom tomatoes, seasoned with salt, pepper and a touch of garlic powder (to taste)


  1. I also love Silver Fork Lodge!! We must have similar tastes. Your cheddar grits sound amazing.

  2. OMG this breakfast looks amazing! I love cheesy grits but would've never thought of adding sausage and eggs on top. YUM!