salt lake city – day 2

okay, my loyal readers.  i know you have been awaiting the dramatic conclusion to our trip in salt lake city a couple weekends ago.  i very much apologize for the delay; i have been a busy bee, per the usual!  if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, i gladly give you salt lake city – day 2.

saturday morning arrived, sunny and beautiful just like friday.  it was our final full day in salt lake city, so to not waste any time, we put on our walking shoes, grabbed our light jackets, and strolled over to bruges waffles and frites for some breakfast.  bruges had been recommended by both my coworker drew and the concierge geoff, and considering their suggestions are almost always a hit, we knew we’d be in for a treat.

i was extra excited for this restaurant because when i think of waffles in the morning, i cannot help but play that scene from shrek in my mind.  gotta love donkey!

bruges started as a vending cart back in 2004, and after gaining much love from the locals, the tiny walk-up store front opened to serve up even more of the belgian favorites.  their menu is basic and straightforward here:  waffles, fries, and meat.  i was quite prepared to eat something rather unhealthy; i mean, we did walk around all day yesterday and would be walking around all day today.  i had to treat myself!

we squeezed into the tiny interior, shoulder to shoulder with other utah early birds.  we got there at a good time, for there wasn’t a terribly long line, at least not yet.  as we waited patiently for our turn, i asked kyle to take my picture.  i’m not a big selfie person, but i think this one turned out pretty well.  i’m still convinced that black and white is my best filter.  what do you think?

we were cozied up with the locals and placed our orders as quickly as we could; we didn’t want to hold up everyone else!  even though i don’t mind looking like a tourist, i try not to be too in the way in an unfamiliar town.

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as i mentioned earlier, the day was just so stinkin’ gorgeous that we couldn’t resist sitting on their upstairs patio.  after retrieving our baskets from the pickup window, we got comfortable.  there was a lot of fried food between our tables, and because we don’t want this piping hot food to get cold, we’ll start with miss hope.  hope had the liege waffle with creme fraiche atop.  although it might not look like much, that liege waffle had cinnamon baked into it or on the bottom or was somehow in that waffle, making this typical breakfast choice sweet and delectable.

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kyle also had the liege waffle but went a little extra and got strawberries on top, too.  alongside he had an order of the lamb sausage, which i wish i’d gotten for myself because it was so delicious.  i need to work on my sneaky eating skills!

liege waffle with strawberries & creme fraiche.

liege waffle with strawberries & creme fraiche.

kyle and i split an order of the belgian frites because i simply couldn’t pass up eating french fries for breakfast.  they were greasy and crispy and perfectly paired with the sauces that i picked out.  i don’t know what was in them, but one was a little spicier and the other, well, i don’t remember the other one because that was almost two weeks ago.  but hey, we liked them both and i greedily ate the little nubbins down at the bottom of the cone.  hehe.

frites.  for breakfast.  noms.

frites. for breakfast. noms.

billy needed his protein that morning, which drove much of his decision to order the machine gun sandwich.  i agree, it sounds like a bit much for a 10:00 a.m. breakfast, but i’m not here to judge.  i also don’t think i can lie – it sounded delicious but also like a brick that might be dropped in your stomach.  regardless, billy went in forks blazing on this baguette stuffed with two merguez (lamb) sausages, frites, and andalouse sauce.  each bite hit the spot for him more and more, and his empty basket at the end of the meal was a clear sign of his feelings towards this dish.

machine gun sandwich!  watch out!

machine gun sandwich! watch out!

okay, i couldn’t survive the afternoon on fries (although i don’t think it’s that far-fetched to think i could), so i also had the waffle monster.  when i go on vacation, i go on vacation.  no eating rules up here!  the waffle monster is a liege waffle with crunchy speculoos (what the heck is that?!) spread, vanilla ice cream, and strawberries.  yes, i was having french fries and strawberries for breakfast and i know you’re insanely jealous.  go on, be jealous.  i won’t hold it against you.  the ice cream got the perfect amount of melty since it was a sunny day already.  my only negative comment is that the waffle monster may have been a touch too sweet.  i mean, the tiniest touch too sweet.  regardless, i ate the whole thing.  🙂

oh yeah, and before we left, we couldn’t pass up the chance to snap a shot of hope on top of a pig.  look at sweet petunia!

hope & petunia!

hope & petunia!

our afternoon destination was temple square, a 35-acre getaway right in the middle of downtown salt lake city.  when i’d mentioned to friends we were coming to utah, they insisted we visit this area.  i will say now that it certainly did not disappoint.  temple square, much like the rest of the city, is very calm and relaxing.  the grounds are impeccable and when you enter, you feel like you’re in another world almost.

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after receiving a grounds map from the visitor booth, we first visited the assembly hall.  we entered quietly, as a performance was already in progress.  after finding some pew seats for ourselves, we settled in to listen to the majestic organ.  it seems members of the faith were taking turns playing traditional worship pieces, and the music was beautiful.

we then took the crosswalk to the tabernacle, the home of the renowned mormon tabernacle choir.  the public is invited to choir and orchestra rehearsals during certain times of the year, and you can also attend broadcasts of music and the spoken word each sunday.  we were in awe of the organ and choir loft immediately upon entering.  the hall is acoustically perfect; we found that out as one of the greeters demonstrated by tearing newspaper and whispering quietly from the podium.  you could hear it all so clearly!  i can only imagine how a service sounds in this space.

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we headed left out of the tabernacle to the north visitors’ center.  first we climbed to the top level to take in the 11-foot marble statue of Christ.  it was just as impressive and beautiful as they said it would be.

we strolled through the rest of the center, learning all about joseph smith and the history of the mormon culture.  it turns out i really knew nothing of it or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  although the Bible is a sacred text of this religion, there is also the Book of Mormon which contains God’s dealings with people in the americas even after Christ’s death.  their prophet Joseph Smith obtained these records in 1827 and translated them for follower consumption.  it’s all quite interesting, and if we’d had a little more time, i’m sure i would have spent a hour or so more in there.

interactive map of Jerusalem.

interactive map of Jerusalem.

we continued to mosey around the square and couldn’t resist standing in awe of the temple.  it was built by Mormon pioneers between 1853 and 1893, its long construction due to delays in materials and work.  although you cannot tour the interior of the temple, i can bet it’s just as breathtaking as the exterior.

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our last stop on the square tour was the joseph smith memorial building.  it was originally the hotel utah for 76 years, recognized worldwide for its elegance and world-class service.  i mean, look at the grand entrance decor here.

after renovations began in 1987, the building reopened in 1993 as a social center as a memorial for joseph smith.  visitors from all over come to visit this site for its restaurants, event spaces, and also the beautiful views from the top floor.  we couldn’t miss out on that now!

we got back down to ground level and walked south to the trolley stop.  we were local transportation pros by that point, so we readied our tickets and waited in the shining sun.

check out that swag!

check out that swag!

even though kyle and i had already checked out the public library on friday, we wanted to take billy and hope so that they could get some good pictures from the garden rooftop.  with another gorgeous day, i didn’t mind making a return trip at all.

billy & hope!

billy & hope!

i had worked up a bit of an appetite, so we hopped back on the red line and took it to its southern most stop.  we still had more walking to do, and with my energy running low, i was getting a little silly.  i shamelessly broke out in song on a street corner, performing my best rendition of “sandy” from the movie grease.  you are welcome, salt lake city!

kelsey caboose was dragging along at a snail’s pace.  it was after we turned down south main and crawled a few more blocks that we finally saw the sign for city cakes, another recommendation from our lovely concierge geoff.

the interior was so roomy and bright that i was instantly energized.  it didn’t have as much of a small-bakery feel as i thought it might, but i don’t think i really minded.

though as my eyes wandered around the bakery cases, i was a touch disappointed.  i was hoping for more cakes by the slice, but the majority of goodies were cookies, scones, and cupcakes.  they do have whole cakes for sale, but what would i do with an entire cake?  take it on the plane with me?  well, now that i think about it, that might not have been a bad idea.

although i was underwhelmed with my very specific desire, i was able to come to a decision:  the carrot cake.  i make a killer carrot cake, and unfortunately, this city cake carrot cake did not live up to my expectations.  i cannot pinpoint exactly what i didn’t like.  the texture was definitely there, but the cream cheese icing was a touch too sweet and the cake itself was a little bland.  harsh, i know, but you guys love me because i’m honest.  i have to speak the truth!

the rest of the table was more fond of their choices, which made the walk more worth the trip.  kyle had the raspberry cheesecake.  the cake was very nice and the crust was great.  he didn’t leave a crumb behind!

raspberry cheesecake.

raspberry cheesecake.

billy went for a more savory selection with the spinach and cheese scone.  it was interesting in a good way and he enjoyed it.  however, he and hope agreed that perhaps it should not have been categorized as a scone.

spinach & cheese scone.

spinach & cheese scone.

finally, hope had the raspberry turnover.  she simply said it was “pretty good.”  i think it’s pretty clear that, overall, city cakes wasn’t our favorite pick of the weekend.  oh well.  that’s why it’s called “trying something new.”

raspberry scone.

raspberry scone.

as we munched on our pastries, billy played usher’s “love in this club” for us.  i am going to quickly try and explain the story that goes with this whole scene, but forgive me if you do not laugh as hard at this inside joke as those of us who were actually there.  back in college, we held a cake night at the student learning center (slc) the night before reading day each semester.  i would bake, like, 20 cakes.  bank would bring the milk, and we would get a room so that we could socialize and “study.”  okay, i’ll admit that not much studying happened, but it was a great chance to unwind before things got hectic with finals.  so, the very first cake night billy pulled up some music on his computer to get the evening going.  the first song queued up was “love in this club” by usher.  the volume was a little low, so we asked him to turn it up.  all of a sudden, the song was blasting at full volume and we couldn’t turn it off.  students outside our room were giving us death stares.  how dare we disturb their quiet study time!  we were in a commotion trying to turn off the song.  the volume buttons, of course, stopped working.  billy unplugged the computer without any change.  he then closed the laptop lid.  the song cut off for a couple seconds but then came blaring back.  i was losing it with laughter; the scene was quite hilarious.  finally billy ripped the battery out of the computer and all went silent.  it was one of those had-to-be-there moments in life, and i still laugh as hard today as i did then.

so!  that’s the lengthy back story for you.  when we found out that billy and hope would be joining us in salt lake city, which could be abbreviated as s.l.c., we knew we needed to seek out cake and relive this great memory.  is it all coming together now?  i hope so, because i’m not sure i can explain it any better over a post.  if you want an animated reenactment, let’s get together over coffee.  i promise it won’t disappoint.

despite the mixed reviews, city cakes was a fun stop to make.  i’m not sure i’d recommend it as a must-visit spot, but if you have dietary restrictions when it comes to the sweets category, city cakes may be a good fit for you.  they focus on baked goods that are vegan and gluten-free friendly, so if that sounds like it is up your alley, then swing on by!

although i was on a sugar high for all of about five minutes after eating my cake, i crashed the moment we hit the sidewalk.  i reassured everyone i could make it to the hotel with a walk and trolley ride, but billy insisted we hitch a ride back.  we grabbed an uber from our peculiar driver paul and dragged ourselves back to the room for a little relaxation.  billy and hope played on their tablets, kyle watched some tv, and i took a snooze.  if i was going to be any fun that night, i needed a few winks of beauty sleep.

it was time to get ready for the evening, so we freshened up before heading out.  billy was getting his evening attire on when i walked into the bedroom and saw him changing behind the curtain.  i almost fell on the floor i was laughing so hard.  oh, our billy!

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we strolled out into the cool night air and headed to the upstairs patio at gracie’s.  it was a little chillier than i thought, but with my peacoat on and the space heaters blasting, it was enjoyable.  we each enjoyed a drink while catching up about work and life and family.  billy and hope are one of our favorite couples, and having them to ourselves all weekend was a rare treat.

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we had dinner reservations at 7:30, so we paid our tabs with the bartender and arrived at bodega.  kyle had done his research and when he asked if we wanted to do dinner at a speakeasy, we all quickly agreed.  now, bodega itself is a cramped bar with board games and good drinks.  they’ve got a small food menu to accompany your beverages, and the entire establishment remains somewhat of a mystery unless you’ve been yourself or know someone with the inside scoop.

just what about this place is so intriguing, you ask?  well, it’s about the secret that lies behind a locked door to the basement, to a place called the rest.  you won’t find anything official online, but once you walk down those stairs, you’ll be in an odd and exclusive place that takes you somewhere else.  this hidden gem is well kept by the locals, making you feel like you’re in a special club just by getting to see the place.  they’ve got an old school record player that actually plays the music you hear as you wine and dine your way into the wee hours of the morning.  the mood is perfectly set with the lighting and artwork.  they’ve really hit the nail on the head here.

our waiter tristan was an all-star throughout our entire dinner.  he knew everything about the menu that we needed to know and kindly made suggestions when we were unsure of what to do.  i don’t want to reveal too much about the rest (gotta keep a little mystery for you guys!), but i will say that everything was outstanding.  i mean it.  i had a glass of white with my meal, an excellent pairing with my scallop fritters (MM) and then the surf’n’turf entree.  billy, hope, and kyle all savored their dinners also.  it was a meal not to be forgotten, i promise you that.

after finishing up at the table, we lounged around in the back library for an hour or so.  i had a cup of coffee while the gentlemen continued with their beers.  i happily could have stayed there all night long in our leather lounge chairs, surrounded by books and low lighting.  if you need a great date night in salt lake city, and have the time and money to spare, i highly suggest you get yourself a reservation at the rest.  i can nearly guarantee you will enjoy it as much as we did.

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with a classy dinner in our bellies, we took the crosswalk to the other side of main and into keys on main, a dueling piano club.  yes!  dueling pianos are always a good choice!  we paid our $5 cover and found some standing room near the bar.  there were folks from all walks of life piled in here to be entertained by the local talent.  it practically seemed like the entire town was here!  the pianists played classic hits while also performing some more modern favorites like “church” by hozier and “thrift shop.”  they even pulled a couple folks up on stage, and let me tell you, those individuals were having a very good night.

the people watching was on point that saturday night.  we saw one poor girl walking like bambi she was so many drinks deep.  there were the fellas who didn’t have an inhibition in the world, which you know means their dance moves were killer.  and then there were people like us just swaying along, enjoying the sights and the sounds.  speaking of sights, check out these pictures of kyle and billy, a bromance moment if i ever saw one.

okay, those were a little silly.  here’s a nice one of billy and hope.  sweethearts!

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as the crowd thinned around one o’clock, we decided we were ready to call it a night as well.  we took a nice early morning stroll back to the doubletree, already beginning to reminisce on all the weekend’s fun.  salt lake city is a town i would definitely visit again and certainly recommend to a friend.  it’s about as small a city as i like, the perfect size for a long weekend getaway.  i just now need to come back in the winter so that i can make a roadtrip for some skiing or snowboarding.  hm, yes.  i could definitely plan a return trip.

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