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Archive for December, 2010

The fall semester of 2010 has come to a close at Utah State University. I took my last final this morning, and as I walked through the door into the 10 degree weather, I breathed a sigh of relief. With a smile on my face – watching the vapor that vented from my mouth as I exhaled – I briskly walked to my car and left campus.

For a couple of months now, I have been anticipating a trip to Pennsylvania to join my family and old friends for Christmas and New Years. I moved to Utah almost five years ago. This is the first time since then that I’ll be spending the holidays with my loved ones. As I’ve prepared for this trip, I have thought about all of the great things I have done here in Cache Valley since I moved here not so long ago. I’ve seen several shows at the Ellen Eccles Theatre. I have enjoyed many hikes and nature walks. I have also begun to explore local eateries, as well as coffee shops and ice cream parlors. Autumn hosted several iconic, annual events that I believe help make Cache Valley what it is. All of these things I’ve done add to the unique signature of this beautiful northern Utah treasure.

The past couple of weeks of winterish weather have reminded me what it’s like here during this wonderful time of year. Leaving the house in the morning to see the sun glistening on the powdery snow makes for a wonderful way to wake up. More often than not as I  jaunt around town, doing the things I do, I catch myself with a grin – if not a full-blown smile – on my face. I think to myself, “Man! I’m really glad I came here!”

Soon I will be on a plane heading 2,300 miles east. I’ll spend some time in New York City at Rockefeller Center and Times Square (a past-time of mine and my family’s), and as I look at the holiday lights I will remember the quaint streets of Providence and Logan (and surrounding areas). There’s something really cozy and comfortable about this place! I feel welcome. I embrace each day with a determination that life is good.

I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to blog about my adventures. This is my last post on the Cache Valley Blog…maybe someday I’ll do it again. Thank you for reading. Remember, as you explore Cache Valley, keep your eyes open for me, I’ll be around!

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The Best Bean in Town

Ever since age 15 one of my favorite places to go is the local coffee shop. As a poet I have written many times about the solace and respite found in such a place as an espresso joint. Even if you don’t drink coffee, a good coffee shop has so much (more) to offer. The essence, the ambiance, great food, a wide variety of hot and cold beverages – these are all, among other things, excellent reasons to visit your local beanery.

Whether you go to write, converse, read the paper, do the puzzles, meditate or just plain be around people, the sweet smell of fresh ground, fresh brewed coffee will delight you. I even spent time working in a coffee shop in Moab as a barista and manager. While I had these jobs, I learned many tricks of the trade, including what the difference is between a breve, a latte and a macchiato.

No matter where I go, I stick my nose out in search of the best place to sit down, grab a drink and open my notebook and write. Now that I live in Cache Valley, the obvious local destination is evidently Caffe Ibis (usually referred to as just “Ibis”). Ibis does not only sell coffee drinks, it also roasts its own beans. The roasting/brewing company touts a wide selection of roasts, including several that are triple certified – organic, fair trade, shade grown/ bird friendly. To the conscious coffee drinker, these are excellent qualities for a bean to have.

Caffe Ibis is also a bustling deli that prepares some wonderful breakfast items for people of all tastes. The walls in the shop are adorned with artwork produced by local painters, photographers and multimedia artists. In every  corner of the store, you can find gourmet chocolates, locally grown produce like apples and garlic, trinkets and other exotic treats. Ibis is just an all-around great place to explore. As I said, you don’t have to be a coffee drinker to find a reason to be there. Several afternoons and nights, the shop is home to musical performances by local singer/songwriters.

If you want the true coffee shop experience, take it from me, Caffe Ibis is the place to be. Devoted fans come from all over to purchase the unrivaled, triple-certified roasts that are offered. Ibis also ships their beans to Moab – a place where I lived for a few years – to supply some of the local coffee dispensaries there. If you are interested in finding out more about Caffe Ibis, you can go online and check out their frequently updated and beautifully designed Web page at: http://caffeibis.com/.  Ibis is also part of the Cache Valley Food Tour so those who are interested can see the magic as it happens behind the scenes. If you stop by, make sure you say ,”Hi.” I’ll be there.

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In the heart of downtown Logan is nestled maybe the oldest restaurant in the area still in business. I’m talking, of course, about the Bluebird Restaurant. The Bluebird originally opened in 1914 as a soda shop and candy store. Apparently it moved to where it currently resides, at 19 North Main St., in 1921. Since then, from what I learned today, the Bluebird has been serving food to residents and visitors of Cache Valley.

Today was the first time I actually went into the restaurant to eat. It was almost 2 p.m. and I hadn’t had lunch yet. Not being familiar with the menu, I asked the waiter who greeted me what he would suggest. I was told that some of the house favorites include the Bluebird Chicken, Steak Oscar and the Clubhouse Sandwich. At lunchtime, I’m always a fan of a good club.

I was very impressed by the Iron Port soda that I ordered. It was made the way I imagine sodas were traditionally made – start with club soda and add the good stuff. The flavor of the drink was unique and refreshing.

I decided to go with the Clubhouse Sandwich, on rye bread, and because English chips were available, I opted for them as my side. The sandwich was great and the chips lived up to what I expected. To me, this is comfort food.

I enjoyed my meal from a seat at the counter, which faces a large mirror mounted above what I was told is the original marble from when the establishment was built. The atmosphere was certainly quaint. I almost felt like I was back East in a New York diner about 60 years ago – I’m speculating, of course. As I sniffed the air, I could smell the wonderful, splendrous smell of chocolate. This is because I was practically surrounded by it. Behind me were numerous cases filled with chocolate creations of all shapes and sizes. There was milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate in endless supply. There were macaroons and candy bars and chocolate covered everything. I learned the decadent treats were chocolatiered by Alvey’s, from Richmond, Utah.

If I would have had more money, I probably would have left with a bag full of chocolate goodies. Unfortunately, I was not financially prepared to feed into my weakness. I was, however, happy to find that most of the menu items on the Bluebird menu were very affordable, including my sandwich.

On my way out, I was able to look around at the restaurant, and see the multiple stories available for fine dining and banquet seating. The ceilings were high and the walls were adorned with ornate, restored moldings and paint. There were also several pictures of historic Logan landmarks. The Bluebird Restaurant was certainly a step back in time. I was treated with the same level of hospitality I’d imagine existed when the place first opened its doors to patrons in the early 1900s. For anyone looking for a warm atmosphere, a free look into local history and a delicious, affordable bite to eat, join me at the Bluebird…see you there soon!

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