Winter and the holidays are so incredible to me! It is a time of pure happiness where the realities of everyday life go to hybernate alongside most of Mother Nature. Slowing down with family, friends, and traditions, is as time honored as Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the souls that consume a Chef’s food that make memories, feelings, and moments that encompass a good meal. With the holidays fast approaching and the winter hibernation upon us, I have some thoughts about building memories around more than just your home table.
Let’s Get A Bit Nostalgic
Where I grew up in the South, mothers all over secretly competed in who makes the best pies, while Dads compared turkey-carving techniques over watching football on TV. Ah yes, the quintessential Southern Town Anywhere is still alive and well. My favorite Southern holiday tradition is the Thanksgiving block party, set-up smack down the middle of the street! We were able to pull off such amazing feasts at the end of every November because we had no snow. I also loved our progressive Christmas dinner party, where we would spend an entire Christmas Eve going from one home to the next; relishing individual courses. It wasn’t uncommon to spend two hours at each home eating, handing out presents, and reading the annual newsletter tucked into the blank Christmas card.
I will never forget tasting bread pudding for the first time during the holidays. Each Christmas, I look forward to my annual pilgrimage in search of the most delicious bread pudding. And for your own pilgrimage this winter, may I suggest you start with a dessert . . . or two, or three. Lucky for us, we have some of the most talented purveyors of decadent desserts right along the Wasatch Back.
My Adventures with Dessert
For me, The Corner Restaurant is like dreaming about dessert, wishing that every piece of your dream would appear somewhere, and then walking into the doors of this elegant spot and finding your dreams have come true! Their sugar cookies are the most melt-in-your-mouth, wholesome thing I’ve had in forever and the carrot cake was simply delightful. The atmosphere helps you to slow down and take your time. I suggest snuggling up at The Corner Restaurant with your favorite warm drink and ordering one of every dessert to sample with a small group of friends. You’ll want several “tasting bites” with this much deliciousness!
Can we chat about June Pie bakery as one of the many heartbeats in Heber that keeps us going? I did not understand the appeal of pie on a schedule until I understood June Pie’s announcements on Sundays. This is a religion for most patrons of June Pie because the old saying of “we sell out early” matches exactly my first, no joke, four attempts at snagging a pie. In my case, the fifth time was a charm, and I was finally able to get my hands on a pie to take home. I secured some coconut hand pies along with the hazel and then, just for fun, also took advantage of their berry crumble. Amazing! Such wonderful flavors and I can completely tell it is all homemade — no fillers or fake stuff in these treats. If you want the full transparent truth, I went back the next day and got the pecan and the chocolate cream. June Pie is getting close to taking pre-orders for the holidays, and I fully support you ordering from them to save you the trouble of baking this year. Be the smart relative and proudly proclaim, “I got my pies from June Pie!”
Your visit around town, just after a warm lunch, wouldn’t be complete without slipping into the Bakery at Zermatt. Don’t be intimidated by walking into the hotel itself. Just make a beeline to the bakery. The variety of what I call the more “traditional” after meal treat is unmatched. Everything is beautifully displayed begging you to try a little nibble of everything. Really, is there any other way to eat dessert but to taste it all? The fresh fruit tart is outstanding — so refreshing and lite. The Danish was also a breath of fresh air and the chocolate drizzle on selected desserts really should be on all of them — it is that good. I left feeling like I’d just enjoyed a sweet treat with a friend — because that is truly how the Bakery at Zermatt receives you — as a friend and neighbor.
It is no secret that the Wasatch Back has quickly become my second Southern upbringing. Heber, Midway, and the surrounding areas have embraced me and I’ve embraced them. As I reflect on the best part of what makes the Wasatch Back home for me — I find it is the community; the community table that is. I have been able to get to know you by slipping in and out of restaurants without anyone knowing why I was there. It has truly been an honor for me. I’d like to invite you to visit your community table just like I did by posting pictures of your adventures using the hashtag #HVgrub.
I hope you find new traditions, remember cherished loved ones, and discover connections. Be bold! Get “unstuck” by using the excitement of a winter culinary experience at someplace you haven’t tried yet or visited in a while.