We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Growing Up With Goats, Redwood Hill Farm and Creamery, and a Recipe for Goat's Milk Infant Formula

My Traveling Tales by Linda

"Goats are always testing you," said Debbie. " They're like Zen masters. They can tell instantly if you're faking your feelings. So they play games with you to keep you true. People should go to goats instead of psychiatrists." ~ from Even Cowgirls Get The Blues by Tom Robbins

Ruth is enamored of the kids at Redwood Hill Farm and Creamery.
   Blessed is she who lives in Sonoma County, California. As Michelle is fond of saying, "Linda lives in Sonoma County—where the animals in the pastures are happy and all the good stuff grows."   Indeed, I do feel extremely fortunate to have lived in the county for the past eight years. Being a lover and seller of food (I have mixed feelings about the descriptor "foodie"), I have certainly been able to indulge in my passion for being able to visit and talk with many producers of the products that this part of California is famous for. It is a remarkable experience for me to converse with and spend time with these brave souls who make our food, and I do not say that lightly. Let me clarify—they produce real food.

   This post is actually the final post in a series of three. I shared previously, that last October, I went on a Team Build with my Team Leaders at Whole Foods Market San Rafael. Our three-day adventure, included visits to local producers in the area. The first of three visits was to Redwood Hill Farm. We paid subsequent visits to Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company and to Pozzi Ranch. I saved writing about Redwood Hill Farm for last, because I wanted to make a second trip to the farm in the spring, when there would be many kids being born, and because it is the story that is nearest and dearest to my heart. I hope that I won't do an injustice to Redwood Hill Farm's story, if I take a moment to zigzag back in time, and share a piece of our sisters' history. It seems like the perfect time to reveal the reasons why it is that I am so darned fond of goats.

Once upon a time there were four sisters (three of whom milked goats):
Juliette, Michelle, Maria and Linda (left to right) at our LaSalle Canyon farm. 

Snow was our German Shepherd who is on the far left. We are sitting on our 
"bridge" that spanned the small creek that ran through the property.
      Once upon a time there were four sisters who lived on a micro-farm in Lompoc, California in the early 1970s. I still find it incredulous that my parents (99 percent our Dad), desired back in the late 1960s while living on the outskirts of Los Angeles, to be able to live a self-sufficient life on a small piece of acreage. Mind you, there were no latent-hippie leanings in this man. Our dad most definitely was a precursor to the modern day survivalist. He was of the opinion that the future that we were headed into was definitely dystopian in nature, and he was an individual who plotted to have a plan for surviving, what he believed would be, the imminent apocalypse.

Happy faces all around.
   Picture this if you will—as a young girl I find myself going to the first day of school, mid-year through the first grade in a different city. I wake up one day and try and navigate an elementary school with an asphalt playground and a much different routine than that to which I was accustomed at a more rural elementary school. Every person I encounter is a stranger.
   Our family moved to Canoga Park from Yucaipa, California when I was just six, and Michelle, my youngest sister, was still a few years from being born. Then—just when I think I am getting the hang of city life and my new baby sister—our family uproots and moves to the Central Coast in 1968. We rent a house in Lompoc for a somewhat luxurious year for me, where I actually have my own bedroom with a fireplace and city view—until Mom and Dad purchase my father's utopia: a five-acre parcel with a two-bedroom house, and a large downstairs garage (which became a bedroom for the three oldest sisters). The property has its own well and a year-round creek running through it. There is a big red barn encircled with livestock pens, and a portion of the long and rectangular property is planted with something called "permanent pasture" on which we will raise beef cattle, which we will later eat. There are also eight very long rows of thorny boysenberries, which we girls came to despise. The harvesting of those boysenberries became the most hated of our summer jobs, in addition to all of our regular chores. So, faster than you can say farm girl , I am attending a new junior high (once again all strangers) where the kids have known each other since kindergarten, and I live ten miles out of town. On weekends, we work on the farm instead of hanging out with friends and having fun. Time to transform again.

   The reason that this saga winds back to Redwood Hill Farm is this—one of the chores that I am referring to was the milking of the goats that our parents purchased soon after we moved out to the farm. Our dad was given goat's milk in his infancy which ended up saving his life.
   We three oldest girls each were given a doe that we were responsible for milking before school, and then again after school. I have such vivid memories of donning my hooded winter jacket (which hung on a peg by the back door, and I am wearing in the photo below) over my flannel nightgown on many a chilly morning. After zipping into my jacket, I would slip on my cowboy boots while my sisters, Juliette and Maria did the same. Then we would head quickly out the back door, and down to the barn, with flashlights and clean pails for the morning milking in hand—nightdress-ruffled-skirts kicking up in back of us.

Maria, Juliette, Michelle and Linda with our goats Chrissy and Tina (left to right) circa 1970.   
The four of us in the horse corral on our family farm. 
   When I described this morning routine to Scott Bice, the farm manager at Redwood Hill Farm, he chuckled, and said that sounded like the same experience of his sister Jennifer, and his other older siblings who at about the same time were milking goats morning and night at a dairy in Sonoma County that their parents purchased in 1968—the same year our parents decided to leave the Los Angeles area.
   Scott is the youngest of ten children, and by the time he came along, as he told it to me, the family had moved. He was raised in Hawaii—far away from Sonoma County and the goats that his sister Jennifer had come to love. This was the same with our family. Farms require absolute day in and day out devotion. Six years later, our mother was having health issues, the farm being on the foggy edge of the Pacific, turns out, was not good for her lungs. Our family doctor recommended that our family move to a more dry climate. As I went off to my first year of college, mom and dad decided to sell the farm, and along with it, the goats and my dad's dream to live the self-sufficient life.

Char, a long-time family friend of Redwood Hill, was our tour guide for the day.
Our team gathers to hear about the history of Redwood Hill Farm. 
What could be more quintessential at a farm than kitties in the window?
   So it was with a great deal of nostalgia for me, as you might imagine, and a good bit of déjà vu thrown in for good measure, that I presented myself and our group on a fall morning last year at Redwood Hill Farm and Creamery which is a goat dairy (and yes—it even has a red barn). Jennifer Lynn Bice assumed ownership of the original family farm in 1978, and has built the present day dairy into a thriving business that makes award-winning goat milk products and produces champion dairy goats. My team was there to learn about the operation of the goat dairy and taste the delicious products that are made from all that goat milk. Our tour was guided by Char, who is a long-time family friend. After giving us a short history of the dairy, Char let us tour the barn and meet some of the goats before we gathered under the oaks to taste delicious cheese.

This is an adult male goat. Does and kid goats are super friendly and docile. 
Billy goats, true to their reputation, grow up to be cantankerous and really smelly.
Most of my Team on the tour that day had not really interacted with
goats before. Most seemed surprised at just how friendly and curious
the goats turned out to be. They crowded close to be petted.
Goats love to nibble on everything. Scott had cut branches that morning for the 
goats to chew on during the day. Our dad used to cut willow saplings from the creek 
which our goats ate like they were the finest delicacy.
   After getting to know the goats a bit, tour the milking parlor and interact with the does in the barn—it was time to taste cheese. It always surprises me when people say they don't like goat cheese. Good goat's milk is made into some of the finest cheese in the world. And in case you didn't know it, goat's milk is easier to digest than cow's milk. People who think that they are lactose intolerant can often eat goat products (especially fermented ones) with no ill effects. Jennifer Lynn Bice went on to create a line of lactose-free products called Green Valley Organics.
   Our dad came close to dying as an infant when he was a low birth weight baby and then contracted pertussis—otherwise known as whooping cough. According to our Grandma Elsie, our dad's young life was saved by goat's milk. It was suggested by a neighbor who raised goats in the 1930s in Yucaipa, California. The goat's milk turned out to be the only thing that he could keep down. After being fed small amounts of goat's milk over the next tenuous weeks, his health slowly continued to improve, and he went on to drink goat's milk thereafter. This was the reason he wanted to have goats on our farm. He thought that goat's milk would be a healthier choice for us to drink than cow's milk.

Redwood Hill Cheese: Bucheret, Cameo and Fresh Chèvre in a cup. So good!
Our Team tucks in to taste several varieties of cheese. What a beautiful setting!
Our picnic spot in March when I made a second visit. Sonoma County thankfully
just got enough rain in February to make the grass green.
   So having had a great time hanging out with the goats and tasting cheeses at Redwood Hill—ruminating (hee hee) about my childhood with goats that warm October day—I wished that I could return in the spring when all the new baby goats arrive. In fact, I did call back, and set a date with a very busy Scott to return just a couple of weeks ago, because I don't think there is anything more adorable than a group of baby goats when they are hopping about and feeling frisky.

On the morning that I visited Redwood Hill again, this champion La Mancha doe named, 
Avena, was about to give birth. Her discomfort was palpable.
   Jennifer and her family have built an amazing enterprise here in Sonoma County. Quality and sustainability have always been, and remain her guiding principals at the dairy. She has gone on to become one of the most influential people in the goat dairy/cheese making business. Not only does the dairy produce products renowned for their quality and flavor, but the award-winning herd produces breeding stock for other goat dairies across the nation. In addition, I was most impressed to see that the dairy and farm run entirely off of solar panels. A truly impressive achievement. I would genuinely like to thank the Bice family for being so hospitable and spending time with me at such a busy time of the year (not that there is ever a slow time).
   If you would like to pay a visit to the farm, there will be open house weekends for the public coming up in May and June. Check out their Facebook page to rsvp.

Scott Bice holds a baby buck that had been born a few hours earlier. This little guy will be sent to be breeding stock at a new farm as soon as he gets his land legs (which is very soon with kids!).
Baby goats do not nurse from their mothers at the dairy—they are fed by means 
of this clever invention.  They are not fed plain milk, they grow healthy on kefir.
The green paint in the ears helps keep "who's who in the zoo" straight with
all the new little ones arriving daily.

Goat's Milk Infant Formula—A Recipe for Humans

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sweet and Tangy Four Bean Salad

by Michelle
No More Tears (Enough is Enough). ~ Donna Summer

   I asked my husband recently why he was making sandwiches for lunch and not his favorite salad. This midday change was noticeable because the man fiercely protects his routine and his mainstay lunch is a bed of fresh leafy greens covered generously with chunks of leftover grilled chicken and drizzled with balsamic dressing. The key ingredient for him, which kept the salad interesting for years upon years upon years—not kidding—was Paisley Farms All Natural Four Bean Bean Salad. We'd buy it in the super-size 64-ounce jars at Costco. One might be induced to think it was the first signs of the apocalypse if—horror or horrors—our family ate through the reserve supply in the pantry. This planning misfortune happened a couple of times, and when it did, I was hustling (and I do mean hustling, as in two-stepping double-time) to Costco to replenish our inventory. I'd buy as much as six mega jars at a time to restore the balance of  peaceful harmony in our home.

Apparently I have always been a big bean lover—hailing back to when we lived 
on our family farm circa 1970.
   For an excruciating period of time last year, especially for my husband, Costco stopped carrying the bean salad. Not one warehouse employee that I spoke to knew when the supply had ceased or why it had stopped. However, they could all agree that there was none to be found in the store. When a cashier politely asked me if I had found everything I needed, I replied no. And then I would repeat my tale of woe to the poor soul. Every cashier uniformly replied with an air of sincerity, as if he or she had been through a customer care training on the subject, that the item was indeed very popular and that customers were complaining about the disappearance. I so badly wanted to suggest that they hire Scooby-Doo and The Gang to solve the mystery of the Curious Case of the Missing Four Bean Salad.
   Then miracle of miracles, the salad reappeared on Costco's industrial metal shelves. Angels in the heavens burst into song. The packaging was different but the ingredients listing was the same. In lieu of one big jumbo jar, the salad was packed into two smaller jars that were "handcuffed" together with a plastic contraption. I almost broke one of the jars at home while attempting to free it from the plastic teeth embedded in the inner circle of the cuff. This did not feel like progress. Clearly, with these types of packaging changes, the consumer loses. The price increased, the overall portion size diminished, and the recycling bin gained more glass and plastic.
   I begrudgingly resigned myself to paying more and getting less. Fine, we'll deal, I thought to myself. At least we have the bean salad back. The earth could resume spinning on its axis again. I can assure you that folks will put up with a lot of crap just to try to get back to "normal". Salads for lunch became a staple again. It was the "salad days" once more until Costco mysteriously stopped carrying the bean salad yet again. Aggravation ensued. Interrogations began. A cornered Costco employee responded feebly to my direct questioning that bean salad might be a seasonal item, stocked only during the holidays. Whatever, Costo. Whatever, Paisley Farms. That's that, I thought, and enough's enough. The way forward was to to tap into a consistent supply of bean salad so that I could pull my partner-in-life back from the proverbial ledge, the streets below littered with chopped Romaine and shredded carrot.

   While I was growing up my family always made our maternal grandmother's marinated bean salad recipe. We loved it. The salad was a mainstay at Thanksgiving dinner and at barbecues throughout the year. After I decided enough was enough (and Donna Summer's mega hit song began playing in the commercial-free radio station in my head), I tried making my family's beloved recipe again. Sadly, hubby declared it a misfire, even though we both liked it "back in the day". I always find it interesting, and perhaps a little confounding, how our taste preferences change over time. Nana's recipe called for equal parts oil and red wine vinegar along with granulated sugar and salt. Jay despised the oil in the dressing, and I had to admit that after eating the oil-free Paisley Farms salad, I had grown accustomed to the sweeter and tangier taste without the oily residue on the tongue.
   It took two attempts to adjust Nana's recipe to what we were looking for flavor wise—more sweet and tangy than sour. The bonus is that the salad tastes fresher than what we purchased at retail, and it is less expensive, too. And, more importantly we have a guaranteed supply so that Jay can get back to eating and thoroughly enjoying his favorite weekday lunch. Plus, as an added bonus, I can skip the Donna Summer disco track, and proceed to the next song on the ever running play list in my mind.

Sweet and Tangy Four Bean Salad

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Salt Lake City and Stuffed Chicken Breast with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

My Traveling Tales by Michelle

"I left Montana in the spring of 1866, for Utah, arriving at Salt Lake City during the summer." 
                ~ Calamity Jane

      On a recent Saturday morning, I departed Tucson and flew to Utah. What a thrill is was, to once again, view the snow-capped mountains surrounding Salt Lake City from the vantage point of an airplane window. Although I had flown to SLC previously, I had not been afforded the opportunity to visit the downtown. This trip was associated with my employer exhibiting at the Salt Lake Convention Center, situated in the heart of the city. My colleagues and I were staying at a hotel within walking distance, affording me many opportunities to "walkabout" and see the city from many vantage points. Of course, "walkabout" is lifted from my favorite movie from 1986, Crocodile Dundee.
   One of the perks of my profession is that I travel for business, and unlike Mr. Dundee, I leave the dagger at home (as well as the leather vest and toothsome necklace). A few of my colleagues have grown to despise travel. And, while I agree there's no place like home, I'm still enthusiastic to encounter the unknown and unexpected. I'm frequently on the road and often in the air. I also find myself being transported around a city by subways, buses, taxis, and in the case of Salt Lake City, a hybrid rickshaw. Unlike Crocodile Dundee in his cowboy boots, I prefer walking in my trusty Dansko clogs. I say, if you can't run in them, don't wear them (at least for exploring the concrete jungle).

The Salt Palace Convention Center.
   I would be "working the booth" as we say in the biz. First on the to-do list after checking-in to the hotel would be to navigate to the Salt Palace Convention Center. After registering at exhibitor services, I'd then set-up my company's booth on the trade show floor as quickly as possible. I was pleasantly surprised that inside an hour, I set-up the booth, erected the stand-up banner, manhandled the 8-foot table into place and arranged the bistro table and matching chairs. It was 5 o'clock on the dot when I finished. The sun was descending into Golden Hour, which is the first and last hour of sunlight during the day. Photographers also refer to this time as the magic hour, because the light is perfect for capturing photographs. With my work responsibilities completed for the day, it was time to go walkabout.
   The number one visitor's attraction in SLC is Temple Square, the headquarters for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, more commonly known as Mormons. The 10-acre complex is situated as the heart of the city. In 1847, Brigham Young, the president of the church, claimed the land. Temple Square is a 10-acre site with multiple buildings including the Temple and Annex, Meeting Hall, Tabernacle, and two visitors centers. The site is protected by a decorative 15-foot rod iron fence. The grounds are accessed by locking pedestrian gates situated on each of the major streets. The Temple is located at the highest point in the city and was clearly visible for miles until modern skyscrapers blocked the view. The Temple is ground zero in the city. All streets are numbered so it is easy to tell if one is getting closer to the Temple or further away. I was able to find the Temple without a map, once I was able to determine that the street numbers were getting smaller and not bigger.

A reflected view of the Temple Square Meeting Hall.
The sign that laid against the bagpiper's donation bucket read:
"No scam... no sob-story... just great piping!!"
   I knew I was getting close to Temple Square, when I could see the Meeting Hall reflected in the glass windows of an adjacent building. As I turned the corner, and Temple Square came into direct view, I heard the distinctive sounds of a bagpipe. As I leaned down to put the bills into his collection vessel, the bagpiper was just finishing a lilting tune. The bagpiper introduced himself and gallantly insisted on playing a song of my choosing. I said that unfortunately I could only think of Amazing Grace, and that if he's played that too much over the years, I would be happy to sit and listen to a song of his choosing. I sat on a low concrete bench, feeling peaceful, as he wandered in a circle and played an unrecognizable composition for my enjoyment. When he finished playing, we shook hands, exchanged a few kind words, and with my spirit lifted, I then crossed the street to my destination.

The Meeting Hall at Temple Square.
The Tabernacle at Temple Square.
The organist and the awe inspiring pipes inside the Tabernacle. 
   Although it was approaching dusk, the gates to Temple Square were open, and I entered on a foot path bordered by sad winter's grass—more brown than green. The visitor's center was open, but I didn't go in. First and foremost, I wanted to photograph the grounds and building exteriors. Normally, I carry my Canon SLR with me wherever I go, but for this trip I wanted to experiment with capturing images with my iPhone, alternating between the standard camera and a recently downloaded app, Hipstamatic, which makes digital images look like film snapshots. 
   My intentions shifted as I walked closer to the Tabernacle, an oval-shaped building with an aluminum roof, where the famous Mormon Choir performs. Lucky for me the organist was practicing for a recital the next afternoon. I could hear, and practically feel, the sounds of the organ pipes reverberating through the walls. I decided to try the door and was delighted to find it gave way when I pulled on the handle. To my surprise the pews were empty both on the main floor and in the loft. I walked the red carpet to the midway point and took a seat on a bare wooden bench. I felt a bit like Elvis—at least the stories about him when he'd buy-out an entire movie theater to watch a film by himself. The organist played excerpts from a variety of musical compositions—everything from the happiest minuet to a rousing operatic score with overtones of Gothic menace.

The golden Angel Moroni is an important figure to the Latter Day Saints
and a statue of him adorns the top of the Temple.
A set of doors leads into the Temple that is off limits to the general public. 
The setting sun at Temple Square.
   As I sat in the surprisingly comfortable pew, I was keenly aware of the passing time, no matter how much I enjoyed the music. In order to take more photos before the sun sank completely into the horizon, I decided to leave before the organist was finished playing. As it turns out I was not alone in the Tabernacle. As I headed for the main doors, a sweet-faced Mormon girl made a bee line for me. Her wide-set blue eyes making visual contact—registering my surprised reaction. I foremost desired to avoid a chat. So I did what I always do when I find myself in a situation where I don't want to stop and talk and get caught in a lengthy conversation. As I approached her, I kept my pace slow and steady, one foot in front of the other. I gave her a big toothy smile and said thank you in a clear, happy voice, trying my best to project an air of naïveté. I added in a cheery, breezy tone how much I enjoyed the music as a swept by her, keeping my feet moving, as I progressed out the door. I heard her say some words that came trailing after me. Without slowing my pace, I turned my head back towards her, nodded my head yes in agreement (even though I had no idea what she had said) and walked out the doors and on to the footpath. The organ music quieted as the doors slowly closed in my wake.

The Temple is surrounded by modern buildings.
I'd love to know more about these trees. My daughter remarked that they look like mini
Whomping Willow trees from Harry Potter. 

   Little known fact—at least for me—is that the beehive is a symbol of the state of Utah and also of the Mormon church. The Temple Square main gate is topped with an eagle landing atop a beehive. An enterprising person with a sense of humor and a penchant for word play named a nearby bar, The Beerhive Pub. I always associate Salt Lake City with teetotalism. A type of town where you can imbibe alcohol only if you have the right connection; a speakeasy culture left over from Prohibition. Of course, the tone was set by the alcohol abstaining Mormons, but there are also many non-Mormons that live and go to school in Salt Lake City. Something has changed along the way, because there are plenty of bars and dining establishments that serve alcohol. However, there are some unique rules. Draft beers are 3-2, so if you want a stronger beer, you'll be ordering a bottle. At Sunday brunch, "adult beverages" are only available after 11:30 a.m., so plan accordingly.

The view from my table at Whiskey Street.
   On Sunday night very few restaurants are open. One of the few is Whiskey Street, an eye-catching establishment with a dinner menu and a full bar. Because the restaurant offers a full bar, all patrons must be a minimum age of 21, which means everyone gets carded, including me. When the hostess saw my irritated expression as I fumbled through my purse to find my wallet to pull out my license, she tried to console me with the fact that she is required to card everyone. I smiled and said, "Clearly". We both laughed, 'cause we both recognize the fact it's been awhile since I celebrated my 21st birthday.
   The next evening, on Monday night, after a satisfying Italian dinner at Stoneground Kitchen, our group decided that a nightcap was in order. We headed to the bar with the clever name, The Beerhive Pub. The place was packed. Hopping. Happenin'. Jammin'. However you want to label it, the place was going full steam on a Monday night at 10:00 p.m. I felt old. I was out and about and thinking that I needed to get to bed to enjoy a full eight hours of sleep. My how things change. The old adage, "I'll sleep when I'm dead" doesn't apply to me anymore. In my defense, I knew from many years of trade show experience that the next couple of days would be 14-hour work days, with a considerable amount of standing in the booth, while meeting many new people, engaging in similar work-type conversations with person after person, trying to determine if there is a fit between what he or she is buying and what I'm selling. All that redundant conversation, like a page from Groundhog Day, while trying to be engaging, spontaneous, humorous and likable... well, having my wits about me was not optional. Restful sleep is the key to keeping my brain synapses firing properly.

   Our crew stayed at "Little America" a property that has expanded in size over the years from the much older main property to the newer lobby and towers. Across the street is its sister hotel named "Grand America". I saw the "Grand Hotel" and had a little surge of a thrill —yay, that's my hotel—then just as quickly the feeling was dashed as the shuttle turned abruptly left in to the "Little America" driveway. On Saturday night, before returning to my hotel after going walkabout, I crossed the street to  investigate the finer hotel to see if it might be a better option for dinner. It wasn't, but I did discover an eye-catching Parisian-style sweet's shoppe, La Bonne Vie. In the pastry case were a variety of happiness-inducing, frosting-filled, pastel-colored macrons. Surprisingly, I had not previously tried the famous French meringue sandwich-style cookies. Seize the day, I said to myself, as I purchased two: one caramel and one hazelnut. A couple of days later before heading to the airport, I returned to buy my daughter Maddie a box of six macarons. The proprietress placed each macaron side-by-side in a pretty striped cream and blue box, topped it with a clear plastic lid and cheerfully tied it with a bow for a beautiful presenation.
   I returned to the less grand hotel and investigated the dining venues. I chose the parlor-style, dimly-lit restaurant with mahogany paneling. The ambiance seemed more aligned with enjoying a bourbon and absent-mindedly dragging on a pipe—puffing circles of cherry tobacco smoke into the air whilst contemplating Goethe. The gentlemen's club vibe was killed by rather large but silent LCD televisions hanging on just about every wall. The hostess seated net at a small curved booth, the table covered with a white tablecloth. I watched the closing of the Olympics while I ate. I couldn't help overhearing the table of four guys next to me, headed down the road towards drunkenness, gossiping about work and their love lives. Men indulge in gossiping, too, even though they will deny it to the bitter end.
  The food was surprisingly good—a beautiful green salad followed by a very tasty Chicken Marsala. As an update to the classic recipe, the chef stuffed the chicken breast with prosciutto, spinach and Parmesan. I made a mental note to try the technique at home. I passed on dessert in favor of enjoying the macarons in my room. The cookies were divine. No wonder macarons have entire cookbooks dedicated to their fabulousness. Since I've been on a chocolate meringue kick, I am now determined to trying my hand at making macarons in the near future.

La Bonne Vie, a European-style confectionery, is located at The Grand America Hotel.

   One of the highlights of the trip was taking a cycle cab from the Convention Center to a nearby restaurant. I didn't realize that underneath the "rickshaw" was some type of hybrid motor that turbo boosted the peddling. It seemed as if we were going from zero to sixty miles an hour faster than you can say Flash Gordon. The pleasant smell of incense hit my nose, the scent mysteriously carried on the wind, wafting from our cabbie who peddled fiercely as if trying to win a race against an invisible opponent. I laughed the entire ride, partly out of joy for the experience, and partly from nervousness because we were flying by the stop and go traffic, the wind catching my up-do and making the tips of my hair swirl like helicopter blades. The driver squeaked a clown horn to draw the attention of motorists and pedestrians. At stop lights, we'd have brief conversations with people passing by, fun little snippets of banter. The short ride seemed like a social event between the guys peddling the pedicabs and our witty repartee. 

The Salt City Cycle Cab's business card reads: Only a Badass Would Ride a Pedicab.
You can be a badass, too. Call for a ride: (435)252-0513.
These "badasses" couldn't stop laughing. 
   I enjoyed my stay in Salt Lake City. Great sites, fine dining, fun people, delicious macarons and badass pedicabs. My daughter was ecstatic that I brought her home a beautifully wrapped gift of macarons. And because I've raised her right, Maddie offered me, her dear mother, the box of cookies to choose first. I returned the favor by choosing coconut, Maddie's least favorite flavor, and I savored every bite.  

Stuffed Chicken with Marsala Mushroom Sauce
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