Monday, August 8, 2011

A day for pie - Pieday.

Hi everyone,

First day back at work and I’m beat.  I don’t think I’ve adjusted to the two hour time difference yet ….

When last we “spoke” the fam’ was finishing our day at Capitol Reef National Park. Everyone was looking forward to the next day when we headed to our friend’s parents place in Heber City for real beds, showers and bathrooms – and to visit with our friends of course.

I wouldn’t let anyone eat breakfast this morning because I had a special place for us to go.  Amazingly no one complained.  I guess because I promised pie after breakfast, not something my kids were going to turn down.  We went to Mom’s in Salina, which was directly on our way to Heber.  Mom’s comes recommended from the god and goddess of road food – Michael and Jane Stern.  They travel the country finding the best road food and write about it, both in books and on their web site - I used this web site to find interesting places but southern Utah isn’t exactly the Mecca of great restaurants, road food or otherwise.  Most of the Stern’s Utah finds are in and around Salt Lake City, but they did have this gem of a place in Salina (sort of rhymes with saliva) called Mom’s.  We had a great breakfast there.  The eggs were done perfectly and tasted nice and buttery.  They’re also known for their scones which, quite frankly, aren’t really scones but another incarnation of fried dough.  What is it about fried dough that everyone goes so nuts for?  Once again, my daughter loved it.  I actually liked them.  Unlike their Navaho fried bread counterpart, these tasted like they were fried in butter instead of oil.  They weren’t greasy and were much lighter. So I forced myself to eat one (wink wink). My husband, trusting this restaurant was as good as the Sterns said, decided to order biscuits and gravy. Now let me say this.  We do live in the South if you can consider Northern Virginia to be the South. But my husband and I are both from the New York/Connecticut area and aren’t really familiar with such Southern treats as biscuits and gravy. In fact, I’ll never forget the first time my parents, brother and I took a trip to North Carolina to check out colleges and we excitedly ordered grits with our breakfast.  We all grabbed our spoons, took a big scoop and opened wide – only to discover that grits barely have a taste on their own.  We called over to the waitress since clearly we had done something wrong in our grits experiment. This is when we learned that you’re supposed to add something to the grits.  Grits are merely the background while additions like cheese or butter or honey play the starring role.  It’s like eating a dry bagel (an analogy a Northerner like me can relate to).

So back to the biscuits and gravy which I don’t think I’ve ever tried. They were delicious.  Best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had! Okay, the only I’ve ever had but they were really good and I think I’ll order these again sometime when I return to Virginia. But the really great part of the meal was the pie. One of their signature pies is a German chocolate so we all shared a piece.  Yum!  We were all smiling, happy campers.  The pie was creamy and chocolatey without being too sweet or rich.

We rolled out of Mom’s and continued on our way. But I’m not done with my treatise on pie yet because we were on a quest for pie.  We were supposed to show up at our friend’s parents’ house and my momma taught me that you don’t show up empty-handed.  It’s just rude.  My original plan was to buy a whole pie at Mom’s and bring that.  Wouldn’t you know it but Mom’s doesn’t sell whole pies, just slices.  If we wanted a whole pie, we should have called in an order an hour before we wanted it and then, if we were lucky, we’d have a pie to go. We didn’t have an hour to spare so we hit the road and kept our eyes peeled for bakeries with pies. It took us until we got to Provo and then the clouds parted and the sun shone down on a little slice of heaven.  In truth, the heavens did open up, and then it began to pour, with a vengeance.  Not to be discouraged, I asked at a diner if they sold whole pies.  They said no but said we should turn around and go back a quarter mile to The Village Inn.  I had seen The Village Inn a few times. It’s usually in a bright orange building and seems fairly unimpressive.  But desperate times called for desperate measures.  Back we went and out into the deluge I ran to The Village Inn.  I opened the door and stepped into pie nirvana. You know you’ve got the right place when you see glass counters filled with pies of all kinds and there’s a special pie of the month. I practically cried with relief and quickly ordered the month’s special – lemon blueberry.  Then it occurred to me that not everyone likes lemons or blueberries, I’d better get another type that would appeal to the non-fruit people like my husband.  So a French Silk pie quickly joined the lemon blueberry as I happily handed over my credit card and took my bag o’ pies to the car.  I was still a bit apprehensive.  These weren’t Mom’s pies after all.  My husband basically told me to quit my worrying and get my butt in the car, which I did.

We continued on our way and arrived at Heber Springs around 2ish.  Words cannot adequately describe the incredible house our friends’ parents have.  The term “hunting lodge” would be more accurate.  It was huge and beautiful and wooden and detailed and full of stuffed animals.  I don’t mean teddy bears.  Our host has a penchant for hunting and has done so in the US and Africa. There are various heads stuffed and mounted on walls and full animal bodies stuffed and standing on the floor. It’s quite a sight and a little daunting. The rest of the house is meticulously designed and absolutely beautiful. It’s the type of place that should be featured on HGTV.  It was such a dichotomy from our grubby camping existence.  We must have looked pretty grubby too since the first thing our host said after greeting us was to take off our shoes before we walked into the house!

Our friends were very happy to see us, especially my daughter’s friend, which is how we know them in the first place. Isn’t that how we parents meet most of our friends these days, through our kids?

Heber Springs is near the skiing towns of Park City and Deer Valley. We drove over to Park City and saw the Olympic training areas that were built for the 2002 Olympics.  People were there practicing ski jumping into the pool. Very interesting.  We walked down to get a better look and then took a ski lift to get back to the top. It’s been a long time since I skied and I was a bit nervous trying to remember how to get off the lift.  I know you’re supposed to put your tips up but what if your tips are nothing more than flip flops? Luckily, we all managed to get off the lift without incident.

Next, we went into Park City itself and walked up and down the charming streets before having dinner there.

We finished our evening by crawling into real beds with real mattresses with real indoor bathrooms a mere few feet away. Life was good.

Next: A few remarks about my birthday in Salt Lake City.  Yes, I dragged everyone to Bruge’s.

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