Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Force of Nature

This November marked the opening of the new Utah Museum of Natural History.    An architectural gem perfectly sited (nestled, really)  in the Foothills next to Red Butte Garden, we were eager from the moment we laid eyes on the building to get inside and take a look at it.  The building is modern, daring, and unexpected...needless to say, we were lucky to get our wish and got to see the building firsthand a few weeks before it was scheduled to open. 

We were extremely honored to be selected as one of the primary caterers for the almost week long celebration that marked the Museum's opening. Logistics, menu planning, and many meetings at the Museum helped to prepare us for the  busy weeks ahead for the Blended Table!   We were very grateful to help the community celebrate this new cultural showpiece.

The community Gala was a lovely evening full of wide eyes and admiration.  The museum space and the exhibits themselves provided a beautiful backdrop for serving a selection of local Utah foods. Some of the products that we featured were Beehive Cheese's 'Barely Buzzed' espresso rubbed cheddar accompanied with delicious Amour Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, Shepherds Goat Cheese and Uinta Brewing signature beers.  In addition to the local flavors we provided a varied menu that included pearl couscous and quinoa salads with an array of roasted vegetables and rustic pork and chicken skewers served with flavorful chutneys as well as an assortment of mini pies and sweets. The food choices provided an earthy touch for a space that is dedicated to honoring the land we all have the privilege to live on.   

One of the trickiest parts of the night was preparing for a Museum-wide champagne toast.  All 5 floors had champagne and glasses at the ready on separate bars, but wow, it's a pretty unbeatable sound to hear 2,000 champagne flutes clinking in celebration! 

Congratulations on a successful opening to the Utah Museum of Natural History.  Thank you for letting us be a part of the fun, we are looking forward to working with the museum on future events. 

If you have not yet visited the museum we encourage you to take a peek- it's an afternoon very well spent!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

We like the Leo!

Salt Lake is growing up!  We have a wonderfully unique, legitimate new player in the cultural scene here-the Leonardo.  Housed in the old Main Library building on 500 South and 200 East, the Leonardo is a contemporary museum fusing the fields of art, technology, and science.  The space is revitatlized and modern with some really beautiful touches. 
After taking a sneak peek, we were really impressed both with the space and the mission of the Leonardo and were eager to help them pull off their grand opening event this month.  The Blended Table was one of three catering companies featured and we had a lot of fun putting together a simple, sophisticated, yet playful, menu that would match the tone of the Leonardo and its eclectic opening party guest list.

We tray passed a delicious array of savory appetizers such as local Creminelli sausage and talegio cheese served on bruschetta and we wrapped Creminelli's delicious dry proscuitto around discs of juicy Green River watermelon to make 'pops'-these definitely kept the guests coming back for more.   We rounded out the appetizers with a lovely fresh fig stuffed with blue cheese for a perfect melt in your mouth combination and crab cakes served on a crispy potato and topped with spicy aoli.   

We also featured a dessert buffet with bite sized offerings that captured the essence of fall:  moist pumpkin whoopie pies, subtly sweet rosemary sugar cookies, and local Santaquin apple crumb pie topped with fresh whipped cream. Our delicious desserts never last long and this night was no exception.  

Congratulations to the Leo on a successful opening! It was a really fun event to be a part of and we're looking forward to more collaborations in the future.

Monday, July 18, 2011

It was a magical night...

It's been a busy summer at the Blended Table.  Outdoor soirees, corporate events and weddings are in full swing. In terms of events, weddings always tend to be the toughest. The stakes are so high for this one evening to go off without a hitch.  And justifiably so, the bride, or usually in our experience, the mother of the bride, is often anxious, worried, and sometimes quite demanding.  That said however, weddings do allow us to relish in our love of details and we find a lot of pleasure in orchestrating the small touches that make a wedding unique and memorable for the bridal party, as well as their guests. 

Last weekend we had the pleasure of catering a wedding reception where the small, thoughtful details really did weave some magic. Not to mention the dreamy clients who not only were enjoyable to work with, but had great ideas and taste.  The wedding was also in an amazing location. It's hard to imagine a better venue for an intimate, sophisticated wedding than the McCune Mansion.  Built in 1901 and situated on a hill right above downtown on North Main Street, it is one of Salt Lake's architectural gems and one of our very favorite places to stage an event.  

We were lucky that both the bride and the groom had an interest in cooking and gardening, and thanks to this, wanted to let fresh, beautiful, and seasonal food be the main event on their big day-the perfect recipe for menu success in our book.  These clients are not originally from Salt Lake (the groom is from England and the bride is from the East Coast) but they wholly support the local food scene in Salt Lake and much of our menu development was inspired by dishes they have enjoyed from some of our favorite restaurants in town like Pago, Tin Angel, and Cafe Niche. 

It was such a pleasure to put together this rich, varied, and truly wonderful menu. Our main chef Tom Grant of Martine created most of the signature dishes for this event, and his vegetarian option, a Roasted Seasonal Vegetable Napoleon was particularly amazing and received raved reviews.   In fact, all the vegetarian sides were downright delicious! The marscapone and sweet potato mash with garlic, thyme and drizzle of olive oil was a crowd favorite. The entree options included a poached Alaskan halibut with a tomato and fennel agrodolche and a Pork Loin with a Peach Cumin Chili Puree.

The food was wonderful, but we wouldn't be telling you the whole story if we left out full details on the beverage menu!  We featured (grooms choice)  Hopulant IPA, Pfeiferhorn Lager, Coppercone Pale Ale, and Straight Up Saison from Epic Brewing Company (the new darling in our local Salt Lake beer scene thanks to their powerfully strong, hand crafted ales and lagers.)

The Bride wanted to contribute to the beverage menu as well and we assisted her by creating a couple refreshing cocktails perfect for sipping on a summer evening: a fresh purple basil mojito and a ginger rosemary lemon drop.   These cocktails turned out to be the real show stoppers for many of the guests because they were unique, visually gorgeous, and utterly delicious.  And in case you don't believe us, go ahead and sip one for yourself!  Here are the basic directions, but as with any good recipe, sip, try, and tweak to your own liking!

Purple Basil Mojito

2 oz. light rum
Fresh squeezed lime juice about 1/2 oz. or so- I do it to taste
Splash of simple syrup about 1/2 oz
Creme de casis (berry liquer)
Soda water

Muddle basil with ice add rum, lime juice, simple syrup and soda water, pour over ice add a splash of creme de casis and garnish with sprig of basil. 

Ginger Lemon Rosemary Sparkler
2 oz.Citrus vodka
soda water

In a sauce pan add one part agave to one part water, add grated ginger and chopped rosemary, cook down until the agave syrup is infused with the ginger and rosemary, strain. In a highball glass, add 2 oz. citrus vodka, juice from half of a lemon (or more to taste), infused syrup to taste and soda water, garnish with a sprig of rosemary or lemon.  

The Grande Finale to the evening was an authentic tea parlor complete with vintage tea tables and chairs, glowing candles, custom doilies and snacks. Guests were offered an assortment of tea selections from the Beehive Tearoom  (Ginger Lime Rooibos, Chocolate Mint Rooibos, Lavandar Earl Grey and of Course Traditional English Breakfast served with the traditional combination of milk, honey, or sugar.) In addition to the tea selection, guests were treated to an assortment of finger cookies (homemade by the mother of the bride-a very sweet touch) as well as dark Amano chocolate and fresh raspberry truffles and Cafe Niche's simply mouth watering mini key lime custard pies.  

Helping craft this unique and beautiful wedding was right up our alley and certainly a highlight of our summer so far.  We were thrilled with the results and even happier to have helped translate the vision and hopes of the bride & groom and their families.  We were honored to be a part of this magical night!  Mazel tov!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

We heart the Salt Lake Art Center

 We like to think of Salt Lake as a big small town. It's got great big city perks but a liveability and a tight knit feel more fitting of a place with a far smaller population than the Wasatch front.  One of our favorite big city amenities is the Salt Lake Art Center.  This local organization has been bringing cutting edge art exhibitions to Salt Lake City for more years than we can count.  The Art Center is nestled right downtown on West Temple next to Symphony Hall. Their space is gorgeous and going there can do a pretty convincing job of making you feel like you are gallery strolling in NYC's Chelsea or some other hip locale.  The Art Center has been one of our favorite clients for many years.  We've been lucky enough to work with them on creating memorable and delicious annual galas since 2005.  We always appreciate their willingness to get out of the box and let us play with creative display concepts and menus that will wow the crowd and make their phenomenal gallery space pop.   This party was traditionally a sit down, black tie affair and one of our biggest annual organizational and food feats to pull off. We've come to love the challenge and putting our Blended Table stamp on this gig.
The Art Center gala draws a distinguished and fun loving crowd and we like to think our food, wine, and creative gusto play a big part in helping people enjoy the event.   We thought it would be fun to highlight some of our past concepts from the last few years and watch how we've evolved with the needs and changing themes of one of our best clients.  It's pretty apparent that the space completely transforms each year, right?   
This year was a fun departure in that the event was predominantly staged in a large outdoor tent.  It felt light, airy, and completely summery; perfect for the first true warm summery night we've had all season.  The two sided buffet area was the focal point of the tent, both because the food looked so gorgeous and colorful, and because of the eye-popping coral branch installation suspended above it.  The branches made quite a statement and only snagged a few coiffed hair dos!   And in case you can't take your eyes off those enormous and gorgeous coral flowers in many of this years shots, they are peonies, the queen mother of all flowers in our opinion, flown in and timed just right to be in all their glory for this one special night.  Aren't they phenomenal? Thanks to our shop-mate and favorite floral design company, Decoration, for making that kind of floral perfection happen on a regular basis.  No matter how great the art, it's hard to top mother nature and a good dose of delicious food...
Until next year, Salt Lake Art Center!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A is for asparagus, B is for Bliss

One of the best aspects of the catering business is that every event we do is different because every client, every location, every reason for celebrating is unique.  It's addictive, this unlimited variation, and it's what has kept the work we do interesting, and above all, entertaining over the years.  

Of course we think all of the parties we help create are great, but every once in awhile conditions conspire to turn a party into a truly special event. We were pleased to help craft one of these this past  weekend. Part reunion and part birthday party, former University of Utah Architecture Department faculty arranged for a surprise celebration in honor of Bob Bliss, who was Dean of the Graduate school of Architecture at the U for many years.   Bob was turning 90 and this occasion was a chance for former faculty to honor Bob, his friendship, professional legacy, and the way he influenced their careers.   People had flown in from across the US to attend the event and spirits were high-lots of hugs and hand shakes, cheek kissing, and clinking of glasses.  And when a very spry looking 90 year old walks through the door and gives a hearty fist pump in response to the surprise, you know the night is already a success.
We believe good parties are born from a sense of shared connection and celebration and this party had that in spades. It was moving to watch people relive old memories and embrace after 40 years and even more so to hear about the ways one person can play such a pivotal role in a room full of people's lives.  But let's not forget that a  party would just be a gathering without great food and drink! It is always amazing to see the way good food enlivens a crowd, and after sitting attentively for 15 toasts to Bob, this audience was definitely ready for a good meal.  The spread was healthy, fresh, and delicious. We love to let vegetables take center stage on our menu and two of the hit dishes were simple roasted asparagus spears with pecorino shavings and an assortment of  hearty roasted vegetables (sweet potato, carrots, brussels sprouts, button mushrooms) in a tangy and slightly sweet red wine reduction. We also served salmon with a lemon dill sauce and goat cheese mashed potatoes to round out the meal.   

In all our years at this, we've never received personal first name thank you's from an emcee!  Thank you Stanley for enjoying our food and service enough to tell the whole room full of people.  It was a fantastic event and we were very happy to have been an integral part of it. Our warmest birthday wishes go out to Bob Bliss....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

SLC Bites

We were lucky enough to support a great local foodie event this past week, SLC Bites.  An off shoot of Slow Food, SLC Bites celebrates local food and our Salt Lake dining scene by creating one night events that feature a specific local chef's food.  The chef creates a few bites to taste, the bites are paired with wines, and voila, it's a recipe for a great night!  

Tuesday's event featured Chef Ryan Lowder of  The Copper Onion.  The Cooper Onion is a fairly new spot downtown right next to the Broadway movie theaters on 300 South. We've already enjoyed a meal or two there over the past few months.  It's the mark of  a great kitchen when vegetables are the standouts on a menu and this is definitely the case with the Cooper Onion.  When we were last there, we had simple, delicious side dishes that frankly stole the show-roasted shishito peppers, steak fries with parmesan and herbs, and snap peas doused with just the right combination of garlic and horseradish.  So we were pleased to see Lowder honor his nice touch with vegetables with his menu selection for SLC Bites.   The featured bites were romesco sauce with spring onions on crackers, ramp and walnut pesto on crostini, and chilled asparagus soup with tomato and crab.  We loved the unique peppery flavor of the ramp pesto. It isn't often you see ramps on a menu!  They are an unusual ingredient, actually a wild leek very similar looking to a scallion, and are usually one of the first seasonal greens available in the spring.  The spicy zing of the pesto over the mellow, creamy ricotta on the crostini was an especially yummy combination.  Being visual folks, we couldn't resist the great bright color of the asparagus soup presented in shot glasses, and the rich green tone of the pesto-excellent emblems of spring!

It's exciting to realize that an event like SLC Bites can only come together because of the expertise and passion that surrounds food and drink in this town. Not only was the event sold out with 200 people attending, it also showcased wines and appetizers from two other great spots in our local dining scene.  Wines were provided by Francis Fectau, owner of  Libation, a Salt Lake wine brokerage. The two chosen wines were a really nice complement to the food choices and Fectau's interest and knowledge about wine was clearly evident. He manned the bar and poured and talked about the wines all evening.   We were also pleased to see  Caputo's doing what they do best-offering the finest Italian specialty meats and cheeses during the cocktail hour.    There can never be enough cured meat in our opinion, and Caputos put together two apps that featured really great cured meats from a small purveyor/artisanal producer in Virginia called Olli Salumeria. All Olli's cured meats are made with pork from heritage-breed pigs, pasture raised on family-owned sustainable farms.  What's not to love about that?  And they tasted fantastic to boot.  We also dug Rexburg, Idaho based Lark's Meadow's ricotta cheese which was stuffed into bright little red peppadew peppers.   The entire table was picked clean by the end of the evening.  Everything was completely addictive and delicious.
SLC Bites is the brain child of Chantelle Bordeaux, who herself is quite the food maven about town, involved with both Edible Wasatch and the local Slow Food Chapter. We are already looking forward to the next edition of SLC Bites slated for August.  I wonder who the lucky chef will be?...... Stay tuned via slowfoodutah.org

*Gorgeous photography above by the one and only Ruby Johnson

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Introducing the Blended Table blog....

We have been orchestrating great food and events in Salt Lake for more than fifteen years. We've watched food trends and styles ebb and flow. And we've made a few changes ourselves in that time including switching our name from Lortsher Vlasic Catering to The Blended Table in 2010.   

Nothing has been more thrilling to us than to watch our own local food culture evolve and come into its own. There has always been high quality food here, and wonderful local food producers we've been lucky enough to work with, but it is wonderful to see the push to really care about our food and where it comes from enter into the mainstream.  Local food is a hot topic and we couldn't be happier about it.

We have conceived of this blog as a place to celebrate the unique catering work we feel privileged to do in this community, but also a place to represent the enthusiasm we feel about food, gastronomy, and the increasing awareness of the importance of food that is healthful, sustainable, and delicious.  

We love what we do and look forward to sharing our work, inspirations, and thoughts on food culture and trends with you!