I have a love-hate relationship with the land of my birth...mostly the latter. Nevertheless, one must return periodically, if not for the food, then to spend time with family and friends. And return I did for two weeks this holiday season.
It's no secret that I became a foodie after leaving Utah. Jell-O salad and cream of [insert] casseroles are great and all, but the world seems to hold something tastier beyond, as opposed to within, the shadows of the everlasting hills of the Salt Lake Valley. In recent years, I hear folks like Chef Viet Pham and Modern Family's Ty Burrell have begun to transform the valley's cuisine into something more diverse, interesting, and delicious, but to me, Utah shall always be the place where I lose, as opposed to gain, weight...like that time in college where I biked to campus and took a karate class and lost 40 pounds in six months.
Just after my plane touched down at SLC, my mother and her friend, Shirley, picked me up at the airport. A longer than anticipated day of travel left me famished, and I had no choice but to stop at In-N-Out for a Double Double Animal Style. Man I miss that burger. A celebratory post-burger Facebook post brought a response from my friend Jackson, a missionary who used to serve in Seattle, with a request to get together for some waffles at Bruges Waffles & Frites in downtown Salt Lake. This past Monday, that request was honored, despite my Columbia Bugaboot snow boots from Chicago cracking and the soles falling off one block after I got off TRAX near Gallivan Plaza. Shuffling through snow and slush down Third South, I reflected on Jackson's proclamation that when he went to high school at West, his frequent visits to Bruges led owner Pierre Vandamme to name a waffle after him: The Jackson, a Belgian waffle with dark chocolate squares inside and covered in gooey, melted dark chocolate outside. Any guesses as to what I ordered?
After he left Seattle over a year ago, Jackson became a ripped Muay Thai fighter. I became a food blogger. His path may be more manly, but mine is tastier.
Tonight I celebrated my friends Adam and Natalie's wedding during a classy reception at Publik Coffee Roasters on West Temple. Tic-tac-toe games made from woodburned wafers, roast-your-own marshmallows over stone-enveloped Sterno (complete with pre-pubescent tweens trying to light things on fire before noticing that someone is watching and sheepishly retreating), and cheerful wedding guests were surrounded by exposed brick and illuminated by candles and strands of simple, clear globe string lights. I couldn't be happier for Adam and Natalie, but little did I know that such joy would very nearly be surpassed when I turned around to see a mobile waffle cart from Bruges.
Turns out beginning and ending a week with sweet, caramelized waffles cushioned the blow of a return to my homeland more than I ever thought it could. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to boarding a plane home, as Adam and Natalie soon will, to Seattle. I've missed those gray skies terribly.
Bruges Waffles & Frites is located at 336 W 300 S in Salt Lake City, with a second location at 2314 S Highland Dr in Sugarhouse.