Utah Travel Tips from Kait Miller, Blogger of Real Food Gypsy

Conversations with Locals

Kait Miller is the blogger of Real Food Gypsy. Originally from North Carolina, she now calls Salt Lake City home. Kait reveals the hiking trails to go for, where to head for lunch, and why you should steer clear of the Great Salt Lake. 

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Photo: Real Food Gypsy

What should travellers know about Utah before heading there? 

In the summer, bring a jacket! It’s hot during the day, but it’s dry heat. At night it cools down a lot and there’s no humidity. It’s like the desert, so definitely bring the jacket.

What do you feel defines the cuisine in Utah? 

Utah is unique. Since it’s in the West and close to California, Arizona, and New Mexico, you may think that the cuisine is Southwestern. At least that’s what we thought when we found out we were moving here three years ago. We were so wrong! Utah is a lot like the South, where I’m originally from (North Carolina). It’s traditional American-inspired food and you can find diners and burger joints all over. What’s also unique is that there are a ton of Italian and pizza restaurants.

What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Utah without trying? 

This is easy! Hands down the beef stroganoff from The Copper Onion. The noodles are handmade, the beef is from Snake River Farms in Wyoming, and the sauce is incredible. Everything is locally sourced and it shines in every dish, especially this one.

I’ll also say fry sauce. It’s not a dish, but a condiment. Utah is known for it, and it just tastes better here. 

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The Copper Onion. Photo: Real Food Gypsy

What about your favourite restaurants?

I have several favourite spots, most happen to be in Park City or Salt Lake. The Copper Onion for their burger and stroganoff, HSL for their pork shank and general tso’s cauliflower, Publik for their delicious coffee and thick toast, Fletcher’s for their salmon, Alamexo for their chicken enchiladas, Harvest for a delicious breakfast, and Pizza Nono for the best wood-fired pizza in the city. 

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Photo: Real Food Gypsy

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HSL. Photo: Real Food Gypsy

Name some tourist traps travellers should avoid in Utah

Yes – the Great Salt Lake! It is the most underwhelming thing you could do. It stinks and it’s just really sad to look at. A complete waste of time.

Describe the perfect way to explore Utah

I would start in Salt Lake City and adventure through the canyons and mountains. There are beautiful hikes in Cottonwood and Millcreek Canyons. A few of the prettiest places to hike are Lake Blanche, Bell Canyon’s Waterfall, Cecret Lake, White Pine Lake, and Albion Basin to see the wildflowers. You may even see a moose or two! Then escape to Park City to experience Main Street or some world-class skiing. On your way to Southern Utah, stop by Fifth Water Hot Springs in Provo. After you’ve exhausted Northern Utah, head down and explore the National Parks. Moab, Zion, and Bryce Canyon will take your breath away. There is nothing like it.

Name one best kept secret of Utah

Fifth Water Hot Springs in Provo. It is absolutely stunning in rain, snow, or shine, sunrise or sunset. It’s a fun experience.

What about your favourite spot for a weekend getaway in Utah? 

Park City! We love escaping there. It doesn’t matter if it’s during ski-season or summer time, there’s always a ton of outdoor activities going on. They have amazing restaurants on Main Street and all the resorts have farm-to-table dining. It feels like a vacation and it’s only a 30 minute drive from Salt Lake. 

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Photo: Real Food Gypsy

What should travellers bring home with them from Utah? 

Honey! We are known as the Bee State and there is local honey everywhere. Creamed cinnamon, raspberry, blueberry, you name it. It’s incredible.

 

WHERE TO EAT IN UTAH


The Copper Onion

Where: 111 East Broadway #170, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, USA
For: Beef stroganoff

HSL Restaurant
Where: 418 E 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, USA
For: Viewspork shank and general tso’s cauliflower

Publik Coffee Roasters
Where: 975 S W Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, USA
For: Coffee and thick toast 

Fletcher’s Park City
Where: 562 Main St, Park City, UT 84060, USA
For: Salmon 

Alamexo
Where: 268 State St #110, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, USA
For: Chicken enchiladas

Great Harvest Bread Bakery
Where: 140 N 400 W, St George, UT 84770, USA (and more) 
For: Breakfast 

Pizza Nono
Where: 925 East 900 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84105, USA
For: Pizza 
 

WHERE TO GO IN UTAH 


Cottonwood Canyon
Where: Cottonwood Heights, Utah, USA
For: Hiking

Millcreek Canyon
Where: 3800 Millcreek Canyon Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 84124, USA
For: Hiking

Lake Blanche
Where: Lake Blanche Trail, Salt Lake City, UT 84121, USA
For: Hiking

Moab National Park
Where: Moab National Park, Utah, USA
For: National parks

Zion National Park
Where: Zion National Park, Utah, USA
For: National parks

Bryce Canyon National Park
Where: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA
For: National parks

Fifth Water Hot Springs
Where: Diamond Fork Rd, Springville, UT 84663, USA
For: Hiking

Park City
Where: Park City, Utah, USA
For: Skiing

Paris Travel Tips from Lindsey Tramuta, Parisian Journalist

Conversations with Locals

Having lived in Paris for more than a decade, ailurophile Lindsey Tramuta is well-versed in the ins and outs of the city and chronicles her Parisian life on her blog. She is a writer for Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times. Lindsey talks about why you should skip Chartier, where to get the best pastries in Paris, and about the museum you can’t miss. 

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Photo: Lindsey Tramuta

What do you feel defines Parisian cuisine?

Parisian cuisine today isn’t hemmed in by Escoffier, heritage or ethnocentrism but rather an openness to outside influences and cultures. The food scene has never been so refreshingly diverse.

What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Paris without trying? 

As a pastry fanatic, I’m keen to cite a handful of exquisite desserts or treats. The chocolate and pistachio escargot from Du Pain et Des Idées, the Lily Valley from Carl Marletti, the ricotta cheesecake with seasonal fruit from Acide which is also available at Fou de Pâtisserie, the Ispahan croissant from Pierre Hermé, sablés from Bontemps Pâtisserie. As you can see, it’s impossible to narrow the selection to just one speciality!

What about your favourite restaurants?

Many of them are concentrated on the east side of town – Tannat, Le 52, Anahi, Le Richer, Café Méricourt, La Fontaine de Belleville. But I do have a few favourites elsewhere – Kitchen Ter(re) on the left bank and Balagan near the Tuileries Gardens to name a couple. 

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Café Méricourt. Photo: Lindsey Tramuta

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Kitchen Ter(re). Photo: Lindsey Tramuta

Name one Parisian dining etiquette most travellers miss

Making a concerted effort to speak French, at least greeting restaurant staff in French. It isn’t all that difficult to show them you’re trying your best.

What is one travel tip you would give to travellers heading to Paris?

Go beyond the obvious. My book dives into so many other neighbourhoods that are worth exploring. 

Name one best kept secret of Paris

The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. It’s in all the guidebooks and yet it never seems to earn the attention it deserves. It’s unusual, for one – it’s the hunting and nature museum. On top of that, it feels like a cabinet of animal curiosities. It’s fascinating! 

What do you feel are the most common misconceptions about Paris?

There are two – that it’s a city that never changes and that Parisians are unfriendly. I’ve had plenty of chilly service in London and New York! 

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Photo: Lindsey Tramuta

Name some tourist traps travellers should avoid in Paris

Please please please stay away from Chartier off the Grands Boulevards. Go to Bouillon Pigalle instead. Chartier has terrible quality food, comically poor service, but because it’s an institution, it still gets traction. 

What’s your favourite day trip to take from the city? 

I love going to Chantilly for the day, walking around the gardens and visiting the Château

What should travellers bring home with them from Paris?

Something French! The new gourmet food hall from Printemps department store, called Printemps Du Goût, offers a selection of 100% French products so you can be sure to take home something, whether it’s caramelised hazelnuts from the south of France or a small jar of regional honey, truly unique. 

 

WHERE TO EAT IN PARIS


Du Pain et Des Idées
Where: 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, France
For: Chocolate and pistachio escargots

Acide Macaron
Where: 24 Rue des Moines, 75017 Paris, France
For: Ricotta cheesecakes with seasonal fruit

Carl Marletti
Where: 51 Rue Censier, 75005 Paris, France
For: The Lily Valley cake

Pierre Hermé
Where: 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France (and others) 
For: Ispahan croissants

Bontemps Pâtisserie
Where: 57 Rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris, France
For: Sablés

Tannat
Where: 119 Avenue Parmentier, 75011 Paris, France
For: French fusion food

Le 52
Where: 52 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris, France
For: Tradtional french food 

Anahi
Where: 49 Rue Volta, 75003 Paris, France
For: Argentinian food

Le Richer
Where: 2 Rue Richer, 75009 Paris, France
For: Bistro food

Café Méricourt
Where: 22 Rue de la Folie Méricourt, 75011 Paris, France
For: Brunch

La Fontaine de Belleville
Where: 31-33 Rue Juliette Dodu, 75010 Paris, France
For: Breakfast

Kitchen Ter(re)
Where: 26 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris, France
For: Set menus

Balagan
Where: 9 Rue d’Alger, 75001 Paris, France
For: Shakshuka

Bouillon Pigalle
Where: 22 Boulevard de Clichy, 75018 Paris, France
For: French food
 

WHERE TO GO IN PARIS


Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
Where: 62 Rue des Archives, 75003 Paris, France
For: Museums

 

Printemps Du Goût
Where: 21-25 Cours de Vincennes, 75020 Paris, France
For: Local French products

Tuscany Travel Tips from Emiko Davies, Florentine Cook & Writer

Conversations with Locals

Married to a Florentine sommelier, admirer of Pellegrino Artusi, a food blogger cooking in the suburbs of Tuscany – Emiko Davies is synonymous with the notion of Tuscan cuisine. She’s a Food52 columnist and food writer for The Sunday Times, The Guardian and Jamie Oliver Magazine. Emiko reveals her secret to picking an authentic gelateria, which wineries to go to, and the farm to table restaurant you need to dine at in Tuscany.

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Photo: Emiko Davies 

What is the one local dish you feel travellers can’t leave Tuscany without trying? 

This definitely depends where you are in Tuscany, as each town has their unique specialties. In Livorno, it would be cinque e cinque, a baguette filled with chickpea flour pancake. In Florence, it would be a panino with lampredotto, or abomasum tripe, it’s not your regular tripe or your regular panino! Served warm with chilli sauce and salsa verde, it’s absolutely delicious.

In the lagoon town of Orbetello in southern Tuscany, it would be spicy smoked eel or bottarga (cured fish roe), served with some lemon juice and olive oil. In Siena, you’d want to order a plate of pici, or hand-rolled fresh noodles, or pinci if you were in Montalcino. In the town of San Miniato, where my husband was born, it’s fresh white truffles that you need to try.

What about your favourite restaurants?

I am partial to my neighbourhood of Florence and I love the little restaurants in hilltop suburb of Settignano like Caffè Desiderio and La Sosta del Rossellino, full of character and run by people who want to make other people happy through their food and wine.

I also love Canto del Maggio in Terranuova Bracciolini, between Florence and Arezzo. It’s another special place run by a family who grow their own vegetables and make everything from scratch, all set in the most enchanting garden.

In San Miniato, there is a family-run butcher shop called Sergio Falaschi that has created a restaurant out the back behind the counters. They have the most exquisite view over the hills and have a small, appealing menu that changes daily.

The Fioroni family farm in San Gimignano, Poggio Alloro, is also a wonderful place for an organic farm to table meal with a stunning view over San Gimignano. On Saturday nights, they serve their own hand-raised bistecca from chianina cattle

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Fattoria Poggio Alloro. Photo: Emiko Davies

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Fattoria Poggio Alloro. Photo: Emiko Davies

Name one Italian dining etiquette most travellers miss

I think it can be hard to get used to the ordering of a meal they way Tuscans are used to. You start with antipasto, which is often something shared like a plate of salumi or a basket of broad beans with pecorino cheese. Then, move onto primi, which is either a soup or a pasta dish. Then you have secondi (mains) with various contorni (side dishes) that have to be ordered individually, and are usually portions large enough to share amongst the table.

Some people assume they have to order one of each thing, but in reality, Tuscans themselves may not always do that. It’s a huge amount of food and you may feel more comfortable ordering just two courses, say an antipasto and a main, which is often shared, and saving a bit of space for a simple dessert. 

Name some tourist traps travellers should avoid in Tuscany

Unfortunately there are many. Get gelato at a dedicated gelateria – that is, a place that only does gelato. Bars that sell gelato as well as sandwiches and pastries and coffee and everything else probably aren’t making their gelato in house! And remember that good gelato comes in metal tubs, often hidden, it isn’t displayed in huge mounds.

Bars – the Italian word for a café – have different prices for sitting down and for standing at the bar. Italians will stand at the bar for their coffee and pastry. In a few places, this is being phased out in favour of a more Anglo-Saxon style café where you can sit all day long. But in general, and especially in a really classic Italian bar, be aware that there are two different prices depending on where you take your coffee. Many places don’t bother making this known or assume you should know, and some people can get a shock when their bill arrives. 

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Photo: Emiko Davies

Describe the perfect way to explore Tuscany

There are so many beautiful parts of Tuscany, but it is a very large region, so I personally would recommend sticking to one small area and getting to know that well.

For example, the Val d’Orcia, a beautiful valley near Siena, has plenty to keep you busy between pretty towns, spa towns and cheese, but you could combine it with an itinerary that takes you to Siena and Florence too.

Or another area that I just mentioned above is Maremma. Maremma is large too, so you could follow it all the way down the coast, even including some islands like Elba Island, which you can reach from Piombino or Giglio Island, from Porto Santo Stefano. You can also stick to the area south of Grosseto and enjoy the hilltop towns, the sea and good, country food.

If you’re in a rush, don’t try to do too much. Just pick one place. Florence, for example, makes a perfect city break for a long weekend because you don’t need to worry about renting a car, it’s easy to arrive by train or plane and you can choose to stick just to the historical centre. 

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Val d’Orcia. Photo: Emiko Davies

What about wineries? 

This is something I hope to write more about on my blog soon, as it can be tricky to find places that have a cellar door that are easy to get to or even visit. My husband is a sommelier so we are often visiting wineries but they are definitely not the usual kind that would be easy for a traveller to find!

One of the ones we love, Altura Winery, is on Giglio Island, where you definitely need a car, but there is no cellar door. You can, however, find the wine at the same family’s restaurant, Arcobaleno, on the island.

Places like Montalcino and the Chianti Classico area that are better equipped for visitors and the wineries there make it easier to drop by and visit or taste wine. Another lovely place to try a bit of wine is the beautiful little town of Bolgheri, it’s basically made up of wine bars and wine shops so you can visit the town and taste all the local Super Tuscan wines directly there. Do a bit of research before you go, rent a car and have a designated driver! 

What do you mean by wineries with a cellar door? 

A cellar door is the term for a sales point in a winery. It could be a room, a shop or a tasting room, sometimes it’s even bigger and there is a restaurant or seating. It depends, but the main thing is that there is somewhere guests can taste and buy wine. Wineries that don’t have this aren’t often prepared to receive visitors. For travellers, it would be easier to go to wineries that have cellar doors. 

Name one best kept secret of Tuscany

I’ve just written a cookbook about it, so it is not so secret now, but the coast and islands of Tuscany are incredibly beautiful and have a lot to offer. I particularly love the southernmost coast of Tuscany around Monte Argentario. We lived there for 6 months in Porto Ercole.

Many people have never heard of it, which shows you just what a secret treasure it is. Nearby is Giglio Island, one of the most beautiful places I have visited, and the Maremma countryside from Capalbio to Pitigliano and the towns in between make for wonderful exploring and eating.

One thing is that you need a car and you need to be a bit adventurous, and this is also what makes it so secret. It’s not the kind of place that people can easily wander into or stumble across, you need to have a bit of motivation. It’s for proper travellers and people who love the outdoors, the sparkling sea and eating traditional dishes like wild boar stew, deep fried anchovies and hearty soups.

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Porto Ercole. Photo: Emiko Davies

What should travellers bring home with them from Tuscany? 

I always like to bring food or drink as a souvenir, something you can’t find anywhere else. If you are lucky enough to be able to bring fresh goods like cheese or salumi home, that’s a good option and most places will vacuum pack these for you. Otherwise, something like good extra virgin olive oil. Look for the ones in a tin if you are afraid of the glass breaking in your suitcase.

An unusual bottle of wine or something harder to find like vin santo (Tuscan dessert wine) makes a nice memento, especially when accompanied by a large bag of cantuccini (Tuscan almond biscotti), which are made for dipping into vin santo. This is a typical finish to any Tuscan meal, and cantuccini are also very hardy and travel well.

I personally like to bring home a big box of panbriacone, a panettone-like cake soaked in an alcoholic syrup from the Pasticceria Bonci pastry shop in Montevarchi. Many pastry shops in Florence sell it too. It’s divine and always well-appreciated!

 

WHERE TO EAT IN TUSCANY


Caffè Desiderio
Where: Piazza Niccolò Tommaseo, 5r, 50135 Settignano FI, Italy
For: Tuscan food

La Sosta del Rossellino
Where: Via del Rossellino, 2R, 50135 Settignano, Firenze FI, Italy
For: Views

Il Canto del Maggio
Where: Area Naturale Protetta di Interesse Locale Le Balze, Località Penna Alta, 30/d, 52028 Terranuova Bracciolini AR, Italy
For: A garden restaurant

Sergio Falaschi
Where: Via Augusto Conti, 16, 56028 San Miniato PI, Italy
For: A restaurant in a butchery

Fattoria Poggio Alloro
Where: Via Saint Andrea, 23, 53037 San Gimignano SI, Italy
For: Farm to table meals
 

WHERE TO GO IN TUSCANY


Val d’Orcia
Area: Siena
For: Shopping
Maremma
Area: Grosseto
For: Coastal drives and thermal baths
Altura Island
Where: Jingumae, Shibuya 150-0001, Tokyo Prefecture
For: Wine
Bolgheri
Area: Livorno
For: Wine shops
Porto Ercole
Area: Grosseto
For: A coastal getaway