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

120 Hours in Tuscany – What to See, Eat & Do

Italy

It’s a clear day in Tuscany as warm sunlight blankets a stretch of chartreuse green. Italian cypresses line the roads, curving through hilly grasslands to unending vineyards, solitary hilltop towns, and saffron-coloured farmlands. At the brink of twilight, a nonna (Italian grandmother) is calling out to her family for dinner as she brings out the feast.

Tuscany is the crown jewel of the Italian tourism scene, and many have swamped the accessible cities where the tourist buses go. Yet, there is an understated beauty that still lurks in uncharted territories that surprises at every bend of the road. 

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THE WINERIES

Many associate Tuscany to its thriving wineries – after all, the undulating countryside of well-manicured greens are a result of vineyards and wineries that have been around since the 8th century. Drinkers and non-drinkers alike wine trip through this hilly region in search of the Tuscan reds. Castello della Paneretta stands tall in the Chianti region, where you can take a tour through the castle grounds. A wine tasting there includes pairing the wines with bread, cheeses and cold cuts.

Drive through the cypress-lined path to Poggio Antico for their Brunello di Montalcino wines. If you can spare a meal in the country, head to the winery’s restaurant to feast on Tuscan flavours and uninterrupted views.

For the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, head to Azienda Agricola Poliziano. You will be taken through the vineyards and cellars before the wine tasting. 

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THE TOWNS

Pecks of old-world towns dot the hilltops – a stop at any one of these is a must, to get acquainted with the Tuscan vibe. Many speak of glorious towns like Siena, Pisa and Lucca, but it’s the unsung hero towns that give you a peek into the people’s everyday lives. A long way down south of Florence is Pienza, home to pecorino cheese. Pienza has some of the best views of the Val d’Orcia due to its high vantage point. A visit to any of the cheesemongers there will get you stocking up on a plethora of cheeses (truffle cheese, pistachio cheese, and what have you). Just a few kilometres east and west of Pienza are the towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino for impromptu wine tastings at bars and more stunning views. 

Hands down, the best way to stumble into an obscure town is to drive aimlessly, not caring where you end up in. That is the spirit of exploring Tuscany – to let it surprise you. 

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THE FOOD

When it comes to Tuscan food, it has got to be meats, cheeses, olive oil, and plenty of good wine. Tuscany is one of the few regions in Italy where you can find Chianina cattle. This fabled beef is what makes a mouthwatering piece of Florentine steak. Ragus (meat based sauce) are what Tuscans pride themselves on. Ground meats are stewed for hours with tomatoes, celeries and carrots, and served spooned over homemade pappardelle sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese. For more on what to eat here, check out the eating guide

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ROOMS

The expanse of the Tuscan countryside means that there is plenty of room for country houses, which were erected during the days of old. Over time, these copious dwellings have been converted into swanky bed and breakfasts for travellers. On top of being a winery, Castello della Paneretta has a villa that can house ten to eleven people next to acres of sprawling vineyards. Never mind the sheer size of the villa or the glistening swimming pool, it’s the ambrosial meals cooked by the hosts that guests rave about. If you want to take home a recipe or two, you can always go for the cooking class. 

For those who love the city and everything abuzz, Le Tre Nonne in Florence is an affordable accommodation with antique rooms and a hearty Florentine host who’s more than happy to share with you every nook and cranny of the artistic city. 

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The Eating Guide to the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Italy

The Hollywood guest list at the Amalfi Coast is a never-ending story; the coast is a perennial favourite amongst A-listers for its glamourous Italian beaches, opulent hotels, and of course, divine seafood. The Amalfi Coast is made up of almost 80 km of twisting roads, soaring cliffs, and views that get exceedingly beautiful at every turn. 

In summer, days at the coast are long and languid. Stare into the deep blue ocean and you’ll see fishing boats bring in their catch of the day, which will end up on your plate at dinnertime. While you’re on the Amalfi Drive, you’ll find yourself pulling up at unexpected stops for a photo moment. Just by the side of a curb, a man is selling freshly squeezed lemonade. That’s la dolce vita for you. 

Look forward to: Seafood

La Strada 

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Where: Via Gennaro Capriglione, 178, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Seafood risotto
For: Romantic dinners

You will find La Strada tucked along the narrow streets of Praiano. There, a staircase at the back hides a surprisingly spacious, panoramic terrace on the second floor. Run by the Gagliano family, most of the menu is dependent on what the family’s trawler brings in from sea. The seafood risotto is outstanding, and other seafood dishes such as prawns and fish come with lemon dressings. 

Casa e Bottega

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Where: Viale Pasitea, 100, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Clean food
For: Breakfasts and mid-day snacks

Casa e Bottega is bringing the clean food trend to Positano by introducing organic ingredients to its menu. You’ll find freshly squeezed juices, smoothie bowls, homemade cakes, natural gelato, and an elaborate breakfast menu. They give a healthy dose of vegetables to each dish, and you’ll even find that the eggs come with cucumbers. The café also doubles up as a shop, and you can buy fish-patterned ceramics and fabrics there. 

Saraceno d’Oro

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Where: Via Pasitea, 254, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Vongole pasta
For: Casual lunches

Have a meal at Saraceno d’Oro, and you’ll feel like you’re family. This family-run restaurant tops the list for reasonable prices and quality in Positano. The atmosphere is casual, and you’re most likely going to enjoy your vongole pasta while the waiter shares with you the history and ownership of the restaurant. 

Franco’s Bar

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Where: Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Steaks
For: Pre-dinner drinks

Franco’s Bar is the bona fide watering hole – no food, just drinks and nibbles to complement. The open space is utterly chic, glamourised by splashes of gold and royal blue. Come before 6 pm (the bar’s opening time) to get a front row view of houses tumbling down Positano’s cliff. It’s insanely photogenic. 

Mimi’s Pizzeria

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Where: Via S. Francesco, 12, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
What: Pizzas
For: Casual lunches

Despite being hidden from the main square at Ravello, Mimi’s Pizzeria still gets swarms of patrons hungry for pizzas freshly baked in a wood fired oven. You won’t go wrong with the classic margherita – just tomato, mozzarella and basil on fluffy, thin crusts. If the classics bore you, go for the Mimi’s specials such as pizza with ricotta stuffed crust, tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil. 

La Bonta del Capo

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Where: Via I Maggio, 14, 84010 Conca dei Marini SA, Italy
What: Lemon ravioli
For: Beef

You will need a car to get to La Bonta del Capo, where chef Fiore Oliveto’s lemon ravioli is the star of the menu. Stuffed with lemon zest and ricotta cheese, this ravioli dish is undoubtedly light and works as a sharing dish so you won’t have to miss out on the other seafood dishes. Choose the outdoor seating area that juts out into the ocean, and you’ll know the drive up the narrow road is well worth it. 

Villa Maria

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Where: Via Santa Chiara, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
What: Vongole pasta with chickpeas
For: Smart dinners

Situated above a garden terrace, the Villa Maria mansion stands out as one of the remaining old world Italian residences in Ravello. The tables in the al fresco restaurant are housed under a canopy, with a view of Ravello’s stunning terraces. The garden is where the chef picks out fresh ingredients. There’s nothing standard about the menu – carbonara with salmon instead of pancetta, vongole paired with chickpeas. Take a walk inside the hotel’s sitting area to marvel at the marble-clad interiors. 

Kasai

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Where: Via Umberto I, 84, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Seafood
For: Casual dinners

You can’t stay past a day in Praiano without your host whispering to you that Kasai is Praiano’s finest restaurant. The menu is predominantly seafood (well, it is the Amalfi Coast after all), so don’t waste it on a chicken thigh. You can have your fill with the €25 daily set, which includes a starter, first course and main course. 

La Moressa

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Where: Via moressa 1, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Homemade sausages
For: Breakfast

La Moressa will satisfy your craving for a good ol’ English breakfast. The homemade sausages are very old fashioned – grilled ground pork shaped into irregular patties. Eggs are rare for breakfasts in Italy, but this café does them fried and as sunny side ups. And bacon, well, it comes in the form of grilled pancetta, but we’re definitely not complaining.