Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meeting SLC's "Food Evangelist"

It began like many parking lot conversations did.

“Nice looking truck,” followed by some more truck talk. Then, when we were asked where we were from, came the surprise.

Our answer “north of Philadelphia” was met with the stranger’s response: “But not originally; you’re from the Midwest.”

My first response was one of curiosity. “Yes, some 40 years ago,” we answered, becoming wary of the next comment.

Not to worry. The stranger gave a number of examples of his ability to identify the region of one’s accent—even to the city in some cases.

“What brings you to my store?” was Steve Rosenberg disarming question. But before answering that, we want to say a few words about this marvelous market.

“The best things always come in small packages, and our little food-topia is no different. The building started life as a gas station in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until 1993 that things evolved in an edible direction. That was the year Steven Rosenberg (photo below) opened up Liberty Heights Fresh. As CEO—according to his business card, that’s Chief Eating Officer—he and his food-obsessed team oversee the store’s selection of mouthwatering specialty, traditional, authentic, organic, and full-flavored foods from around the world. …Richly flavored meats, extra virgin olive oils, farmstead cheeses, and fresh organic produce are just a few of the delicacies....

“Steven has received many accolades for his work at Liberty Heights Fresh, but the one of which he is most proud is having been named Salt Lake City’s ‘Food Evangelist.’ For Steven, that title says it all, since his mission in life is to spread the word about how spiritually fulfilling good food can be. He truly believes that what we put in our mouths makes a difference for our bodies, our souls, and our planet. It’s no wonder, then, that he insists on selling only the most delicious, authentic food in the world” (

“This is the shop for Utahns who believe food is an art.... If it's available in Utah, Liberty Heights will have it. The dairy case offers a variety of aged and farmstead cheeses, creme fraiche, and other specialty items. Shoppers can feast their eyes on extra-virgin olive oils and aged vinegars (left), imported pastas, spices, and shelves of condiments. And, of course, there's produce--everything in season and everything that's not. An olive bar tempts food aficionados to dip into exotic olives by the pound. Shoppers can expect to pay top dollar, but when the produce is at peak quality, it's worth it” (

So what brings us to Steven’s food-topia? Ice cream. To be specific, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams from Columbus, Ohio. Our dear friend Tom in Newtown, PA, told us “If you ever find Jeni’s ice cream—eat it. It’s the best I’ve ever had.” And we discovered Liberty Heights sells Jeni’s. So into our shopping basket went a pint of Brambleberry Crisp, which is described on Jeni’s website as being made from: “Ohio blackberries and black raspberries (that) comprise a striking, rich-colored ‘Brambleberry’ jam that's mixed with black currants and oven-toasted oat streusel and layered throughout honey vanilla bean ice cream."

This was an excellent ice cream with fresh berry flavor and the little oat streusel bits added a chewy accent. Still, my heart still belongs to Wilcoxson’s out of Montana and their huckleberry and Cream & Coffee Fudge flavors.

Next into my basket were two cheeses from the Beehive Cheese Company located in Uintah, UT. We had seen this company’s cheeses featured on a segment on Food Finds on the Food Network many years ago, and I was excited to find it at the Salt Lake City Saturday Farmer’s Market last summer. First, I selected the Full Moon (winner of a Bronze Medal, World Cheese Awards 2010) which is described on the Beehive website as:
“made with clean, raw milk form Wadeland South Dairy. Full Moon carries earthy flavor undertones that reflect the unique four season climate where we live and make cheese.” We have eaten this before so I had no hesitation in buying a good-sized wedge.

To this we added a small piece of their newest cheese—SeaHive—described as: “hand-rubbed with Beehive wildflower honey and local Redmond Real Salt. The honey is harvested from a local farm where the bees visit wildflowers and fruit orchards. The salt is from an ancient sea bed near Redmond, Utah, and contains unique flecks of color that are the result of more than 50 natural trace minerals. This cheese is shaping up to be one of our best experiments yet and is a true expression of our local flavors.” We loved this. The touch of honey mellowed what is a somewhat sharp cheese. We loved this so much that I already know where in Napa, CA (an upcoming stop) one can buy BeeHive cheeses.

Next up was a bag of Real Salt from the Redmond Trading Co. in Heber City, Utah which their website describes as “unrefined and full of natural minerals and flavor—the way salt was meant to be savored. Real Salt's unique coloring comes from more than 60 trace minerals, which also lend an amazing flavor that has helped Real Salt become the best-selling brand of sea salt in health food stores.”

This was soon to be followed by a bag of Zursun Idaho heirloom French navy beans; two (penne and linguini) Rustichella d’Abruzzo pastas; a bottle of Owens Creek (CA) extra virgin olive oil; a small packet of powdered porcini mushrooms, a small container of roasted peppers; and—while not in the basket—a case of the finest carbonated beverage ever made, Blenheim’s Red Cap Ginger Ale from Hamer, SC.

Bread? Who can forget bread with all of these goodies? We bought: a loaf of Vosen's Bread Paradise Authentic German Bakery Italian Rustique Bread (a light Italian Sourdough Bread with crispy crust and soft inside); a loaf of Ogden, Utah’s, Crumb Brothers ciabatta; and some foccacia rolls made by the Liberty Heights Market.

As we were leaving, Chuck told Steven how much we liked his market and “I almost wish we lived in Salt Lake City.” Steven’s response? “I wish you lived in Salt Lake City, too.”

Have to get home before the ice cream melts. Tomorrow we buy meat products to go with the cheese, bread, olive oil, and roasted peppers.

Is this a great food city, or what?

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