Springdale, UT: Back In The Saddle
The best part of setting up shop a mile outside of Zion’s entrance, aside from the majestic views and nature’s daily reminder of how awesome she is, was the opportunity to finally reboot our cooking game.
Since we’ve been on the road, we hadn’t really been able to find our old kitchen rhythm. We tried in Monterey, but the weather wasn’t great and we were still terrified of our plumbing and propane. Santa Barbara had way too many restaurant and wine options, so it would have been silly to try there. Swinging through Malibu meant we were right next to our old haunts and LA’s food is just...I mean... Desert Hot Springs was a barren wasteland and I prefer you never bring it up again. As for Vegas? Well, two words: Joel Robuchon. But in Springdale, our best dining out option was a turkey sandwich so it was time to get back to business.
Not wanting to ease back into the mix, we hit the ground running with paella. Well, at least the the spirit of paella. Having done a little recon’, we knew the local market wasn’t the go-to spot for fresh seafood or specialty rice. We also knew that we were in southern Utah and would have to carefully climb down from our high horse and drive 30 minutes to a bigger town with a more robust selection of foodstuffs.
La Verkin, while having a larger grocery store, still left a few things to be desired. We quickly eschewed the notion of our signature squid ink, and in short succession, out the window went the idea of Argentinian prawns (Sam’s favorite). Undeterred, we combed the aisles and successfully found chicken jalapeno sausage, pre-packaged “yellow” rice, and 2% ABV Milwaukee's Best. With those essentials in hand and knowing that we had plenty of saffron and other aromatics on the boat, we headed home, ready to dust off the knife skills and tasting spoons.
All things considered, it was pretty damn fine “paella.” Turns out the right pan, some oil, proper heat, surprisingly not bad chicken jalapeno sausage, and a little patience go a long way when you’re faking Spanish deliciousness. We tin foiled a small bunch of broccolini with olive oil and garlic as a side, and we were back on the dance floor.
Subsequent dinners ranged from pounds of smoked Italian sausage to charcuterie (Utah style) to grilled portobellos with sauteed onions to ribeyes to carbonara and, finally, to campfire chili. In addition to finding our groove again, we were really just looking for any excuse to cook in the shadow of The Watchman.
Springdale is a great town and Zion is an amazing place--if you haven’t been, fix that. The food wasn’t as bad as I make it out to be. In between the sports bar with reheated frozen jalapeno poppers and the “Thai” restaurant with a menu that included pho, spaghetti with meatballs, and pulled pork sliders, there were the aforementioned turkey sandos and a pretty decent breakfast buffet.