Sparkling Wine Festival in Salt Lake City


One of our favorite things about the holiday season is celebrating with a glass of bubbly.  Sparkling wine is the most celebratory of all drinks!

The inagural Sparkling Wine Festival hosted by the LaSalle and Trio Restaurant Groups is the ideal way to celebrate the holidays and usher in the new year. Beverage Director Jim Santangelo has selected some of the finest sparkling wines from around the world that will be paired with each chef’s special winter delicacies. These will be available from Dec. 3 through the end of January 2016 and prices will vary by restaurant.

If you’re looking to be educated in all things bubbly and delicious, Santangelo and Under Current Bar’s general manager Amy Eldredge will also offer the next in their seasonal line of educational events, a “Winter Sparkling Wine” forum on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at Under Current Bar. The evening will include a lively discussion on bubbles and small bite pairings from Executive Chef Logen Crew. The cost to attend is just $55 for the event (or $30 without sparkling wine pairings). It’s a great value!  RSVPs are required and can be made by emailing


Jimmy Santangelo, photo credit: Adam Finkle

“A bottle of bubbles will make any occasion a celebration!” says Santangelo. “Sparkling wine is always a home run with food pairing. In fact, I’ve paired sparkling wines with each course throughout the meal. It’s very versatile….and tasty!!”

Participating restaurants include: Current Fish & Oyster, Under Current Bar, Fresco Italian Café, Café Trio (Downtown and Cottonwood), Oasis Café and Caffé Niche.


Selected Sparking wines will include:

Oasis Café: Zonin Prosecco – a lively Italian Sparkling wine bursting with white peach and pear flavors.

Caffe Niche: Sumarroca Brut ‘Reserva’ Cava, Spain 2011- This vintage Cava tastes more like premium Champagne but without the price tag.

Fresco: Adami ‘Garbel 13’ Prosecco, Italy – bursts on the palate with honeydew melon with a green apple like finish.

Café Trio(s): Michelle Brut Rosé, Columbia Valley, WA – dry blush colored sparkling wine bursting with raspberry and strawberry.

Under Current Bar: Sofia ‘blanc de blancs’ Sparkling Wine, CA – Sparkling wine in a can, with your own straw! Enjoy the holidays all on your own with this delicious juicy fresh pears, melon, and honeysuckle.

 Current Fish & Oyster: Willm Cremant d’Alsace blanc de blancs Brut, France – This sparkling wine from Alsace is made in the same methodé traditionnelle used in Champagne to produce sparkling wine. Think fresh apples, peaches and apricots in a glass.




The first taste of fall: Autumn Cider Festival & Tasting class on October 6

photo 2(3)Last week I was lucky enough to preview a fantastic fall event, the LaSalle and Trio Restaurant Groups inaugural Autumn Cider Festival. Beverage Director and all-around charming guy, Jim Santangelo has selected some of the finest hard ciders to be paired with each chef’s special fall creations – available from September 17 through the end of October. Participating restaurants include: Current Fish & Oyster, Under Current Bar, Fresco Italian Café, Café Trio Cottonwood, Café Trio Downtown, Oasis Café, Caffé Niche and Kyoto.

photo 3(2)I tried the special cider pairing for Current Fish & Oyster and was totally impressed! The Mint Stinger (that’s right, a mint-flavored apple cider!) from local favorite, The Hive Winery paired with a fresh oyster was a fun combination of flavors.

photo 3(1)I was so smitten, I took two photos of the tasty combination.

Along with the Autumn Cider Festival, there is a proper tasting class. I learned a lot at the preview. We tasted eight different ciders and I was surprised that each one was so unique. I was especially impressed with the Stella Artois Cidre – it was refreshing and flavorful.

photo 1(3)Santangelo and Under Current Bar’s general manager Amy Eldredge will offer a “Autumn Cider Tasting and Class” on Friday, October 6, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at Under Current Bar. It’s totally reasonably priced – just $20 for cider pairings and $15 for food from Executive Chef Logen Crew. RSVPs are required and can be made by emailing If you love fall flavors, it’s the ultimate drinky and learny experience.

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Caffe Niche: New menu & new faces

Pistachio Encrusted Salmon

Pistachio Encrusted Salmon

Caffe Niche is featuring a new menu as well as a few fresh faces: a chef, a General Manager and Operations Manger. Caffe Niche’s new executive chef, Andy Morrison, brings over 20 years of experience at Michelin starred restaurants and high quality bistros to dining guests. After attending the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Andy immersed herself in the food and wine culture in Sonoma County serving as Sous Chef at Chateau Souverain, among other kitchens. General Manager Joseph Gee will be on hand to greet guests and is there to ensure the dining experience is highly professional and seamless from arrival to happy and delighted departure. A native of Salt Lake City, he recently returned from the Hawaiian Islands where he was the general manager of The Lighthouse. A native of Seattle, Washington, Sarah Fults joins The LaSalle Restaurant Group as operations manager most recently from The Grand America Hotel managing teams in four different restaurants. A graduate of Washington State University, she has a strong educational background in business finance and investing, adding to her strong food and beverage background.

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We think the new menu is brilliant because you can order anything you want, whenever you want. Isn’t that genius? You can have breakfast for dinner, lunch for breakfast, and well, you get the idea. New menu items include the following tempting dishes:

  • Irish Coffee French Toast: Bailey’s battered challah bread dipped in espresso with house made whipped cream,  whiskey, caramel espresso syrup, chocolate shavings  ( I peeked at another table who had ordered this dish. It’s very pretty! I should have asked for a bite.)
  • Croque Madame grilled rye bread, smoked ham, teleme cheese, Dijon aioli, two local free range fried eggs atop, served with Niche apple slaw or small Niche salad
  • Endive Salad: endive and mixed greens, asparagus, Manchego cheese, sherry Dijon vinaigrette, topped with a poached egg, truffle oil
  • Niche Club: grilled wheat bread, turkey, smoked ham, bacon, haricots vert, tomatoes, spring mix, Dijon aioli
  • Grilled Veggie Sandwich: ciabatta bread, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, red onion, spring mix,  parsley pesto, basil aioli, balsamic
  • Pistachio Crusted Salmon: lemon lentil rice pilaf, haricots verts, fava beans & petit  tomato salad, house made parsley pesto (I ordered this!! More on that later….)
  • Corned Beef Mac & Cheese: Kobe corned beef, elbow macaroni, beer cheese sauce, rye bread crumbs, side of niche apple slaw
Grilled Artichoke

Grilled Artichoke

Caffe Niche is a comfortable restaurant – the perfect place for lunch dates or romantic dinners. We arrived to a bustling brunch crowd on a Sunday afternoon. We were graciously invited to visit Caffe Niche to sample the new menu (Thank you!!). Spending some time there this afternoon, we were reminded of the things we like about this restaurant – fresh, local, good food and friendly service.

Artisan Antipasto

Artisan Antipasto

The concise menu is organized in small plates, breakfast, lunch and dinner options. We started our meal with the Grilled Artichoke ($8) and the Artisan Antipasto ($13), both from the small plate menu. The Grilled Artichoke, halved and grilled, was drenched in butter. Our meal was off to a very good start. After a few minutes digging into the artichoke, the antipasto plate showed up. Slices of Creminelli salumi was served with Beehive Cheese’s Barely Buzzed, a ball of goat cheese and a blue cheese. Caramelized onions were a nice touch.

photo 3We both ordered off of the dinner menu. Dave had his sights on the Morgan Valley Lamb ($21), lamb tenderloin marinated in a lemony, herby garlic sauce served with fingerling potatoes, broiled cherry tomatoes and spinach. He noted that it was perfectly cooked and an interesting balance of flavors. He also ate everything on the plate, even the tomatoes. I’ve never had lamb before so I was intrigued. The bite I took was phenomenal! The marinade was bright and flavorful and the little potatoes were dreamy.

Morgan Valley Lamb

Morgan Valley Lamb

I settled on the Pistachio Crusted Salmon ($24) since I didn’t have my usual fish-eating reservations knowing Caffe Niche has fresh, sustainable fish flown in daily. Served with a tasty lemon lentil rice pilaf and ultra-fresh green beans, fava beans and a mini tomato salad, the plate was dressed with dots of fresh pesto. The salmon was unlike any I’ve had before – tender, flaky with a rich crust. Even Dave, who is even more suspicious of fish, was sneaking bites off my plate.

Pistachio Crusted Salmon

Pistachio Crusted Salmon

Caffe NIche is a gem, a small restaurant with a concise menu, doing everything right. We’re looking forward to checking out the other new menu items.

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Caffe Niche is located on the corner of 779 East and 300 South / 801-433-3380 / Facebook: CaffeNicheSLC