What can you say about the place you come from? I definitely have had my fair share of criticism of my hometown, but I think that is the kind of passion that you feel for a place where you have lived most stages of life; the good and bad. Ogden is geographically gorgeous, regardless of season, the mountains are majestic, the clouds are puffy and surreal, there is a unique energy that I feel only when I am in Ogden.
I’ve been out about four years now and am at a place now where I can look at it and really appreciate it. Even in the time since I moved to Portland she has grown up, mostly for the better, and it seems that there is a progressive breeze blowing. I am going to open you up to my Ogden, just mine, my own opinions my own preferences, there are so many things with meaning here for me that I could do five volumes of posts just on Ogden, this is in no way a promotional post, as that would cheapen my true admiration for the place I was born and raised.
I guess I should start with “Ma’s house” that would be where my Mom, sister Kristina, and two nephews, who are CT transplants live. The pic above is the view from the backyard, of her Mid-Century Modern home, built in the sixties (still with all the original timepiece decorating) is situated on the East bench across the street from Mt. Ogden park and golf course.
This was not the home I grew up in, but it still has my Mom’s unique decorating and feel of home. The view up here is divine and probably those who see it everyday might take it for granted. Being situated in O-town proper this house is a great representation of living here. If you get invited to stay, it will be like no where else in the world that is for sure.
My kids love it here, as they have creative freedom to make all kinds of messes that I won’t let them do and all kinds of collections and toys from decades of collecting.
From Mom’s house I always walk to the Grounds for Coffee on Harrison, I’ve been going here since I was my daughter’s age and have seen it through many transitions. It was an example of the local movement before anyone knew what that was. The first place I met espresso and met people that were in the Utah minority like myself, frequented by college professors, students, and families like mine, I still remember sitting on the patio in the summer till 11pm talking with my family, and journaling with my friend Shannah. I even have one memory of a water balloon ambush by some local mischief makers. I can’t say they are winning any awards for coffee but they were always a safe haven for the misfits…like me. Shannah agreed to meet me for some nostalgia, as I knew she feels very similar about the place.
From the coffee shop me and my sister Kristina went to hunt bargains at Carl’s Super Saver or as we call it “Rod’s” after a gentleman that used to work there that passed away. Honestly if I was a millionaire I would still shop at the place, it’s like the best treasure hunt you’ve ever gone on for groceries and I love the fact that I can get stuff that is $8 at Wholefoods for a fraction of the price! Plus its fun, its a piece of “Old Ogden” (the old location was on 12th street) the way it was when I was a kid.
Our lunch excursion consisted of going to Tabasco’s in the Rancho Market, not only is the market awesome but the food at the restaurant is authentic and delicious as it comes. They charge enough to let you know that it takes good products (this isn’t the two for $1 tacos) and skill to make the food you are going to put into your body. It truly is a proud cuisine made with love.
My niece Xena graduated from high school and it was awesome to see another rite of passage, she is going to Golf at the local University Weber State. Portland’s own Damian Lillard is an alumni, I went there as well and it seems like Ogden is morphing into a pretty cool college town.
I got the opportunity to go hang out with one of my besties Jestine and go to our favorite sushi spot Tona. I did FOH for Tona when they opened and I’ll tell you, I learned more about running a instantly successful restaurant from working there than anything at culinary school. That recipe for success is HARD WORK. That is why they are the best, hands down, they earned it. I appreciate every moment I was on the Tona team.
After lunch we decided to hit up the Kokomo Club. The place has not changed in 50 years and they are the true “Old School” Ogden bar. Jack Kerouac was writing about visiting there in the 50’s when the Union Station had a 110 stops a day and travellers ventured onto the 25 block for some fun. My father knew the owner Mr. Simone, when my dad was running the bar that is now where Brewskis is, they had many adventures together and I respect the history of the place and the many nights of fun I’ve had there.
Come visit with a smile and an open mind and it’s basically impossible to not have a good time!
Since we were close by I wanted to go embarrass my nephew Nick at Lucky Slice, he and my nephew Matt both work there. I love it, I used to dream about Ogden having a place like this when I was in High School! I admire the young and ambitious owners providing such a great product and for braving the after hours market that is so lacking. I haven’t had one thing there I didn’t like and they have a wide range of the finest beer Utah has to offer…and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles videos game from the early 90’s.
That night I met up at my old stomping grounds The City Club, from ages 15-29 I worked there and Brewskis off and on. Both my sisters and my mother worked here as well. After culinary school I went to cook at the City club and I think to this day it was my favorite cooking job i’ve had. I was given a great deal of creative freedom and met some of the best friends I have ever had. So everytime, I come back it’s like a homecoming of sorts, so this time was no different.
My sister Kristina let me know that for the first time the Holi Festival was going to be at Lorin Farr Park in Ogden. I thought it would be a great activity for our family and I was excited as this event has been on my bucket list for a while. What better way to experience it then in your hometown, surrounded by family. Holi went above and beyond my expectations, it was overcast, but that is perfect weather for me since I’m now a Portlander. Holi is a time for spiritual renewal, I know many folks there just went to throw colored cornstarch at each other…but by the end we were embracing one another with pure love. The colors symbolize new begins and the end of Winter. The music was amazing and the message was one of peace, unity, and letting go of the past and starting new. Krishnas do not use drugs, alcohol, or eat meat, and encourage love for one another regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. My niece Gia, who has autism and is usually sensitive to crowds was all smiles and enjoyed the event. All walks of life were there…and for the first time I felt at one with my past in Ogden…it made me reevaluate my life in many ways and this event was as life altering for me as when Ogden hosted Lollapalooza 93′ and my 12 year old self watched in awe as Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine preached about the price we pay for consumerism. In other words if I was into organized religion (I’m not) I would consider becoming a Krishna. The event was magic and I encourage anyone, anywhere to attend this event, wherever you live.
The last event was eating at probably my favorite Indian restaurant…anywhere. Bombay Grill, is Northern style Indian cuisine and I am yet to meet Indian food I like better. The owners are a husband and wife team who do it all. The food is amazing and there is a passion, pride, and precision that is apparent with every bite. I talked to the owner for sometime about his past, working in many high end restaurants in India and all over the U.S. and Canada. Every experience there feels like a privilege, with pride and authenticity that no chain restaurant could even try to come close to…when you are there you REALLY are family.
Ogden is awesome, I hope if you live there I might have made you feel good, or reinforced a love for your town and the people in it. If you’ve never been, I hope you may take my advice and visit a few places I blogged about. I must say though that the best thing about Ogden is the people. Friendship and family that can never be replaced… I love you.