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EklectiCafe
the World in a Teacup

by Annabelle Numaguchi

Immediately upon returning home after interviewing Brittany Sheain, head cook at Eklecticafé, I set about making her Thai Peanut Sauce. I felt like a renegade scientist who’d finally gotten possession of a secret recipe for a potent elixir. At least, a sauce with a really good tang that awakens and delights the taste buds because that is exactly what I feel each time I have ordered the Thai Chicken or Tofu at Eklecticafé, This coffeehouse of collectibles has gradually expanded its breakfast and lunch menus to include such mouth-watering, tantalizing items that keep customers, locals and visitors alike, coming back for more. But the first thing you will probably notice upon walking onto Eklectica’s premises is not the marvelous menu, but the decor. What better word to describe it than...eclectic.

Julie Fox

The quaint wood building sports a front porch that leads to a covered patio, all giving onto Eklectica’s colorful xeriscaping. The water-wise blooms grow willy-nilly, reminiscent of an English garden. At the heart of the garden sits Eklectica’s signature giant teacup, encrusted with tiles whose design recreates the world atlas. The enormous cup that doubles as a fountain seems to symbolize all the exotic jewelry, memorabilia and multi-ethnic cuisine found within the tiny restaurant.

As you step inside the building, the myriad hues of the garden are duplicated in the ubiquitous display of collectibles and art that adorn the walls, shelves and tables. A wood stove in the corner adds the right touch to finish off the warm feeling the restaurant exudes, a bit like visiting your favorite aunt’s cottage. The interior is small, but the outdoor seating provides more than ample room for customers and offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the fresh air, beautiful flowers and healthy food, with the added attraction, two or three Sundays a month, of live music.

What the interior lacks in spaciousness, it more than makes up for in personality. A glass counter displaying the freshly made salads and deserts of the day separates the customer from the tiny working space and kitchen. Until I discovered her history, I wondered how Julie Fox, owner and manager of EklectiCafé, functioned in such tight quarters, especially since there has always seems to be a genuine feeling of camaraderie among the staff. Julie worked as a waitress on trains for twenty years before opening up Ekecticafe as a coffeehouse six years ago. She laughs while explaining, “Our kitchen is like a ship’s galley, but I‘m used to it.” Originally from Salt Lake City, she has traveled the country back and forth innumerable times.

Brittany Sheain

The size of this coffeehouse-turned-restaurant contributes to its charm. As Brittany explains, “I enjoy working in a small restaurant where we make things from scratch.” Eklecticafé specializes in home-made food, which belies the variety of permanent items and specials on the menu, including whole wheat pancakes, nori rolls, quinoa salads and North African squash stew. Brittany summarizes her cooking philosophy by describing it as “healthy, honest, interesting, creative food.” Much of the produce used in her cooking is locally grown and organic. Brittany adds, however, that “to balance out the healthy, we always have a decadent desert.”

Considering that she graduated from pastry school and ran the bakery at the Market Street Broiler in Salt Lake City, she knows decadent deserts. After finishing the Salad Sampler, a copious plate comprised of the three daily salad specials, I have often spoiled myself with a home-made eclair, well worth the caloric indulgence and can personally attest that the deserts are as good as they look.

Breaking away from the stereotypical chef who would sooner divulge state secrets than successful recipes, Brittany is willing to share hers with whomever asks. She claims that she “takes it as a compliment that someone would like something so much that they’d like to take it home and make it themselves.” In fact, she plans on publishing a cookbook which is due out in 2003.

I was particularly pleased that I don’t have to wait a whole year to get my hands on her Thai Peanut Sauce. I have certainly enjoyed the pleasant tang of the recipe at home, but it won’t keep me from going back to Eklectica for other favorites, including a delicious salmon burger whose deliciousness still lingers in the back of my taste buds’ memory.

Eklecticafé (259-6896) is located at 352 N. Main Street and their hours are 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Recipe of the Month

Brittany’s Thai Peanut Sauce

(makes 2½ - 3 cups)

Sauce holds well in fridge for 2 months and will marinate up to 6 pounds of meat or chicken.

In a blender or food processor, place:

4 cloves peeled garlic
5 green onions
½ cup packed cilantro leaves
Juice of 1½ limes


Blend well and add:

¼ plus 1/8 cup brown sugar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
½ cup hot water
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1/8 to ¼ cup Thai chilies
1½ cup peanut butter

 

Blend until smooth, adding Thai chilies to taste, as chilies are hot!!

Cut meat or chicken in pieces to fit on skewers. Marinate, turning once or twice, 3-4 hours or overnight (the best). Soak bamboo skewers in water about half an hour, drain. Skewer meat or chicken and barbeque.

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