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Restaurant Happenings - June 2004

Sunshine Deli
817 South Main Street in the Moab Chevron (435) 259-0500
fax (435) 259-2212

Sunshine Deli-cious!
by Annabelle Numaguchi

When you walk into a gas station to grab a quick bite to go, the last thing you would expect to find is healthy, organic, made from scratch sandwiches. Located inside the Chevron Station on the south end of Main Street, the Sunshine Deli defies all expectations and delivers a wonderful variety of home made delicacies.

The mainstay of the deli is the dizzying array of sixteen specialty sandwiches. The bread is baked daily, but what makes these sandwiches stand out is the freshness and abundance of ingredients between the slices.

The menu lists deli classics like Rubens and Club sandwiches, but the variety of combinations keeps it from getting boring. For diners who can’t decide which of the sixteen sandwiches sounds right for them, they can test their own creativity by making up their own from amid the assortment of fresh ingredients.

Even the Scrumptiously Vegan sounds tempting to a carnivore like me with its hummus, sunflower seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts, fresh tomatoes, carrots, onion, olives, green peppers, pickles, vinegar and pesto.

Sack Lunches make it possible to pack these delicious sandwiches for the trail. For an extra $1.50 on top of the price of the sandwich, the sack includes the choice of a cookie or trail bar, fruit or chips and water. The deli also includes condiments, such as fresh pesto.

The owners, Annie and Ron Thomas, are a young, active couple who joined the Moab community a year ago. They fell in love with small towns and the slower pace of life after working in a little vegetarian restaurant on Orcas Island, Washington.

The owners of the Chevron station, Ashley and Stuart Kent, have been long-time friends of the Thomases and enticed them to start their own deli in the empty kitchen attached to the gas station. Annie and Ron decided to orient their restaurant towards healthy, organic and affordable food. They wanted a name that reflected this idea and settled on Sunshine, inspired by the middle name Ashley has given her daughter.
In addition to the sanwiches, the Sunshine Deli offers a variety of pasta salads, all organic and made in-house, that include cosmopolitan flavors like Greek Pasta with Feta, Szechuan Pasta Hot-n-Spicy and Spring Cous Cous Salad.

The deli also has home-made cookies, trail bars and muffins. Ron describes them as “trouble; they’re so good.” The recipes are mostly from the family, particularly the ones for the muffins. They are named “Abby’s Muffins,” a diminutive of abuela, the Spanish word for grandmother since that‘s where Ron got the recipes.

Annie and Ron use their own tastes as the inspiration for their menu. If it’s something they feel good about eating themselves, it’s something worth making for others. For example, the deli’s breakfast burritos are tasty and nutritious enough to feed to the Thomas’s cherubic two-year old daughter, Jaidyn.

The Sunshine Deli has just expanded its wares to include breakfast and dinner. Motivated by the campfire dinners they cook on their trips, they are offering Hobo Dinners, all wrapped in tin foil and ready to be cooked over an open fire. The restaurant also has other Take ‘n Bake specials, like lasagna, along with dine-in meals.

Annie explains that they try to keep most of their offerings “super healthy.“ She says that she thinks of Jaidyn when she is creating recipes, using things like honey instead of processed sugar to sweeten them.
This is a deli with a social conscience. Recycling is a priority to Ron and Annie, especially with all the packaging involved in wrapping up their food for the road. They use #1 plastic so it can all be recycled and give 5 cents back to customers who return the empty containers.

As the season permits, the deli buys most of its produce from the Youth Garden Project (YGP), a local organization involving kids who want to or must do community service in growing organic fruits and vegetables. Annie explains that part of the reason they choose to buy from YGP is that she and Ron feel a strong commitment to “supporting other local businesses, especially those working with kids.”

The community is responding in kind. The Moab Academy purchases its lunches for the kids from the Sunshine Deli. And, Moonflower Market carries certain deli items, including their organic pasta salads.
The commitment Ron and Annie have made to freshness, wholesomeness and environmentalism shines through their deli. They make their food from scratch, using home recipes and as much local, organic produce as possible. It is generally not easy to find food that’s fast, nutritious and delicious. In this case, you have to look for a little sunshine in one of the least likely places you’d expect.

The Sunshine Deli is located at 817 South Main Street in the Moab Chevron and can be reached by telephone at (435) 259-0500 or by fax at (435) 259-2212 (get a free cookie with faxed orders through the month of June). They are open from 6:00a.m. to 8p.m. (Mon.-Fri.) and 6:30a.m. to 8:00p.m. (Sat.) and 7:00a.m. to 6:00p.m. (Sun.). Sandwich prices range from $3.50 to $5.99.

Recipe of the Month

Sunshine Deli

Simple Mini Chocolate Cheesecake
(makes about 2 dozen)

24 vanilla wafers
2 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar 1/3 cup cocoa
2 Tbsp. flour 3 eggs
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream 1 tsp. vanilla extract
canned cherry pie filling, chilled Sour Cream Topping

Heat oven to 350°. Line muffin pans with foil bake cups. Place one vanilla wafer in bottom of each cup. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, cocoa and flour; blend well. Add eggs; beat well. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Fill each foil cup almost full with cheese mixture. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until set. Cool 5 to 10 minutes. Spread heaping teaspoonful of Sour Cream Topping on each up. Cool completely in pans. Refrigerate. Garnish with dollop of cherry pie filling just before serving. Refrigerate leftover cheesecakes.

Sour Cream Topping
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, sugar and vanilla. Stir until sugar dissolves.

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