"Chocolate: The Exhibit," on display at the Natural History Museum of Utah now through June 1, takes visitors on an engaging journey through the history of one of the world's favorite foods as it has evolved over more than 3000 years. The exhibit begins before visitors even enter the gallery, with the smell of chocolate letting noses know they're on the right track. Once through the doors, visitors enter a tropical rain forest, the home of the cacao tree that provides beans once considered so valuable they were used as currency.
The next section of the exhibit explains cacao's early history in the Americas, where it was used to make spiced and fermented drinks consumed by elites in Mayan and Aztec society. As cacao spread by trade throughout the Americas, it became accessible to ordinary people. The exhibit details the earliest evidence of cacao use in the United States, from a Pueblo village site near Blanding, Utah. Chemical traces of the cacao bean have been found in pottery from the site, dating to about 800 C.E.
Once the Spanish began colonizing the Americas, they brought cacao beans back to Europe, where they were made into sweetened hot chocolate, initially an expensive drink consumed by royalty. Chocolate was not made into a solid candy until the 1850s. The final portion of the exhibit is devoted to chocolate's modern history, including marketing, manufacturing, and packaging.
After making my way through the exhibit, I was definitely in the mood to taste some chocolate, and fortunately there is plenty available in the gift shop at the end of the exhibit. Visitors can buy and take home local chocolate, made from carefully selected beans by Salt Lake area food artisans.
If you can, I would recommend signing up for a chocolate tasting, which includes the opportunity to talk with a museum facilitator, plus samples of locally made chocolate. The tastings are Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. During the run of the exhibit, the museum will offer lots of fantastic chocolate programming, including "Chocolate Blasts" - short lectures by chocolate makers, archaeologists, and other experts on this amazing bean. The Chocolate Blasts are available every Saturday, and every 2nd and 4th Friday.
Saturday and Sunday March 22-23, the museum will host an "Ultimate Chocolate Festival" with bean grinding demonstrations, art activities, Mayan dance performances, and dozens of chocolate treats to taste."Chocolate, The Exhibit" is included with museum admission, and tastings are $1 extra.
Natural History Museum of Utah
301 Wakara Way
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
Photo by Marsha Maxwell
Real Salt Lake started the 2013 season with a revamped starting lineup and ended it with a somewhat improbable appearance in the MLS Cup final. The 2014 season begins with fewer player changes, and although head coach Jason Kreis has moved on to expansion team New York City FC, he has been replaced by his longtime assistant coach, Jeff Cassar.
Cassar has been with RSL as a coach since 2007, after an MLS career as a goalkeeper for the Dallas Burn, Miami Fusion, and New York Metrostars (now Red Bulls). Cassar is the only former goalkeeper to become a head coach since the inception of the MLS. He lives in Sandy with his wife and three children.
The team's roster continues to evolve, but new players listed as active in the current lineup include Luke Mulholland and Jordan Allen:
- Luke Mulholland, midfielder, was born in Preston, England and has played most recently with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
- Jordan Allen, midfielder, was born in Rochester, New York and most recently played for the University of Virginia. Allen developed as a player at the RSL-Arizona Academy.
RSL will start the regular season with two games in California, facing the LA Galaxy March 8 and the San Jose Earthquakes March 15, both at 8:30 p.m. MST and both televised on ABC 4. RSL's first home game is Saturday, March 22, when they will host LA Galaxy at 2 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Update: RSL won their 2014 season opener with a goal in the 80th minute by Joao Plata.
Photo: Jeff Cassar, courtesy Real Salt Lake
The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art has a new program for tiny art lovers and their adult caretakers. "Stroller Tours" will be offered the second Wednesday of every month, at 9:30 a.m. before regular museum hours. Museum staff will be on hand to show participants through the museum, with no worry about little ones disturbing other patrons. Tours are free. RSVP to Jared.Steffensen@utahmoca.org. Stroller Tours joins UMOCA's other popular free family program, "Family Art Saturdays," held the second Saturday of every month from 2-4 p.m.
The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art showcases international, national, regional, and local art that is relevant to our time. UMOCA offers rotating exhibitions in four gallery spaces, as well as a variety of public programs to cultivate awareness of contemporary art.
20 S West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Photo courtesy Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
Almost everyone loves pizza, and it seems like there's a pizza restaurant around every corner. There's no reason to settle for inferior pie, though, if you know where to find something better. I've put together a list of favorite pizza restaurants from all over the Salt Lake Valley, so you can satisfy your pizza cravings no matter where you are. Let me know if I missed your favorite!
Photo by Carin Krasner
President's Day weekend is a great time for a warm-weather getaway, but it's also a great time for family fun here in Salt Lake City. Indoor and outdoor event highlights this weekend include the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at The Leonardo, "Chocolate, The Exhibit" at the Natural History Museum of Utah, terrific conditions at Salt Lake area ski resorts, and a monster truck rally at EnergySolutions Arena. If you want to fight cabin fever with a little exercise, you could visit one of Salt Lake City's indoor swimming pools or trampoline parks. There's something for everyone, including a few free activities, so browse the list to start planning a little family bonding time this President's Day.
Photo by Peter Gridley
Valentine's Day is almost here - how will you be celebrating? There are lots of possibilities in the Salt Lake area, including arts performances, romantic restaurants and dining deals for all budgets. It's not too late to plan the perfect Valentine's Day and let your sweetheart and all your loved ones know how special they are.
Photo by Deborah Harrison
The state of Utah will be well represented when the 2014 Winter Olympic Games begin in Sochi, Russia on Friday, Feb. 7. Utah is a magnet for winter athletes because of the 2002 Olympic training facilities, plus excellent conditions for ice and snow. I've collected a list of Utah residents who will be competing in Sochi, in skiing, speedskating, bobsled, luge and skeleton. Some were born and raised in Utah, and others live in Utah for training. Some will win medals in Sochi, but all of them have made incredible sacrifices just to compete at the Olympic Games.
Photo: Park City native and Alpine ski racer Ted Ligety will represent Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. By Getty Images.
Gourmandise, The Bakery has been serving French pastries and café cuisine at 250 S. 300 E. for more than 20 years, but recently the restaurant has gotten a sleek new interior and a new evening menu of small plates, plus carefully selected wine an beer pairings. A selection of small plates, beverages and desserts can be combined to make a truly enjoyable evening meal.
Some of my favorites from the small plates menu are the roasted tri tip steak with burgundy Gorgonzola pan sauce, the vegetarian risotto, and the potatoes au gratin with four cheeses. Save room for dessert - I recommend the strawberry millefeuille or the marzipan slice.
Photo by Marsha Maxwell
The 2014 session of the Utah State Legislature began yesterday, and some of the biggest problems that will be discussed might seem familiar. Issues on the legislature's front burner include Utah's air pollution problems, Utah's response to federal health care reform, and reform of Utah's liquor laws.
Do you know who your legislators are and what they are doing on Capitol Hill? Are there issues you really care about or bills you want to track? I've put together a citizen's guide to the Utah State Legislature, with links to help you find your reps, track bills, get news and more. You might find issues you want to speak out on, or information that helps you make voting decisions next election season.
Photo by Jumper
One of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century is on display in Salt Lake City, offering viewers the chance to connect with people whose lives are separated from ours by thousands of years and thousands of miles, but whose writings still influence the way we live today.
"The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Ancient Times," billed as the largest collection of Holy Land artifacts outside Israel, is on display at The Leonardo until April 27th. The scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin shepherd in a series of caves near the ancient village of Qumron. Qumron is located near the Dead Sea, in a hot desert landscape that is 1200 feet below sea level.
The scrolls date from about 300 BCE to about 70 CE. The scrolls contain copies of texts that are found in the Hebrew Bible, including every book of the current Bible except Esther. Other scrolls include poetry, hymns, rules of conduct, and non-Biblical religious writings. Because the scrolls were hidden in jars inside caves distant from Jerusalem, they are some of the few ancient Hebrew texts that survived the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
The exhibit tells several stories: the story of the scrolls' discovery and excavation in the late 1940s, the story of the scrolls' restoration from scattered fragments to readable texts, the story of the life of life in ancient Israel, the story of writing, and the story of the Hebrew people. There is also a section that explains the involvement of several Brigham Young University scholars in the Dead Sea Scrolls project. The display includes hundreds of artifacts besides the scrolls: jars, coins, household items, ceremonial items, and a three-ton chunk of Jerusalem's Western Wall, which survived Roman destruction. It's a tradition to write prayers on small slips of paper and leave them in the crevices of the Western Wall, so museum visitors are encouraged to do the same with the fragment on display.
My favorite artifacts were some of the ceremonial items from Qumran and other parts of ancient Israel, including ritual baths and mysterious female statuettes. It was amazing to get a glimpse at the lives of ancient people, and there aren't many places you can see texts that are more than 2,000 years old. I thought the exhibit was well worth visiting, even with a price tag of $23.95 for adults. Discounts are available for students, children, seniors, and low income residents of Salt Lake City.
209 E. 900 S.Salt Lake City, UT 84111