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Today's word on journalism

February 17, 2009

Why I miss my hate mail:

"It's an odd thing to admit, but in a perverse sort of way, I actually miss the wretched river, the rancid flow of puerile, nasty, sickeningly homophobic email I used to receive on a regular basis from the ultra-right and the Christian right and the Mormon right and the Bush-impaired whenever I would post a friendly, pointed column full of tangy liberal attitude. . . . . Oh, I miss all the lovely and positive email too, which outpaced the nasty stuff by a huge margin. But the hate mail was very special indeed, great fodder for live readings, for the reaction of horrified disbelief of anyone who saw it, for the charming reminder of just how ugly and violent and grammatically challenged the human animal can be."

--Mark Morford, columnist, (2/13/09)

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Sonora Grill brings fine Mexican food to Ogden

By Michelle Butler

January 29, 2009 | OGDEN -- The Sonora Grill is a new restaurant on the Wasatch Front that is unlike any of the tradional Mexican restaurants many have tried.

At 2310 Kiesel Ave., it's bringing a different and healthier twist on the traditional Tex-Mex. Started by Steve Ballard in 2007, the Sonora Grill was created to be a unique dining experience with a refined atmosphere, serving regional Mexican cuisine.

Ballard's desire to bring a fresh and healthier face to Mexican food drove him and his head chief, Chris Mortensen, to travel to the northern region of Mexico, including the state of Sonora. In order to learn the art behind real authentic Mexican food, they toured the finer Mexican restaurants and checked out many roadside taco stands.

The end result was a menu filled with authentic and healthy food full of the richness and flavor that Mexico has to offer.

"The Sonora Grill is great. I lived in Mexico for two years and loved tacos al pastor. The Sonora's tacos taste just like the ones I got at the road side taco stands and I know that these ones are safe to eat," said Zac Butler, a frequent visitor to the Sonora Grill.

The Sonora is not the first restaurant to realize the importance of a healthy menu. Many restaurants nationwide are realizing that they have to change their menu or lose their customers.

"We looked at what was going on in the restaurant industry and looked at the trends," Caffe Buongiorno manager Brian Raslan told an Australian newspaper.

"The trend was that people were looking for healtier options. There used to be no choice for healthy meals apart from salads. But now between 30 and 40 per cent of our menu is healthy.

"Restaurants can cater for these people without too much trouble and the customers keep coming back for more."

The Hilton hotel chain has also included a range of healthy options on its menus to cater to public demand.

Chef Simon Bryant, who works for the Hilton, says menus are designed to cater for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, low-GI and low-carbohydrate diets.

"I think our menus cover all the bases," he says. "We're aware of all the dietary needs, but we are still a hotel, so we do jazz them up a bit."

For the Sonora, the driving force of a healthy and contemporary menu has produced dishes of amazing color and taste. An average plate is filled with colors. There's the vibrant green of the avocadoes, the deep red from tomatoes and peppers and the contrast from black beans. The plates are presented with food arranged gourmet style, often with sauces drizzled to give it a special touch.

The typically chips and salsa served at most Mexican restaurants are different at the Sonora. The chips are homemade and the size of small salad plates served with tomatillo salsa, a homemade salsa made from grilled green tomatillas.

A popular appetizer is the guacamole that is made table side, often by the owner. It's here that patrons watch as avocados are cut and mashed to form guacamole. Jalapenos and onions are chopped right there, leaving their smells in the air. Fresh tomatoes are added and the end result is a mouth watering blend of avocado and onion, with a splash of lime.

Tacos al pastor is another popular entrée. Here the creativity of the chief is displayed with four small tortillas piled high with slow cooked, seasoned pork. Each taco is topped with a mixture of grilled pineapple, avocado cream sauce and cilantro.

Without the deep fried taste many Mexican restaurants have, it's easy to appreciate the natural flavors of each meal.

And what meal would be complete without dessert? The Sonora takes the average dessert and makes it an amazing experience. From the banana split with plantains and real homemade sauce to the Torre de Bunuelos: crispy flour tortillas with fresh mangos and vanilla whipped cream, it's easy to end a delicious meal on the right foot.

With each plate made with fresh produce and concentrating on healthy and lighter flavors, the Sonora Grill is opening the door for a better dining experience that will soon become a repeat experience for all who try it.


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