You love sushi, right? And yet, now and then when everybody wants to go for rolls, you slump a little. What is that? It's hunger. You are starving, and as much as you'd love a delicate sprinkling of tobiko over a pristine cube of tuna, you just don't have the bank account to fill your growling belly like you could with, say, a sub.
Down, belly. The Golden Dragon roll at Bayfront is a genuinely substantial sushi roll ($10.50). It shows up on a long plate like an eight-car rollercoaster of tempura shrimp, salmon, thin slices of lemon, spicy mayonnaise sauce and hey, that sprinkling of tobiko. The lemon turns out to be the star, balancing the richness of the salmon and the crispy shrimp.
Behold salsa: fresh, piquant and colorful, savior of bland dishes, the lone healthy food on the game-day buffet. And salsa contains multitudes — spicy, fruity; just think where an adventurous chef and a curious child might go with it. Better yet, find out. At noon on Saturday, follow the sound of crunching chips and veggies to the Arcata Plaza, where teams of local elementary school students will be competing in the fourth annual North Coast Youth Culinary AllSTARS Salsa Recipe Competition.
Each team learns about nutrition and is mentored by a local chef who helps the team come up with a zinger. Have you seen Viva Las Veggies in the store? That was last year's winner from South Fortuna Elementary, coached by Patty Lapham from River's Edge. The county education office's nutrition program and the Rising Stars Foundation put this thing on to teach kids about eating right and cooking. It's enough to shame you out of that Hot Pocket. Really. Put it down.
It's all happening during the farmers market, so you can sample, vote and then go home and freestyle a salsa of your own.
Have cupcakes had their moment? Is it time for another dessert to step up to the plate?
Got a tip about the Very Berry pie at Ferndale Pie Company (543 Main St., Ferndale), specifically the crumb-topped one. (If you have a lead on a favorite dish in Humboldt, now would be a good time for you to shoot a quick email to Jennifer@northcoastjournal.com. We'll wait.)
The Apple Harvest Festival in Fortuna pays weekend-long tribute to the humble, versatile, universally loved apple. Right now, someone is objecting and saying he or she hates apples. Wrong. You're forgetting apple pie, apple-smoked bacon, caramel apples, apple fritters, apple martinis (oh, don't turn your nose up — we saw you in the '90s), green apple Jolly Ranchers and Gwyneth Paltrow's kid. (How can you hate a child?) Fight it all you want, but the apple will win you over one way or another.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Main Street will be taken over by an apple-centric street fair with no end of delights, including apple desserts, pulled pork and a bouncy house. When that ends, you can roll up on the roller skating party in Rohner Park's Firemen's Pavilion at 5 p.m. ($4, all ages). Been a while since you skated? There's no shame in hugging the wall.
Over at Clendenen's Cider Works, which you can get to and from via speeder car or hay wagon, there'll be live music, an apple wood barbecue, hayrides, and free cider and apple tasting all weekend starting at noon. Take a bite of Bellflower, Spitzenberg, Mutsu and Jonagold — all of which would have been better names for Kim and Kanye's kid.
Strongs Creek Plaza is hosting free kids' activities, including a pony carousel and face painting from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. What else do kids like? Fire trucks. The volunteer fire department has you covered with engine rides and demonstrations. You know, Jaws of Life, a military helicopter landing. And where there's smoke, sometimes there's pulled pork — proceeds from sandwiches and such go to families who lost homes to fire and to support firefighting families. So do your part and eat some pork.
Pop back down to Main Street on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and shop the Harvest Market for produce and crafts. And maybe one last speeder ride.
Well, not really, but it's fun to say. Brace yourselves, people: Venlo has a new owner. Jonah Ginsburg, a real estate agent at Mikki Moves, saw the listing in the office and decided to buy the Old Town chocolate shop. He says he's not a chocolatier, but he's learning. And he's got help. Manager Ken Buntin, who's worked there for 20 years, ever since he started out "boiling caramel on a tiny stove," is staying on at Venlo with the rest of the staff. The transition will not affect candy production. (Collective sigh of relief.)
Jacques Holten, owner of Sjaak's Organic Chocolate, says, "It was time." Separating the Venlo brand had already been necessary for Sjaak's to be certified organic. There had been discussion of selling in the past, but the staff only learned the deal was actually happening a few days before the sale closed.
While Venlo in Eureka will be separate from Sjaak's Organic Chocolates in Blue Lake and Petaluma, much of what's in the boxes will remain the same for the time being. Buntin and Ginsburg are keeping the classics and opening up the recipe book for new confections now that non-vegetarian ingredients are on the table.
What does that mean? Vegans: You can still get your dark chocolate fix. Non-vegans: you can now get rocky road with real marshmallows.
In fact, new items are already on the counter, including chocolate strawberries and boozy Grand Marnier cordials. This reporter tried the cordial ($2.75) because the public has a right to know, and they it both 'lish and totally fine at your desk, unlike an actual shot.
Stuffed pizza tends to let you down while doubling your carbs. This is partly because the bubbly exposed cheese doesn't happen and the sauce stays too wet. The Brooklyn at Paul's Live from New York (604 F St. Eureka) does not fall into this trap, mainly because it is — shhhh! — not really a slice of pizza.
It's profoundly garlicky sautéed spinach with mozzarella and ricotta cheese between two layers of pizza crust, the top of which is dusted with Romano cheese. Sharing is a good idea, as are mints, unless you want to keep Twilight fans at bay. (So sad — it's over and they have nowhere to go.)
But what about sauce? Got your sauce right here. On the side in a little cup, thus solving the mushy stuffed pizza dilemma and satisfying control freaks. I used to bring my Nanna, a Sicilian New Yorker who relocated here, a slice at her assisted living home. I suspect she loved the smell of it filling up the whole dining room and making people jealous as much as she loved eating it. Bring some back to the office and see what I mean.
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