Thursday, April 3, 2014

Raise Your Glass

Posted By on Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 3:02 PM

click to enlarge HUFFINGTON POST
  • Huffington Post

The National Brewers Association, having finally sobered up from trying all the craft beer in the land, has released its top 50 craft breweries in the country. Lost Coast Brewery made 37. (Pause for moment of local pride and hearty belch.) Check out the full list on the Huffington Post
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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Posted By on Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 12:04 PM

click to enlarge Meat pile at Wild Oaks. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Meat pile at Wild Oaks.
I only ever see the plumes of smoke shooting up from the behemoth of a barbecue stand at the Eureka Veterans Hall when I've already eaten. So when we drove by last week on the way to lunch, I hollered at my colleague to pull over, which she did, Transporter style. Bracing.  

click to enlarge Belly up for pork belly. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Belly up for pork belly.

There are no sandwiches, no sides and no scales. What the Wild Oaks Grill does have is tri-tip, bacon, ribs, pork belly, brisket, yard bird (chicken) and pig ass (pulled pork). Proprietor Rob Dunn reaches through the black clouds puffing out of the Santa Maria-style grill and pulls out a foil-wrapped hunk of pork belly that's been smoked for five hours with salt, pepper, garlic and a little brown sugar. He slices off a trembling plank for us to sample — meltingly juicy meat striped with glistening fat that's caramelized at the edges. He squints at the cut, roughly the size of a hardcover airport novel, and says $20. Sold. My wheel-woman gets a hunk of tri-tip and a half chicken for $35. (Psst: The chicken steals the show.)

click to enlarge Yard bird hot from the grill. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Yard bird hot from the grill.

Dunn hauls his converted 1960s boat trailer to Hoby's Market in Scotia on Tuesdays, the Veterans Hall in Eureka on Wednesdays, the 76 station at 2698 Central Avenue in McKinlyeville on Thursdays and the Country Club Market in Eureka on Fridays. And judging from the pack tucked in the bib of his overalls, when he's not standing over a billowing stack of meat and a burning pile of split black oak, he's smoking a cigar. 

click to enlarge Keeping score on the back of the rig. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Keeping score on the back of the rig.



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Friday, March 28, 2014

#tasteofmain

Posted By on Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 11:27 AM

That little packet of Taste of Main Street tickets is a challenge. It's a gauntlet of 26 eateries ... not that you have anything to prove. But it's like a trip to Disneyland — all that pressure to hit the big rides and still make it back to the car without anybody passed out or in tears.


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Monday, March 17, 2014

'Tis a Wee Cupcake

Posted By on Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 5:31 PM

click to enlarge DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day a little. Really little. This leprechaun-sized Guinness cupcake from Ramone's ($1.25) is moist and chocolatey, with a hint of stout and a fluffy dollop of buttercream. And you can always share it. 
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Drink Me, I'm Irish

Posted By on Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Put down that Redi-wip and Bailey's. The good folks at Gallagher's showed us how to make a proper Irish coffee for St. Patrick's Day. Or Monday. Remember: real, fresh whipped cream, unsweetened. And don't skimp on the whiskey — a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but it won't cover the taste of the cheap stuff. Jameson, and be generous. 

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Old Ale, New Tricks

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 6:04 PM

click to enlarge Vanilla eisbier, baby. - DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
  • Vanilla eisbier, baby.

The Local Beer Bar is celebrating its second birthday on Saturday by releasing an anniversary ale whipped up with Eel River Brewery — a vanilla eisbier aptly named Stop, Collaborate and Listen (price TBA). Why? Because it's iced, iced, baby. What? We were all thinking it. And in one of the most scandalous abuses of press passes in history, the Journal popped in for a sneak preview. Several of us, actually. (Suddenly everybody's a journalist.) The heavy ale is served a little warmer so the vanilla and the oak come out, and the dark beer bite is cut by a caramel flavor. It's luscious stuff, perfect for fans of boozy, robust beers. But beware: the little glass packs a wallop at 13 percent alcohol. Maybe you should grab a stool. 

click to enlarge Drink it slowly. - DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
  • Drink it slowly.
According to Local owner Darren Cartledge, the final product took three tries with the tricky German icing process before aging several batches in a bourbon barrel. That might be why this sort of thing doesn't get made all the time. Old ales are meant to travel (see, the growler is part of our cultural heritage) and to age well, "collapsing on itself," says Cartledge. So in another two months, he'll be releasing a little more of his stock so you can see how it's developing. For science. 

The taps open at noon tomorrow with the eisbier and a lineup of Cartledge's favorites. "Everyone has to drink what I like," he says.


click to enlarge Owner Darren Cartledge puts one up on the board. - DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
  • Owner Darren Cartledge puts one up on the board.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Veal Deal

Posted By on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 5:52 PM

click to enlarge Lunch just got veal. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Lunch just got veal.

Some days call for a fancy lunch. Birthdays, meeting friends you haven't seen in a while, brutal weeks at the office — eating something wadded in paper will not do. You need little bread plates, ironed tablecloths and a plate of something slightly romantic that required deglazing and reducing. Sadly, not all of these days come after payday, and accruing debt so you can pop bottles at noon on a Wednesday is just self-destructive. Consider instead the veal marsala fettuccine ($11) on the lunch menu at Gabriel's. The veal is seared and tender, tossed with red onions and mushrooms in a garlicky marsala sauce. Fresh parmesan? Make it rain. There you are up on the second floor, dipping your bread into a dish of green olive oil, eating real food like a person instead of hunching over your keyboard and picking cold fries out of a paper bag. Enjoy the ribbons of al dente pasta, and embrace the return of your dignity. 
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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Doughnut Evolution: Update

Posted By on Sun, Mar 2, 2014 at 9:30 AM

click to enlarge Cherry Blossom Bakery meddles with forces it does not understand. - DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
  • Cherry Blossom Bakery meddles with forces it does not understand.

In the most important use of social media since the Arab Spring, a reader informed us that Cherry Blossom Bakery (2940 F St., Eureka) has had croissant doughnuts for months ($2.25). I called ahead to put a hold on the last two of the day (not a bad idea, since they run out quickly).

click to enlarge The offspring of a croissant, a doughnut and an eclair. - DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
  • The offspring of a croissant, a doughnut and an eclair.

Totally different doughnut. Instead of puffing up all springy and poofy, these are flattened and heavy. Don't be put off — they are also buttery and rich, filled with thick, eggy custard and topped with chocolate glaze.

click to enlarge A fried pie covered in cake, and you can still eat it for breakfast. - DREW HYLAND
  • Drew Hyland
  • A fried pie covered in cake, and you can still eat it for breakfast.

According to the lovely woman who bagged up the pastries, the baker occasionally gets "a wild hair" and experiments. This week's yield is a Cherry Log, filled with cherry pie filling, glazed and dusted with cake crumbs, and a chocolate-glazed doughnut that's fried with slightly salty peanut butter inside ($2.25 each). Pick up the latter if you have a pregnant woman in your life. But she's going to need a glass of milk and to turn off her phone first — it's a mouthful.
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Doughnut Evolution

Posted By on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 10:13 AM

click to enlarge Behold the next step in doughnut evolution. - JASON MARAK
  • Jason Marak
  • Behold the next step in doughnut evolution.
Last year, New York City was brought to its knees by the Cronut, a doughnut made from croissant pastry. Let that sink in. It's taken this long for the flaky phenomenon to make it to Humboldt (not a huge surprise, given the lingering mullets around town), and it's shown up in the most unlikely place: Safeway. Who saw that coming?

For $5 for a box of four, you can find out what happens when you deep fry an already buttery croissant and glaze it. The result is a delightfully chewy, puffy-layered cousin to the French cruller. While it's still technically breakfast/office appropriate, it's not out of the question to serve it for dessert. How long before the sugar-coated mash-up hits the fryers in our local doughnut shops? Keep a weather eye out and let us know if you spot one. 
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Friday, February 21, 2014

Sandwich Porn

Posted By on Fri, Feb 21, 2014 at 10:19 AM

click to enlarge You're a naughty vegetarian sandwich, and you need to be punished. - JENNIFER SAVAGE
  • Jennifer Savage
  • You're a naughty vegetarian sandwich, and you need to be punished.

When you name something the "XXX Adults Only Grilled Cheese Sandwich," you're making a statement. A reader sent in an email tip about her favorite order at Lost Coast Café and Bakery (468 Main St., Ferndale), and her flustered description of the sandwich read a bit like vintage Penthouse Forum. The first time I ordered it, I forgot my camera and had to borrow a woman's phone to snap a lurid photo of it. She never sent me the image — maybe she wanted to keep it for herself — and I can't really blame her.

The XXX is a pile-on of cheddar, jack and feta cheeses melted over grilled onion, zucchini, mushroom, tomato and jalapeno — just enough for a little heat — on grilled homemade wheat bread ($7.25). Beyond homemade, actually, since chef Mario Lorenzo mills the local wheat himself. Who does that? The same guy who whips up the pesto aioli slathered on the bread. Don't try to pick the XXX up like a diner grilled cheese; this is a fork and knife situation. The thick, crusty-edged slices of bread are too tender to support the fillings, and you want to eat it, not wear it. Or maybe you do — the lingering smell of pesto aioli is sexy as hell.

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