Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Upside Down

Posted By on Sun, May 28, 2017 at 3:07 PM

Pineapple upside down cake is peak American retro dessert. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Pineapple upside down cake is peak American retro dessert.
In the 1950s and 1960s, sweeping into a dining room or a backyard barbecue with a cinched waist and pineapple upside down cake for company was the height of suburban hostessing. The magazine clippings and index cards bearing recipes for America's own version of tart tartine could have built a land bridge to Hawaii. But after a couple of decades, the maraschino-studded cake fell on hard times, considered as tacky as the tiki torches stashed in the back of the garage. I blame burnout on fake luaus and widespread use of box cake mix, both of which are the worst unless you are under 6 years old.

Like many mid-century marvels — teak tables, movie musicals — it's making a comeback. (Note to food magazines: I see you trying to bring back aspic and that's a hard no.) The bundt version at Polynesian-style barbecue joint Sammy's BBQ (1709 Fifth St., Eureka) makes a solid case for the return of the pineapple upside down cake ($3.50). The homemade yellow cake, whipped up by the family matriarch, is firm, eggy and dotted with chunks of fruit. The top has the requisite rings of pineapple and the sticky, caramelized brown sugar. Those of you scowling at the maraschino cherries, I would like to remind you that throughout childhood you guzzled Shirley Temples for the cherries floating therein and fought with siblings over possession of the sole gleaming cherry atop a shared banana split. Let yourself enjoy it. If you're too full from ribs and kalua pork, order a piece to go. You've got a comeback in you, too.
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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Deep Dish Diplomacy

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 2:14 PM

Oy! Meat pies from another hemisphere. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Oy! Meat pies from another hemisphere.

Hey, Australia. Are we good? We had a weird phone call followed by a weird meeting and now it's awkward. But look, we made your favorite: meat pies! For those unfamiliar, meat pies are the wings and nachos of the land down under. They are at once a comfort food and the portable meal that launched a thousand hooligans. 
Less sloppy than a Sloppy Joe. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Less sloppy than a Sloppy Joe.
Unlike when restaurants whip up Asian salads and iffy Cinco de Mayo taco bowls, an actual Australian consulted on the recipe for Slice of Humboldt Pie's (828 I St., Arcata) Australian meat pies ($3.50 empanada, $7 individual pie, $28 family size). Blending in among the hot case of empanadas and pot pies, the antipodean favorites are stuffed with saucy ground Humboldt grassfed beef, minced onion and peppers. The flavor is ketchup-y in a good way, reminiscent of the sweet tomato sauce of a sloppy Joe. And unlike that quintessentially American sandwich — the engineering flaws of which are proclaimed in its very name — the filling is tidily contained in Slice of Humboldt's irreproachably buttery, flaky crust.

One can easily imagine it as a late-night drinking snack, a morning hangover helper or something to tuck into when you're jet lagged after a 22-hour flight. Cheers, mates.

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Pressed for Cuban Sandwiches

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 5:09 PM

The Cubano at the Vista. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The Cubano at the Vista.

The plot twists and sudden shifts of international politics have never come at us with such breakneck speed. Sure, you can hop a flight to Cuba now but who knows in a month or two? Stockpiling Cohibas in your bunker humidor now might not be a bad idea. And you'll need a local back-up supplier for Cuban sandwiches in case the travel ban kicks in again because going through Canada is just going to make you feel bad (we see your shade, Trudeau) and Florida just looks overwhelming.

No regime — not even Castro's — lasts forever. Indeed, Bar Fly is no more and The Vista Del Mar has risen it its spot (91 Commercial St., Eureka). New management has made over the institutionally seedy back room, added to the menu and kept the place's deep fryer game strong. The Cubano sandwich ($12) at this bar of the people comes on a fittingly proletariat aluminum tray. Sliced roast pork butt, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickle are all panini pressed on a homemade roll. This version skips the contentious salami and the bread is not technically Cuban but, like all good Cuban sandwiches, it is a savory combination of tart and meaty flavors — like the combination of a picnic and a Sunday dinner. Chase it with a Cuba Libre and toast.





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