Monday, December 31, 2018

Sandwich Craft

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2018 at 10:18 AM

The hot pastrami on ciabatta. - PHOTO BY ZACH LATHOURIS
  • Photo by Zach Lathouris
  • The hot pastrami on ciabatta.

After months and years of wishing, manifesting, prayer and vision boards failed to yield a deli within medium-heel walking distance of the Journal offices, I was about to move on to witchcraft. Then Delish on 5th (440 F St.) opened up in Old Town with its case full of cured meats and cheeses, for which I'm deeply grateful, as spellwork looks like a steep learning curve.

The setup — fancy kitchen shop on one side, fancy baked goods and sandwiches on the other — is a little more bespoke than I was going for but, in fairness, I did only skim The Secret. The hot pastrami sandwich ($11), for example, comes on a crusty, Dijon-swiped hunk of house baked ciabatta and grilled until the Swiss cheese bubbles down over the sides. The meat itself has some smoke and pepper to it, but its fall-apart texture and edge-browned fat is more akin to a roasted brisket than what you'd normally order on rye or in a Rueben. This is not in any way a bad thing. Likewise the handful of tart giardiniera, with its pickled carrots, cauliflower and green beans in place of the usual dill spear.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Fresh Takes at Fregoso's

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2018 at 3:33 PM

Octopus and aguachile at Fregoso's. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Octopus and aguachile at Fregoso's.
So long, Savory. Hola, Fregosos Comida Mexicana (1504 G St., Arcata). In November, Savory's owners, who also own the Fregoso Market across from the Arcata North Coast Co-op, made the switch with a bright coat of paint, a fully Mexican menu and a new name in the same location across from Stars Hamburgers in Arcata's Northtown.

Those in thrall to the queso fresco-stuffed chile relleno served in a bubbling molcajete ($12) will be happy to learn it's still on the menu, along with a side of homemade corn tortillas, whole pinto beans and saffron risotto. The Mason jars of house made horchata, with telltale sediment and deep vanilla and cinnamon flavor deserves an equal following ($3.50). Branch out for the octopus and aguachile ($14), a bright tumble of seeded cucumbers, yellow tomatoes, radish, red onion, fresh jalapeño and cilantro with thinly sliced octopus and shrimp in a chile lime marinade. It's possibly the only salad you can lord over your companions in a Mexican restaurant. The aguachile also comes with a handful of crispy wontons, which you have missed at Chinese restaurants, whether or not you can admit it.
A fresh, minty take on tres leches cake. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • A fresh, minty take on tres leches cake.
It also leaves room for two desserts worth your gastronomic real estate. The tres leches cake ($6) is a light sponge soaked in its namesakes — condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream — and updated with a fresh mint syrup. Its polar opposite is the thick, alabaster flan ($6). You may marvel equally at its intense caramel flavor and the richness of the custard, which offers your spoon more resistance than the typical flan. And if you do order both desserts for yourself, I'm happy to report your server won't blink. That is service.
A thick flan for caramel fans. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • A thick flan for caramel fans.
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Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Cafe is Done but Bless My Soul is Still Catering

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2018 at 5:17 PM

Chef and owner Marie "Sweet Mama" Janisse. - FILE
  • File
  • Chef and owner Marie "Sweet Mama" Janisse.

If you've driven past Bless My Soul Cafe, you may have peeped the "for lease" sign in the window. The Creole restaurant, which was featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, closed its doors in September but is still catering and operating as a private party venue for now. Owner and chef Marie "Sweet Mama" Janisse says the combination of staffing issues and a drop in business she links to the hit the cannabis economy has taken led her and her daughter Desiree Janisse to shutter the dining room. 

"I had maybe 20, 25 people that were loyal customers but other than that," says Marie Janisse with a dry laugh. She says problems with staffing led to long workdays that were taking a physical toll. "It was me and my daughter carrying the whole weight of the restaurant cooking and serving, and it was killing us both."

Janisse says the Bless My Soul line of sauces are still in production and she has a private holiday party gig this weekend, so she's still working but has no plans to reopen. If you're jonesing for a chafing dish of her mac and cheese, the catering line is 362-1518.
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