Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Monday Night Polenta Club

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 12:15 PM

The ever-changing Monday night polenta special. - PHOTO BY ZACH LATHOURIS
  • Photo by Zach Lathouris
  • The ever-changing Monday night polenta special.

A wine cork's downhill roll from Brick & Fire is 2 Doors Down (1626 F. St., Eureka), its wine bar sibling, drawing its menu from the same tight kitchen. The dimensions of the wine list and dinner menu are reversed but that doesn't mean you're relegated to cheese plates and appetizers alone. On Monday nights, when so many places are closed, regulars cram in at the handful of tables for the $12 polenta special. You can't beat it but you can miss it. In this economy, go early.

Week to week the variations swing from coq au vin with gruyere polenta to shrimp and grits to Tuscan beef stew with pecorino polenta. On a recent evening the roasted square of polenta — browned and crisp at the edges with a creamy interior — was placed in broth from sautéed kale, tomato and white beans, beside a boudin blanc sausage. The pale link is made in house from a finely ground, peppery blend of chicken thigh, pork shoulder, bacon and wild chanterelle mushrooms. On a cold night, it's exactly the casual take on French and Italian, and it's downright restorative. Nod to your wine-flushed neighbors — you're practically sharing a table with them anyway — who are likely eating the same thing, and enjoy the smug satisfaction of belonging to the right kind of club.
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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Local Businesses Give Federal Employees a Break

Posted By on Sun, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:13 PM

Pizza at the Diver Bar & Grill, where furloughed federal workers get a break during the shutdown. - FILE
  • File
  • Pizza at the Diver Bar & Grill, where furloughed federal workers get a break during the shutdown.

Here we are on Day 30 of a partial federal government shutdown and those going without paychecks are feeling the pressure. The city of Eureka has set up a GoFundMe to help out local Coast Guard members and a handful of local restaurants and businesses are offering discounts to federal employees.

The Diver Bar & Grill is offering active Coasties with ID $4 pints and 50 percent off pizzas until the shutdown ends. Madrone Brick Fire Pizza and Taproom is offering one free meal to furloughed federal workers with ID. Six Rivers Brewery is giving federal employees 10 percent off their bills and some happy-hour pricing during the shutdown.

If the kids are getting antsy, Bounce-a-Palooza has announced via Facebook that federal employees with ID can bring them in for a free bounce. That ID will get you into the Eureka Theater for free, too. 
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Friday, January 11, 2019

Two Arcata Eateries Call it Quits, Cite Cannabis Downturn

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 2:58 PM

The Simmer Down Caribbean Cafe truck parked by the Arcata Playhouse for an event. - FACEBOOK, COURTESY OF PATRICK GASKINS
  • Facebook, courtesy of Patrick Gaskins
  • The Simmer Down Caribbean Cafe truck parked by the Arcata Playhouse for an event.

The yellow Simmer Down Caribbean Cafe truck that was a fixture in the Pacific Outfitters parking lot has shut down. Owner Patrick Gaskins, who started the business in May of 2015, places the blame squarely on the budget-tightening effects of legalization.

"The last harvest season of 2016 right after Prop 64 passed, I slowed down," says Gaskins. "That harvest season I was down 45 percent or more. You could tell people were scared to spend money. ... It came back a little bit but basically last year I was operating at 3o percent lower than I planned." He says he knows his customer base and much of it is drawn from the cannabis industry, which is now faced with the cost of permitting, taxes and falling prices. Even after reducing his Arcata rent and utilities from $1,000 to $750 per month, Gaskins was still struggling and so tried staking out a spot in Garberville. Eventually the stream of customers dwindled there, too. 

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Red Sauce for the Blues

Posted By on Sun, Jan 6, 2019 at 1:30 PM

Lasagna and eggplant parmigiana - PHOTO BY LYNN LEISHMAN
  • Photo by Lynn Leishman
  • Lasagna and eggplant parmigiana

Pity those whose otherwise broadening travels render them unable to enjoy American immigrant iterations of their ancestral cuisines. I think of my old classmate returning from a semester in Rome, heartbroken from an affair and recoiling from the messy red spaghetti and glass shakers of parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes that seemed to him newly inauthentic. It was loss upon loss, in my view, to break up with the very vinyl booths and candle-stuffed chianti bottles that might have given solace. By all means, let love break your heart but not your appetite.

An NCJ staffer’s recommendation sent us to Ferndale Pizza Co. (607 Main St., Ferndale) for an eggplant parmigiana ($13.70) that would make a fine emotional salve. A solid Italian American classic, the broad slices of eggplant, dipped in egg and homemade breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese, and fried until their flesh is soft and translucent, are stacked and topped with mozzarella and marinara sauce. That a block of lasagna is one of your side options solves the conundrum of which to order but not where you will nap later. The lasagna, too, carries old-school, pizza parlor cred, with thick, curly edged noodles, ricotta, an all-day-big-pot meat sauce and mozzarella under a ladle of still more red sauce. Though it bears the saucy, meaty markers of the dish’s evolution stateside, its mail-order DNA test kit would skew toward Southern Italy, with nary a spoonful of northern béchamel in sight. In those layers lies the comfort of tradition. And sauce. Lots of red sauce.
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