Food

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Down at the Docks

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2020 at 2:19 PM

Sometimes I walk from the Journal offices down F Street to the plaza, with its wind-whipped flags, and look across the water as the fishing boats come into the bay as they have for lifetimes, bringing their haul back from the unkowable depths and think, "Shouldn't we have, like, a million places for fish and chips, chowder and steamer clams?" There is a solid handful but among those three items, it's hit or miss at each. What happy news, then, to discover Jack's Seafood (4 C St., Suite B, Eureka), overlooking the bay and the crane lifting catches from boats just a couple of blocks over, has conquered the trifecta.
Creamy New England chowder. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Creamy New England chowder.
The chowder is more about the fresh cream than the usual New England soup, with chopped clams, vegetables and a little pepper ($5 cup, $8 bowl). It's light on the salt and served with crackers, herb butter and sliced sourdough — it's the North Coast, after all and nobody's defecting to Maine.

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Monday, January 6, 2020

Cocina on the Green

Posted By on Mon, Jan 6, 2020 at 12:10 PM

The incongruity of a Mexican restaurant on the grounds of a golf course lessens as you sit in a snug window booth at Cocina Mariposa (4750 Fairway Drive, Eureka), which you enter via the pro shop, and watch the sunset. On a recent rainy evening, when a lone golfer was whacking balls into the lake of the flooded Eureka Municipal Golf Course, it even offered waterfront dining. Besides, owner Marisela Salas was previously at Beau Pre Golf Course doing happy hour tacos on Fridays, so I’m declaring it an official niche.
The carnitas machaca burrito. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The carnitas machaca burrito.
Golf, from what I hear, yields frustration, which is an emotion best handled with tacos and/or breakfast foods, both of which are on offer. The fried fish taco on a homemade corn tortilla is a bright little pile of battered Alaskan pollack chunks, pico de gallo, red cabbage and chipotle aioli ($3.50). The green sauce is a tart addition for those who aren’t quite up to the hot red salsa — don’t be fooled by the presence of polo shirts, it’s no joke. Salas, who learned to cook Michoacan dishes from her mother, Graciela, with whom she runs the place, offers a pro tip: The oil-based salsa macha is less deadly on cold foods. Proceed accordingly.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

To Fill the Happy Hours

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2019 at 3:58 PM

If you’ve had the good sense to make your way to Five Eleven (511 Second St., Eureka) for its Tuesday through Saturday happy hour starting at 5 p.m., I sincerely hope you ate. The duck fat French fries — served in a steel cup with a triumvirate of ketchup, green goddess dressing and Sriracha aioli — are an impossible to refuse $4 ($6 regular small plate). They are also the most perfectly crisp hand-cut potatoes and a testament to the transformative power of rendered duck fat.
Duck fat fries are the best fries. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Duck fat fries are the best fries.
Right below it on the menu is the polenta crostini, a grilled slab that is toasty along its edges and smothered in crimini and wild mushrooms in a velvety marsala sauce ($8 happy hour, $13 regular small plate). A sprinkling of parmesan and fried sage leaves boosts the depth of flavor and, rich as it is, one might consider struggling against instinct and splitting it to save room for further exploration.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Greek Pizza from the Irish Place

Posted By on Wed, Nov 13, 2019 at 11:50 AM

The pizza restaurant that once was Eureka’s Big Louie’s, then Marcelli’s, has been repainted an eye-popping green and reopened as Shenanigans (1604 Fourth St.). Given its name and pedigree (owner Kelly Erben runs Gallagher’s Irish Pub), you wouldn’t be crazy for thinking this is an Irish bar, but it’s a pizza joint. Listen, the Romans never did conquer ancient Hibernia (what’s up, Agricola?) so there’s no point in putting up an Italian flag on Irish turf now.
The medium (14-inch) Fat Greek from Shenanigans. - PHOTO BY ZACH LATHOURIS
  • Photo by Zach Lathouris
  • The medium (14-inch) Fat Greek from Shenanigans.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Coastal Comforts at Los Sinaloenses

Posted By on Fri, Nov 8, 2019 at 3:08 PM

Maybe you've sat in the maroon vinyl booth seats at 1134 Fifth St. in Eureka before — when it was a Mexican restaurant, then a barbecue joint, then another Mexican place. But for the last month, it's been Los Sinaloenses.

It's named for the people of the coastal region of Mexico just inside the Gulf of California, the ancestral home of the owners, the Leyva family. That means you should probably order some seafood. The mojarra frita, a small, silver fish native to Mexico, fits the bill well ($10). Scored, seasoned and fried, the skin is rendered a crispy brown and the light white meat is flaky and lovely inside. It comes with a side of rice and beans that you might want to sample first if, like me, you cannot resist using your fingers to pull morsels of fish and crusty, salty bits of skin from the base of the dorsal fin, behind the head and anywhere else a fork would only hamper you.
Crispy fried mojarra. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Crispy fried mojarra.

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Friday, August 30, 2019

A Boozy Flavortown Meat Party

Posted By on Fri, Aug 30, 2019 at 11:55 AM

For the second year in a row, I ventured beneath the grandstands at the Ferndale Fairgrounds to check in at the “Judges Only” bar. Eighteen of us — mostly strangers who all clearly love meat — gathered to judge Guy Fieri’s sixth annual Surf and Turf BBQ Competition at the Humboldt County Fair. Lined up outside were teams made up of friends, families and coworkers from near and far who all came to Humboldt to throw down on their grills. Many of those grills were custom made, giant beasts of things that travel all over for competitions. Over the next five hours, we’d be judging four rounds of meat and engaging in all the debauchery for which an open bar and a parade of protein governed by the Mayor of Flavortown allows. 
Guy Fieri and Jessica Ashley Silva at the barbecue competition. - FACEBOOK/HUMBOLDT FOODIES
  • Facebook/Humboldt Foodies
  • Guy Fieri and Jessica Ashley Silva at the barbecue competition.

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Pizza by the Sea

Posted By on Sat, Jul 13, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Pizza with pesto and brie in Trinidad. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Pizza with pesto and brie in Trinidad.

When eating in Trinidad, it’s a totally understandable knee-jerk impulse to veer toward fish and chips, clam chowder or crab anything. It’s the seaside atmosphere. But are you overlooking the pizza? In the shadow of its older sibling the Lighthouse Grill and on the former site of the Bergeron Winery tasting room, Headies Pizza and Pour (359 Main St., Trinidad) is reason enough to consider a slice.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Meatless at the Barbecue Place

Posted By on Tue, Jul 9, 2019 at 6:29 PM

A meatless wonder in a carnivore’s temple. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • A meatless wonder in a carnivore’s temple.
Most of the vegetarians at Shamus T Bones (1911 Truesdale St., Eureka) are on the walls — the taxidermied heads of deer, elk and buffalo looming in all directions. And yet the much-discussed Beyond Beef burger ($13.99 with a side) has landed here with its “bleeding” patty of coconut oil, proteins from soy, potato and wheat, and the weirdly meat-like soy leghemoglobin. That last one doesn’t sound like blood by accident. It’s a feat of science and food engineering that finally creates a narrative link between the menu and the shining and occasionally crackling Tesla coil towering in the dining room.

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Lady's Choice

Posted By on Fri, Jul 5, 2019 at 5:18 PM

The Cubana is not to be trifled with. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The Cubana is not to be trifled with.

The grill at The Patron Kitchen (70 B Wildwood Ave., Rio Dell) can’t be more than 3 by 4 feet but the output, most of which winds up on a bolillo roll, is impressive. Two women with their hair in matching glossy black topknots, lay out meats, tortillas and chopped peppers in separate quadrants on the flattop, assembling burgers for a table of construction workers and a quesadilla to go for a cop.

One of the women is Lety Gonzales, who opened the place in the beginning of June with her husband Geraldo Gonzales. (You might find him in Fortuna operating the Patron truck.) Ask what her favorite item on the menu is and she may tell you the Cubana, though she admits she can only manage half ($13.50). Try not to hold it against her when you absolutely ruin your shirt with this behemoth of a sandwich.

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Saturday, June 15, 2019

All the Pretty Oysters

Posted By on Sat, Jun 15, 2019 at 8:55 PM

Cooked oysters from Sushi Spot, which came away with Best in Show. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Cooked oysters from Sushi Spot, which came away with Best in Show.

The drama. From the local beer debacle to the math error in a bacteria count that led health officials to temporarily close Humboldt Bay's oyster fisheries two days before the festival, the lead-up to the 2019 Arcata Bay Oyster Festival was a lot. Head Oystress Sydney Morrone said she hadn't heard of any oysters actually dumped in the pre-festival panic but this was a close enough call for everyone. In fact, before the oysters were tested and declared safe on Friday, organizers were already working on shipping in alternate oysters from out of town. Happily, it wasn't necessary and the oysters on the plaza — and up for judging — were homegrown.

This year the 14 judges, myself included, were glamping out in a tent where SeaQuake beer and Cook's sparkling wine — once forbidden during judging — flowed freely as "oystresses" glided in and out with paper trays and platters of oysters. The number of entries is still shrinking but the competition was still stiff. (See the slideshow below for a full perusal of the contestants.)

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  • Re: Cocina on the Green

    • Amazing delicious authentic Mexican food by far in The County.

    • on January 6, 2020

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