Food

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sub Conscious

Posted By on Wed, Feb 14, 2018 at 4:59 PM

Open your mind to pastrami on your Italian sub. - PHOTO BY AMY WALDRIP
  • Photo by Amy Waldrip
  • Open your mind to pastrami on your Italian sub.

Graduations, birthdays, christenings, communions and shotgun weddings — any event worth filling the yard with folding chairs in my hometown back east meant a 6-foot-sub. Laid out on a long table would be a seemingly endless loaf of Italian bread stuffed with layers of salami, ham, pepperoni, provolone and peppers doused in oil and red wine vinegar, with shredded iceberg lettuce cascading from the sides.

You'd carefully take a geode-layered slice, supporting your paper plate with one hand underneath, and make your way to a folding chair, trying to keep your heels from sinking in the lawn. The trick was to sit at the very edge of the lawn so you could get two bites in before somebody talked to you.

Is this a thing you can get here? Almost. From the tiny bar-adjacent storefront that is Deo's Sandwich Shop (428 Grotto St.) — a location that's been turning out sandwiches for some 45 years under a handful of owners — comes a monster of a classic Italian sub, roughly the size of your head ($10). But open your mind to relatively new owner Joe Sandoval's variation: salami, pastrami, provolone, sliced tomato, pepperoncini, fistfuls of shredded lettuce, seedy mustard, mayo and balsamic vinegar (because we're fancier on this coast).($10) The warm, spicy, smoky pastrami works with the traditional Italian flavors and the bread is more substantial and crusty than those backyard wedges. To say seating is limited is an understatement; get your sandwich to go so you can be alone with it, get those bites in before anybody talks to you.



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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Morning, Porkchop

Posted By on Sat, Feb 3, 2018 at 3:44 PM

Free your mind with chicken fried pork. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Free your mind with chicken fried pork.

So if we're willing to blur the line between breakfast and lunch, we may as well luge down the slippery slope to dinner. We're really only an order of steak and eggs away. Abandon labels and be free.

Well, at least until Cafe Waterfront (102 F St., Eureka) stops serving breakfast around 11 a.m. We got a tip chicken fried pork chop was on the specials board ($13.95) and followed it up, though to be honest it could have been chicken fried hammers and we'd still have tried it once.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

It's All Gravy

Posted By on Sun, Jan 28, 2018 at 11:22 AM

Biscuits and andouille sausage gravy, cher. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Biscuits and andouille sausage gravy, cher.

In the interest of transparency, I would like to confess that I have been closed minded about biscuits and gravy. Haunted by a decades-ago plate at a truck stop near the border of Texas and Arkansas with payphones in the dining booths, it was hard to accept any variation on the standard dusty-topped, fluffy biscuit all but drowned in peppery, white pork sausage gravy. Only recently have I opened my heart and its attending arteries to anything else.


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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Is Brunch Dead?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 10:56 AM

A breakfast club worth joining. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • A breakfast club worth joining.
A few weeks ago, iconic pop star and holder of Champagne flutes Mariah Carey declared brunch over. On some level, she may be right. We may be done waiting in line (Mimi would never) to pay through the nose for swanky, Instagram-ready cloud eggs and a pass to day drink. But old-fashioned brunch — the big breakfast that forgives your rolling out of bed just shy of noon and gives you a pass to day drink and possibly return to said bed — will never be over.


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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Pie/Cake Truce

Posted By on Sat, Dec 9, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Lemon meringue cake: a unifying force. - PHOTO BY JILLIAN BUTOLPH
  • Photo by Jillian Butolph
  • Lemon meringue cake: a unifying force.

Let us not fall into the tribal factions and false dichotomy of pie vs. cake. Really, given the fact that Boston cream pie is really cake and cheesecake — with its graham cracker crust — is more of a pie, are we not already living in a post pie-vs.-cake society? (Drag me in the comments if you want. I said what I said.)


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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mole Feelings

Posted By on Thu, Nov 30, 2017 at 5:06 PM

Enchiladas mole at Tuyas. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Enchiladas mole at Tuyas.
There are those who roll their eyes at the mention of another Mexican restaurant opening in Humboldt. And fine, I just did a quick count of around 60. Whatever. The cuisine of Mexico  contains multitudes and we have merely scraped its surface here.

The vibe at Tuyas (553 Main St., Ferndale) is modern and a little swanky, with rough-hewn meta-beams suspended from the ceiling, Andrei Hedstrom's rainbow-jubilant paintings and a feast-ready redwood table and benches. Chef Gillermo Dominguez's take on mole enchiladas is good enough to steal your attention from all that ($14). On a recent rainy afternoon, we went with the adobada pork filling, which was juicy, charred here and there, and lightened with warm chunks of pineapple. The freshly made corn tortillas, fried to a crepe-like chewiness, were cloaked in smooth, nutty chocolate sauce and a scattering of queso fresco. The dark sauce is just warmed with chilis and more creamy than smoky or bitter. It's the kind of labor-intensive dish that make one a little sentimental: It reminds you that someone stood at a stove and cooked for you for as long as it took.

Sidebar: If you feel $14 is too much for a plate of mole enchiladas without a belly-distending side of beans and rice, reconsider. That is, think about what it costs to get good pork, spices — sweet Jesus, the price of chocolate — and the hours of labor that go into making mole and then think about what you'd pay for a French meal that takes six hours to make. We are generally paying too little for Mexican food and giving too little respect to its cooks. Keep it in mind and tip generously the next time you get a burrito.


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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hotsy Totsy

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Youth and Tater Tots are wasted on the young. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Youth and Tater Tots are wasted on the young.

School cafeteria lunches don't have their bad reputation for nothing. Those of a certain age remember when ketchup was declared a vegetable and meatless Fridays meant frozen fish sticks or pale, Styrofoam-y squares of pizza. Still, did you secretly revel in those fish sticks and their accompanying tartar sauce packets? Was there shameful pleasure to be had on Sloppy Joe day even as you groaned over your Melamine tray with your classmates? Perhaps. But one staple of the hairnet set inspires unabashed nostalgia and occasional TV-adjacent binging: the Tater Tot.

Essentially cork-sized hash browns, they are a perfect frozen finger food, crisp, savory and soft. To resist a hot pan of tots is to resist the joy within your grasp. If you don't have children whose plates you can prey upon, you might be missing out on the adult enjoyment of Tater Tots.

Enter the Mad River Brewing Co.'s (101 Taylor Way, Blue Lake) Loaded Tots ($8). Unlike the ones you dutifully dump onto a baking sheet, these are deep fried for an audible crunch, liberally doused with cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions and a mix of minced bell, Serrano and habañero peppers. The little jolts of fresh pepper preserve the illusion of maturity as you regress to junior high-era munching, mining for cheese and scooping up sour cream. The heat also makes these a bit much for small children. That's OK. They'll get plenty at school.


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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Don't Drive Hangry

Posted By on Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 10:14 AM

Left to right: The shrimp and buche tacos from Tacos El Gallo. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Left to right: The shrimp and buche tacos from Tacos El Gallo.

You wouldn't think a slick, black truck edged with flames and emblazoned with a majestic rooster in profile would be hard to find. And yet, there I was, circling the Broadway Cinema parking lot, cursing the person who'd recommended the Tacos El Gallo truck (a film reviewer who shall remain nameless and who, it turns out, drove around hangry at the coworkers who'd recommended it to him the first time he tried the tacos).


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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fancy Toast and Bacon

Posted By on Sat, Oct 21, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Pork fat for the soul. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Pork fat for the soul.

Depending on the day you've had, a cocktail may or may not cover it — even if it comes with "intention," like those on the bar menu full of essential oil-spiked concoctions at the Griffin (937 10th St., Arcata). Might they be where the room's pleasantly herbal fragrance is coming from? In any case, despite the conspicuous absence of previously available Taco Faktory offerings on the menu, comfort can still be had.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

La Vie en Duck Fat

Posted By on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 4:40 PM

Crispy elk wontons worth the leap. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Crispy elk wontons worth the leap.

When the erstwhile bistro Zoe's newly installed wood fire oven went cold, it seemed that once again you could find anything in Henderson Center (coffee, bike repairs, mole, a haircut, a drink, Japanese kitchen gadgets, Lao rice cakes) except a starched white tablecloth. Then Le Monde (2850 F St., Eureka), a French venture by chef Alex Begovic of Uniquely Yours Catering, popped up in the renovated space, snapping out the linens. The enormous Elizabeth Berrien wire tree has been replaced by black and white photos of family in France, Matt Beard paintings on the opposite wall and a few sound absorbent panels to take the edge off the echo in the large space.

Early on a recent evening, the talk at the next table was about how to share and taste everything. Easy enough to split a plate of elk wontons ($12). It's a leap of faith — if you've been burned by limp dumplings or, god forbid, bland kimchee at a French place dipping its toes into miscellaneous Asian flavors, those scars are real. The risk is rewarded here with crunchy envelopes loosely packed with enough flavorful ground meat to stand up to a house made Chinese five spice and an equally fragrant dipping soy and honey sauce.

Duck confit just like Maman used to make. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Duck confit just like Maman used to make.

The menu touts duck leg confit ($19) from a family recipe, and how do you refuse that with the ancestors themselves looking down at you from the wall? It arrives browned and glistening, the meat firm and rich from a round of salt curing and cooking low and slow in its own fat. Be warned that if you peel away the soft, delicious skin and leave it on your plate I will know and I will judge you with the same stern expression as the French men in the photograph. The duck sits atop a mound of mashed tiny purple potatoes, some of which are still whole in their pleasantly mineral skins. Do we even recognize Brussels sprouts served whole anymore? These are bright green globes, glossy from a tumble in that duck fat — a relief (I can't believe I'm saying this but this is where we are) from the ubiquitous crisp-roasted-with-bacon variety.

Lemon creme brulee. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Lemon creme brulee.

There was murmuring from a nearby table about the blackberry soufflé but the "creme brulee of the moment" ($7) won out: a lemon version perfumed with zest rather than the tang of juice, with a bittersweet crackle of caramel to counter the none-too-sweet custard. The chiming of spoons against ramekins was an echo nobody seemed to mind.

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Recent Comments

  • Re: It's All Gravy

    • Ls kitchen and Little Ls in Fortuna! The best!

    • on January 31, 2018
  • Re: It's All Gravy

    • I'm a fan of that Green Lily bacon gravy as an accompaniment to the bacon-filled…

    • on January 29, 2018
  • Re: It's All Gravy

    • WE TRAVEL 8HOURS JUST TO STOP FOR BISCUITS N GRAVY & CINNAMON ROLLS AT L'S…

    • on January 29, 2018
  • Re: It's All Gravy

    • L's Kitchen in Fortuna - absolutely delicious, and generous portions. The best!

    • on January 28, 2018
  • Re: It's All Gravy

    • These Cajun variety at Cafe Nooner Too are my favorite biscuits and gravy in Humboldt..…

    • on January 28, 2018
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