Food

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Chinese Comfort Food

Posted By on Wed, May 1, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Familiar flavors from Szechuan Garden's not-so-secret menu. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Familiar flavors from Szechuan Garden's not-so-secret menu.

The “Secret Menu” at Szechuan Garden (753 18th St., Arcata) might be more accurately titled the Student Menu. Owner Nina Zhao, a native of Shenyang in Northern China who took over the place five years ago, added the page and a half list because so many Chinese and Chinese American students from Humboldt State University were homesick for familiar flavors.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Lunch in the Lobby

Posted By on Thu, Apr 25, 2019 at 1:27 PM

Tuna on rye with a zinger of a carrot-ginger soup. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Tuna on rye with a zinger of a carrot-ginger soup.

Open for less than a month, Bandit Savory & Sweet (525 Second St., Eureka) is making itself at home in the lobby of the Vance in Old Town, its winking name and vintage aesthetic dovetailing with the revival of the landmark building. You might have sampled the baked goods before at the Friday Night Market. Now owner Erica Davie serves a full (though blessedly brief) menu of sweets and sandwiches on granny plates with mismatched silverware among the antique moldings and tile.

Select a velvet cushioned seat by the window and look over at the Oberon, once the home of a brothel and speakeasy to and from which patrons of the Vance Hotel once toddled. More wholesome pleasures are to be had now, and the beer, wine and cider no longer require a furtive trip across Second Street.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Trucking from Fortuna

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 1:59 PM

The Fortuna-based Humboldt Fresh truck in its new Eureka spot. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The Fortuna-based Humboldt Fresh truck in its new Eureka spot.

Fortuna has been enjoying the fruits of the Humboldt Fresh truck for roughly five months at its 2059 Main St. parking spot in front of Fortuna Fabrics. But now it's pulling up in Eureka Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in the lot by Les Schwab Tire Center (2440 Broadway). Fear not, Fortunans: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are still yours. Driving by at speed, one might not have a solid sense of what's on offer when at the window in back.

The Reuben special that should maybe work its way onto the menu. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The Reuben special that should maybe work its way onto the menu.
The special of the day was a $12.99 Reuben, grilled to make your fingers shiny, its marbled rye spilling with salty, tender shredded corned beef dotted with bits of fat, mild sauerkraut and melted Swiss cheese and a swipe of thousand island dressing. The white paper pouch of straight-cut fries is not hand cut but a happy surprise nonetheless, perfectly crisp and dusted with sea salt flakes. All together it could be a fruitful regular menu item.


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Thursday, February 7, 2019

'Not Like it Used to Be': Why Mazzoti's Eureka Shut Down

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 12:29 PM

The sign on the glass door of Mazzotti's in Eureka. - PHOTO BY ZACH LATHOURIS
  • Photo by Zach Lathouris
  • The sign on the glass door of Mazzotti's in Eureka.

Peer through the darkened windows of Mazzotti’s in Old Town and you’ll see the chairs have been upside down on the tables long enough to gather yellowed leaves from the hanging plants. Eventually the furniture will come out and the sign will go down, but Mazzotti’s isn’t coming back — at least not here and not the same as it was.

A sign on the glass door of the 42-year-old restaurant previously announced a reopening date but changed to complete closure. Over the phone, Joe Mazzotti, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Jean, explained, “We were debating what we were gonna do. We always close that store on the 22nd, depending on where the day falls, for the rest of the December.” There just isn’t profit to be made between the holidays, he said. But during the annual break, he and Jean considered the impending end of their lease and the state of the business, finally deciding to shut it down for good. “It’s just not attracting new customers. And the economy in Eureka is a little iffy right now.”

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Saturday, February 2, 2019

How French is the Dip?

Posted By on Sat, Feb 2, 2019 at 5:01 PM

PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

In the long list of things we call French — like fries (probably Belgian), toast (the Romans were already onto it by the fifth century) and manicures (possibly French but unconfirmed) — the French dip sandwich is a low-key champion.

Is it French? No, it is not. Except in its soul. Hailing from Los Angeles and named for the bread on which it's served, the dip comes with a side and/or a soaking in au jus, which is a French term, non? And does it not lend itself to a long midday meal? Oui, mes amis.

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Friday, February 1, 2019

New Owner and Lebanese Menu for Folie Douce

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2019 at 10:19 AM

Salhi carving shawarma during lunch. - PHOTO BY THAD GREENSON
  • Photo by Thad Greenson
  • Salhi carving shawarma during lunch.

Before you go into full panic, the artichoke cheesecake is still on the menu. Plenty else, however, has changed. On Nov. 26, 2017, Reda Salhi took over the kitchen at Arcata institution Folie Douce (though escrow has yet to close), shifting its menu toward Lebanese specialties like shawarma and kofta, while keeping a handful of the classic farm-to-table dishes that have earned it a following.

Chris Hollan, who started out as a baker and doing prep before taking over Folie Douce six years ago, said back in October, "I’ve been there 24 years … and I’d love to see the place continue to succeed.” With her daughter graduating college and a landscaping business on the side, she said she was "just ready for the next phase of my life.”


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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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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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