Monday, February 18, 2019

Crab it While You Can

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 10:06 AM

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Domoic acid and low weights have led to enough crab-less Christmases to keep us from taking Dungeness for granted. Crack 'em while we've got 'em, folks. And if you're up for the luxury of feasting on the sweet meat without wielding a mallet, order it out.

Cross your fingers, kiss your St. Andrew necklace and hope it's on the whiteboard at Café Waterfront (102 F St., Eureka) for lunch. The grilled crab sandwich ($21.95) is one of few that pleases as much as the standard cold variety. The butter-grilled sourdough is mild enough not to overpower the generous fistful of crab, a mix of body and claw, topped with tomato and jack cheese that's barely melted. Beware: What little mayo is here turns runny enough from the grill to spoil your shirt. Both hands, over your plate, just like your mom said.

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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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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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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.
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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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Recent Comments

  • Re: How French is the Dip?

    • The closest to this that I can relate would actually be a similar type of…

    • on February 4, 2019
  • Re: How French is the Dip?

    • Maybe it helps to have a French chef making the French dip :-)

    • on February 2, 2019
  • Re: Barbecue Update: Chicken Bomb

    • 1825 Oregon Street, Port Orford, OR 97465 Have to keep this in mind the next…

    • on January 24, 2019
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