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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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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Monday, February 18, 2019

Crab it While You Can

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

5_5.jpg

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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