Short Ribs and Random Thoughts -July 17 17

Carter/Trump- If we live to be a hundred will we ever see Donald Trump breaking a sweat to benefit another human being?  Much less building houses in Winnipeg for Habitat, getting overheated , spending the night in the hospital  and going back to work THE NEXT DAY?  Carter was not one of our more effective Presidents,  but he’s been our best ex-President ever. And as a human being, worth about 4,000 Trumps.

JOBCASE- Are you getting emails from something called Jobcase? be advised that no matter how many times you click on “unsubscribe”,  you keep getting their damn emails. It must be really hard for the folks who actually subscribed to the service.

CLASS vs NO-CLASS-  We wondered how long it would take our oafish President to embarrass us in France.  Well, he didn’t even make it off the tarmac before remarking to the elegant Mme Macron that she was in “great shape”.  Meanwhile, her husband, who is ten days younger than Don Trump Jr., is playing Trump Sr. like a cello.  Good for him!

SPEAKING OF FRANCE- the Zoë venue in Henderson Center is being taken over by the folks who run Uniquely Yours Catering (and used to have the late lamented Hurricane Kate’s).  They’re calling it Le Monde and Chef Alex Begovic is staffing now.  Hope Le Monde lasts longer than Zoë did.  Open in August.

DO YOU USE DELUXE CHECKS? From A Friend of The Blog, here’s a tale of woe.

“Exactly one month ago, realizing I was down to my last book of checks, I ordered online. But I wasn’t seeing any withdrawal from checking to pay for this nor tracking. So I asked CCCU to order one for me. I had to fight tooth and nail to get this. I mean like a dozen times she stated I had already ordered a book of checks. I explained repeatedly that I wanted backup. 100% of my income from SSA and Cal-PERS retirement monthly deposits goes into this checking account. Now I am down to four checks. It turns our two of my online orders were cancelled (neither Deluxe nor CCCU notified me) due to CCCU not verifying my address in a timely manner so Deluxe just cancelled both. The orders literally disappear from the online record of my orders. It is nearly impossible to get a human at Deluxe. After a long phone conversation with CCCU on the issue of CCCU dropping the ball, my second order for a book of checks was cancelled without notice to me. Now it looks like maybe the order I did in house on the phone with CCCU went through—maybe they do the address verification. My fourth order for a book of checks are now also coming by USPS. It looks like a painfully slow process, to say the least.”

I definitely feel for you.  CCCU doesn’t screw up often but when they do it’s a doozy. I’m still recovering from that time they  LOST a check order and I had to close my account.

REST IN PEACE, DAVE PERRY-  I seem to be losing a lot of friends lately.  Dave was my supervisor for ten years at the Dept of Rehab and helped many many people in this community,  most of whom didn’t know him. It’s always a cliché to say, but he truly was an inspiration to everyone who knew him. Happy Trails, Dave.

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Yo’ Mamma’s In Town

While Donald Trump works furiously to destroy our republic, I want you to know we’re got our priorities straight.  We checked out the food truck pod on Broadway (between Mr Fish and Les Schwab) and discovered that ALL the denizens are there and open on Saturdays- Yo’ Mamma’s Fish & Shrimp, Southside Mike’s BBQ and  El Pueblo. Picked up another Southsider TriTip san ($11) from Mike’s and noticed he’s promising chicken livers and fries soon, ( $6) a great idea for those needing a budget option.

Now, about Yo’ Mamma’s. I hadn’t realized there was a demand for  high-end food trucks in Eureka, but that demand has now been satisfied.  The basic lunch at Yo’ Mamma’s, which features 5 jumbo shrimp, goes for $15. I decided to go lowclass and ordered the Fish & Chips, at $11.99.  The sign said that the F&C were made with sole, an unusual choice since sole  is a light fish that can fall apart in the frying. They give a LOT of fish , dusted with a Cajun seasoning that they don’t overdo. I had two pieces that were clearly sole and a big chunky piece which could not possibly have been sole – seemed like cod- all of which were delicious. They serve with a remoulade sauce and everything is delicious once you get past the sticker shock.  The fries are steak fries and are fine. They have something on the menu called garlic noodles that sounds interesting. The staff is warm and welcoming in true Nawlins fashion.

So can a food truck in Eureka break the $15 lunch barrier??  Guess we’ll find out.  Last time I had DINNER in NOLA I don’t think it cost $15 but whatever. The cost of living inches ever higher.

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Eureka’s Food Truck Pod

They call them pods in Portland, hubs in other places. They’re semi-legit places where your local food purveyors can offer their wares without interference. WE HAVE ONE!  It’s next to Mr Fish on Broadway (between Mr Fish and Les Schwab) and the current occupants are Taco El Pueblo,  Yo’Mamma’s Fish & Shrimp and our ninja BBQ maestro SOUTHSIDE MIKE  who keeps disappearing and reappearing.  Right now he’s doing T-F, 11-7 at the Mr FIsh site and Saturdays 12-7 in Old Town.  I had his Southsider,  a tri-tip san that comes with fries for $11.99. His fries are fabulous.

Drop by soon to support our local food truck culture, and our local entrepreneurs.

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Gonsea Restaurant Closed- Now Reopened

The Gonsea, that place on the way out of town at 2335 4th Street, has been closed by the County for health violations.

The Times-Standard’s account is HERE.

Personally, I wont miss the place.  We only ate there half a dozen times, were never impressed.  They were expensive and uninspired. I usually avoid restaurants that try to be both Chinese and Japanese at once. The Gonsea had a sign in front offering “Japanese sushi”.  Is there any other kind???  German sushi??? Polish sushi??

I also hated the name.  “Gonsea”,   it turns out  IS a legit Chinese name  meaning celebration or holiday.  But its a dumb name for a restaurant.  Invokes no food images or suggestions of deliciousness.  l say they might as well stay closed, although I hate to see folks losing their jobs.

May I suggest as alternatives the always -reliable Hunan in Henderson Center,  the Szechuan Village in Arcata or the good old China Buffet just down the street from the Gonsea in Eureka.  We’ve used the CB for parties.  Check out their catering menu! And if you have any other recommendations for Chinese, send them our way. We’d love to hear them.

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Zöe, we hardly knew you.

Zöe, the upscale cafe in Henderson Center, is up for sale after barely a year in business.

The reviews all along were mixed. I only ate there once but I thought they had the  food down pretty well. There were a lot of complaints about the service. The owner has posted on the Zöe Facebook page that the closure is due to illness Damn shame,  and we  wish all the  best to her.  Ironically,  both Zöe AND The Diver had wood-fire pizza ovens so HC will be supplied for good pizza no matter who takes over Zöe.

Let’s hope that happens soon.  There is already an unhealthy amount of empty storefront space in everyone’s favorite neighborhood.  The patrons of The Diver are using the former Robert’s (“Henderson Center Marketplace”) parking lot and thank God it’s open because parking can definitely be tight.  I hate to see any business close.  Let’s hope someone can make that space work.

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The Diver IS A Winner

That long-anticipated Diver Bar & Grill is open in Henderson Center, and doing well, from what we saw on Friday.  Contrary to what you would think from the name, it  is neither a dive bar nor a seafood restaurant. It’s a killer pizza place in a town that is probably over-supplied with pizza.  But The Diver rules.

We showed up at 1pm and the place was half-full. Service was cheery and prompt.  Besides pizza, they have a GOOD chowder,  along with salads and burgers,  They have mussels! which are not that common on Eureka menus.  But the pizza is the thing.  It’s wood-fired and light as a feather.  Putting that pizza oven in must have been a real project but worth the wait. I haven’t had pizza this good since we got takeout from Blaze in Chicago, back in October.

I had the bacon and spinach.  I took most of it home since I’d already had the chowder.  It heated up well.  I would order it again. My friend had the Buffalo chicken pizza.  She wanted to send it back because it was “burned”.  I explained that “wood-fired” is not going to look like Papa Murphy’s and after she tried it, she liked it.

Sean, the owner, circulated among the tables.  They have a good selection of beers and I had a decent iced tea.  The pizzas run about $14, the chowder was $6.  The dinner menu, only available after 5pm,  includes a rib eye for $24  and they have seafood items du jour.

The place was almost full again  when we left.  We will be back. The Diver is here to stay. When you go,  be sure to check out  the ceiling!

The Diver is at 2824 F Street,  phone is 798-6184.

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The VISTA is back, bigtime

Back in my parents’ day, the Vista Del Mar was the hottest spot in town. They actually had dance bands in the relatively small space. We’re talking about the ’50s, now.  The earliest memory I have is from about 10-15 years ago when it was painted garishly and went by the moniker,  Go Fish.  For about a year and a half  they made the best fish & chips on the planet.  Then suddenly they closed.  Then they opened  as The Barfly, which has to be the worst name for an eating/drinking establishment ever. Somewhere along the line the awful red paint went away and the building now looks like a restaurant again.

Since December, they’ve been holding comedy nights and serving food till late. They have no website, only a Facebook page. I hate when they do that.  But they’re there, and answering the phone at 443-3770, and open from 1130 to 2am.. We checked them out on Friday and found a clean and welcoming space with the affable owner, Kito Vorobik, handling the front of the house by himself with one other person in the kitchen.  There was only one occupied table when we arrived but by the time we finished the place was almost full. Seemed like a nice crowd and I’m sure their happy hour (4pm to 6pm M-F,  dollar off) is well-attended.

The food is good, no question. I had the clam chowder.  It took a little while, and when I inquired I was told that they were making it to order.  They were! The clam chowder ($6) is a nice bowl with croutons and two pieces of freshly baked bread!  It was excellent and definitely worth returning for.  We both had the fish & chips ($14),  which were also excellent. Four or five pieces of cod with a nice light batter, reheated well later. I’m not big on chips/fries but my friend liked them fine. Other menu items include:  wings $6,  potato skins $7, fish tacos $5 and a Cubano for $12. If you haven’t had a Cuban sandwich, it involves ham, roast pork, pickles and a sandwich press.  In Florida it’s the standard grab-and-go supermarket lunch and I will definitely be trying the Vista’s.

Go check out the Vista- a noble piece of Humboldt history.  Good food and you no longer have to shade your eyes as you approach.   Good place to drop in after Arts Alive!  You know where it is.

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The Cutten Chalet Is Open! And Getting A Stop Light!

The former Cutten Inn has finally reopened, almost two years later than the owner originally projected. There’s no website but the parking lot is fuller every day. They’re open now for breakfast and lunch, eventually for dinners.

I’ve lived three blocks from the old Cutten Inn for 20 years now and have eaten there twice. Years ago I had a client who worked there and I dropped in to see how he was doing.  He fixed me the awfullest, greasiest breakfast I had ever had.  A couple of years later there was a period when they were trying to be a dinner house. I took someone there and the dinners were okay- I had a pepper steak.  But that didn’t last long. Everyone out here has been chomping at the bit for a chance to chomp down on a Chalet omelette.  Everyone but me, since I’m not into omelettes, which is why I’ve never visited the original Chalet. So this was all new to me.

We checked the Cutten Chalet out recently and showed up at 11am on  Friday. Place was about half-full. The decor was garish.  I can’t think of another word. Chandelier-like light fixtures and lace curtains.  Well, you can’t eat the decor. Service was swift and pleasant.

I had the corned beef hash ($10.95) which may have come from a can but was good anyway. They offered either “country  potatoes” for a dollar extra or hash browns. I always order “country potatoes” because you never know what you’re going to get. These were cubes of potato which had been deep-fried. The waitress told us they heated up well. They charge $3 for a small glass of juice but I guess that’s the going rate these days. I would give my meal a B+.  My friend had the Cobb salad, ($10.95) which was really interesting. To me a Cobb Salad is a pile of lettuce topped with a geometrical construction of chopped bacon or ham, egg, and blue cheese. This was tossed so that the toppings were mixed into the lettuce.  I think it’s a great idea. She took a lot of it home, but it was a huge salad.  I will definitely be back. They’re working on an outdoor seating area, which will be pleasant during the good weather.  If we ever have good weather again.

As I write this,  the construction work is continuing on the stoplight at Walnut and Fern that my neighbors and I petitioned for FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.  I hope it’s everything we had hoped for.  If not, you can always cut through the Murphy’s parking lot.  Good things take time.

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The Quest For Soup Dumplings- Szechuan Garden

You may recall that when I put out a call for info on soup dumping in Humboldt, one of our wonderful readers posted that we should check out the Szechuan Garden in Arcata, so we did.  The obsession with soup dumplings started lsat October where we were traveling in NYC and visited  the fabled Joe’s Shanghai in Flushing, home and ground zero  to the to the soup dumpling movement  in the US.

What is a soup dumpling? A little bit of heaven.  At Joe’s they’re BIG and it takes two or three bites to devour one.  They’re made by taking broth and refrigerating it till it’s more or less a gel, then constructing the dumpling , which looks kind of like a shu mai around  the broth with innumerable tiny folds in a circle.  If I had to make one you’d be waiting for years.

I’m not going to pretend that the Szechuan Gardens will put Joe’s out of business but they ARE soup dumplings and well worth the drive to Arcata.  They’re about half the size of the Joe’s version but very pleasantly flavored.  They don’t show up on the menu- they’re listed as “A6- Juicy Pork Dumplings (6) $6.95” .  So now you know.

The rest of the menu is pretty conventional.  I tried the chicken curry and didn’t  think  it had much  flavor.  I took the fried rice home and found that by dinner time it had developed a lot more flavor than at lunch. It happens. My friend, who is not an adventurous eater,  had the chicken teriyaki.  I didn’t try it.  I took home an order of the  Black Pepper Beef (($10.50) and I really liked it. Although it had a little black chili pepper next to it on the menu, I wouldn’t describe it as spicy.  Good flavor, though.

The restaurant is on that little spur of 18th Street  that veers off  left from the freeway ramp.  Parking is somewhat difficult but the good news is that you can drive behind the building and go around for a second shot. The menu is HERE. Give them a try.

And thanks, Glenn, for the tip!

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