Have You Tried Sammy’s BBQ Catering in King Salmon?

No one goes to King Salmon by accident. You have to want to go ‘way out there. When I heard about Sammy’s it was from friends in Washington State,  go figure.
So when my friend and I checked them out on Tuesday, they had already been open for a year. The first thing we learned was, don’t go late. We thought showing up at 1:30 was the right thing to do, but they were already out of tri-tip by then. As you can gather from their website,  they usually have tri-tip, kalua pork, pork ribs, teri chicken, and meatballs.

The sides include chop suey, unusual for Humboldt but considering it’s a Tongan family that runs the place it all makes sense.  The menu is similar in part to that of the Banana Hut and it would be interesting to do a side-by-side tasting of the two versions of kalua and the two versions of pineapple gravy. The chop suey is made with glass noodles which I hadn’t seen before.  They also have a pineapple cole slaw which I didn’t expect to like, but I did.

I had the kalua pork, salty as heck but I can never resist it, and the ribs , which could have used more cooking. They were okay but not falling off the bone.  My friend got ribs which were too fatty.  The lady who was serving was slow about offering to replace them, and an unseemly discussion ensued during which my friend pointed out the layers of fat on her rib. Hers were too fat, mine were not. I liked the potato salad, wasn’t crazy about the meatballs. Things would have gone a lot better if we’d gotten there early enough for the tri-tip. 

The whole family works the restaurant .  When I lived on Oahu I had Tongan friends who used to come and visit me out on the North Shore and every time they would find an excuse to clean my house, which was not up to their standards. Sammy’s is spotless.

I see an ad for Sammy’s in the Times-Standard this morning, but the print is so muddy you can’t read it.  I hope they got their money back. Sammy’s will be open tomorrow and Friday but closed on the Fourth.  Check them out and have  a great holiday.

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ZOE Coming to Henderson Center.

“Gonna be a Chinese restaurant!” said the beefy security guard in front of the BofA on F Street in Henderson Center. 
I was squinting at the chalked message on the window of the former Safeway Pharmacy and wondering how another Chinese restaurant would fit in, considering the Hunan is well established a block away.

When I caught up with the owner, Marsa Jordan, she explained that “Zoe” is actually the Greek word for ‘Life”. She also explained that the restaurant will not be Chinese and will be more upscale than anything currently in Henderson Center. “Casual sophistication” is the byword, and she will be offering organic, vegetarian and vegan choices as well as catering services.

Marsa, who’s originally from Fortuna, is also emphasizing original touches such as homemade hand-made crackers. Do fresh-baked oyster crackers sound good? With one of at least two homemade soups daily? I thought so. She’s still waiting for her permit but Zoe should be serving beer and wine by the time it opens, and seating 65 customers.

Marsa has shared her DRAFT menu and opening night menu with us.  Since the restaurant is still settling equipment issues, there will be changes before the opening,  but this is a chance to see the direction she’s going in.  Sadly, I couldn’t get the link to work and so I’ll have to leave you with “Appetizers: Caramelized onion with Gruyere in pastry, Cream puffs filled with Salmon and dill mousse, Baked brie with fruit compote, served with our house made crackers..” as a hint of what is to come.

Turning a retail location into a restaurant is a mighty undertaking so we’re not looking at an opening sooner than September. A sign in the window is already announcing that resumes for servers and other staff may be forwarded to Marsa at :  zoe2850fst@gmail.com. 

The advent of an upscale place is an exciting development in Henderson Center, where the long-anticipated “Henderson Center Marketplace”, which was supposed to go into the Robert’s space, is apparently wrecked on the shoals of we-couldn’t-get-financing although none of the principals have seen fit to answer my phone calls. On the same block, work is continuing on The Diver, a bar with an excellent logo that is already visible from the streetside. (Their menu was printed in the recent NCJ Menu of Menus but it’s awfully hard to read.) Lots going on in Henderson Center and the guard at the bank will keep you informed. I hope somebody’s already told him Zoe is not going to be a Chinese restaurant. I don’t want to be the one to break it to him.

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OYSTER FESTIVAL-Too Big For the Plaza?

It was only a couple of days before Saturday’s Festival that I took a really good look at the festival map. I discovered to my horror that the powers-that-be at Arcata Main Street had decided to eliminate the parking lot/shuttle stop on Samoa Boulevard down around K Street “due to not enough use”, as the staffer told me when I called to complain. Their revised plan was to cut off access to the Plaza from the North so that anyone who rode the shuttles and got off at their stops on 11th Street had to walk all the way down to 7th Street to get access.

I know three extra blocks doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re (hopefully temporarily) disabled as I am that’s a real issue. I’m using a cane due to a recent knee replacement and three blocks is beyond my comfort zone so I called Arcata Main Street and spoke with a nice person who directed me to their “ADA parking” off 7th Street. Those dear folks, with all the good intentions in the world, had set side a big fat 16 parking spaces for a festival expected to attract 16,000 oyster fans. Even the person I was speaking to realized how silly that sounded. I don’t recall the actually ADA setasides for outdoor Festivals but it’s a helluva lot more than 1 in 1000. 

So we ended up showing up at before 8am in order to get a closeby parking space. In a way, it was great because by the time the Plaza got hot and crowded, we were ready to go home. On the other hand, when you leave at noon you miss a lot of stuff.  I found myself wondering WHY the Festival is on the Plaza in the first place. There’s no connection between the Plaza and the Oysters and the Festival disrupts the Farmers’ Market every year. Moving it to the Community Center would lost the “Festival” aspect. The Festival should be held on the BAY!!  Woodley Island isn’t part of Arcata Main Street’s domain plus it’s too small and getting everyone on and off the island would be a nightmare.  But looking ahead to an era when lots of interesting developments are coming up in Samoa, I hope that one day the Festival will expand its footprint,  reducing the congestion.  We can only hope.

Congratulations to AMS and their volunteers for another successful Festival, but let’s put a little more thought into the arrangements next year. 

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Three Followups: Brius/Redwood Healthcare, Palo Alto and Tragedy at the Grocery Outlet

 I ran into an employee  of one of the facilities involved in DA Gallegos’ lawsuit against Skilled Healthcare as described in this blog a couple of days ago.  That person informed me that the employees at those facilities are still very concerned about understaffing. Sure enough , the morning’s Times-Standard confirmed that the situation is so bad the facilities are not taking new patients. A very bad situation.

On a happier note,  the good people of Palo Alto may be returniing to their liberal traditions.  Two Santa Clara County supervisors, Joe Simitian and Dave Cortese, are proposing a measure to buy the mobile home park, Palo Alto’s only low or moderately priced housing, so that the 400 residents won’t have to move.  Good for them, and we hope they succeed.

Finally, I should have known better but I had my heart broken again when the Grocery Outlet stopped carrying those wonderful little avocados they were selling for two bucks a bag. They were just right for a single serving or any time you didn’t need beautiful uniform slices. O you Grocery Outlet~  you get us hooked, then you pull back! That’s the way it goes at an outlet store. Hope you bring  those little avos back real soon.

Have a great weekend. Eat lots of oysters!

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Brius Not Out of the Woods Yet

Or perhaps we should say, not out of trouble yet. Brius, as you recall, is the outfit that bought the local operations of Skilled Healthcare after they lost their court battle with DA Paul Gallegos over substandard conditions in their facilities, which include the Seaview, Granada, Pacific, Fortuna and Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Centers.  The original jury award was for $62M, a lot of which went to legal fees. Brius, which does business here under the name Redwood Healthcare Services, is the largest chain of nursing homes in the State with 82 facilities.  It has come under fire from the State, which decertified three of their facilities. This is a serious sanction as it means they no longer qualify for Medicare funding. 

If you have a loved one in one of these facilities drop over frequently and on short notice and keep track, as best you can, to ensure each resident receives the 3.2 hours of daily care to which they are entitled under the law. Health care is a tough business but it’s even tougher to be a patient.

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Weed TV

There is so much programming on TV about weed or cannabis or whatever you want to call it that it seems inevitable that there will eventually be a whole channel or channels devoted to the plant, its cultivation, its politics, its uses. I’m surprised no one has done it yet although I’m sure there are “channels” on You Tube that fill the void.

In terms of network television, however, we’re getting a lot of repeats and reruns, that is if you can figure out the programming. CNN has Sanjay Gupta going on and on about weed,  HBO had something that I can’t remember. CNN is also airing the only show of this ilk that is at all interesting. It’s called “High Profits” and I THINK the last episode runs tonight at 7pm.  When you have to depend on the info on the Suddenlink program guide and Google comes up empty, that’s where we’re at.

The show is about the efforts of some young entrepreneurs to expand their mj dispensary business in Breckinridge, Colorado, a rich ski resort community many miles away from anywhere else, sort of like Aspen.  So far, they have heavily invested in a huge growing facility but they need to retain their retail location on the main street of Breckinridge, or believe they do, in order to move all that weed.  The cast of characters includes the business owners  the local pols, the developers who want a “family” atmosphere on Main Street and of course the vile consultants who gravitate leech-like to the controversy. Last week they lost the special election which would have given them a permanent place on Main Street, and now they are being forced to remove out to Airport Road with the rest. It all sounds awfully familiar but in an interesting locale, quite different from ours. If you want to see it, set your recorders for CNN at 7pm.

I note with regret that “One Good Year”,  the Redway-produced documentary about the local scene apparently never got a distribution deal. It’s available on YouTube in a one-hour version although it was originally publicized as feature-length. Maybe they ran out of money.  It happens. 

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We Finally Review the Humboldt Soup Company

The Humboldt Soup Company opened for business in early December to an enormous fanfare of reviews and gossip. People were realy jazzed about it and for a few weeks it seemed to be attracting crowds. Now the hubbub has subsided. The Yelp review count is roughly divided with about four more positive than negative reviews. Practically all the Yelp reviews mention prices.

Price jumps out as an issue because the little 8-ounce cups of soup that go for $3.99 DO seem pathetically small, especially when the soup is particularly  good.  But we ‘re getting ahead of ourselves.

The soup selections when we went last week were as follows:

Farmers’ Market Vegetable:  plenty of vegetables , including broccoli.  I though it was a bit light on flavor but it improved a whole lot with a slug of Lea & Perrins and I finished every drop.

Tuscan Turkey Sausage: This soup got most of its flavor from the sausage, strong fennel flavor. Pretty good.

Smoked Ham & White Bean- my friend complained that hers wasn’t thick like mine but mine was fine.

Coconut Chicken and Curry: WE HAVE A WINNER.  This was the best soup I’ve had in a while and I’d go out of my way to get it again.  Absolutely scrumptious! Terrific!

Now, about those prices. HSC doesn’t have a functioning website and they present their menu on a Facebook page with a photo that looks like a selfie- blurred.  The cups of soup go for $3.99, the 16-oz bowls for $6.99, which seems like a much better deal. They have a good selection of salads and some sandwiches.  My friend had the pulled pork, which she pronounced fine. There’s enough on the menu to explore that I forsee several  upcoming visits. They really do stress local ingredients and in that context, they are not overpriced. The staff are excellent. 

So there it is.  I’d go back. And I’ll get a bowl of the Coconut Chicken Curry next time.  Definitely an upgrade from Church’s!

 

 

Mike McGuire is a Heckova (n)Auctioneer!

The Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee had its “Chicken By The Sea” fundraiser yesterday at the Wharfinger and it was a blast! I’ve been to a lot of these and this was clearly the best of the last ten years that I’ve been going. The turnout was way high, the food was better than I remembered it and the entertainment was fantastic.

State Sen. Mike McGuire, who has more energy than six normal people, auctioned off desserts donated by Democrats. We’ve all seen “celebrity” actions with a lot of fumbling and mumbling carried along by goodwill. Not this time! McGuire actually knows how to auction, in true livestock-auction style where they go likelightningandtalklikethis. He was banging on the podium, kicking up in the air. I never saw such energy. I tell you, you want this guy on your side! He had folks paying four times what was paid the last time we had one of these auctions!

Kudos to the chairs, Chris House and Kathryn Donahue. I didn’t find out what the take was but just for desserts it had  to be up in the thousands. It was truly a memorable event- remembering Sen. Mike’s energy, I did ten extra minutes on the treadmill this morning. 

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