I found myself at Humboldt State University over this last 4/20 weekend. No, not for the reason you are thinking, it was for a fencing tournament. Actually, The 5th Annual Redwood Coast Assault of Arms, an official national tournament held by the Historical Fencing Association. Along with seven other of my Salle Lancier (Pasadena City College’s fencing club) colleagues, we were invited to come up to defend the name of our lovely community college.
Well, most of us ended up getting slaughtered. Literally too, as was apparent by the epees this school of fencing uses, the tips actually have three sharp little teeth that are made to “cling on to your clothing” and create an “uncomfortable feeling.” Unlike the electricity-assisted, sport version of the dueling weapon sport that is more popular and made it to Olympic status that only has a flat screw top.
There are only two cool things that came out of this trip. First, enjoying the edible splendors of their hippy student market (it hast stuff like crystallized ginger sheep’s milk yogurt and puffed sorghum “popcorn,” available daily?!) Second, eating and drinking at Humboldt Brews.
Humboldt Brews is disguised as the local collegetown pub but it’s the pride and joy of the city of Arcata really. And while the rest of the 20+ fencers that participated in the tournament feasted like lumberjacks at the local historic restaurant, Old Samoa Cookhouse for the dinner reception, I asked to get dropped off and go solo at Humboldt Brews for a burger and a beer. As soon as I walked in, I knew my anti-social decision was the correct one. I sat at the bar and the cook had long hair, wore shades and was listening to “Iron Man” at a decibel level that would rival that of a metalhead cooking lunch on his day off.
I opted for their “Shroomers Delight” burger: 1/3 lb Humboldt grass-fed beef, roasted red peppers, sautéed mushrooms, a thick smear of Cypress Grove local chevre on soft buns with a steak knife stabbed in it. The meal came with mixed greens, tomato, red onion and their “Pub Fries,” which is basically their own unfussy rendition of fresh-cut Pomme Frites, for about $12.
The burger was bomb. Under seasoned, but in a consciously healthful way. Since well, grass beef doesn’t need much salt. Unsurprisingly, their medium rare was more “well” done than rare. The buns were amongst the softest I’ve had, as far as burger standards go. But all this just digresses from the fact that there was a thick, white, opaque dollop of local Cypress Grove chevre on a freaking burger. Chevre is the missing link on burgers. It works double shift; soft and creamy enough to replicate what a mayonnaise or aioli would do, and richly flavored enough to satisfy that tangy richness that a slice of cheddar or any other hard cheese would impart. The mushrooms and peppers were ample as well, barely cooked and unmushy.
To further the heavy metal feeling of the dinner, I washed the beast down with a “Back in Black” Black IPA from 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco. I am in the “Black IPA” phase of a budding beer enthusiasts at this moment and this was by far my favorite. It’s just something about the corequisite flavors of malt and hops in the same cup of beer, for the beer geek that wants it all.
The meal set me back only $17 and it turned out that the bartender is close friends with the owner of Cypress Grove cheese, yes creator of Humboldt Fog cheese. She informed me that the owner “was a single mom who did every step of the process by herself,” including driving down to San Francisco and distributing her cheese weekly. And that she recently, “sold her company for millions to Swiss dairy.”
Well, I may have not discussed the subtleties of an inquartata fencing pose with the rest of my fencing adversaries but I did eat one of the best damn burgers of my life thus far.
856 10th St. Arcata, CA 95521