There will be a moment somewhere in this long holiday weekend, when, amid the sound of stacking dishes and the hum of a televised football game, you trace a trembling hand over your distended belly, unable to imagine wanting food ever again. It's temporary. In fact, dollars to drumsticks you'll be back in the game by the time your breakfast slice of pumpkin pie hits the plate. And when you're ready, we've found some good eats worth saving room for.
We Blew it up at El Pueblo
Earlier this month, at the start of Dia de los Muertos, folks were picking up pan de muerto (dead bread) to pile onto altars among photos, sugar skulls and candles for their lost loved ones. Not wanting to risk losing control and swiping a bun from the dearly departed, we got our own.
El Pueblo Market (3600 Broadway, Eureka) has two sizes of the soft, pale yellow bread dusted with superfine sugar ($1 small). If you like a not-too-sweet raised doughnut rolled in crunchy sugar, this is for you.
But there you are with the green plastic tray and the tongs and this wall of glass cabinets piled with yellow buns, sprinkles, pastel-frosted rolls, wedges of cake and, wait, is that just a hunk of bread slathered in butter and dunked in sugar? Most are $1 apiece. Load up.
The coconut covered ball turns out to be a pair of scone-firm, bready muffin-tops fused together with red marmalade. The chewy brown bun with a swipe of baked yellow frosting is full of cinnamon, and lovely with a cup of strong coffee. More room on the tray? There are soft, bready cones filled with vanilla custard and wedges of eggy cheesecake that are solid enough to eat with your fingers and totally justifiable as breakfast food.
Sauced at Breakfast
The sprouting crop of man buns around the room at the Woodrose Café (911 Redwood Drive, Garberville) might lead you to worry about trendiness encroaching on your breakfast, but fear not. A copy of Sunset Magazine's Eating up the West Coast, into which the house recipe for cheese sauce found its way, is propped up behind the counter. Find out why — order the Eggs Woodrose ($13.95). The poached egg and mound of ham and spinach are obscured by a ladle of white cheese sauce. At the bottom somewhere is an English muffin. Taste the creamy and not overly salty stuff and ask yourself what else might be improved/hidden with a warm blanketing of it. (Brussels sprouts? Urban blight?) There are potatoes, too. They are herbed and possessed of a kind of salty pan crust that only comes from a cook with the steely nerve to leave them alone in the skillet. Your ketchup may go ignored.
Also accompanied by potatoes is the mushroom and cheese omelet ($13.95). It's not cheap, as omelets go, but given the sheer volume of sautéed locally grown shiitake mushrooms, you might be getting it at cost. Along with the melted white cheddar, they are deeply satisfying. It fulfills the broken promises of your friends who are always telling you a Portobello burger is just as good as a real burger.
Maybe this is the year the turkey comes out juicy, nobody leaves the table in tears and the cook doesn't experiment with seafood in your stuffing. But just in case you don't get the Norman Rockwell experience complete with a Tupperware of leftovers (a friend once told me of a Thanksgiving that ended with her father hucking the whole roasted bird across an icy driveway at his sister's retreating car), have a Plan B.
Traditionalists — and those who have made peace with their love of Stove Top stuffing — can head to the Corner Café and Bake Shop, formerly Vellutini Bakery (502 Henderson St., Eureka), for the Turkey Lurkey sandwich ($7.65). The thick-cut breast meat, dollops of sugary cranberry sauce and salty stuffing that borders on being a condiment all come on sliced Dutch crunch with plain old mayo and scratch the nostalgic itch.
If that's too mainstream for you, hit up the North Coast Co-Op (811 I St, Arcata; 25 Fourth St., Eureka) for something edgier. The turkey cran-pepper sandwich ($5.99) is white meat with a slightly fancier/chunkier cranberry sauce, muenster cheese and a handful of pickled jalapeño slices on sourdough. The whole thing is grilled panini style for a nice crunch. It's the sweet and savory of cranberries and turkey with an added tangy heat.
See? A moveable Thanksgiving feast, and nobody had to flip a bird.