Friday, July 22, 2011

What is LOX?

Is there anything tastier than a bagel with cream cheese and lox?  Perhaps the only thing better is a bagel with cream cheese, lox, Larrupin sauce, Slug Slime and Tabasco. We are truly blessed here on the Redwood Coast to live in close proximity to salmon habitat.  Off the coast of Humboldt County it has been a banner year for salmon fishing.  This is very encouraging not only for everyone who likes to eat salmon, but for all the people who work at restoring their habitat and ensuring their survival for future generations.  Here is a picture of three Chinook Salmon caught this week about four miles south of Trinidad, the two on the right weighted about 17 pounds each.
At Los Bagels, our salmon come from Alaska. Our fish are wild, as opposed to farmed, and our most popular variety is"lox."   One of the eternal questions of bagel culture is "What is lox?"
Lox is a salmon fillet that has been cured.   In its most popular form, it is thinly sliced—less than 5 millimetres (0.20 in) in thickness—and, typically, served on a bagel, often with cream cheese, onion, tomato or capers.  Noted for its importance in Ashkenazic Jewish cuisine, the food and its name were introduced to the United States through Scandinavian immigrants, though it was popularized by Jewish immigrants. The term lox derives from Lachs in German and לאַקס (laks) in Yiddish, meaning "salmon".

Lox is traditionally made by brining the salmon in a solution of water, salt, sugars and spices (the brine).

Then the brined fish is cold smoked.  This means it is placed in a smoker which stays at about 70 degrees °F.   In this temperature range, foods take on a smoked flavor, but remain relatively moist. Cold smoking does not cook foods. This leaves the salmon with a beautiful red/pink color and a great texture.  Of course, this process has many variations depending on cultures and types of salmon.

There you have it, a brief description of how lox is made.  And now for a picture of a fishing GOD.  Thank you Salmon.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The History of the Truchas Gallery

Step into Los Bagels Bakery and Café, on Second Street in Old Town Eureka, and experience one of the great landmarks on the North Coast.  Los Bagels is the multicultural hot spot for the region.  Even before you taste the food, your eyes will feast on the eclectic mix of artwork adorning the walls.  The Truchas Gallery is located within the café.   The name “Truchas” comes from the Spanish word “trout” and was named, not only for Los Bagels founder Dennis Rael’s fondness for fishing, but for the town of Truchas, New Mexico.  Mr. Rael’s family has roots in this beautiful region of the Southwest, long before his grandparents migrated west to California.
Dennis Rael as a (very) young man
Featuring a rotating selection of the region’s best artists, the exposed brick wall leaves plenty of room for large works and three dimensional displays.  The other walls house a permanent collection, featuring a large three panel mural created by children at the Equinox School in Arcata. 
Equinox School mural

Above the deli area are a collection of large caricatures originally created for a Martin Luther King Jr. parade at the Trinidad Town Hall.  These images represent Rosa Parks, Stevie Wonder, Mother Teresa, Frida Kahlo and Martin Luther King Jr., and capture the true multicultural essence of Los Bagels. 
Quietly hung out of harm’s way, are also two rare giclee prints by Robert Cassila.  Cassila illustrated the bestselling children’s book, “Jalapeno Bagels” by Natasha Wing.  This book is based on Los Bagels and founder Dennis Rael.  Mr. Rael grew up with a Jewish mother and a Latino father, celebrating customs from both sides of his family.  His multicultural upbringing in southern California inspired Mr. Rael to start Los Bagels over 26 years ago.  Natasha Wing’s story is based on a boy named Pablo who can’t decide what to bring to school for “International Day.”  This book has been a best seller in children’s literature, and is currently required reading for many second graders across America.  Signed copies of the book are available in the café and online.

Depending on the season the café may be adorned with a Day of the Dead ofrenda, a collection of Judaica from around the world, or even handmade tin hearts from Oaxaca, Mexico.   The menu at Los Bagels is as diverse as the collection of artwork.  Featuring the tastes of Mexico combined with traditional Jewish fare, Los Bagels offers boiled then baked bagels, along with a great selection of toppings, including smoked turkey, lox, hummus and a great variety of spreads.  In the pastry case find handmade croissants, rugalah, challah and a selection of muffins and cookies that is sure to please. Serving fresh seasonal local produce, gourmet coffee and espresso, Los Bagels will delight the most discriminating palette, yet is fun and family friendly.