Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Carmel Weekend

After getting back from NYC at 10pm on Thursday night, we hit the road for Carmel bright and early the next morning at 6am for a wedding at the Carmel Mission Basilica. The historic old mission was really neat, followed by a reception at the lovely Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley. Carmel is a quaint upscale seaside town. The downtown is filled with lots of little shops, galleries and restaurants and is a couple of blocks from the beach. I love when you can explore a town completely on foot. The temperatures are often quite cool with a good amount of fog. Every time we've been there for the last three years, temperatures haven't gotten much above 60 degrees. Still, the cool temperatures and fog add to the mystique and character of the area.
We stayed in the middle of downtown at the Monte Verde Inn at Ocean and Monte Verde Avenue. The Inn was conveniently located to all the shops and the ocean; we walked to the various restaurants and markets as well as the beach and didn't use our car at all during the weekend. Our room was cute, but very tiny, without much room for our suitcases and it was very noisy, particularly in the mornings. We had a shared balcony which contributed a lot to the noise since the balcony was also our main entrance to our room plus the only place to eat the breakfast basket that they provided every morning. The location was great and parking was convenient, but I'm not sure that I would stay there again in the future.
Saturday after the wedding, we had lunch at Casanova's, a nice stroll from our lodgings. The courtyard was quite charming; reminded me a little bit of the Girl and the Fig in Sonoma, and the food was quite good as well. I would definitely go back.
Duck salad with beets, lentils, pine nuts and artichokes. Very hearty! I would have preferred seared duck, but it was still good.
Spaghetti with steak and fresh tomatoes. Very good.
On vacation, wine with lunch. Why not!
We picked up sandwiches, snacks and beer at Bruno's market also in downtown It's a good place, my hot tri tip bbq sandwich, one of their specialties were awesome and they have a good selection of anything you might need. Definitely a good place to pick up picnic provisions. We had grand plans to rent bikes to bike to and picnic on 17 mile drive, which we really enjoyed doing two years ago, but there actually aren't bike rental shops in Carmel, which was surprising, only in Monterey. I guess people don't really go to Carmel to be active.

Before leaving, we picked up some cheese at the Cheese Shop in Carmel Plaza, the first plaza you pass as you enter Carmel from Highway 1, to bring to our friend's place in Burlingame. They had an awesome selection of hundreds of cheeses. The staff provided excellent recommendations to go along with our friend's home brewed bourbon porter and amber ale, including a 4 year aged gouda, osau iraty, a cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves and soaked in whisky and a very grassy, slightly bitter cheese (sorry, forgot almost all the names). It reminded me a lot of the always amazing Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills with wheels and wheels of delicious cheese everywhere, total cheese heaven.

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