Published on January 3rd, 2020 | by Elaine and Scott Harris1
The Monterey Peninsula provides a dreamy destination
What was sighted as the “Bay of Pines” along the windswept Pacific Ocean in 1542 has now become the inspiration and home to countless creative’s and outdoor enthusiasts. The Monterey Peninsula and surrounding areas has continued to be known as a place where Mother Nature’s majesty is magnified. This is the set where Robert Louis Stevenson conceived his plot for Treasure Island and Steinbeck’s Cannery Row was birthed, where Jazz legends has crooned and cajoled, and countless others come year after year to dream, create and recreate at this glorious intersection of stunning beauty.
While spending a long weekend or several days to dream and dawdle among the pines in Carmel and the Monterey Peninsula where one does begin to embrace the trail and enjoy the journey? Poets and writers aside, the average tourist can appreciate this small enclave bequeathed with divine natural scenery and rich artistic history. Carmel California will capture your heart and imagination. You will fall in love with this town that has charmed thousands. Along with the four star restaurants, abundant art galleries, and the most glorious scenery in the country, you can return to a number of luxurious hotel rooms that will accommodate any type of traveler. It began as a haven for those seeking to further their artistic endeavors and now is one of the most sought after destinations in the world.
Zen meets Carmel is what you will find at the Trade Winds hotel. This premier property known for 58 years of hospitably longevity preservers as an east meet west experience for those seeking sumptuous solace from the everyday hustle and bustle. A completive concierge leads you to your room with a strand of purple orchids in her hand as an official greeting into this temple of hospitality. The soothing view of the Pacific Ocean is just beyond the horizon, while you enjoy a moment in contemplative luxury. The warmth of the indoor fireplace is much welcomed when the fog rolls in. A soaking whirlpool tub is available for extra water therapy and complete relaxation. Does it sound like spahhhing? Make it a complete experience as private in room spa treatments are available through your attentive front desk concierge. Gorgeous linens embrace the body as the comfort of high-end bedding eases every muscle in the body after a day of exploring. Upon awakening, a daily continental breakfast awaits you with the area’s best fresh fruit, French pastries, and healthy breakfast items and of course local Carmel coffee. Take time to stroll along the bamboo gardens, where a peaceful Buddha’s sits grandly as the gurgling water features lull you into a meditative state. The Trade Winds beckons and delivers a true reprieve from the world’s rushing whirlwind of activity.
The Hofsas House:
Conveniently located to the Monterey airport, the Hofsas House offers affordable lodging and year round activities.
The background on this Alpine-esque family hotel, which is pet and child friendly, started in the 1940’s, when hotelier Donna Hofsas, left her home in Los Angeles to take up residence in Carmel California.
Donna went on to transform tiny cottages into an outstanding family run hotel that has been in operation since the 1950’s. Donna Hofsas passed in 1999 but her legacy has carried on through her granddaughter, Carrie Theis, who continues offering the same old world charm and personalized service that Grandmother Donna instilled in her since the tender age of 5.
With modern amenities, personalized hotel packages for pet lovers, summer vacationers, or those looking for a romantic get-away, everyone is well taken care of at the Hofsas House. The gentile European hotel ambience is well-appointed with every modern amenity, taking an old-fashioned, yet never outdated approach to stellar customer service. The friendly staff can help you navigate the vast menu of Hofsas House Offerings that will make your stay a memory making adventure.
Carmel offers a bevy of world class boutiques and one of kind merchandise including glorious art galleries, food shops and Tinker Toys, a world class toy shop. But For those who love good brie or a hearty blue cheese, the Carmel Cheese Shop is the place for you. Make sure to stop by the Cheese Shop to say hello to proprietor Kent Torrey. This world class wine and cheese establishment is the place to chat with the effervescent Mr. Torrey. Kent has put together a world class team of the most helpful and knowledgeable staff members that will assist you with the perfect wine and cheese selection. With a plethora of cheese and wine choices to choose from, you will think you have entered into the pearly gates of fromage heaven. However, you will want to remain an earthling to be able to indulge in the incredible wine selection that Kent offers to his patrons. Kent boldly declares, “Eat Cheese, Drink wine, and Live Life Happy”, and we couldn’t agree more. For more information on Kent and his renown shop go to www.thecheeseshopinc.com
While strolling among the quaint cottages there are many tasting rooms that can allure the most sophisticated oenophile. Albatross ridge is the newest venue amongst the stellar wine rooms in Carmel. Open for a year they are flying strong with their delightful Chardonnay, Pinot Noirs and their most unique wine, the Petillant Nautrel Rose that is refreshing, effervescent and a delightful diversion from a rose or traditional sparkling wine.
Just a short drive from Carmel, is Carmel Valley where a storied winery awaits, that of Folktale winery. This enchanted destination boasts a story in every bottle. With a penchant for perfection, President and CEO Gregory Ahn is building a fabled brand with a inclusive experiential outlook that engages and endears the novice and the oenophile alike. The gorgeous family friendly areas, notable music events coupled with property tasting tours and venues, demonstrate that Folktale staffers can make any story come true. Wine Maker David Baird is engaging the consumer with easy drinking, yet sophisticated wines with a less aggressive approach such his frizzante style wines that are perfect for warm lazy afternoons. Begin with the Folktale Rose or take home one of the superb Chardonnays or the Sauvignons Blancs. Red blends are a must for heartier fare, but Baird’s restrained and refined wine-making lends to bold flavors without being bowled over. Create your own story, a visit to Folktale is the place to shop wine, talk shop or just a place to sip and savor.
Food is integral to your experience on the Peninsula and in Carmel a dinner at Carmel Bouchee is where executive chef Jacques Zagouri, partner Kavindar Pandey and wine maker Richard Oh have partnered together to bring about a truly magically food and wine experience. Richard just happens to be the king of card tricks, but there is no sleight of hand when it comes to sourcing and cultivating the best in fine French food with California flair paired with an impeccable wine list, including Oh’s iconic wines. The wine cellar contains rare and unique vintages for those seeking a proper wine and food experience. Allez-begin with the traditional feuillete d escargot, in a mushroom stew seasoned with pungent garlic parsley butter, move to the le tournedo a la periguordine, pan seared filet mignon in a velvety sautéed of brandy, and port wine truffle reduction, then for the fini, a decadent crème Brulle au cointreau that will have you dreaming of Paris. No passport needed to experience the global haute cuisine at Carmel Bouchee.
Around the curving Highway 1, lies the Carmel Highlands Big Sur Coast, and the California Market at Pacific Edge. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner this venue truly marries Mother’s Nature bounty with Mother Nature’s grandeur. The menu is inspired by locally source and California driven. There is not a bad seat in the house, as floor to ceiling windows, transform your experience into a 360 degree dining dream as you sit gazing at the spectacular undulating waves while enjoying the thoughtful vibrant California Cuisine.
Over in nearby Pacific Grove on the eponymous Lover’s Point, the Beach House sits grandly across the rolling waves, creating a romantic or family friendly dining experience. As walk up the flight of stairs in this quaint blue building inside you will discover a clean, modern eatery with plenty of seating and welcoming front bar. A gracious server will urge you try the “Firecracker Shrimp”. These tiny crustaceans were crisp, delicately golden brown, and bathed in a spicy, sweet Thai sauce. This restaurant favorite soon became ours, as we hungrily devoured these mouth watering gifts of the sea. Along with great appetizers and hand crafted cocktails some of the local favorites including pan seared Salmon, fresh Halibut, steaks, pasta, burgers and much more.
For your next outing or romantic get-away, pack your suitcase and head for the Monterey Peninsula. Through diligent stewardship of the natural habitats, visitors can enjoy the best of every amenity while revealing in the grandeur of Mother Nature. Wine Enthusiast Magazine has designated Monterey County as one of the top ten wine destinations in the world, and Travel and Leisure Magazine has rated Carmel as #3 in the list of world’s best cities for romance. Nature and nurture go hand in hand and will walk alongside you every step of your journey.
This article was translated in French by Anne-Cécile Baer Porter.