Thursday, August 11, 2016



My  02/15/16 post raised a few points about one of the most unique west coast environments in Central California - Carmel By The Sea. With its very dense, almost zero lot line homes built by artists, writers, actors and other famous and not so famous creative types from 1929 on, it is truly an environment that must be seen to be appreciated. So - You may want to take a quick look at that post before reading today's Part II on the lovely village Carmel By The Sea. Its restaurants, artisan shops, small museums and small "downtown" area will provide any visitor with a perspective on how people of means and artistic  bent have managed to create a place of intense, small urban quality that is like no other place you will experience.


First, Clint was not there the night we ate at this very old, well appointed simple restaurant. However, if you go to Carmel, this place is a must. Great food and an amazing setting make The Mission Ranch Restaurant a place that must not be missed. I highly recommend eating outside on the terrace overlooking a rolling pasture and a few sheep with the Pacific beyond. Vegans need not apply. The specialty is Slow Roasted Prime Rib - GO AHEAD MAKE MY DAY!! The food, the service, the wine. All these ingredients combine to generate this acclaimed restaurant's  high ratings by people who rate such things. What a gig - huh?

And nothing goes better with great cuisine than a very, very good jazz pianist. We sat right next to the keyboardist as he played some great classics and new stuff while we waited for our table. We are both jazz lovers and hearing this great jazz pianist gives this place that sense of old school  and new day vibe combined. So, when in Carmel, check out this restaurant located on the original twenty-two acres along with  the thirty-one room Mission Ranch Hotel. The place was rescued and saved from the condo developers by none other than the former mayor Clint Eastwood, who, we were told, shows up unannounced on a regular basis.


Because Carmel is not very big, it is one of the most feet friendly towns you can visit. Around every corner is a bistro, a brunch place or a bakery with great food - not to mention many small and expensive art galleries and small shops. And, of course, there is Carmel Beach, where you can hang out and dip your toes in the Pacific. The architectural flavor of the town is old school to the max with mostly wood siding bungalows and no large buildings. It is intimate and cosy. You get the feeling that you are a local, even if you're only there for a few days. One interesting architectural masterpiece on the Pacific is the Walker House - Cabin On the Rocks, designed by Frank LLoyd Wright and built in 1949. It was featured in the movie A Summer Place. However, if you want to tour the house, you need to plan on a June visit. It's open to the public only one day each year.

In addition to walking the town and emjoying the food and the vibe, you must hop in your car and take a nice drive down California 1 to a culinary institution - Nepenthe Restaurant. In Greek it means "Isle of No Care". Make absolutely certain you grab a seat on a waterfront front bench/table about 200 feet above the Pacific. Serving hungry locals and visitors from all over the world since 1949, in a building designed by Architect Rowen Maiden, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, this is a great day trip to the heart of Big Sur for a great meal, great atmosphere and killer views. And the leisurely drive down California's Coast Road (CA 1) with magnificent coastal views around every bend - a little over an hour - ain't too shabby either.
One final suggestion - If you want to  impress your significant other, reserve a view table at Sierra Mar Restaurant, which is on the property of The Post Ranch Inn boutique hotel.  If you have a little bit of extra cash and you really want to impress your travel partner, reserve a Pacific Coast room at this  $875 - $1,300 per night multiple award winning place. It's a tad rich for this Nomad, but, if you can pay the freight - don't hesitate.


Since California produces 90% of the wine in the United states, you really can't go to this part of the country without spending at least a day or two touring and tasting some of the best wine in the world. Just get a Carmel Valley Map and go man go. The Bernardus Winery is a great place to start. If you want to pick up some delicious lemon olive oil, in addition to some great wine, check out Joullian Vineyards & Winery. And there are at least twenty other, mostly small, boutique wineries that will quench and delight your taste buds.

So, if you need a few days getaway or something longer, Carmel By the Sea, along with Big Sur and other Central California must sees, is a place you should add to your bucket list.

Next Up. Some thoughts on Sonoma Valley Wine Region - California Here We Come!!

Bonne Randonnée,

D.L. Stafford

 “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark


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