Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Staycation and lunch in Carmel, California

For my birthday, my "Foodie Friend", Dorothy, invited me for lunch at a new restaurant in Carmel, California. It's called "Basil Carmel".

Before I show you the wonderful food we enjoyed, let me tell you that Dorothy is a genuine "Foodie". She's very humble about her restaurant knowledge, but I can tell you that she is the "Who's Who" of Culinary World on the Monterey Peninsula. She writes a weekly food column in a local newspaper called "Food for Thought". She's a brilliant writer, though she blushes anytime I gush over how much I love her witty way of writing. She is, truly, a Master Storyteller. She's also a Master Sommelier (but she keeps that under wraps). Any meal with Dorothy is an adventure. She speaks "foodie". She knows her wine. She can make my eyes roll in the back of my head, when she describes a recipe she's watched a chef make. We never run out of conversation.

Dorothy- (from her "Facebook" Profile)

I arrived early, so that I could take photos of the restaurant...
I had about 20 minutes to spare, so I decided to play tourist and to explore Ocean Avenue...

Ocean & San Carlos, Carmel California
Carmel has changed so much over the last decade. The original "Village" has changed-- to my chagrin, it's become too commercial for me. I decided to snap some photos of Carmel, appreciating that while I looked like a tourist-- I can call this city "home".

This building was once "The Mediterranean Market". I miss all the cheeses and important sausages. Now, it's some sort of interior design place. Such a shame...

This was once "Kip's Market". I used to walk here, during lunch, to buy their sandwiches. Now, it's another big chain clothing store. How I miss "Kip's".

How many tourists know that the arched window was once "The Carmel Creamery" where I'd hang out (from high school) to eat ice cream and enjoy my teen years. Now, it's a high-end fashion store where I can't even afford to buy a pair of socks! I'm standing right by "Tiffany's". I think it was once a shoe store. The times have changed...

I know Carmel very well-- all of the alleys and out of the way places to shop.

The "Doud" Arcade. You'll miss it, if you don't know about it. Cute place!

11:30 rolled around, so I walked back to the restaurant. Dot made her entrance, looking lovely in a chic black outfit and her hair so nicely coiffed. She was clutching fliers for her latest project, The Harvest Farm-to-Table to be held at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley on September 26 & 27, 2009. I listened to her speak to one of the kitchen staff members about the event, making a mental note that I wanted to help out. I do not want to miss an opportunity to rub elbows with celebrity chefs-- and that's is Dot's forte'. (Psssssssst, she knows Tyler Florence and he knows her. ) She's very much involved with the presigious "Pebble Beach Food & Wine Event"-- and I plan to be one of "gophers" for next year's event. I won't pass up a chance to ogle all the world famous chefs in such a beautiful setting. Plan to come, next year, if you want to experience a spectacular event.

I will let these photos speak of our wonderful lunch. Prices are very reasonable. You can view the menu here:
The bread was, literally, steaming hot. This basil sauce is another signature dish, that comes with each meal. It's not quite a pesto-- I tasted a hint of mint and garlic. I could have eaten a lot more of this, but I figured we had more dishes to come.

Dot's batted her eyes, and the chef prepared this just for her. It's a salad of grilled white peaches with an orange-vanilla vinaigrette and candied pecans with feta cheese. Hold on...

Dot, being a bonified "Foodie" had to "style" the salad for the "ta-da" shot. See the difference? It was light, flavorful and refreshing.

These are sliders that Dot ordered-- they look big, but they were miniature burgers, and very tasty looking.

I decided to try their Signature Dish --Thai BBQ Short Ribs braised boneless short ribs in a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce over scallion mashed potatofor $12.75. They were tender and I ate every single bite. I forgot to ask the name of the Italian white wine she ordered. It was crisp and complimented our lunch perfectly.

For dessert...

Fudgy cake, which we think was flourless. Do I need to explain how decadent this was? We shared it, and I ate the last two bites without any embarrassment. It was good. Period. I can swim more tomorrow!

After lunch, I took a familiar drive along Scenic Drive, in Carmel. This is where I'd take off in my mom's 1965 Mustang to cruise along and watch the surfers.

I noticed this home, and I had to stop and admire it.

This is my future home... as soon as I win the lottery. I think it's called "Fantasy Tudor". It's probably a weekend home. Nice, huh?

After enjoying my drive along the Carmel Beach (which was chilly and overcast, today), I decided to take a scenic drive back to where I live. I stopped at Earthbound Farms/Farmstand, where the sun always shines. This is where it all began-- two people who decided to grown organic vegetables that has grown into a mega-million business. I'm sure you've purchased these products wherever you live.

I decided to stop and buy some fresh figs, a loaf of baguette bread and to enjoy the sunflowers.

I love sunflowers!

I don't know why I don't come to Carmel more often! I'm so used to dining in Salinas or Monterey. I guess I have an aversion to dodging so many tourists on a busy weekend in Carmel. I'll have to readjust my attitude, because there are so many wonderful restaurants to choose from.

After lunch, Dorothy had me accompany her while she paid a visit to a few restaurateurs to deliver more fliers, and to ask them to participate in the Harvest Event. She chatted with the new owners of Andre's Bouchee and I took a peek around. I definitely see a "Date Night" here, soon! I'll have to sneak in my camera and report back to those of you-- strictly for research.

If you come to Carmel, I highly recommend Basil Carmel. It's a very small place, but the food is excellent. Just be sure to make reservations, or you might be turned away. I'd hate to have you miss out!

I'll be back, tomorrow, posting a new recipe. My Staycation is coming to an end on Friday. I hope that you enjoyed my personal tour of my stomping grounds-- Carmel, California. Please come and visit and support our local restaurant proprietors. Most likely, they're friends of Dorothy's... or mine!

Oh, and Dorothy... I'd love to have you be a guest blogger here! Seriously. I want that recipe for fig jam, with toasted blanched almonds, port and something else. What was it?! Help me out, here!

Pin It


Donna-FFW said...

What a fun read Debby. How nice to have such a close foodie friend. And the restaurants, the scenery, the shops, you make me want to move!! Or at the very least come visit.

Monica H said...

What a lovely day, and a delicious looking lunch. Thanks for the tour of Carmel. i felt like I was there...almost.

BTW, that roof on the house is so neat. I've never seen anything like that.

Kate said...

Great fun! Your photos bring back wonderful memories. We spent our honeymoon in the Mediterranean Market!

Bella said...

Thank you Debbie, for sharing photos and thoughts of your Carmel excursion....loved the food photos, wish we could get our hands the recipes, huh? The cottage was darling and would be so lovely to live in by the sea! Thanks again for letting us readers be a part of your California life (I used to live in Orange County, Fullerton, to be exact, way back in the early 80's. Food options in CA are incredible! Roz (bella)

Carrie said...

What beautiful pictures. I enjoyed reading of your adventure. I have never been to California and now I feel I MUST!