Oh California, just when I think I can live without you I’m pulled back in. A few weeks ago Rick and I celebrated his birthday in style with a kid-free weekend in beautiful Carmel by the Sea, with accommodations provided by Hofsas House Hotel and “kid-free” provided by the best mother-in-law ever.
Can you and your sweetie get away for a day or two this Summer? You seriously need to make that happen. It was a blissful weekend of gourmet picnics, wine tasting, candlelit (literally) dinners, seaside watercolor painting, gallery browsing and leisurely coffee drinking; oh and cheese, so much cheese. If you live in California, like my beloved Jaime, Carmel by the Sea is the perfect road trip getaway. If you live in the Texas, like me, it’s the perfect refreshing breezy Summer escape, with or without the kids.
If I’m tempting you to book a room and pack your bags for a weekend this European-style city by the shore, here are my strong recommendations for your 3 day weekend in California’s Carmel by the Sea.
You can fly directly into Monterey or take a direct shot into Oakland, San Francisco or San Jose. We flew into San Jose, picked up a rental car and drove through the farmlands like a pair of horticulture nerds, gleefully identifying each field of produce and perusing farm stands offering 10 artichokes or 10 avocados for a dollar, and they say it’s expensive to live in California.
We cruised into town and arrived at the Inn, Hofsas House Hotel. There are no street address’ but we quickly spotted its charming pink exterior. Don’t tell my daughters that I stayed in a pink hotel without them!
Note the beautiful mural by one of the few female New Deal artists, Maxine Albro, a fascinating personal friend of the Hofsas House founder, Donna, in the 1950’s. The warm and inviting lobby is filled with more beautiful artwork by Maxine Alabro. I was mesmerized. The paintings are pretty and sweet and yet mysterious and delightfully odd.
Every room is uniquely decorated like a home that has evolved over the years. Many of the rooms have private balconies and fireplaces and all of the rooms have a dutch door to let in the fresh ocean breeze.
Speaking of the ocean breeze, we dropped off our bags and took a walk to the shore. Bring your pup and let him run free, it’s totally legal. I brought my watercolors for some long overdue sketching. Rick listened to the baseball game on his phone.
After a relaxing afternoon, we stuffed our pockets with cash and treated ourselves to 9 courses of stunning fine dining at Aubergine, which features the work of Food & Wine’s Best New Chef 2013, Justin Cogley. We have our friend @RoadrunnerEats to thank for that brilliant recommendation. It was a luxurious and memorable way to celebrate Rick’s birthday.
After a great night’s sleep with fresh air blowing in the windows (I miss that so) I bounced out of bed and went for a stroll, perused some galleries…
and sipped a lazy coffee.
Then we spent the afternoon doing our favorite things, drinking wine and eating fine meat and cheese from Salumeria Luca.
In the afternoon, we thought about venturing out in a kayak to see the new baby otters riding on their mama’s tummies but then we took a nap instead. We had to rest, there was more food to eat! For our second dinner, we feasted on Spanish-style tapas at Mundaka. It was fun to see a younger crowd out in Carmel by the Sea for the weekend. The food and cocktails were fun, unexpected and creative, and despite my devilish yearnings, I resisted the urge to steal the amazing basket woven bull head hanging above our table.
Off to bed, we had one last full day of eating, drinking and napping ahead of us and I new that I wanted to get up early for a long walk.
I strolled down to the beach and then walked up and down the grid of streets admiring beautiful English gardens with a dash of California planting.
I stopped and picked up some shells for the girls from Abalone Joe.
Ducked into a moss-roofed candy store for some sweet gifts for the kids.
Sat on on a library bench and did some more painting.
And then met up with Rick to start our day with a trip to The Cheese Shop to “picnic up” for the day.
Then we put our Carmel Wine Walk passes to work with and afternoon touring the wine tasting rooms in town like Galante, Caraccioli, and Sheid. With so many rooms in this small walking town, there’s no worry as to how you will get back to your hotel. Your only worry is how you will get all your bottles back to your actual home. Fortunately, Hofsas House will actually ship your bottles right to your door, you just leave them in the lobby with a form.
With one last dinner in town, we were excited to try the legendary Anton & Michel. I had a stunning seafood pasta and Rick took in a beautiful steak. The dramatic highlight of the evening was experiencing their classic tableside flambé desserts for 2 including Bananas Foster and Cherries Jubilee. So fat and happy, we strolled home arm in arm, laughing like we were on our third date.
One last morning and one last walk. While Rick snoozed and enjoyed the free breakfast at Hofsas House, I went off to find the bagel shop that I had noticed in the same square as Mundaka.
As I arrived at 7, this one man shop was just opening it’s doors and began serving up piping hot and fresh bagels and homemade cream cheese. Not home “mixed” cream cheese, HOMEMADE, with flavors like Zatar. When proprietor, Ramsey’s dad heard he was purchasing the middle Easter spice blend, he insisted on making it himself. He put on perfect Sunday morning music and barista-ed up a perfect Ritual coffee latte. I would have gone for a seconds but I had to zip back to pack up and drive back to the airport.Next time we travel to beautiful Carmel by the Sea, we will take the kids along. With beautiful parks, great casual dining, and the stunning California coast, they would have a blast. Maybe we would even finally venture out to see those baby otters!
Thank you to Hofsas House Hotel for hosting and arranging this magical weekend.