When a recent invitation to visit Carmel by-the-Sea and Homan Ranch in Carmel Valley came into my inbox, I could not refuse! The timing of this trip ended up being at a critical time when I need to take a step back from all of my work and enjoy a few of the finer things in life.
As my boyfriend and I approached the city of Carmel via the 17-mile drive, I felt the relaxation fall over me. The sound of the ocean and the beauty of the coastline is truly spectacular. Carmel-by-the-Sea is a town well suited to walking and has an old European village feel. The city is only 1 square mile and offers a great deal to vacationers.
Carmel is only two and half drive south of San Francisco, but it feels like a world away. Much of the town reminds me of villages I have visited in England. There are no number addresses for the businesses located downtown. All of the buildings have names and everyday the business owners must go to the post office to receive their mail. We stayed at the Hofsas House on San Carlos Avenue. This charming hotel is one of the largest with 37 rooms. The Hofsas House also reminded me of staying with relatives in Europe and had an inviting, old-world charm. Our room was large including a king bed, fireplace and kitchen. Upon arrival a bottle of Chardonnay was already on ice waiting to be consumed. An adjacent bell jar full of cheese from the local cheese shop was also a much welcomed surprise. Even though the drive isn't that long, a glass of wine was well deserved and gladly enjoyed.
After getting settled and enjoying some wine, we headed over to Anton and Michel for a decadent meal. Located a short walk from the hotel, the restaurant setting was beautiful. Our table was front and center overlooking a courtyard with a fountain that created a romantic setting. The food was fairly traditional and very fresh. All the entrees do contain meat, however, if you have a vegetarian with you like I did, they are more than happy to put together a dish to include all the veggies on the menu. I got the amazing salmon, but I will admit, I was slightly jealous of the bounty of deliciousness on my boyfriend's plate. But the Monterey Pinot Noir I had helped balance the scales and made for a great pairing with the salmon.
Once we finished the fantastic creme brulee, we took a long walk through town back to the hotel. After a good night's sleep we were fresh and ready for a slightly drizzly but exciting next day. I had the great opportunity to meet with Carrie, the owner of the Hofsas House who gave me a tour and more insight into both her operation and Carmel. Her family has owned the hotel for three generations. Carrie's knowledge of the area was very insightful. I appreciated getting her tips on the local golf scene, beaches, hiking and the town itself.
After checking out we headed to Carmel Coffee House for the daily requirement of caffeine, then the 5th Avenue Deli for boxed lunches which we ate in the nearby Murphy park. I then escaped to the Wrath tasting room where I enjoyed getting to know more about their Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs. Seriously delicious and very budget friendly. There are 14 tasting rooms in Carmel, all within walking distance. There is a passport you can purchase in order to take full advantage of all the tasting rooms without breaking the bank.
As the afternoon approached, we jumped in the car to our next destination, the Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley. This is a destination not to be missed, and the wines....well they are fabulous too. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Carmel adventure next week!