Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Twenty-Four Hours of Magic in Carmel-by-the-Sea!

Twenty-Four Hours of Magic in Carmel-by-the-Sea!

By Kat Thomas

Otter this world! Edible Skinny was lucky enough to get to do a weekend getaway to Carmel-By-The-Sea in early January!  Carmel-by-the-Sea's is a one-square mile village drenched in European charm.  Nestled two and a half hours south of the Bay Area on the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel is known for its breathtaking natural scenery and quirky bohemian lifestyle.  Sited at one of the most scenic meetings of land and sea in the world, it was the perfect destination for a twenty-four hour Thomas Gal getaway!  Below are some of the charming highlights from our magical time in Monterey, Big Sur, and Carmel-by-the-Sea!

Founded in 1902, Carmel’s bohemian beachside residents were unwilling to see their village become "citified.”  Thus the hamlet’s founding fathers rejected the practice house-to-house mail delivery in favor of a central post office. To this day, there are still no addresses, parking meters or street lights, and no sidewalks outside of Carmel's downtown commercial area.

Newbies seeking directions receive hints by way of the house’s playful architecture or the legendary names bestowed on most houses, such as "Hansel" or "Sea Urchin."  BTWs buyer beware: it is bad luck to change the name on a Carmel cottage.  Other quirky snippets of this fairytale community include a no high heels law, Clint Eastwood was once mayor, and Doris Day helped make Carmel-by-the-Sea a dog heaven on Earth!

So here’s to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and finding the perfect beachfront house to sip rose all day, regardless of the lack of street address!

For this getaway, the Thomas Gals decided to shack up at newly designed B&B near the beach... The Getaway! And all we can say is ADORABLE!!!

This 34-Room Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of downtown on Ocean Avenue, steps away from Carmel Plaza and Devendorf Park.  While residing there guests can enjoy a short walk to boutique shopping, craft based restaurants, and Carmel’s magnificent seascape with its white sandy beaches and brilliant blue ocean waters.

The Getaway offers a playful personality to the art of hospitality! Details abound as guests enjoy a daily breakfast in the lobby by a crackling fire. And let’s just say the Getaway takes complimentary breakfast is to infinity and beyond!  Avocado toast, homemade quiche, and artisan coffee; can we say Yummm (with 3 Ms).  Also during the golden hour of sunset, the hotel offers a reception with bubbles (sparkling wine, not the wand kind), wine, and savory snacks to be enjoyed by the chic outdoor fire pit. 

Intricate decor details enrobe The Getaway’s rooms.  Gorgeous Art Deco bathroom tiles, hand painted do-not-disturb signs, and floor length mirrors on both sides of the bathroom doors (for when multiple females need to put on makeup at the same time). As they say, God is in the details, and with this hotel we felt we had gone to heaven and back.

And if you’re up for putting the pedal to the metal, there’s hosted Electra bikes for The Getaway’s guests.  (Just don’t ride them after dark as there’s an ordinance  against doing so).  And don't forget your best friend as this hotel (along with almost everything else in Carmel) is dog friendly.

Once checked in, we were off to Garrapata State Park for a picturesque hike.  Garrapata is an unknown Big Sur jewel!  Garrapata State Park's unpopulated hiking trails provide access to both the passionate Big Sur coastline and the breathtaking Santa Lucia Mountains and located only a short drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea.  Some of the best Big Sur hiking trails are cloistered within this state park.  Choose to explore the incredible rocky coast and beach on the west side of Highway 1 or the 1.25 mile Soberanes Canyon Trail which heads inland with views of redwoods and the Santa Lucia Mountain Range.

With no fast food restaurants in the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, the town’s charming eateries and tasting rooms offer a full range of craft cuisine.  Planning to later dine in Monterey, Kelly and I knew we needed to experience something local, so we opted for the Yeast of Eden Brewery for a pint!

Don’t Worry, Be Hoppy!  Yeast of Eden is a mixed fermentation brewery dedicated to developing small-batch, terroir driven beers that exhibit complex and nuanced flavors endemic to Monterey County.  I engulfed the Sage Laced Winds, a tart Saison made from Big Sur Sage Honey and Black Honey.  Kelly danced with the Odellalle, a mixed fermentation Saison with locally sourced Olallieberries (like Blackberries).  Both were Coltrane Jazz to our taste buds!

Later in the night, we met a local friend at the AWESOME Monterey Fish House.  Blocks away from the tourist traps, this is where the townies (and woke travelers) find the freshest seafood, steaks, and homemade pasta.  It’s the perfect East-Coast-Seafood-Joint-by-way-of-the-West-Coast.  And everybody wants some! Even if you have a Rezzie, don’t be surprised to wait in a line out-the-door for a table.

Monterey’s Fish House is owned and operated by the DiGirolamo family, with deep roots in the Monterey fishing and restaurant industries. David DiGirolamo grew up working in his family’s restaurant, Angelo’s on Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, preparing and serving fresh fish his father caught daily.  The restaurant has been voted Best Seafood in Monterey year after year and mentioned in Sunset and Coastal Living Magazines.

Monterey’s Fish House was featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives where Guy Ferrari feasted on Oak-Grilled Oysters, which are slathered with butter and garlic, then served with a spicy cocktail sauce (and BTWs they are AMAZEBALLS AMAZEBALLS AMAZEBALLS!!!)

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at http://www.thiswayadventures.com

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Celebrate the Kumquat in Style During Santa Monica Restaurant Week

Kat Thomas and Mary Sue Milliken

Celebrate the Kumquat in Style During Santa Monica Restaurant Week

Over 35 Restaurants Are Joining the 2020 Foodie Party
By Kat Thomas, Edible Skinny

Calabra's Kumquat Quail Dish
From January 6-12, 2020, Santa Monica Restaurant Week returns to Santa Monica for a
DELICIOUS week-long celebration of this beachside city’s award-wining dining scene.  So let’s celebrate California Restaurant Month in STYLE by experiencing Santa Monica’s innovative culinary scene, one KUMQUAT-themed dish at a time!

Back for its eighth go around, the Santa Monica Travel & Tourism’s format is simple: every year the city of Santa Monica picks a fresh, local ingredients found at their four weekly Farmers Markets and then participating restaurants craft unique dishes based off it.  It’s similar to what Pantone’s color council does with this season’s color (and in case you were wondering, 2020 Color of the Year is ”Classic Blue,” a shade “reminiscent of the sky at dusk”).   And for SM restaurants, this year their ingredient is the Kumquat.  And this year a record 37 restaurants in Santa Monica are getting in on the action!!!

Mary Sue Milliken and Chef
The Mighty Mini Orange!  Originating from Asia and Sweet and Sour in the same punch, the Kumquat is a mighty citrus in a single bite.  This grape-sized citrus is renowned for packing two flavors into its petite size: its edible peel is sweet, while the flesh is tart.  Nutritional benefits also abound as the fruit is rich in vitamin C and fiber and also contains amounts of B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, magnesium and more, all offering a boost to your health.

Michael's Kumquat Dish
But that’s all backstory to AMAZING dishes crafted for this unique citrus!  Participating restaurants include Little Prince on Main Street serving Pumpkin Toast with Burrata, Kumquats and Pumpkin Seed Crumble, Seasonal farmers market pumpkin, and notes of citrus on Clark Street Bread sourdough from the wood oven ($17), Michael’s Santa Monica Baja Style Wild Yellowtail Crudo of diced, wild, Inada (Baby Yellowtail) set in an AguaChile Sauce made of market Chiles and Kumquats, garnished with sliced Kumquats, Radishes, and Cilantro ($13), and Calabra at Santa Monica Proper’s dish of Koji Fried California Quail Kumquat and Calabrian Chile sweet and sour, Cilantro, and Mint ($18).  This dish was my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE with the quail being marinated for 3 days before being cooked.  Actually EVERYTHING that I sampled at Calabra was DIVINE from their AWESOME assortment of Signature Meza to their Orange, Olive Oil, Kumquat Cake with Winter Citrus.  Swing by and check out the only rooftop hotel with a pool in West LA!
Socalo's Corn Esquite

Along with previewing some FAB Kumquat dishes thanks to the Santa Monica Travel & Tourism, Edible Skinny was also able to take a peak in the kitchen of the newly opened Socalo, an all day California canteen and Mexican Pub (all the wines and beers are from Mexico) from Chef/Owners Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.  Santa Monica stalwarts are more than familiar that the recently closed Border Grill was on 4th Street in Santa Monica for 26 years.  Milliken and Feineger wanted to return to the beach (they still have locations in DTLA and Mandalay Bay in Vegas), so when the opportunity to create a space in the Gateway Hotel on the East side of SM,  they took it!

Socalo is a mashup of SoCal and a Zócalo or Plaza del Zócalo, the common name of the main square in central Mexico City.  All I have to say is that the food is AWESOME!  From their AMAZEBALLS Salsa Matcha (Ancho and Arbol Chiles fried in Olive Oil and mixed into a paste of Sesame Seeds and Almonds) to their Corn Esquite with Chipotle Aioli, Tajin, Lime, and Cotija Cheese (this one was my FAV) to Socalo’s Santa Monica Restaurant Week dish of Salmon Poke Kumquat ponzu, serrano, cucumber, rice, fennel and sesame seeds ($16).  After sampling Waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyy too much food in the front of the house, we then went into the kitchen to watch them make a Vampiro Taco IRL.  These Skirt Steak and Shrimp Tacos were composed of Griddle Cheese, Blue Corn Tortillas, and the aforementioned Salsa Macha.  Can we say Yummm with 3 Ms!!!

So here’s to life being delicious, all your moments being postcard worthy, and diving into the world of the Kumquat for Santa Monica Restaurant Week!

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at http://www.thiswayadventures.com