Last year, Mr. Trueheart, our dog Mia and I packed up the car and drove down to beautiful Carmel for Thanksgiving. Just the three of us. I was tired of turkey and all the broken promises to make creative new dishes with the left-overs or make a fabulous soup from the carcass. But, most importantly, the dog-friendly beach at the base of Ocean Avenue is Mia’s favorite place on earth, and nothing makes me happier than to see her happy.
The unexpected benefit of the trip was that we were both super energetic to gear up to decorate, cook and host a big, fun Christmas because we weren’t worn out from Thanksgiving.
We stay at legendary dog-lover and movie star Doris Day’s historic 1929 Cypress Inn. Dogs are not only allowed, they are welcomed. It can occasionally feel like staying at a kennel with a few nutty dog fiends roaming around covered in dog hair, but the hotel is also completely charming, unique and beautiful. A wonderful breakfast is included, complete with scrambled eggs, potatoes, pastries, fresh fruit, good coffee and … wait for it… fresh from the oven popovers! (Note to self: make popovers for Christmas breakfast.)
The Inn hosts live music performances in the lobby, and it is always standing room only.
We’re doing a repeat performance this year. In addition to lots of visits to the beach, a drive out to Carmel Valley and walks around this quiet Hansel & Gretel hamlet, we did some Christmas shopping. Carrigg’s of Carmel is usually a furniture and home store, but is completely full of decorations during the holiday season. If you love nutcrackers like we do, a stop at Kris Kringle is a must.
The food in Carmel is not a reason to make the trip. Most restaurants serve old-fashioned Ye Olde European-style heavy, nondescript food with big price tags. A few spots buck that trend. La Balena is one of them. Be sure to get reservations before you visit, because they are very small and the word is out. We really love Il Fornaio. It’s sort of a chain, but the atmosphere in the Carmel location is cozy, charming and bustling. Hubby orders the Linguine Mare Chiaro every time we visit, and I always get either the Zabaione all Gritti or the Affogato al Caffe (even though I swear they give me real espresso when I ask for decaf).
This may become a tradition.
What are your Thanksgiving traditions?
A few links I hope you enjoy:
Family favorite Thanksgiving recipes.
A previous trip to Carmel last year.
Artistic Thanksgiving plates.
Aptitude is love, not genius.
I’m a bit of a slob, this book on tidying up might be the answer.
Pumpkin pound cake recipe. Yes please.
A dementia village. (There is so much to say on this topic, but it will have to wait for another time. For now, just know I’m sending out love to all of us who have loved ones who are still here, but gone.)
Are you listening to Serial, the podcast yet? No? Living in a hole? Drink the Kool-Aid, it’s fantastic. Storytelling’s finest. Hubby listened to all eight episodes in two days.
Tell me your stories!