The Santa Cruz Wine Examiner recently joined the Carmel Food Tour in beautiful Carmel-by-the Sea. On a leisurely stroll through the heart of Carmel, tour guides eagerly share their passion and knowledge by providing glimpses into flavor, culture, art, architecture, and history. Visitors and locals sample tastes from seven of Carmel’s most unique restaurants, tasting rooms and specialty shops. The three-hour walk starts at 11 a.m. and for most, lunch is not necessary at the conclusion of the tour.
This visit offered an opportunity to check on the availability of Santa Cruz wines served in the restaurants visited. Wine sales rep, Bob Marsh, provided insight as to how the two regions of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA and Monterey County AVA (American Viticultural Area), view each other. In fairness to the California premium wine image, Monterey County buyers include Santa Cruz wines on lists and in stores and the same holds true with Santa Cruz buyers in regard to Monterey wines.
Tour covers more than food and drink
Besides food and wine from local restaurants and shops, the group becomes acquainted with the unique history and culture of the city during breaks for architectural, cultural, and historical insights. Enjoy the amusing anecdotes!
After sampling fine wines from Figge Cellars in the foyer of the Winfield Gallery, art conservator Chris Kenney of MÖBIUS: art conservation, Santa Cruz, enjoyed a chat with colleague and art dealer Chris Winfield. He said, “Art, cuisine, wine and good company complement each other well, since this was much more than merely a food tour."
Stops on Carmel Food Tour (may be subject to change)
Casanova Restaurant - features 34,000-bottle wine cellar
Terry's Lounge at the Historic Cypress Inn (welcomes dogs)
Figge Cellars - Local, hand-crafted, small-batch wines made with passion by Peter Figge from selected grapes grown in the cooler climate of Monterey (Or) Caraccioli Cellars, also for elegant, local wines
Lula's Chocolates - family owned for more than 100 years
Santa Cruz wines
Casanova, "Carmel’s Most Romantic Restaurant" has a history that would rival any romance novel. Walter and Gaston Georis also own La Bicyclette and the listed wines are shared. La Bicyclette features cuisine crafted from local ingredients and works in collaboration with Carmel Middle School habitat teaching children how to live and eat sustainably. Menu items feature produce grown in the school's gardens, often used on the popular thin-crust pizzas made in a wood-fired oven. Santa Cruz wines include Beauregard, David Bruce, Ghostwriter, Kathryn Kennedy, Mount Eden, Ridge and Windy Oaks.
At the close of the tour, Trio Carmel was the place that many of the group revisited for purchases of premium olive oil and balsamic vinegars. A most surprising tasting had consisted of the combination of ice cream sprinkled with salt, followed by flavored vinegar or oil. Delicious! Customers may try this combination at home with a six-pack sampler for $29.99, selecting vinegars such as Cinnamon Pear, Honey Ginger and Dark Chocolate, and/or oils such as Roasted Walnut, Blood Orange and Persian Lime.
Those who prefer the more traditional dessert of chocolate indulgence would do well to backtrack to family-owned Lula’s for a sweet finish of their famous truffles or sea-salt caramels.
By June Smith