While not dining on flavored foams and meats prepared sous-vide by some of the best chefs in the country at the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival, I took it upon myself to drive around what some call paradise… and drive some more… and drive some more… and drive some more. Indeed, paradise is a pretty good description of the scenery you encounter at Pebble Beach.
Upon arrival, my girlfriend and I sat for a quick lunch at Sticks Restaurant at Spanish Bay. The table of five chefs next to us all had the same thing in front of them: Fish Tacos. So how could I not?! I dove into beer-battered fish tacos on a corn tortilla with fresh avocado and a candy sweet tomato-based pico de gallo.
I paused to admire the bright red tomatoes, bursting with the sweetness that I’d been without during the long Chicago winter. The tacos were simple and delicious and had me craving tomatoes the rest of my visit.
Sticks Restaurant and Bar, 2700 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, CA, 831-647-7470,
That evening, I joined some of my former colleagues for dinner at Cantinetta Luca in Carmel. A rustic Italian restaurant, its wood-burning oven faced the dining room from the open kitchen. We started with the Burrata Cheese served with olive oil and crostini. In typical burrata fashion, it was pure creamy goodness. We added the Saffron-Infused Arancini with Mozzarrella and Prosciutto, followed by the Salumi Pizza with San Marzano Tomato, Peperone, Salame Cotto and Ricotta Cheese and made room for the Tagliolini “Carbonara” with Local English Peas, Housemade Pancetta, Melted Shallots and Egg. The housemade salumis are dried and cured onsite, and were complemented by the authentic flavors and seasonal ingredients in each dish.
Cantinetta Luca, Dolores St, Carmel, CA, 831-625-6500, http://www.cantinettaluca.com
The next afternoon, I drove over to Carmel to have a nice lunch at the locally recommended Casanova Restaurant. Casanova looks like a little house you’d find in the Mediterranean countryside with a fantastically floral outdoor patio.
The food is fresh and specials change daily. I started with a small portion of their Duck Confit Salad, which was studded with lentils and fresh vegetables. I also ordered linguine with an herb pesto, fresh bay scallops in their shells and beautiful pink and sweet shrimp. The scallops were described to me as smelling and tasting like the sea, which in fact, they did.
Cassanova Restaurant, 5th Ave and Mission, Carmel, CA, 831-625-0501, www.casanovarestaurant.com
Craving a little something sweet, I walked across the street to Pastries and Petals. From scones to muffins and cookies to cupcakes, the selection was plentiful. I ordered a maple oat scone and nibbled on it as I walked around town.
Pastries and Petals, Mission St 2 NE of 5th, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
Whether behind the wheel or at the table, Pebble Beach is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited on the West Coast. Paradise found.
Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, these days you’ll find him on the road talking up kids and cooking as Director of Yum-o! and keeping special projects running smoothly for Rach, all the while taking a bite here and a bite there as he samples and shares local flavor from across the country, from taco trucks to fancier finds. Follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate!