Carmel is known for it's sweeping ocean vistas, golf courses and Clint Eastwood. We managed to stay away from the Golf and Clint and enjoyed a great weekend with Friends in Carmel. Our Friends have a home in Carmel by the Sea and we were lucky enough to get an invitation and hang out with them on a Winter Holiday Weekend. It is one thing to go to Carmel, it is another to go to Carmel and visit with someone that lives there and can explain to you the history, the culture and provide you some great tours during the day and night. Guess what? Carmel is really dark at night (inside joke) and has some pretty decent food too. Anyway did you know that in Carmel By the Sea all new construction can not exceed 1600 sq feet of under roof space. It also takes an act of Carmel Congress to get any construction started and completed. The order of legal reverence in Carmel is Trees, Dogs and Humans. Well, enough with the trivia.
The first night we were there we went to a small Italian Restaurant, Basil http://www.basilcarmel.com/index.html. Basil has only 6 tables and is a very warm and cozy restaurant. The Chef is Michele Cremonese who focuses many of his meals from his Northern Italian roots. You get a lot of personal service at Basil because of it's size, I took a peek in the Kitchen and it is only 150 square feet 80 of it is for the chefs. To the food, I started the meal with an Heirloom Tomato Soup with a Creme Fraiche some of us enjoyed the salad of the night and one of us had a delectable shrimp with Thai undertones. The main course we all tried something different I had the Braised Ox Tail Fettuccine it was good but not as good as what I had in Seattle that was of the same vain (Spinasse). Overall Basil was nice but not that memorable for the food. I think we all just got lost in the conversation but did not get lost in the food.
The Second Day we went on the Annual Inns of Distinction Walk. This event features 7 Inns that throw an open house. Each Open House serves wine and food (from a local restaurant) and shows off it's finest room. Now I was under the impression that if you went to all 7 Inns you won a big prize, so we attacked this walk or was it a jog. As we approached 5pm we had one more Inn to go and we ran through the streets of Carmel so we could win the Inn of Distinction contest at the cost of my arthritic knee. We made it and my prize was to go find the car in the pouring rain I was thrilled. There are some great values in some of these Inns on rooms that have spectacular views and exceptional comfort http://www.carmelheritage.org/inns.htm . During the excursion our wives came across a restaurant called Mundaka.http://mundakacarmel.com/ Mundaka is a Spanish Tapas restaurant that is named after a historic Spanish town and famous surf spot (I like that). Mundaka is a restaurant that has a architectural theme of utilizing sustainable recycled materials. They have a projector that shows very Indie oriented movies that are almost artistic in nature. OK onto to the food, there are a lot of choices so we gathered our thoughts and came up with Queso nothing to complicated 3 cheeses with figs, walnuts and Membrillo (Quince Paste). We next went with the Ravioli which was stuffed with Ricotta an Egg (sunny side up) Pancetta and Chantrelle mushrooms. When you cut into it the egg yolk provides a rich sauce. We had a salad called Remolacha basically a tasty Beet salad, walnuts and Manchego Cheese with field greens. Another winner was the Cordero which was a thin lamb chop with herb oil and fries. Overall Mundaka is a great value with very good service, memorable food and a fun atmosphere.