Welcome back to lovely Carmel-by-the-Sea! I hope you are ready for another exploration, because there is just so much that is wonderful in such a little town. We begin on Lincoln street, by Morgan Court, which is reminiscent of old England, and hides, among others, a lovely little day spa, Kush Day Spa, and a hair boutique called Profiles.
I just love the shop signs in Carmel, with their old world flair mixed in with a touch of whimsy.
Right across from Morgan Court is the lovely La Rambla building, and if you go through the archway you will find one of Carmel’s hidden courtyards.
Right next to La Rambla is The Cottage, a quaint little restaurant where you can enjoy classic American style breakfast and lunch. I hear they make a killer fresh pressed lemonade, so it is on my list for next time.
Heading back to Ocean Avenue and turning left towards the ocean, we find the famous Cottage of Sweets. Featured in the historic building tour, this is one of Hugh Comstock’s fairy tale cottages, and is filled to the brim with assorted candies, licorice, chocolates, caramel popcorn… the list goes on and on. Both my parents would spend some money here, especially on the English licorice candies.
Further uphill also on Ocean Avenue, my eye was caught by these beautiful and very unique dolls. They were in the window of Galerie Rue Royale, and, as the sign says, they are one-of-a-kind creations by artist Isabelle, exclusively for this gallerie. Aren’t they stunning?
Swinging a right from here will take us back to the core of Dolores Street. There is a lot going on on Dolores Street, isn’t there? I heard they were talking about making this street pedestrian-only, which would be nice in a way, as there would be no cars parked in front of all the lovely buildings and shops; but it would also further favor this already popular street to the detriment of the other businesses on other streets, just because they don’t all happen to be clustered here.
Trió Carmel is a good place for a pit stop. Here you will find a trio of treasures: wine, art and olive oil, and all of it seriously wonderful. I stopped in on a day when they were hosting a wine tasting for one of the best little family wineries in Carmel Valley: Mesa del Sol. These are some seriously good wines, some of the best I have ever enjoyed in California. During my three-month stay in Carmel I have enjoyed a few bottles of Mesa del Sol wine, and each one has been an OMD! experience from the first sip.
On this occasion I had the privilege of tasting something unique: a Mesa del Sol Zinfandel dessert wine. I had never heard of Zinfandel as a dessert wine before, and this was a late harvest, and a pleasant surprise, reminding me of Brachetto d’Acqui from Piemonte, in Italy. The tasting combined the wine with a little chocolate mousse lightly drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Pastry chefs take notice: a winning combination! The wine was just gently sweet, and paired perfectly with the chocolate.
Beyond the exceptional wine, at Trió you will get a chance to sample some premium olive oils from olive growers from California and around the world, as well as classic and flavored balsamic vinegars from Modena, Italy.
The stunning art you see is mostly abstract contemporary, featuring artists such as Patricia Qualls, Mark Cullen, Carol Ann, and Martino Hoss.
Oh yes, that interesting gadget in the image top right: that would be a device, called Coravin, that allows you to “cheat”, but in a good way. Essentially it allows you to pour wine from a sealed bottle, without removing the cork, thus leaving the remaining wine unaffected by contact with air. I have watched it in action and it is brilliant, not to mention perfect for people like me who take a couple of weeks to finish a bottle of wine.
And for lovers of Asian quality furnishings and antiques, Conway of Asia is right across the street from Trió Carmel. Reminiscent of the great souks of ancient times, this is a place where you will find yourself losing your sense of, well, time, as there is so much to see.
Indeed we are zig-zagging a bit here, but we are still on Dolores street, and as you zag again after Conway of Asia, you will find Jan de Luz, a true treasure chest for quality Belgian and French linens and home accessories. This is another place where I have spent quite some time. I also fell in love with an exquisite lace tablecloth here, but the moment was not right given my then nomadic lifestyle and my current need to sort through several cubic feet of stuff. But I shall return.
Walking along the streets of Carmel you will notice that the treasures are not just inside shops and art galleries. Everywhere you look you will see something lovely: a building, a sign, a stairway, a door, a courtyard.
Back on the south side of Ocean Avenue, next to Carrigg’s of Carmel (featured in this post), you will find Bittner. The sign talks about the pleasure of writing, and indeed here you will find quite the selection of beautiful pens, inks, stationery, journals and items that will rekindle that pleasure.
And just a few steps further up the same street is Kurtz Culinary, sporting another one of Carmel’s lovely signs. Here we find a beautiful assortment of specialty gourmet foods, including farm fresh jams, artisanal tapenades and dressings, wine jellies, and more, as well as accessories for the kitchen and dining table. The store is spacious and beautifully styled featuring a lot of warm, dark woods.
This is where our treasure hunt concludes for today. By all means this does not cover all the treasures to be found in Carmel. I have not focused on them, but you will also find a lot of lovely clothing boutiques, as well as exquisite jewelry stores, not to mention the many art galleries and other lovely wine tasting spots. You can find a list of Carmel art galleries at this link, and at this one you will find the listings for all wine tasting rooms.
If you are exploring in Carmel, or planning to visit, you might also enjoy these posts:
And just beyond Carmel: