Yep, we decided to stay another night in Carmel … no surprises there.
Carmel is the sort of small town that grabs you and sucks you in with its charm. Nothing about the town is unattractive. Not exactly the same, but as a beachside town, it has a bit of Noosa feel, but Noosa in the off-season.
It is obviously a very affluent community, but also very laid back and friendly. At every street corner, cars stop and yield to pedestrians with a cheery wave. You feel like you could step out from the curb with your eyes shut, and the cars would stop for you. At one stage, I was standing on the side of the road, looking up and down the street to get my bearings, and a car stopped to wave me across the street. I don’t think that would happen in many American towns.
Carmel also has a thriving arts community, with every second shop a gallery. At one stage during the day, Jane and I went our separate ways, saying we would catch up in 15 mins. Jane pointed down the street where she was heading and said she would be in one of the galleries. When I went looking for her, it became apparent that saying she would be in one of the galleries was like saying to someone in London “I’ll just be on one of those red buses … ”
And the galleries weren’t mass produced, landscapes of crimson sunsets over coastal vistas, print number number 97 of 1,000. They were obviously works by artists of some reknown. There were any number of pieces that we would have liked to buy, but with price tags in the numerous thousands of dollars and above, the credit card was kept safely in our pocket.
After a day of window shopping, a couple of walks on the beach (with no thought of swimming in the 10 degree ocean) and sitting on the beach watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, thought turned to food. We had discussed at the start of the trip the problem of eating out every night and the risk of super sized American portions doing no favours to our waistlines. We’d agreed that we should avoid falling into the trap of ordering multiple courses on a daily basis. But we had also discussed earlier in the day that when we were in towns that provided better culinary choices, we should choose those nights to indulge and have more basic fare in the less “foodie” locations. Carmel definitely seemed the former.
I was given restaurant selection responsibility, so found a place called “Aubergine” that looked good rather than over the top. When we arrived for dinner and were presented with the menu, our options were either a four course set menu (with two choices for each course) or a degustation menu, that simply listed a selection of the core ingredients, with the actual dishes to be served to come as a surprise.
We chose the degustation, and 8 courses later … were very pleased that we did. A clear breach of our dietary intentions, but every dish a treat, from twists on beef and lamb to dishes with sea urchin and abalone as the core ingredient, topped off with the most sublimely silky foie gras you could ever imagine.
It was fortunate that we had done a bit of walking that day, but to be honest, I think we would have needed to run a half marathon to offset the evening’s calories. Regardless, a memorable meal to end a delightful day in Carmel … and we’ll have a salad tomorrow night …