Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Carmel goes Woof!

Carmel goes the dogs, in fact. No, I didn’t write a camel goes woof, I said Carmel. And not that wealthy San Diego suburb Carmel Valley – we’re leaving (NOT on a jet plane) but leaving San Diego all behind for Road Trip 2006. It’s Carmel-by-the-Sea in the Monterey Bay area! This little town (right on the ocean, ya know!) made the news some years back when some old cowboy was elected mayor. Yes, you might know that Clint Eastwood was the mayor of this little city, uh, by the sea for a couple of years.

We decided that this place would be a nice stop on a road trip (with two doggies, no less) to points further north (more on that later this week) and discovered that Carmel is super dog friendly. Consider: dogs allowed off leash on the entire length of the Carmel City Beach – a beach that rivals our own Coronado beach in beauty. A dozen hotels/inns that welcome dogs – and these are those crumby bowel-dumped on holes, but real posh lodging. And a dozen restaurants in this small town fully welcome puppies of all sizes – on the patios of course, but they have some nice patios.

Sure, San Diego offers up much of this scattered about the city (we have 2½ off leash dog beaches (Del Mar makes up the ½ beach as it isn’t year round) plus a slightly festive island) along with some dog friendly lodging (not needed, we live here) and some dog dining.

Cooper (aka The Boy) and Scully (aka Bits) had a fun afternoon of running on the beach – we got out there again before hitting the road the next morning. The weather was perfect. This is one beautiful beach. Parking was a little bit hard to come by – but we lucked out with a spot right on the street that runs along the beach (Scenic Road).

We didn’t do any real restaurant research for the trip except printing off a few pages from Chowhound, plus a Moon Handbook on Coastal California (they tell it like it is) and our trusty Dog Travel book for activities. We decided we did not (but we would later this trip) want to take two wet and easily excitable Golden Retrievers to any restaurant that evening.

So, the two of us wound up at Porta Bella – and sorry, didn’t take one damn picture of our eats the whole trip. This is a pretty good place – seems like a few restaurants share ownership as we received a coupon card with our check good at 4 or 5 other “sister” restaurants. We did see a few other dogs – and you truly haven’t lived until you see a waiter following a dog and his owner with a white cloth napkin and nice dog water bowl. Some restaurants do serve a doggie menu – others I think might just offer up a doggity biscotti. I guess the doggie dining thing might be more for the toy doggies that live in purses, but we sat right next to a 80+ pound lab that took up a walkway between tables (everyone had to step over him.)

Oh yea, the food? Um, pretty good. I wasn’t overly hungry so I stuck with appetizers (a Roasted Corn and Crab Bisque and then a Tapas Plate made up of a little skewer of meat, smoked salmon and I think some cheese on a bed of salad. Linda had a Grilled Halibut with (pulling this right from the website menu) Citrus Confit, Almond Rice Pilaf and Asparagus. I got a share of this and it was all very tasty. So thumbs up from me.

Our dessert here was the best of our trip, we think, the Espresso Chocolate Mousse Cake! Yum, smoothy rich! Those looking for a strong coffee flavor might be disappointed; it was mild – but just right for us.

Oh, no doubt there are better restaurants up there - but another dog friendly one that is said to have good food (in a Claim Jumper way) is The Forge in the Forest.

Where do we land next?

The Dining Diva
I usually make mention of new to me foodie blogs in the area, so here is another: The Dining Diva – she just had a great Oceanaire post. My birthday is coming up too! Hint hint, anyone?


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