Published : Wednesday, September 12, 2018 | 4:49 PM
It’s not often that one has the opportunity to stay in a 70-year old inn that is still independently run by the family of the original owners. But that is exactly what I did at the Hofsas House in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Currently operated by Carrie Theis, the Hofsas was founded by her grandmother Donna Hofsas in the late 1940s. Beginning with four cottages, Donna Hofsas started what turned out to be 38-room boutique hotel with a pool, dry sauna and views of the ocean.
It’s in the perfect location, a little off the main drag but within walking distance of all the shops and restaurants in Carmel. In a quiet spot, perched on a hill overlooking the towering pines and blue Pacific Ocean it’s a great place for a quiet weekend or great home base for all that Carmel and the Monterey Peninsula has to offer.
We stayed in one of the original cottages, most of the rooms have fireplaces and ours was no exception. It was cool the two days we spent in Carmel and that fireplace got a workout. The door to our cottage was split and surrounded by fragrant jasmine blossoms. A king-size bed was the showcase of the room with a small table and chairs and the beautiful fireplace. In the bathroom was a refrigerator and coffee necessities. Included with a stay at the Hofsas House is free parking, internet, a continental breakfast, use of the pool and dry saunas.
Before we knew it, it was time for our dinner at the Beach House in nearby Pacific Grove. Situated on a cliff overlooking Lovers Point Beach, the Beach House is a California casual restaurant with remarkable views. We sat in the Solarium, an outdoor patio with translucent solar panel above protecting diners from inclement weather and providing the restaurant with half their energy needs.
While watching the sun go down we noshed on a local Castroville artichoke, served chilled with tomato remoulade and mayonnaise. The artichoke was perfectly cooked and the tomato remoulade and mayonnaise was a great dipping sauce. We couldn’t wait to get to the creamy heart; what a treat.
My companion decided on Chef Farmer’s Seafood Pasta. Served over linguine, the seafood pasta was chock-full of salmon, scallops, clams and grilled prawns. A sweet tomato-caper sauce dressed the seafood feast. Fresh and flavorful the pasta dish was a representation of local seafood.
I chose the Mahi-Mahi Oscar. A chargrilled Mahi-Mahi steak was topped with crabmeat, avocado and dijonaise sauce. Savory and rich the dish was just what I needed in a seafood restaurant with a spectacular view.
A short drive and we were back in our charming cottage with the crackling fire and smell of jasmine. Sleep came easily on the comfy bed and the next morning we were grateful for the heated floors in the bathroom as it was chilly. IMAGINE being chilly in August, I luxuriated in it. Breakfast was served in the main lobby and featured coffee and tea and fresh pastries from local Paris Bakery.
For lunch we were due at a newly renovated restaurant in the Hyatt Carmel Highlands overlooking Highway 1 on the way to Big Sur. Imagine sitting perched on a cliff with an unobstructed view of the dramatic crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. We sat in a corner of the huge glass windows with views on all sides.
The day just begged for a Mimosa and that’s what I got, while my companion chose the smoky flavor of an Old Fashioned. Beer battered Artichoke hearts made for a poppable treat while we took in the view and enjoyed our drinks.
Before our lunch order, Chef Christopher Vacca surprised us with a special treat, sweetbread, breaded and fried to a golden brown, topped with a sunny side up duck egg. The dish was kissed with orange and pickled mustard seeds. Shiitake mushrooms and arugula also adorned the the sweetbread. I did try this and the flavor was good but I’m just not a fan of offal, my companion, however loved it.
For lunch I ordered a halibut sandwich on grilled sourdough. It was packed with tender-flaky halibut, juicy heirloom tomatoes and a delicious aoli. It was just what I wanted, something with seafood but fresh and light. The sandwich comes with a choice of French fries or salad (I got both).
My companion had the Cioppino. The seafood soup was full of spicy tomato saffron broth and packed with mussels, scallops, prawns, clams, calamari and the local catch of the day. Grilled bread peaked out of the hearty broth just begging to be dipped. It was quite a dish and great for seafood lovers.
Between the food, service and stunning views, the California Market in the Hyatt Highlands is a stand-out. We really enjoy everything about our lunch.
After a little sightseeing around the coast we returned to our room to put our feet up and enjoy the fire. We were footloose and fancy free and just wanted to chill for a while with a glass of wine and a bit of cheese which was so kindly left in our room for our enjoyment.
The next day was a travel day so we took the Hofsas House recommendation and visited the local favorite 5th Avenue Deli where we ordered sandwiches to go and took them to the park. The Deli also can make a picnic for you if you want to head to the beach. I am always sad when I leave Carmel and this trip was no exception. Between the hospitality of the family owned Hofsas House, the great views of the Beach House and lunch at the dramatic California Market we had a wonderful time.
Hofas House, Between 3rd and 4th Avenue on San Carlos Street, Carmel-by-the-Sea
(831) 624-2745, www.hofsashouse.com
Beach House, 618 Ocean View Blvd., Pacific Grove
(831) 375-2345, www.beachhousepg.com
California Market at Pacific’s Edge, Inside the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, 120 Highlands Dr., Carmel-by-the-Sea (831) 620-1234, www.highlandsinn.hyatt.com.
5th Avenue Deli, 5th Avenue between San Carlos and Dolores, Carmel-by-the-Sea
(831) 625-2688, http://www.5thavedeli.com/