With this win, I received a commission to shoot three places of my choosing. I chose...
(1) The Cheese Shop, Carmel, CA
Are you a caseophile? Does the mention of a cheese you've never tried send shivers of excitement up your spine? If so, stop by the Cheese Shop in Carmel, where rounds, wedges, slivers, and tubs of cheese are piled along one wall and in a refrigerated case. You are invited to amble up to the counter and sample various cheeses as the knowledgeable staff gauge your preferences through friendly conversation. This time around I was introduced to three different cheeses I'd never had: gjetost, a brown goat's milk cheese from Norway that looks and tastes like caramel; a bleu cheese from Oregon's Rogue River valley that is wrapped in pear-brandy soaked grape leaves; and an aged gouda from the Netherlands that tasted vaguely like coffee--walking out with pieces of those as well as some family favorites.
(2) Parker-Lusseau Pastries, Monterey, CA
Yann Lusseau and Anne Parker, husband and wife pastry chefs extraordinnaires, have three stores in their sweets empire; this location, which opened in 2002, is housed in the Fremont Adobe in downtown Monterey. Though the building is clearly labeled with an earthquake warning, the treats are the worth the risk. From the traditional canelés, a distinctively shaped thick custard with a caramelized crust to the Kouign-amann, layers and layers of buttery dough that opens like petals of a flower, everything is made with care and quailty ingredients.
(3) Monterey State Historic Parks' Pacific House Museum, Monterey, CA
We strolled up to the Pacific House Museum, as we have many times in the past, only to be faced with a piece of paper taped on the inside of the glass door: "Due to state budget cuts, the adobes are now closed. Please enjoy the gardens in the rear." No more exploring the Native American exhibit on the second floor that highlights the local tribes in the area; no more looking at the different leather brands from the ranches up and down the coast. What a travesty! Instead, we did as instructed, making our way to the Memory Garden behind the Pacific House Museum. A mossy raised fish pond teeming with water lily pads and barren, gnarled arms of wisteria cling to exposed beams all add to the sense that you are stepping back into time. Just not too far back because the garden used to be the site of bull-bear fights.