There is a permanent corkscrew collection at the cafe. It it showcased in the bookstore/museum part of the venue, alongside silver ex voto body parts, vintage surf music magnetic tapes, Guadalupe Madonna T-shirts, chipped paint furniture and Kama Sutra cookbooks on the sale counter.
During my recent vacation in California - besides visiting other new places - I dashed through the Napa Valley on a winery scout and loved it there. But I have to say, the plentiful vineyards of the Monterey Bay area and the Carmel Valley impressed me even more. And you know what? I had a chance to verify that the local Central California coast vintners actually DO constitute a valid challenge to the Napa-Sonoma supremacy.
On a gorgeous sunlit afternoon, we drove down to the Corkscrew Cafe for an early dinner. A funky little place that offers great food and pours amazingly good local wine in the stunning Carmel Valley setting. The ambiance is a charming early Monterey Mission meets-Provençal farmhouse, and whose classy décor and vibrant garden patios laced with colorful stencil flags, elegant sculptures, small fountains and old cork trees - from which rusty wind chimes dangle in the evening breeze - immediately make you feel at home.
We are a mixed and variegated group of eaters: that night our party was comprised of a) 1 romping toddler, b) 1 raw vegan, c) 1 famished artist (my genius brother), d) my dad who is a food-lover (except when it comes to all things creamed and/or involving eggplant and broccoli) and lastly, e) an omnivore (me). In the breezy patio, we chatted up a very kind lady who was unloading crates of veggies and fishing out shiny bottles of Cabernet from wooden boxes, and we found out about some of the Cafe's produce and production methods. As far as beef & dairy goes, the products served at the Corkscrew Cafe are 100% certified vegetarian fed, grass fed and grain supplement; with no added hormones in their diet, not treated with antibiotics, non confined, and obtained from pasture-raised animals.
The green bounty from Corkscrew Cafe's organic garden goes a long way in determining each day's offerings too. These are fresh-as-they come vegetables, I actually saw them being picked out in back!
We also learned that the Cafe offers special events like wine tastings, luncheons/dinners, parties and intimate receptions. Over aperitivo I mused that if I ever get my manuscript published, this will be the kind of place I want to have the book signings and readings held.
- Corkscrew signature pâté of duck and pistachio served with grilled bread & cornichon (which is a fancy French word for dill pickle)
- Corkscrew Onion Rings haystack style, sweet & crispy
- Fried Monterey Bay Calamari & Shrimp with roasted garlic aioli
- Corkscrew Garden Greens dressed with wholegrain mustard vinaigrette, red & yellow beets
- Chicken Salad tossed with garden greens, apples, grapes, and celery with a Roquefort walnut vinaigrette (very good, I had that)
- California BLT Sandwich smoked apple-wood bacon, avocado, basil aioli & red onion on nine-grain bread with fries or salad (had that too, with fries and a side order of the home onion rings... had to see how high they could build that haystack)
- Niman Ranch Cheese Burger with gruyere cheese, house-made pickles, fries or salad
- Cornmeal Crusted Trout & Salad with lemon caper sauce
- Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas with black beans, tomatillo salsa, guacamole
- Omelette of the Day (avocado and Jack) with crispy red potatoes or green salad
And we couldn't skip dessert, so we started light with a well balanced house-made mango sorbet with tropical fruit gazpacho which was a success; as was the chocolate-hazelnut cake with caramel ice cream and orange crème anglaise. The peach-berry crisps with lavender ice cream made me feel I was back in Provence, and the vanilla bean crème brulee with fresh berries, and the summer berries with pound cake & rose ice cream both worked well to seduce us. Cheese was our last dessert choice, an aged goat cheese with honey and seasoned walnuts that brought tears of ecstasy to our eyes. All plates returned to the kitchen clean as a whistle. Belts unbuckled.
Georis Winery Tasting Room and Gardens. Walter Georis planted his vineyard in 1981 in the upper Carmel Valley, located 20 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. This valley has the ideal soil conditions and microclimate for producing distinctive world-class red wines. Walter is known for his full bodied, complex Estate Merlot. And that's what we washed our meal down with. In case you're in the area, know that the tasting room is open daily 11:00 - 5:00.
This ristorante is definitely on my list of favorite places. Unfortunately, it's 6,000 miles away...
Lunch weekdays (note: closed on Thursday) from 11:30 am to 3 pm
Weekends from 11:30 am to 4 pm
Dinner is served Friday and Saturday from 5 to 9 pm.
55 Carmel Valley Rd.
Carmel Valley Village, CA 93924