The “Lost Art” of Home-Canning Produce

The town of Pacific Grove is straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and so are these upcoming baking and home-canning workshops at the Happy Girl Kitchen Company.

Happy Girl—purveyor of organic “food that feeds your soul”—is our source for all things wonderful in the world of jams and preserves: from pickled vegetables to luscious fruit preserves (and summertime strawberry lemonade). It’s a great place to pick up a gift, or a light breakfast/lunch.

These hands-on sessions will teach you home-canning techniques so you can preserve and eat local foods year round.

They each include an organic lunch made from local produce—and of course you’ll get to take home an assortment of each recipe.

Each workshop runs from 10 am to 3 pm at at Happy Girl’s store/cafe/kitchen (173 Central Avenue, Pacific Grove), and the fees run from $110-$135 per person.

The Bakery Blog: Where to Eat in Monterey

Visitors to the Monterey Peninsula can’t help but notice that the area is blessed with an extremely high number of fine bakeries.

In the words of one Yelper: “Okay, teeny, tiny Monterey has at LEAST four fabulous bakeries. How come in Newport Beach we have zero???”

We don’t know why, and we’re certainly not about to question our good fortune. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Parker-Lusseau Pastries • 539 Hartnell, Monterey

This weathered white adobe with a petite porch looks as if it were transported from another era… and the savories, croissants, and pastries are as delectable as any you will find in the finest Parisian patisserie.

Paris Bakery Cafe • 271 Bonifacio, Monterey

A downtown tradition, the almond croissants (especially if you’re lucky to get one warm from the oven) are to die for. But you will have a mighty difficult time stopping there when faced with an extensive display of pastries pretty enough to paint.

Pavel’s Backerei • 219 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove

Pavel’s is yummy and reasonable – check out the Texas-sized glazed donuts for only $2.50. (And oh, those apple fritters and the gigantic cinnamon rolls… and don’t get me started on the bombolinis!)

Patisserie Bechler • 1225 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove

You’ll swoon from the sugary aroma when you walk in the door. Locals rave about the quiches and the French macarons (colorful little bites of heaven in flavors like caramel sea salt and pistachio). And the adjoining cafe is a good spot for breakfast or lunch.

Pastries and Petals • Mission & 5th Ave., Carmel

Hard to find but definitely worth the search. Surrender to their scrumptious cheesecake and red velvet cupcakes, lemony treats, breakfast muffins and warm cinnamon pull-aparts… accompanied by a delicious latte or cafe mocha, of course.

Cinco de Mayo: Great Mexican Food in Monterey County

Cinco de Mayo at El Mariachi in Monterey California

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, and that always puts me in the mood for Mexican food.

But then again, I’m always in the mood for Mexican food.

So I took a poll among Monterey Vacation Rental agents, because this team is all about having fun on the Monterey Peninsula – and here are the results:

Sarah Borgomini gives Michael’s Taqueria in Pacific Grove three (!!!) exclamation points. “But it’s not authentic refried beans,” she warns, “it’s more black beans and grilled blackened shrimp.” Sounds good to me.

Agent Rhiannon McCraner swears by Lopez Mexican Restaurant in Monterey because, well, “it’s “yummy.” Matt Collins recommends Jose’s and El Palomar in Monterey, while Lindsay Napoli loves La Tortuga in Seaside and Peppers in Pacific Grove.

But when agent Frank Gallagher heard the above he told me not to pay any attention. “Go to Island Taco at the Crossroads Shopping Center in Carmel for the best fish tacos,” he commanded. (A motion that was seconded by Howard Hartman, who calls their chicken rice bowls “muy bueno.”)

After dinner and drinks – or heck, even a shot or two of Patron – you might consider heading upstairs to El Mariachi on Cannery Row. Because after a few margaritas, riding a mechanical bull might suddenly seem like a great idea.