Before the week was up, I had to finish my blog about my great trip to Half Moon Bay last week. While in town for an Earth Day clean up at the state beach, I ended up hanging out for about half the day in town. In the process I found a few gems that I had to share for everyone’s next trip over the hill to this still quaint-feeling city . Because while everyone always hits the the major attractions – the Ritz for tea or golf, Cetrella for brunch or dinner, Barbara’s Fishtrap for chowder, or Lemos Farms for the kids – there are a few others places that I found worth visiting.
Our first discovery of the day came during a “break” from the beach cleanup. OK, it wasn’t an officially sanctioned break, but without some nourishment we were not going to be much help so we decided to do what was best for the earth 😉 Our friends that we were with, Luca and Dushka, took us literally across the street from the beach to what looked like a residence from the street. But as we entered the gates of this unmarked business, our friends told us that this was actually a yoga studio and cafe. Cold, famished and trusting, we eagerly followed them inside to the “cafe” – a quaint, greenhouse-like bungalow that had no more than five tables and room for about 15. Once inside we were greeted by the cook / proprietor who quickly offered us a table and a hot cup of tea or coffee, which are included with your meal. The menu options were few, and written on a chalkboard everyday. Luckily, everything sounded great to us, though I suspect that the cook would be happy to whip up anything to your liking if he had in stock. At our table, we tried two of the daily specials, a Swiss chard omelet and a soy chorizo benedict. Both dishes came with the same sides: home fries, stewed kale, black beans with Parmesan and a quarter of an avocado with raisins, cranberries and almonds. A tad healthier than what I normally eat for breakfast, I had tempered expectations until my first bite. Wow – who the heck knew that soy chorizo could be so tasty? Who ever thought of pairing avocado with dried fruit and nuts? Who knew you could eat beans for breakfast in something other than huevos rancheros? Needless to say, I loved how my breakfast looked (the organic egg was gorgeous) and tasted as did the whole table. It didn’t hurt that Enso had such a cozy, hidden, homespun feel, including the real cloth napkins, mismatched tableware and the fact that they only took “donations” instead of requiring payment (we “donated” $10 per person plus tip). Our friends mentioned something about the place maybe not having the right paperwork to sell food; if you look on their website it says the cafe is only for “members only”. I’m not sure what that means but we weren’t members and ate like kings. I would say walk in confidently and pretend like you know what’s up even if you don’t or didn’t like me – it’s worth it. As someone who likes discovering things off the beaten path, how cool is Enso? After the meal, we were energized and ready for work – a win win for us and the earth.
After the beach cleanup we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and check out the “downtown” area nearby, just across Highway 1. To be honest, I’ve never strolled downtown before despite having to pass through on the way to Cetrella many times. But when our friends told us about a new home store that their friend just opened, I had heard all the motivation that I needed. Right on Main Street in the middle of the downtown strip is Abode, a really cute store that sells everything from furniture to home accents to art to jewelery. It turns out that Abode was a larger store down the street that it is in the process of closing and this store is the new concept. From visiting the old store, I gathered that it was focused more on furniture and had a more shabby chic feel, whereas the new store feels a bit more refined and has a more sustainable, recycled and “green” product aesthetic and product assortment. The stuff that the store carries seems similar to VivaTerra (www.vivaterra) or Wisteria (www.wisteria.com) – in fact I pretty sure that some of the merchandise overlaps. The owner, Rachel, did a fabulous job of merchandising the store, offering an interesting product assortment at prices that I thought were slightly below market. Between checking out the candles, Chilewich mats, lighting and everything else in the store, we were there a long time, having a blast and getting to know Rachel, who is super nice. I recommend checking out her store the next time you are in town or looking for some great home accents. And if you come by soon, check out her old store, a block away, that is liquidating its inventory. I scored a few deals there and saw some nice things priced way cheap, including a light turquoise shabby chic dresser that I thought we be perfect for that “Apartment Therapy” style abode you’re putting together.
Toque Blanche (www.mytoque.com)
At the far end of the downtown, which is really only about four blocks long, we came across Toque Blanche, which I would describe as your neighborhood Sur la Table. While the store is not huge, it does an amazing job at utilizing its small space and packing the store with an impressive selection of cookware. What’s especially cool about this store is the way that it merchandises its walls, creating vignettes that have a theme. For example, in the front they had a table a for “breakfast” that included a waffle maker, cookbooks about making waffles, spatulas, etc. Not only does this create a visually appealing table, it also helps the customer think about all the things that they might need if they buy any one thing from that table. This is a great way for the store to sell more units, and a great way for customers to understand tools and put together nice gift baskets! The most unique thing that the store carries is a line of earthen black clay cookware from Columbia called Chamba. Because Toque Blanche is the exclusive distributors for Chamba in the area, I had never seen this line before. Apparently, this hand-molded line an be used on the stove, in the oven or in the microwave, and is designed to be used for cooking and serving. The real magic is apparently in the clay mix which imparts a slight smokey flavor in food – perfect for stews, casseroles and braising. While I did not have a chance to taste food made from the Chamba line, every weekend there’s a different demonstration at the store (including Chamba on 5/2). And that’s the beauty of the store – building customer engagement through a great store experience by way of its merchandise, demos and excellent service. Even on a busy Saturday afternoon, Pauline, the saleswoman, chatted with us for a solid five minutes – telling us about Chamba and cute stories about how Italian and Chinese cultures were similar and both revolved around food. I couldn’t agree more – that why I love her store.