Specialty Foods...editors Picks
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Best Place To Check Out Gorgeous Hippie Boys
CORNUCOPIA COMMUNITY MARKET
26135 Carmel Rancho Blvd., Carmel, 625-1050.
Cornucopia has long been a great place for them crunchy granola types to buy groceries. Its aisles are stocked with yummy organic, vegan and otherwise healthy treats, along with cruelty-free cosmetics and elegant gifts. But there is a largely unknown wealth in Cornucopia, which those in the know rarely share for fear of a stampede. Cornucopia has some of the most attractive workers on the Peninsula. Nowhere else are so many hotties packed into one building, stocking the shelves, cashiering, skateboarding in the parking lot on their breaks. Sure, most of them are barely legal, but I see Cornu-copia like a museum. I go there when I need a little (suntanned, dreadlocked) beauty in my life.
Best Spicy Sushi Rolls
8th between Mission and San Carlos, Carmel, 625-4470.
There''s the usual spicy tuna roll, of course. There are also spicy yellowtail, octopus, scallop, salmon and crab rolls. The spices aren''t a one-size-fits-all concoction that gets added to the various types of seafood, like you might expect. For example, though the exact ingredients are a secret, the yellowtail has a sesame-based flavor, while the tuna has a hot pepper-based flavor. And the rice! If you think all sushi rice is created equal, or have doubts about whether you could discern the difference among sushi rices, have a little faith in yourself. You''ll surely be able to perceive the high value in the price/quantity ratio. Hana-gasa rolls are big, bad, and a relative bargain, too.
Best Way to Ice a Sore Tooth
CARMEL BEACH CAFE
Ocean Ave. between Mission and San Carlos, Carmel, 625-3122.
The gelato counter at Carmel Beach Cafe is like a pleasurable quicksand pit. Once you get stuck in it, you can''t get out, nor do you want to. Savoring the long row of tins of multi-colored, multi-flavored gelato is just like being in Italy, but that hardly matters. Even if it didn''t exist anywhere else on the planet, it would still be one of the best all-time desserts-one you''re always in the mood for, even in winter. A good preliminary test of any ice cream is to begin with the vanilla and chocolate (in this case, the dark chocolate). They''re both perfect. Then, move on to explore the banana walnut, peanut butter chocolate, pistachio, spumoni, stracciatella and the rest. Notice that a small costs $4.55 and a regular (twice the volume) costs $4.95. Only individuals with severe mental and emotional disorders would ever purchase a small.
Best Stoveside Tenor
ALBERTO BONATELLI, ALBERTO''S
1219 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove, 373-3993.
The moment you enter this quaint, classic eatery, the aromas announce that you have arrived "a casa." From the hand-painted accents on the walls to the fresh tomatoes in the sauce, Il Maestro Alberto Bonatelli''s hand is involved. Bonatelli sculpts culinary works of Italian art six nights a week from behind his tiny stove. Patrons have been known to erupt in spontaneous applause when he walks into the dining room, prompting one giddy young woman to proclaim, "he''s like some kind of opera star." His versions of classic Italian dishes like Veal Piccata and Linguini Putanesca sing out the joys of La Cucina Italiano to expectant palates like songs from Caruso. If he unleashes one of his custom-made gems like the ones he used to serve to Sinatra, Streisand, et al, you''ll be singing too.