A Moveable Feast In A Hidden Valley

We drove up, up, up the narrow switchback roads to the top of green peaks as the sun slipped off along the Salinas Valley below and then dipped into the Pacific Ocean beyond. We drove up and then along narrow backbones of tall cliffs with land cascading below us, hawks were eye to eye with us and then at the other side of the mountain’s narrow spine we descended. We went down, down, down the narrow switchbacks but this time deeper into valleys between the giant shadows of mountains and only miles from the coast it felt a distance further. Moss and lichen grew on trees and hung from branches creating a canopy above the car. We had driven for 45 minutes into a small and remote area, to a local store that sold little more than milk and beer. The long drive was for an unlikely and much antipated hidden feast.

This was the scene a little over a month ago after my work in Utah when I visited my dear friends Anne and Beth in Salinas, and they took me to a special dinner they had been oohing and awing about for the past year. It was a dinner that took place only on Monday nights in a pop-up community center in the Cachagua Valley. Hidden 25 miles from Carmel is a small and unassuming stop one has to seek out to find and one is greatly rewarded when they do. Served to locals from Cachagua Valley and those fortunate enough to be in the know, every Monday night a magic of sorts takes over in a small dining room of a general store. Food as local as possible even naming at times the very farm the “Faurot Ranch” Lettuces or “Borba Farms” Roasted Baby Cauliflowers came from. It was unassuming with folding chairs and post it notes to mark the tables (reservations are a must) in a room where they also have AA meetings or quilting circles on other nights. A band of two who looked to be good counterparts for Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart set the ambience. The menus were printed just as we walked in on paper in the back room. Then the food arrived, roasted beets with coconut Chevre, Crab Cakes from the bay 25 miles away, Goofy Ass Pumpkin Ebelskivers with greens and reds, sorrel and maitakes, red Chile honey.

It was a magical experience, a single night in the week from out of nowhere a meal like a person dreams of in a setting one could hardly imagine existed. We drove back up, up, up, along mountain spines, and then down again but it was dark with stars and we were full of the finest food and the night had seemed a stunning secret much like the restaurant. I have held onto the memories of our meal here for weeks; an experience too fine not to share. If you find yourself in one of the most beautiful and magical places on earth – the Big Sur/Carmel/Salinas area on a Monday night and you are an adventurous spirit (read don’t get car sick and like scenic drives) and love fine culinary experiences—The Moveable Feast at Cachagua Valley General Store is a meal not to be missed.

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04 2013

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  1. Sally #

    thank you Raamona for sharing this!! wow!!! i would love go there.You write so beautifully.

    • ra #

      Sally I would so love to go there with you 🙂 Thanks so much. XOXO

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