restaurant

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe (Carmel, CA)

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeMost of our fruits and vegetables are grown locally. We try to only use organic and local in our home cooking as much as possible. We do buy some of our produce at Costco or the grocery store and when we do we try to buy California grown organic products. One of our favorite brands is Earthbound Farms. We buy their salad mix and carrots when we can’t get to farmer’s market or the farmstand that week. I like that the brand is semi-local (less than 200 miles away) and is creating more organic farmland in our state every year. Earthbound Farms has over 50,000 acres of organic agriculture in their network of growers. On a small piece of that land sits the adorable Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe in Carmel, CA. This place is exactly what Carmel means to me, earthy bohemian and artistic California chic.

We travel to the Monterey and Carmel area often because my younger sister lives there and both my brother and sister went to boarding school there. For years we have been staying out our favorite hotel, The Hyatt Regency Monterey, and exploring all that the area has to offer. Because we travel so often we often stock our room with our own food and try to eat as clean as we can while we are there.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

A friend that also travels to the area often mentioned we should try the Earthbound Farm for lunch one day on a recent trip. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t been there before or even heard of it! I tried looking on Google and found it was difficult to even find the address and then found the Yelp page and we were on our way.

When we pulled into the parking lot I was instantly obsessed with this perfect local stop. Earthbound Farms started with a 2.5 acre organic raspberry farm just down the road from the current farmstand in 1984. The farmstand was opened 8 years later and then expanded to the farmstand and cafe in 2003. Earthbound Farms has brilliantly put a quaint authentic face on their large agriculture brand and allows locals to engage directly with the people who provide food to thousands of consumers around the country. By allowing people to see how the brand started and sample what they produce now families are able to interact directly with a company they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to know.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Cafe

The cafe was our first stop after finding our way into the farmstand building and we were hungry and ready for lunch. Led by Executive Chef, Sarah La Casse, the cafe offers organic menu choices that showcase Earthbound Farms produce and allows guests to understand her passion for fresh and flavorful food that utilize the palette of the fields right outside her kitchen. The cafe also serves as a creative venue for recipe tasting and sampling new food combinations. The menu board shows what is available and it is kept simple and straightforward. Every day there is a meat and vegetarian grilled panini for $8.95 that changes throughout the day, a market salad for $8.95 and choice of 2 soups, cup for $3.95 and bowl for $5.95. A salad bar offers all the Earthbound Farm specialties and big wood bowls for those that want to make their own at $8.99/lb. There is also a kids’ menu that includes organic grilled cheese on house made bread for $4.95 or peanut butter and jelly for $3.95. Organic and fair-trade coffee along with frozen yogurt completes the simple approach to dining menus.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

There are shaded tables just outside the farmstand main entrance and a larger group-dining area with picnic tables in a cooler open barn area. Sitting outside on the patio we were so entertained by the fields and gardens surrounding us we all relaxed and chatted for much longer than vacation lunches ususually last with a 3 and 5 year old. I ordered the kale and white bean soup with house-made French baguette slices, Ben got a sliced Italian meat panini and the tots each got grilled cheese sandwiches. We finished lunch off with organic chocolate frozen yogurt and made our way through the gardens that had been tempting us throughout our lunch. Everything we tried was perfectly prepared and didn’t leave us with that post-vacation regret.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Gardens

Walking through organic gardens after a nice meal might be my favorite afternoon activity with children. The Gardens include a kid’s garden, herb garden, berry patch, flower garden and more. Each are of the garden areas are accessed through gorgeous arbors and paths that make the whole experience more adventure than teaching. We were the only people in the gardens during our visit and our children could just run and explore without fear of bothering anyone or getting lost. We tasted raspberries right of the vine, admired flowers and learned about organic farming methods all while being immersed in a storybook like environment that each of us could appreciate.

The Gardens also play host to private and public events throughout the year. Posted events include educational days, craft days and more.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

The Market

We returned to the market after our garden tour to stock up on local fruit to have in our hotel room during our stay. Prices might be higher than other local farmstands only considering the location of the place in one of the highest rent areas of the state along with the ease of purchasing so much in one stop makes the prices realistic for a travel budget. Not to mention more affordable than dining in local restaurants. The market stays full year round of Earthbound Farms produce that is all organic and locally-produced. There is a refrigerated section that includes take-away deli selections perfect for easy hotel lunches and dinners. Bakery choices are available too along with gourmet specialty grocery selections and Earth-friendly gifts. Definitely where I am going to be buying souveniers from now on. A flower stand outside offers specatular organic flowers featuring what’s local and in season. We made off with overflowing baskets of strawberries, blueberries and fat juicy peaches we demolished in the car before we even hit the main road. Having fruit and vegetables as snack options in our hotel room when we travel is one of my travel secrets and this place makes it easy and fun to do just that.

Earthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic CafeEarthbound Farms Market and Organic Cafe

Earthbound Farms Farmstand and Cafe is open 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily and is located at 7250 Carmel Valley Road Carmel, CA. The Farmstand and Cafe Facebook page is the best resource to view upcoming events and valuable information. A dirt parking lot and restrooms with running water are available to guests.

This is not a sponsored post and is a real review of a place we like.

Local Favorite. Andrae’s Bakery (Amador City, CA)

When we first moved to this area we had a child who would only nap in the car. I drove. Around our town. Around and around. I learned the best drives. Drives that were relaxing. Drives that were not relaxing. Drives that took exactly the amount of time he needed to nap. Drives that were to short. Drives that were too long. I drove and drove some more.

During these drives I found some amazingly gorgeous places and some hidden out of the way businesses that I can’t get enough of.

One area that is a nice weekend drive away is Amador City. From our house it’s about a 30 minute drive. Most people know Amador County as our local wine region and big bold zinfandels. A place steeped in Gold Rush history and out of the way antique stores. Amador City is all that and more. It’s a quaint picturesque town that held onto it’s history and has local businesses that make people like us make the trip out to visit.

At the end of the old Gold Rush era main street is a farm house style building. Andrae’s Bakery. We have been visiting this bakery for about four years and it’s one of those favorites that just doesn’t change. It’s perfectly amazing every time we go.

The bakery has a full coffee menu along with pastries, cakes breads and other specialities. There is a deli case full of sandwiches and salads. Shelves of local wines and beer. Jars of delicacies you won’t find anywhere else and a collection of cookbooks that makes me want to install a wall of shelves in my house just so I could collect them all.

There are plentiful tables out front and back and all the way around the side and even on a busy weekend morning you can score a seat. Locals line the front of Andrae’s along with cyclists and tourists. Occasionally a wine taster strolls through. It’s amazing to see the diversity of the patrons at this bakery and listen to conversations and stories pausing to take it all in.

I rarely find a place like this that just makes me slow down. Listen to what is happening around me. A place with a friendly family atmosphere that is genuine and honest. A place where when you arrive you instantly have that vacation vibe that makes you forget about everything that happened before you entered.

Our family favorites are the ham and Swiss croissants. They are made with locally sourced ingredients, German butter and applewood smoked ham. We pair them with the iced mochas that are so thick and syrupy you won’t believe you could drink them all. Our tots can’t get enough of the cookies and we like to demolish their leftovers. There are pre-made sandwiches in the refrigerator case and sandwich and lunch kits can be pre-ordered by calling ahead. Perfect for wine tasting trips.

Andrae’s Bakery can be found at 14141 Old Highway 49, Amador City, CA. There are restrooms on site and parking along the front of the bakery or in a gravel parking area behind the bakery.