A Gourmand Getaway

Although I’m the executive chef here at California Chef, a health-focused personal chef and meal delivery service, I understand and fully appreciate the value of an occasional decadent splurge. Eating right, exercising regularly, and making an effort to find sufficient time to just plain relax are rewarding habits that give us the best chance of maintaining overall good health. But if one does these things consistently, breaking the rules every once in a while is not a crime—in fact, it might just be considered a deserved perk for doing all the right things most of the time. I had the opportunity to enjoy just such a perk earlier this month, and I’d like to tell you a little bit about the experience.

My husband and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary on April 11th and decided to do whatever it would take this year to carve out a long weekend away from our responsibilities to enjoy the occasion. We thought it would be fun to check up on a wonderful inn and dinner spot we found almost 5 years ago in the sleepy little beach town of Cayucos on California’s central coast and see if it would live up to our wonderful memories of our first stay there.

The inn is the Cass House (www.casshouseinn.com), aptly named since it occupies the meticulously restored house built in the late 1800s by Captain James Cass, one of the founders of Cayucos. The place is absolutely charming, with 5 available rooms in the main house in addition to a lovely set of dining rooms that serve as the restaurant. The staff is genuinely warm, friendly, knowledgeable, and highly capable. In short, the inn was just as we had remembered it. Dinner, too, was an absolute delight. Chef Jensen Lorenzen uses locally sourced ingredients—including those from the beautiful vegetable and herb gardens that dot the grounds—to focus on the bountiful possibilities of the Central Coast.

Every night offers a tasting menu that highlights the best of what the season has to offer, and our menu was no exception: 14 wonderful, inventive, delicious dishes presented in picture-perfect fashion. These were paired with an array of well-chosen wines that shared the spotlight with the courses they accompanied. Now 14 courses sounds like a lot—and it is—but each was appropriately sized so that we didn’t feel ridiculously full at night’s end: full, yes, but not a wafer-thin mint shy of an embarrassing incident.

The rest of the weekend was full of taking in more of the local offerings: long walks by the ocean with plenty of spottings of sea otters, mother seals and their newborn pups, and multiple species of waterfowl; explorations of an assortment of local towns with their various mixes of shops, galleries, and restaurants; and drives along the winding roads that lead inland through the picturesque rolling hills to wine country.

All in all, we ate and drank our fill, walked a bit of it off, and took in the beautiful scenery and feel of a place not far away but completely different from home. And while at times our itinerary took some indulgent turns, we were completely at ease in the knowledge that the trip as a whole would leave us with lovely lifelong memories, punctuated by decadent choices that would do us no lasting harm.

(And, in case you’re wondering, California Chef has absolutely no affiliation with the Cass House; my husband and I never mentioned to anyone there that we’re in the food business or have an occasional blog; and we received no discount or any other consideration for writing about our experience at the inn. We just really loved our stays there, and I thought giving the information about the inn’s particulars would read better than keeping such details anonymous—and by providing this information I might help some of you find a really unique getaway spot that you might have otherwise never discovered.)

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