ELLE (Canada) - - Escape -

“You have to nuke it or grill it—naked, with no but­ter,” says Pat Hop­per, my Ar­ti­choke Fes­ti­val guide, as she in­structs me on how to trans­form the this­tle into a “but­tery smooth” treat. On any given week­end in Mon­terey County, Calif., you’re sure to come across some kind of de­li­ciously luxe sea­sonal food fes­ti­val show­cas­ing every­thing from straw­ber­ries to gar­lic in all kinds of en­tic­ing ways—even (ar­ti­choke!) ice cream. Get a bet­ter taste of the area by mak­ing La Playa Carmel by the Sea your home base. The bou­tique ho­tel is a 110-year-old former pri­vate fam­ily man­sion—ask for a room with both gar­den and ocean views, and be sure to hit the tri­fecta of made-to-or­der break­fast bars: omelettes, waffles and Bloody Marys.

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