Last weekend I took a trip out of town to Gilroy "The Garlic Capital of the World" for an author book signing and a treat of revisiting Monterey.

After the event it was onward to the sea. The plan was to stroll along the wharf (like I did years ago), munch on sizzling hot fish and chips or fish soup with bread. But now I recall, always have Plan B.

Trying to find a woodsy hotel in Pacific Grove was a task while driving in circles amid traffic. Once there, it was back to Cannery Row, the place noted by my fave author John Steinbeck. I must tell you, though, on a busy Saturday night the tourist crowd overshadowed the sensory details of food.

Uber rescued me from the crowd and back to the hotel room, complete with wood paneling, a fireplace, and view of the woods. Ironically, it was much like home at Tahoe.

The next morning, taking the 17 mile drive, viewing the fog, ocean, golf courses, and million dollar estates, and stopping at the Moss Landing roadside produce stand made me smile. I stocked up on tomatoes, garlic, and other California fruits and vegetables.

Back home I cooked up this Monterey-inspired pasta sauce and spaghetti to make up for the dinner with a view I didn't get.


¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup garlic cloves and yellow onion, minced

6 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Italian seasoning to taste (dried or fresh)

Ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Whole grain spaghetti

Parmesan cheese, shavings

Basil (garnish)

Old country Italian bread, fresh (Safeway bakery)

European-style butter or olive oil (for dipping bread)

In a deep skillet on medium heat place olive oil, garlic and onions. Add tomatoes, and spices. Turn to simmer. Cook about 25 minutes until the tomatoes turn into a chunky sauce texture.

While the sauce is simmering, cook pasta per box directions. When al dente, remove. Place pasta on plates, top with sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and basil. Serve with slices of warm bread and real butter or dip in olive oil. Serves two or three.

The garlic aroma in the kitchen took me back to the food aroma I remember when I used to go to Cannery Row. While I didn't get the eats by the sea, home-style spaghetti with slices of warm bread in the mountains is just as good.

Perhaps I needed to see if the cypress trees are greener on the other side to appreciate towering pine trees at Lake Tahoe.

Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, and Tea) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is