Readers' Poll BEST OF MONTEREY COUNTY® 2023 11 of highlight the seven categories is based upon produce crate labels common in Steinbeck’s time. Graphic designer Lani Headley took inspiration from such labels to create artwork representing some of the best things about the county. In Journal of a Novel, Steinbeck reasoned that “It is a strange feeling to be taking people who are close to me apart and putting them on paper. But I see no reason why I should not. They are mine and I can do what I like with them.” In reading the selections inside this publication, you might find reason to disagree with our readers. Similarly, Steinbeck’s work was not always met with universal acclaim. These are their decisions, and they can vote as they please. You might also notice a theme as you read. Steinbeck provided us with a trove of material to draw on as we assembled the 2023 edition of The Best of Monterey County. Were we all familiar with the dozens of books he wrote or the details of his life when we started? Hardly. But we learned along the way. Inside these pages, you will learn what our readers believe to be the county’s best. We hope it serves as a fun and inspiring guide. Preface By Dave Faries It is said that by the time John Steinbeck finished the manuscript that would become East of Eden, he had worn more than 300 pencils down to the nub. Well, probably not that far. Steinbeck was rather particular about his pencils and tossed them when they had worn down to a certain length. By some accounts, the famed author and Salinas native sharpened 60 pencils each day he sat down to write. Since it took him a year to finish East of Eden, the 300 figure seems low. But it’s a handy number, at least as far as we’re concerned. The Best of Monterey County is a compilation of over 300 descriptions of the region’s favorite people, places, things and…well, let’s just remain in the literary world and say nouns. Of the Best Of write-ups included in this issue, 266 are regular categories, voted on by our readers. The final section is reserved for Weekly staffers. Called Editors’ Picks, it’s our chance to weigh in. The artwork used throughout this edition to editors' pickS Best of Monterey County® product of california,usa p. 118 Best of Monterey County® product of california,usa restaurants p. 82 Best of Monterey County® product of california,usa p. 48 specialty foods Best of Monterey County® product of california,usa p. 102 BEST OF 2023 CONTRIBUTORS Marielle Argueza Sloan Campi Tajha Chappellet-Lanier Erik Cushman Dave Faries Caitlin Fillmore Paul Fried Ivan Garcia Celia Jiménez Linda Maceira Pam Marino Rey Mashayekhi Jeff Mendelsohn Agata Pope¸da Keely Richter Sara Rubin David Schmalz Gabriel Skvor Jacqueline Weixel Copyediting Sheila Gibbons Hiebert Illustration Lani Headley Photography Daniel Dreifuss Cover design Lani Headley, Karen Loutzenheiser, Daniel Dreifuss