California Dreamin’: Dole Summit

I had the pleasure of spending last Wednesday- Friday in Monterey, California. I’d never been to this part of the country.  I was expecting beautiful and it certainly delivered beauty. I was the guest of DOLE and there to attend their Dole Summit. Did you think of bananas first? Most people do but Dole happens to be the largest produce of fruits and VEGETABLES in the world. Their mission? To get more people to eat more fruits, vegetables and yes salads (something I know I need to do more of). I learned so much about their company and even fancy myself a lettuce connoisseur now. 

I left my house at the crack of dawn on Wednesday. Okay not even the crack of dawn, 4 a.m. GAH. I arrived in Monterey around 2 p.m. and then impatiently waited on my girls Susan & Brandi to arrive so we could lunch. We lunched at Cannery Row (skip the burgers and go straight for the brew and corn dogs trust us). Then headed back to our hotel to freshen up before the reception and dinner.

I was so excited to see friends (Gina, Shanna, Tim) and meet new ones (Bree, Irvin, Nancy,Josh & Maria). We had THE MOST scrumptious Arugula Mojitos (I’ll be re-creating that one to share with you – trust me you want this in your life).  Then we were off to the Sardine Factory for our dinner.

This restaurant (complete with a boat jutting out from the front) is deceiving from the outside. It’s oozing with atmosphere on the inside and HUGE. We dined in the atrium. Naturally I was hoping for seafood and I wasn’t disappointed. We noshed on the freshest most amazing seafood (and yes there were sardines). I had a great time chatting with: Bob, Ricki, Irvin, Bree, Nancy, Brandi & Susan. We ate, talked, ate, talked, ate, talked and then waddled back to the room.

The next morning we headed out for Dole HQ and got our salad on.  Then we headed to the fields in the Salinas Valley to see exactly how iceberg lettuce is harvested.

I was amazed to find that Dole works with more than 9,000 small growers (many of whom they’ve had relationships with for decades), employs 76,000 employees and distributes their products to an amazing 90 countries.  One of my favorite parts is seeing where the food comes from and how exactly it’s harvested. We also learned that Dole doesn’t use GMO’s in their salad production. Ever.

We worked up quite an appetite romping through the lettuce fields (hairnets and all – sorry no photos ; )  We made our way over to Carmel By The Sea. One day when I’m loaded (wink wink) I’m going to buy a house in this gorgeous spot and I’m going to eat at La Bicyclette at least once a week.

La Bicyclette created the most scrumptious lunch for us incorporating Dole products. I WILL BE re-creating the carrot risotto and squash pizza that we ate for lunch. I simply must. Do you see that gorgeous crust? Swoon! It’s topped with Dole Arugula of course.

And yes, salad. Those beets and bleu cheese buttermilk dressing and crunchy onions didn’t stand a chance ; )

Later that night we met up for what else a salad party. It was on our hotel deck overlooking the gorgeous ocean (the whales even popped up to greet us). Salad was cooked every which way you could have imagined and it was incredible. I have tons of salad inspiration that I’m looking forward to sharing. May is after all National Salad Month!

What a good lookin’ group no? The next morning before heading out on our way home we took a tour of the 17 Mile Road… Just one word comes to mind. Stunning. Look at that view.

Have I mentioned that I love my job? Thanks again to Dole for having me! It was a pleasure meeting the entire team! Mwah!


Disclaimer: Dole sponsored my trip to Monterey. Opinions are my own. Always have been. Always will be.



  1. 1

    Had so much fun tromping in the fields with you! 🙂

  2. 2
    Denise @ Creative Kitchen /

    Looks like an amazing trip Paula!! When I think of Dole, I think of Dole pineapple and Hawaii. I visited the Dole plantation when I lived on Oahu back in the early 90’s. 🙂

  3. 3

    Beautiful recap and such a pleasure to read! Your pictures are stunning! Had a great time meeting you and hope we cross paths, California or otherwise, again sometime soon. : )

  4. 4

    Paula, I live in Reno (close to Lake Tahoe), which isn’t too far a drive from the Bay Area and Carmel. Carmel is one of my favorite places in the world – try to go there at least once a year. So quaint with beauty in every corner. I enjoyed your post a lot. It’s awesome that you had the opportunity to meet with the folks at Dole – what a great experience!

  5. 5

    Very awesome pictures, Paula!! Loved learning more about Dole too!!

  6. 6

    I guess it depends on where you’re from. When I think of Dole, I think of pineapple too. You certainly can’t beat the location of the Summit. I lived in the SF Bay Area for over 25 years and could never get enough of the Monterey/Carmel area!

  7. 7

    Looks like so much fun Paula! Lovely photos 🙂

  8. 8
    Elle Hyson /

    What a wonderful, wonderful place to enjoy what appears to be delicious, unusual and eminently doable food. Can’t wait for you to post the recipes. Visited Monterey once and can still remember the amazement we felt at the beauty of the area. Thanks for sharing.

  9. 9

    It looks like you all had an incredible time! What an amazing experience. Oh, how I love Dole and all of their freshness! 😀

  10. 10
    Glenn /

    Aloha Paula,

    “Pineapple” is what people think of when they think “DOLE” but being fortunate to live in Hawaii for 20 years now and for 10 years in Pacific Grove/”PG” as locals call it! I feel blessed to have lived/live in two of the most beautiful places in the USA.

    So loved being near Salinas “Salad bowl” of California: Lettuce,broccoli,cauliflower,artichokes and in Watsonville Strawberries and blackberries, blueberries etc. Such a beautiful place also the fresh ocean bounty. BTW my cousin used to be the Exec Chef at the Sardine Factory! small world!

    So I get to go back a couple times a year to visit with my bro in Seaside. Next time you go their should try “Il Vecchio” Excellent Italian and not so touristy! Also for French try le Normandie Mother and daughter duo from Normandy bistro small classic and the best french onion soup and roasted chicken ever! also Bistro Moulin! Always next time.

    I think after reading you blog, I am going to have to plan a trip back to the mainland. OH! and if you like Patisseries? Parker-Lusseau Bakery and Patisserie Bechler both to die for with the nod to Parker-Lusseau!!! Bon Appetit!

  11. 11

    Sounds like a fantastic time — beautiful photos!

  12. 12

    you got some good pictures! i may steal a few for my post this week 🙂

  13. 13

    Awesome post and sounds like you had a fabulous time!

  14. 14

    Paula – Beautiful photos! We loved having you all here to share our passion for delicious healthy food! Glad you enjoyed it!

  15. 15

    Sounds like it was such a fun trip! Glad you had a great time and met some new friends too!

  16. 16

    What fun! It sounds like y’all had a blast 😀 Love the photos.

  17. 17

    So glad you finally got to visit one of my favorite spots on planet Earth!! And I LOVE arugula…so I’m jealous. 🙂


  1. dole summit and salad’tude - [...] (pic from Paula) [...]
  2. Pineapple Arugula Mint Mojitos | bell' alimento - [...] that will be playing in your head. I fell in love with these mojitos while I was in Monterey…

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