A Fruitcake Pilgrimage

Don’t discount the loafy holiday treat ‘til you travel along a switchback road that dead ends 1,300 feet above the Pacific Ocean.

Fruitcakes can be so eh, like a doorstop. But skeptics are about to become converts thanks to an irresistible 900-acre find tucked into Big Sur’s Santa Lucia Mountains: Hermitage Big Sur, a Benedictine monastery.

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Their fruitcakes, made with California fruits and nuts, along with Georgia pecans, are brandy dipped and then aged for three to six months. The monks, who are of the Camaldolese branch of the Benedictines, turn out a three pounder that one taster proclaimed “the best in the world.”

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They keep their baking skills up to speed year-round with another treat that sells out quickly: holy granola. Pair that with the mystic monk coffee, roasted by neighboring Carmelites. The fruitcake, granola, coffee, and a date-nut cake are also sold online, and proceeds help maintain the monastery. It’s so much more fun to visit in person, though. Just observe silence. Ah, solitude.

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