Get a free burrito when you order tofu sofritas at Chipotle Mexican Grill

Chipotle Mexican Grill is offering a special promotion: anyone that orders vegan organic sofritas on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015 will get a free burrito during their next visit.

How it works: order an item with sofritas (tofu) as the filling at any Chipotle in the U.S. or Canada. It can be a burrito, a bowl, some tacos, or a salad. Bring your receipt back between Jan. 27 and Feb. 28 and get a free item of your choice: a burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos.

Chipotle added sofritas to its menu a couple years ago. It was first tested in a few markets including Northern California in April 2013. A big success, it was soon added to all locations. It’s made from shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices. FYI, it’s not just for vegetarians—it satisfies a carnivore like me. I have enjoyed sofritas many times! Chipotle uses organic, non-GMO tofu from Oakland’s Hodo Soy (learn more at hodosoy.com).

Wondering about the name? Chipotle says its sofritas are inspired by the Spanish word sofrito– a popular cooking base used for stews, rice and beans in Spanish and Latin American culture.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Saratoga Mountain Winery hosts three crab feed benefits with live music

Crab at a past Mountain Winery crab feed benefit. Photo courtesy of Mountain Winery

Crab at a past Mountain Winery crab feed benefit. Photo courtesy of Mountain Winery

The Mountain Winery in Saratoga is offering three Sunday crab feed benefits in January and February: January 25, Feb. 1, and Feb. 8. The cost is $75 for adults, $35 for kids 3-11, and free for kids under 3. Beverages will be sold separately, and gratuity is not included. Advance ticket purchase is required; visit mountainwinery.com for details or to buy tickets.

The event takes place at the winery’s Historic Winery Building. For the price of admission, each person receives fresh, Half Moon Bay crab plus lots of other food: there will be a chef-attended pasta stations, garlic bread, salad, and dessert.

A 2014 attendee commented on Yelp: “The buffet offered Caesar salad, coleslaw, pasta, tortellini, cold crab and seasoned hot crab…everything was outstanding…the crab was generously sized, which made it quite easy to enjoy ample amounts of meat with ease…I must have had more crab this evening than any other time in my life combined!  The staff was outstanding, very attentive and…also very generous with the garlic bread that was being delivered to our table.  Half dazed and in crab coma, I was faced with a lemon bar garnished with raspberry sauce dessert to finish things off.  They also brought out steaming hot washcloths to wipe our hands and faces off with, a very nice touch to an already successful crab feast!”

Each crab feed begins at 4 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. When you buy your ticket, you can choose either a 4 p.m., 5 p.m., or 6 p.m. seating. But that doesn’t mean you only have an hour to eat. For example, if you choose 4, you can stay until the end. The separate seatings and staggered arrival times are for the purpose of eliminating long lines. Parking is free during the crab feeds.

During each event, there will be live music:

  • Jan. 25 — Magnolia Jazz Band
  • Feb. 1 — Hootenanny (acoustic rock/pop band)
  • Feb. 8 — Harmony Grits Bluegrass Band

A portion of proceeds benefits The Mountain Winery Kids’ Foundation, which provides grants to charitable programs that support a target population of disadvantaged or “at risk” children in the Santa Clara county. Past grant recipients include the Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley (allowed the after-school Sports, Fitness and Recreation program to serve additional children daily), National Hispanic University (hands-on mathematics and science program for at-risk middle schoolers), and the San Jose Science Workshop (providing significantly at-risk neighborhood children 8 years and older with hands-on projects in science, technology and literacy). Learn more at mountainwinery.com/about-the-mountain-winery/the-mountain-winery-kids-foundation.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.
The Details
Crab Feed Benefits
Sunday Jan. 25, Feb. 1, and Feb. 8 from 4-8 p.m.
Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce Rd., Saratoga
$75 for adults; $35 for kids 3-11

2015 Big Sur Foragers Festival Fungus Face Off Results

A winning dish from Carmel Valley Ranch with chanterelle, black trumpet, hedgehog mushrooms plus short ribs on a garlic crostini with sea salt and red radishes, courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch Facebook page

A winning dish from Carmel Valley Ranch with chanterelle, black trumpet, hedgehog mushrooms plus short ribs on a garlic crostini with sea salt and red radishes, courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch Facebook page

If you’re curious who won the Fungus Face Off at last weekend’s Big Sur Foragers Festival, I have the results. If you’re not familiar with the festival, it’s an annual weekend of gourmet food, first-rate wine and beer, entertainment, expert-led foraging hikes and the Fungus Face Off that is described as a “friendly chef competition with celebrity judges.” The event also raises funds for the Big Sur Health Center. This year’s Big Sur Foragers Festival raised more than $30,000.

For the Face Off, celebrity judges included Jim Dodge, Mike Hale of the Monterey Herald, Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times, and Wendy Brodie. Attendees had an opportunity to taste along with the judges and to cast their vote for “People’s Choice.” Participating restaurants were The Restaurant at Ventana Inn Executive Chef Paul Corsentino, Chef Sean Garrett, Fernwood, Chef Johnny DeVivo, Porter’s in the Forest at Poppy Hills, Chef Phillip Burrus, Esalen, Chef Tim Wood, Carmel Valley Ranch, Chef Evan Lite, The Beach House at Lover’s Point; Chef Brendan Esons, Big Sur Roadhouse; Chef Tony Baker, Montrio Bistro / Baker’s Bacon and Chef Steve Johnson and Mike Behan, TusCA Ristorante at Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa.

Here are the Face Off results:

Winner of Best Dish Using Wine and People’s Choice Award Winner: Carmel Valley Ranch
Chanterelle, black trumpet, hedgehog mushrooms with short ribs on a garlic crostini with sea salt and red radishes

Winner of Dish Most Easily Adapted to Home Cooking: The Beach House at Lovers Point
Mushroom and pork Suigow with shitake, oyster, porcini and portabella mushrooms with a truffle soy butter

Winner of Most Nutritious and Healthy: Big Sur Roadhouse
Drinks with a variety of marinated wild mushrooms (Drinks include Wood Sorrel Ale; Huckleberry Fizz with Big Sur Spring Water and Pine Needle Bay Laurel and Spearmint Tea with Big Sur Honey)

Winner of Best Use of Local Ingredients: The Restaurant at Ventana
Candy Cap mushroom ravioli fried with chanterelle mushrooms, black truffle puree in a chanterelle mushroom broth with pickled chanterelles

Winner of Most Inventive Use of Ingredients: Porter’s in the Forest
Mushrooms 5 ways:  Pine nut aioli, fried lentil, burnt meringue (Mushrooms were pickled, roasted and sautéed and finished with chili sea salt)

Winner of Best Cooking Technique: Fernwood
Pork and chanterelle meatloaf with chanterelle butter gravy and a lemon microgreen salad  (The meatloaf was made with 4 kinds of pork and Fernwood house made bacon)

Winner of Best Vegetarian Dish: Esalen
Wild fennel salad with Esalen garden herbs, puree of Coke Farm celery root and pickled chanterelles

Winner of Best Table Display: Big Sur Bakery
Mushroom puppies with pate and Choux puffs with black trumpets, wild rice and hints of Umeboshi

Winner of Judges Pick for Best Overall: Montrio and Bakers Bacon
Black trumpet mushroom tart, dock candy cap jelly, Foie Gras parfait, Bakers Bacon and pine needle syrup

Winner of Dish with Most Complex Flavors: TusCA Ristorante Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa 
Sea scallop with coconut carrot broth, roasted shitake mushrooms, fresh Enoki mushrooms, lime caviar as well as a Thai basil leaf

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz chocolate festival with restaurants and vendors benefits UCSC scholarships

Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival

Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival

The 8th annual Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival on Sunday January 18, with lots of food and wine, benefits UCSC scholarships. The event is from 1 – 4 p.m. at the Cocoanut Grove by the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

The Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival brings together about two dozen vendors. See complete list at womensclub.ucsc.edu/fundraising/chocolate-festival/vendors-list-page.html.

Participants include local confectioners and bakers like Ashby Confections, Marich Confectionary, and Buttercup Cakes & Farm House Frosting, plus restaurants and cafes like Zizzo’s Coffeehouse and India Joze. Other local companies who will be present include Mission Hill Creamery, Lifestyle Culinary Arts, Mutari Hot Chocolate, and wineries Sones Cellars and Bonny Doon Vineyard.

Each food vendor will have treats such as truffles, cupcakes, or ice cream available in exchange for a tasting ticket. Buy tasting tickets at the event (admission is free) or online. Each $15 purchase gets you six tickets. Wine prices are $5 for a souvenir glass plus one tasting.

There will be live music by Jazz by Five, and a silent auction with prizes including Giants tickets, chocolate baskets, and a magnum of wine. Attendees can enjoy activities like cupcake decorating and face painting ($4 each), and have the opportunity to buy chocolate products like Valentine-themed boxes at select booths.

The festival benefits re-entry student scholarships at UC Santa Cruz (for students returning to higher education after an extended absence, often students who are also parents or military veterans). The chocolate festival is presented by the UCSC Women’s Club, a nonprofit organization open to women of both the campus and local communities. The club has meetings throughout the year (except for the summer) with engaging speakers, and also hosts interest groups including book clubs. In the last 30-some years the club has awarded over 330 scholarships totaling more than $230,000 to deserving women and men for research activities, tuition and childcare.

The Details
Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival
Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach Street, Santa Cruz
Sunday, January 18, 2015 from 1-4pm

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz Fungus Fair includes mushroom dishes, cooking demos, kids’ activities

Mushroom-themed food for sale at a previous Santa Cruz Fungus Fair. Photo credit: Yevgeny Nyden

Mushroom-themed food for sale at a previous Santa Cruz Fungus Fair. Photo credit: Yevgeny Nyden

Calling all mushroom fans: the annual Santa Cruz Fungus Fair is this weekend — you can watch cooking demos, buy mushroom-related food, and see lots of unusual mushrooms. The event is at Louden Nelson Community Center in downtown Santa Cruz.

The event began Friday, Jan. 9 and most events are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat-Sun. January 10-11.

The Fungus Fair draws more than 2,000 visitors each year. A special habitat display area, beautifully arranged, will showcase hundreds of mushroom species commonly found in the Santa Cruz/San Francisco/Monterey Bay area. A Kids Room open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday offers hands-on projects such as making clay mushrooms, coloring fabric with mushroom dyes, and face painting.

The program schedule includes a Sunday 3-4 p.m. cooking demo by Chef Zachary Mazi, paired with wines from Fenestra Winery. Mazi is a 2006 graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, and was voted “Best Personal Chef in Santa Cruz” in local newspaper Good Times’ 2014 poll.

The Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz, a non-profit organization that aims to expand the understanding and appreciation of mycology (study of mushrooms), hosts the fair.

See complete schedule at ffsc.us/fair/2015/schedule.

Also—if you’re a mushroom lover, check out the web site for NEXT weekend’s Big Sur Foragers Festival at www.bigsurforagersfestival.org (Jan. 16-18, 2015).

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

The Details:
Admission: Sat-Sun – $10 Adults, $5 Seniors & Students, free for kids under 12
Location: Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center Street (at corner of Laurel) – some street parking available at center; another option is further down Center Street near the police station

Credit cards now accepted at Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market

Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market now accepting debit/credit cards

Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market now accepting debit/credit cards

Starting today, Wednesday, Jan. 7, customers can use credit and debit cards to purchase items at the downtown Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market, which is open every Wednesday from 1:30-5:30 p.m. (winter hours). It’s located at the corner of Lincoln St. & Cedar St.

Here’s how it will work: customers wishing to use this new program need to go to the information table at the downtown location of the Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets. Staff will swipe credit/debit cards and provide customers with plastic $1 and $5 tokens valid to buy any product at the market. These tokens never expire.

The reason for this change is because more and more customers have been requesting credit/debit card access over the years. Please remember that farmers/vendors do prefer cash if you have it.

If all goes smooth with this trial program, the Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets will expand the credit/debit card service by the end of January to their other markets: Live Oak, Westside, Scotts Valley, and Felton. “We want to make it easy for you to spend as much money as possible with regional farms,” the organization says. Here’s hoping it’s successful!

Other news:

  • Food-inspired art — the art table returns to the Downtown Market each Wednesday in January from 2:30-4:30pm. Customers aged two to 102 are invited to “look for the table piled with construction paper, potato stamps, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, twist ties and egg cartons – all for your enjoyment.”
  • Gift Certificates — Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets gift certificates are now available. You can buy them at the Westside, Live Oak or Downtown locations, and they can be used for fresh produce, edible treats, artisanal soaps, preserves, chocolate and more.

Haven’t been to the market lately? Here are a few words from the web site to remind you that it’s a win-win for all of us:

“Our family of five farmers’ markets showcases the best in regional organic produce, pasture-raised meats, eggs and dairy, sustainably-harvested seafood and artisan-made goods.

Purchasing your food through the area’s farmers’ markets ensures that you are getting the freshest, healthiest and tastiest foods while supporting local jobs, increasing local spending and promoting the region’s strong farming tradition.

What’s good for you is good for your community.”

Read more about the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Markets at santacruzfarmersmarket.org.

New Year’s Eve at Lark Creek restaurants, plus giveaway

Seafood at Lark Creek Blue on Santana Row in San Jose (photo credit: Lark Creek Blue Facebook page)

Seafood at Lark Creek Blue on Santana Row in San Jose (photo credit: Lark Creek Blue Facebook page)

A few restaurants operated by Lark Creek Restaurant Group are open on New Year’s Eve; highlights are below. Also, two more bits of news:

1) If you haven’t heard, a couple LCRG restaurants recently closed – Yankee Pier Larkspur and The Tavern at Lark Creek closed permanently effective Dec. 1, 2014, and Fish Story in Napa has closed but the restaurant will reopen in early spring with a ‘remodeled space and new concept’ (and possibly a new name)
2) One of my readers will win a gift card good at Lark Creek restaurants — see end of article for contest details. Happy Holidays!

• Pan-Seared Day Boat Scallops with celery root, boiled peanuts, black trumpet mushrooms, and port wine is one of the New Year’s Eve entrée choices from Chef Mark Dommen at One Market Restaurant (www.onemarket.com). The special New Year’s Eve prix fixe menu is $80/person from 6-7:30 p.m. and $130/person from 8:30-10 p.m. The menu features three courses and an amuse bouche. First course choices include hand-picked Dungeness crab (mango, avocado, citrus water) and Marin Sun Farm beef tartare (black truffle, quail egg, mitsuba). Dessert selections include Valrhona chocolate cake and California artisinal cheese plate with Redwood Hill Farm truffle tremor, Bohemian Creamery, Cowabunga, and more. Make reservations at 415.777.5577. One Market is in downtown SF at 1 Market St.

Lark Creek Blue (www.larkcreekblue.com)  is open on New Year’s Eve. Guests can enjoy the regular, full a la carte menu created by Chef de Cuisine Chad Ferry. Entrees include Maine lobster spaghetti “Arrabiata” with a roasted half lobster, tomato, calabrese, chiles, and basil; grilled 12-ounce Angus ribeye with ratatouille, parsley potatoes, and warm caper vinaigrette; and grilled Hawaiian swordfish with fava beans, Israeli couscous, nectarine relish, and sauteed spinach. Make reservations at 408.244.1244. Lark Creek Blue is on Santana Row in San Jose.

Cupola Pizzeria (www.cupolasf.com) is also open on New Year’s Eve. Guests can order from the regular, full a la carte menu. Small plates include warm, pulled-to-order mozzarella with lemon, brussels sprouts leaves, and olive oil; and lamb meatballs with spicy San Marzano tomato sauce, basil leaves, and pecorino. Soups include butternut squash with sage and brown butter. Pastas include lamb pappardelle, and pizzas include rapini (garlic, broccoli rabe, chili flakes, preserved lemon, Parmesan cream) and carne (housemade sausage, spicy calabrese salumi, soppresata, sweet onion). Call 415.896.5600 for reservations. Cupola is located on the 4th floor of the Westfield San Francisco Centre (845 Market St.).

CONTEST
Prize: A $75 gift card to Lark Creek Restaurants
To enter, email your name to tfatemi@gmail.com & include the words “Lark Creek giveaway.” Deadline to enter is Friday, Jan. 2, 2015 at 9 p.m.
This contest is open to readers of Tara Fatemi Walker’s Examiner.com and Santacruzfoodie.com sites. Employees of Examiner.com, and people who have won contests in the last 3 months, are not eligible for this promotion.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

New Year’s Eve 2014-15: celebrating at Monterey & Carmel restaurants

Food at TusCA Ristorante in Monterey. Photo credit: TusCA web site

Food at TusCA Ristorante in Monterey. Photo credit: TusCA web site

Only one day left to New Year’s Eve 2014-2015! If you’re planning to dine in Monterey or Carmel for the occasion, here are a few restaurants to consider.

Interested in SF or Oakland? Click here.

Restaurant 1833
This New Year’s Eve, Restaurant 1833 will host a special dinner highlighting a menu from Chef Levi Mezick that have made this downtown Monterey hot spot a not-to-be-missed dining destination over the past three years. As the team rings in 2015, new Executive Chef Jason Franey will roll out a new menu in January, and this New Year’s Eve celebration gives guests a final chance to savor favorites from Levi Mezick. The evening will consist of two seatings: the first from 6-7 p.m. and the second from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Guests at the first seating will enjoy a five-course meal for $95 per person with menu highlights including Hamachi with blood orange, cumin, avocado and pickled jalapeno; and Bacon Wrapped Sturgeon with black lentils, brown butter and spinach. Dessert is Mezick’s signature Booker’s Butter Bourbon Pudding with Satsuma mandarin and blood orange caramel. Guests at the second seating will enjoy a seven course meal for $125 per person with a menu offering all five courses served in the first seating plus additional offerings including Parmesan Crusted Chicken Breast with salsify, basil and lemon butter and Pineapple Granita with coconut tapioca and passion fruit. Following dinner service, a DJ will spin tunes until 2 a.m. Dinner reservations are highly recommended and can be made with a credit card through Open Table or by calling 831.643.1833.
Alvarado Street Brewery / “Bubbles & Brews:” four-course dinner with Alvarado Street beer plus champagne from Caraccioli Cellars, $95 plus tax and gratuity, 7 p.m. / 426 Alvarado St., Monterey, 831-655-2337.
Dinner attendees will enjoy Brut Cuvée & Brut Rosé from Caraccioli Cellars, as well as two of Alvarado Street’s inaugural barrel aged beer releases: a passionfruit Lambic, and a Belgian Barley wine with tart red cherries. The brewery is also offering a 10 p.m. event ($25 cover); this includes drinks, DJ (DNA) and dancing. For dinner, advance ticket purchase is required at eventbrite.com.

Anton & Michel Restaurant / Dinner for Two prepared tableside — $140 for three courses; several specials available a la carte / Mission Street between Ocean & 7th., Carmel, 831-624-2406.
The tableside Dinner for Two includes Caesar salad, rack of lamb, and choice of flambée dessert. A la carte appetizers include Dungeness crab ravioli with sundried tomatoes and Meyer lemon cream sauce. entrees include Maple Leaf duck breast with sundried cherry sauce, grilled asparagus, roasted peppers, and sweet potato-green onion mash, and herb-seared Pacific salmon.

Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel / Two seatings: 5:30-6:30 p.m. or 8:30-9:30 p.m. / Monte Verde Street between Ocean & 7th., Carmel, 831-624-8578.
The 5:30-6:30 seatings offer a four-course menu, while the 8:30-9:30 seatings feature a six-course menu.

Pacific’s Edge Restaurant at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands / $150 plus tax and gratuity per person, four-course prix fixe dinner, seatings begin at 5:30 p.m. / 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel, 831-622-5445.
First course options include roasted baby beets with goat cheese mousse, chives, brioche crumble, and black truffle dressing. Second course selections include olive oil-braised octopus with Spanish paprika and baby heirloom potatoes. Entrée choices include pan-fried filet mignon with Point Reyes blue cheese and roasted walnut butter and Cabernet sauvignon reduction. Desserts include maple crème brulee with honey oat granola and Chantilly cream.

Sardine Factory / $79 plus tax and gratuity per person, four-course prix fixe dinner, dinner from 5-11:30 p.m., open until 1 a.m. / 701 Wave Street, Monterey, 831-373-3775.
The cost includes dinner, a midnight balloon drop, party favors, and live entertainment. Dinner includes Maine Lobster bisque, Salinas Valley spinach salad, choice of entrée (options include Greater Omaha filet mignon with wild mushroom gratin, rainbow chard, blue cheese fondue and Pinot noir syrup drizzle, or pan-seared Diver scallops with lemon gastrique, bouillabaisse style polenta, pernod glazed asparagus, and candied lemon zest. Dessert is profiteroles with mango and chocolate sauce.

TusCA Ristorante / Dinner for Two, $60 per couple plus tax and gratuity, seatings from 5:30-10 p.m. / Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey, 831-657-6675.
Guests receive one shared appetizer (choices include crab dip or sweet potato arancini), two entrees (choices include shrimp alfredo or mushroom butternut squash ravioli), a shared dessert (selections include tiramisu or gelato), one glass of wine, and one glass of champagne.

Will’s Fargo Steakhouse & Bar / Holiday specials, prices vary, seatings from 4:30-10 p.m. for food; bar stays open until 1 a.m. / 16 Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley, 831-659-2774.
New Year’s Eve specials will include appetizer smoked salmon, crème fraiche, red onions, capers, toast ($10.95) and entrees such as grilled bone-in 18-ounce rib eye, black truffle butter ($48.95) and baked Monterey Bay black cod, Satsuma mandarin ‘beurre blanc’ ($33.95). Each entrée includes soup or salad, and soup specials will include lobster bisque. One dessert special is Black Forest brandied cherries with whipped cream and chocolate mousse ($8.95).

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

New Year’s Eve 2014-15: celebrating at SF and Oakland restaurants

Oysters and champagne at Farallon Restaurant SF

Oysters and champagne at Farallon Restaurant SF

It’s almost New Year’s Eve 2014-2015! If you’re planning to dine in San Francisco or Oakland for the occasion, here are a few restaurants to consider.

San Francisco

A16
Details: A16 is ringing in 2015 with a festive New Year’s Eve tasting menu from Executive Chef Rocky Maselli and traditional wine pairing options from Wine Director/Co-Owner Shelley Lindgren. The special menu embodies the flavor of Southern Italy with dishes like Maccaronara with liberty duck sugo, black trumpet mushrooms and duck fat bread crumbs and Roasted Devil’s Gulch Rabbit Saddle wrapped in pancetta, lentils, sage and rosemary. The four-course tasting menu will be offered at $95 per person with $75 wine pairings. Reservations can be made by calling 415-771-2216.

Rose Pistola
On Wednesday, December 31st plan to celebrate the end of 2014 and ring in 2015 with Rose Pistola in North Beach. Come early to enjoy a special 4-course prix fix dinner (choice of hot & cold antipasti, entrée & dessert). Reservations will be available from 5:30 until 7:00pm. Music is by The Cosmo Alleycats, who will be playing vintage jazz/dance music with a dynamic, but soulful delivery from 7:00 until 9:45pm; $65.00 per person. Rose Pistola’s later seating, starting at 8:00pm, provides the option to stay and toast the New Year with them, while enjoying The Cosmo Alleycats, playing livelier, danceable American music drawing from eras spanning Swing & Big Band, Blues, 60s, soul & R&B and Motown from 10:00pm until 12:30am.  Enjoy a 5-course prix fixe dinner (hot & cold antipasti, pasta, entrée & dessert) and toast the New Year with complimentary Prosecco & party favors for all; $95.00 per person. You can make a reservation online or by calling the restaurant at 415-399-0499.
Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco
Guests are invited to ring in the New Year with dinner prepared by a Michelin-star chef and live entertainment throughout the evening at Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco. Chef Daniel Corey presents a multi-course menu of seasonal, California fare with dish highlights including Tartare of Kona Kampachi, avocado, smoked trout roe, and crème fraiche; Dungeness Crab with aged Carnaroli rice, Marcona almond milk, and espelette; Butter Poached Maine Lobster with fennel, apple, and onion; and Roasted Breast of Squab, leg confit, chestnut, and orange marmalade.  Live entertainment by jazz group The Steve Carter Trio kicks off at 8:30pm and rings in the New Year until 12:30am. Pricing is $125 per person for the four-course dinner or $195 with wine pairing. Luce is taking reservations from 6:30pm – 10:30. Reservations are required. Call 415-616-6566.

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins
Intercontinentalmarkhopkins.com
New Year’s Eve at Top of the Mark
From 7:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m., enjoy a special reception, entertainment, dinner, dancing, and a Champagne toast at midnight. Start your evening with Champagne and hors d’oeuvres including assorted caviar, Tomales Bay & Rockefeller oysters, Spanish Serrano ham carving station, raw seafood selections, and more. Following the reception, guests will enjoy a seated five-course dinner with bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial before dancing the night away and toasting the New Year with a glass of Moet & Chandon Rose. Rounding out the festivities is live entertainment by Mirage, whose exciting style ranges from Jazz to rock. Formal dress is required. Regular reservations are $400 per person; window seating is $450 per person. Reservations required. Please call 415-616-6941.

Nob Hill Club at Intercontinental Mark Hopkins
Raise a glass to the New Year at the Nob Hill Club at Intercontinental Mark Hopkins. Guests are invited to enjoy a sophisticated evening full of California wines and tantalizing bites prepared by Chef Nenad Stefanovic. A delicious four course meal will be served including Oysters with grape mignonette, Shredded Duck Confit with dried figs, wild mizuna and pistachio pesto, Filet Mignon with smoked corttin de chavignol, pepper chimichurri, sweet potato gnocchi and baby romanesco, and a Valrhona Chocolate with whiskey, sea salted caramel and praline. Each dinner is $79 per adult, $109 per adult with wine pairing and $49 per child (ages 4 – 12). Call 415-392-3434 for reservations.

Foreign Cinema
This New Year’s Eve, Foreign Cinema will be celebrating with a “Purple Rain” inspired evening. Relive the ‘80s while rocking into 2015 with a four course celebratory menu, priced at $100.00 per guest, excluding wine, tax, and gratuity. Festivities begin at 5:30pm. Reservations are highly recommended.

Farallon
Ring in 2015 under the sea with Farallon’s New Year’s Eve six-course tasting menus from Executive Chef Ryan Simas. Guests will have an option between a traditional tasting menu, offered at $120, or a special Caviar and Truffle menu, offered at $155. Farallon’s decadent seafood fare fused with the whimsically aquatic décor offer the perfect way to celebrate the New Year. Guests can enjoy dishes such as Broiled Maine Lobster Tail with cauliflower mousseline, celery root, apple salad and lemon aioli, and Seared Georges Bank Diver Scallop with warm potato, leek latke, mache and caviar fondue and a limited à la carte menu will also be available. Both menus will include wine pairing options from Wine Director Luke Kenning with the traditional pairing priced at $65 and the Caviar and Truffle pairing at $85. Reservations can be made by visiting www.farallonrestaurant.com or calling 415.956.6969.

CLIFT
Step back in time to a different era at CLIFT’s early 1900s themed New Year’s Eve party. The hotel will be celebrating its 100th anniversary at the turn of midnight with a black tie optional red carpet event from 8pm-2am on December 31, 2014. There will be four areas of festivities including a special musical performance by Donovan, a Billie Holiday tribute, a Ziegfeld Follies show, and a silent film showcase. The festivities will take over the Redwood Room and the first floor of the hotel. Guests can also enjoy a champagne reception with complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a glass of bubbles from 8-9pm. Additional details and tickets starting at $49.99 can be found at cliftnye.nightout.com. Hotel room packages are also available here.

flour+water
Close out 2014 and celebrate New Year’s Eve with flour+water. The restaurant will be offering a five course tasting menu for $95.00 per person, excluding tax and gratuity with a $70.00 optional wine pairing. Sample menu dishes include Dungeness Crab with shrimp, n’duja and Brussels Sprouts, Chestnut Agnolotti  with pheasant, sunchokes, and speck, and Mixed Roast of Beef with creamed nettles, beets and blue cheese.

central kitchen
Spend the last evening of 2014 at central kitchen. The restaurant will be offering a five course tasting menu for $125 per person, excluding tax and gratuity with a $75 optional wine pairing. Sample menu dishes include Dungeness Crab with parsley root, beet, and vanilla, Matsutake Mushroom with sunchoke, black, lentil, and smoked egg yolk, and Dry Aged Rib Eye with oxtail, date, and cauliflower.

Presidio Social Club
If you’re looking to skip a formal prix-fixe dinner, ring in 2015 at Presidio Social Club, where they’ll be offering a variety of a la carte dishes in addition to a seafood bar with items such as Oysters on the Half Shell, Cracked Dungeness Crab Legs, and Scallop Ceviche. Other tasty options include an Avocado & Winter Citrus Salad, Brown Butter Roasted Maine Lobster Medallions with Meyer Lemon Mascarpone Risotto, and a Truffle Roasted Chicken. A live band will provide entertainment all night long.

SPQR
Modest and inviting, SPQR serves progressive Italian cuisine in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. Under the direction of Executive Chef Matthew Accarrino, SPQR has been recognized with a Michelin star in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 San Francisco guides. On Wednesday, December 31, SPQR will host a special New Year’s Eve dinner where Accarrino will prepare a nine-course tasting menu for $160 with optional wine pairings from Wine Director Shelley Lindgren for $80. Reservations are required and can be made through Open Table or by calling 415-771-7779.

East Bay
A16 Rockridge in Oakland
Details: Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a special tasting menu from Executive Chef Rocky Maselli and traditional wine pairings from Wine Director/Co-Owner Shelley Lindgren. The four-course meal will feature Southern Italian dishes including Water Buffalo Veal Polpettini with crispy fried mushroom and Grano Arso Capunti with wild boar sugo, rapini and pecorino riserva. As a New Year’s treat, guests will have the option of a “White Truffle Supplement” for the tasting menu dishes. The menu will be available for $85 per person with $68 wine pairings. Reservations can be made by visiting calling 510-768-8003.

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More Bay Area restaurants for Christmas: Carmel, Monterey, Santa Cruz

Food at Will’s Fargo Steakhouse & Bar in Carmel Valley

Food at Will’s Fargo Steakhouse & Bar in Carmel Valley

Here are a few more choices for dining out in the Bay Area on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day 2014.

If you missed my earlier Christmas article, here are some restaurant highlights for San Francisco and Oakland.

Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove

Anton & Michel Restaurant / Dec. 24, open regular lunch & dinner hours with regular menus. Dec. 25, open 3-9 p.m. with Dinner for Two prepared tableside — $135 for three courses; several Christmas specials available a la carte / Mission Street between Ocean & 7th., Carmel, 831-624-2406.
The “Classic Dinner for Two” includes Caesar salad, rack of lamb, and choice of flambée dessert. A la carte entrees include porcini-crusted halibut and herb-seared Pacific salmon.

Favaloro’s Big Night Bistro / Dec. 24 special a la carte dinner, prices vary, seatings from 5 p.m. / 545 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove, 831-373-8523.
The restaurant is offering a limited Christmas Eve menu featuring their family’s favorite holiday dishes; the regular menu won’t be available. Salads ($13) include persimmon artisan salad. Starters ($16) include veggie-stuffed portabella mushroom, ahi carpaccio, and clams and mussels Bordelaise. Entrees ($28) include petit filet mignon and champagne prawns.

Pacific’s Edge Restaurant at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands / Dec. 25 dinner, $110 adults, $55 kids 5-12, four-course prix fixe dinner, seatings from 5:30-9:30 p.m. / 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel, 831-622-5445.
First course options include winter mushroom ravioli with black truffle sauce and shaved black truffles or butternut squash bisque with Frangelico, brown butter, and maple cream. Entrée choices include sautéed King salmon, coriander crust, bok choy, enoki mushrooms, ginger soy vinaigrette or pan-fried filet mignon, smashed duck fat Yukon gold potatoes, whole grain mustard Béarnaise.

Schooner’s Coastal Kitchen & Bar / Dec. 25 prix fixe dinner $55 or $80 with wine pairing, seatings from 4:30 p.m. onward / 400 Cannery Row, Monterey, 831-372-BOAT (2628).
In addition to the special four-course prix fix dinner, the restaurant will offer its regular menu with holiday specials.
Will’s Fargo Steakhouse & Bar / Dec. 24 will include holiday specials, prices vary, seatings from 4-8:30 p.m. / 16 Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley, 831-659-2774.Christmas Eve specials will include appetizer Dungeness crab cake with chipolte remoulade, micro arugula ($9.95) and two entrees: grilled buffalo rib eye, sauce marchand de vin ($45.95) and baked Petrale sole, leek, corn au piment d’espelette ($32.95). Each entrée includes soup or salad, choice of rice or potato, cauliflower gratin. Soup specials will be crab & corn bisque, and chestnut & mushroom soup with white truffle oil. One dessert special is Bûche de Noël, (Yule Log) for $8.95.

Other restaurants in the Monterey/Carmel/Pacific Grove area offering dinner on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day include the following (book at OpenTable.com):

  • Monterey–Café Beach Restaurant at Monterey Beach Resort, Fish Hopper, Louie Linguini’s, Old Fisherman’s Grotto, Chart House, and TusCA Ristorante
  • Carmel–Il Fornaio, Grasing’s, Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel

Santa Cruz
Restaurants in Santa Cruz offering dinner on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day include the following (book at OpenTable.com):

  • Aquarius at Dream Inn
  • Linwood’s Bar & Grill at Chaminade Resort
  • Lago Di Como

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