Monthly Archives: November 2015

A few restaurants in Napa Valley and San Francisco for Thanksgiving 2015

An August dinner entrée at Michelin-starred Luce, which will offer a three-course prix-fixe Thanksgiving menu Credit: Luce Restaurant

An August dinner entrée at Michelin-starred Luce, which will offer a three-course prix-fixe Thanksgiving menu
Credit: Luce Restaurant

It’s less than a week to Thanksgiving; if you’re planning to dine in San Francisco or Napa Valley, here are a few restaurants to consider.

Napa Valley
Lucy Restaurant & Bar at the Bardessono hotel and spa in Yountville is offering a four-course holiday dinner ($90 adults, $40 kids under 10). As always, it will be fresh, garden-inspired cuisine. The menu features traditional holiday dishes that incorporate a twist, with sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients picked fresh from the onsite culinary garden when possible. First course choices include carrot salad with confit carrots, carrot chips, curry shallot dressing, and carrot fronds; and roasted pumpkin soup with pomegranate and nutmeg crème fraîche. Second course choices include butternut squash risotto with caramelized pears. Entrée selections are turkey with marjoram and brioche stuffing; house-cured honey ham with cabbages and little potatoes, whole grain mustard and caramelized pear jus; and pan-roasted sturgeon with brussels sprouts, napa cabbage, house cured bacon, and dijon beurre blanc. For reservations call 707-204-6030 or visit OpenTable. If you decide to make your special holiday feast part of an overnight getaway, you’ll be happy to know the Bardessono is an eco-conscious LEED Platinum-Certified property.

San Francisco Restaurants
Luce Restaurant

Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco will feature a 3-course prix-fixe menu for Thanksgiving. Michelin-star Chef Daniel Corey is offering a seasonal selection of items like winter squash with whipped ricotta, butternut marmalade, and pomegranate; slow-cooked turkey breast with sage and rosemary, brussels sprouts, and potato puree; and diver scallops with celery root and navel orange confit and green olives. Dessert options include bread pudding; sticky toffee pudding; and chocolate cheesecake. Cost is $85 per person; $45 for kids (4 – 12 years). Pricing excludes tax and gratuity. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling 415-616-6566 or visiting Luce’s web site.

Presidio Social Club
Presidio Social Club will be offering a prix-fixe Thanksgiving dinner from 11am-5pm for $60/person. This year’s menu will include kale salad with pomegranates, apple, and pumpkin seeds; cauliflower soup with roasted chestnuts; turkey with wild mushroom and sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce; pumpkin pie; and bourbon chocolate pecan pie. Call 415-885-1888 or email info@presidiosocialclub.com for reservations.

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins
Thanksgiving brunch and dinner are available at Top of the Mark. Presented by Chef Nenad Stefanovic, the buffet will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will feature breakfast selections (from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.), antipastos, raw bar, salads, soups, desserts, and more. Seasonal specials include smoked duck breast with grilled persimmons, toasted pumpkin seeds and fig compote; sherry-molasses roast beets with allspice crème fraiche, candied walnuts and tondo, pickled butternut squash and pancetta jam; and roasted free range turkey with orange-cranberry sauce and giblet gravy. Desserts will include traditional holiday delights along with pumpkin foster martinis with diced pumpkin, apple brandy, cinnamon sugar and graham cracker cookie ice cream. In addition to the feast, entertainment will be presented by Michael Athens and Ricardo Scales on piano and a “Little Explorer” petting zoo will be in the lobby from noon to 4 p.m. Top of the Mark’s Thanksgiving brunch and Thanksgiving dinner cost $119 per adult and $59 per child (ages 4-12). Reservations are required at 415-616-6941.

One Market Restaurant
One Market is serving a three-course prix fixe menu by Chef Mark Dommen. The four first course choices include artichoke soup with hazelnuts, garlic flan, and lemon balm; and beet carpaccio with radish, chèvre, and sherry vinaigrette. Four entrée selections include roasted turkey with cornbread-sausage stuffing, root vegetables, and shallot-thyme gravy, and mushroom risotto with yuzu, pine nuts, and scallions. Three dessert selections include triple layer sugar pie pumpkin cheesecake with ginger-mascarpone ice cream. The price is $74 per adult and $39 per child 10 and under. Please call 415-777-5577 or visit OpenTable for reservations.

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Thanksgiving selections at Whole Foods Market in Capitola and Santa Cruz

Whole Foods Market's many Thanksgiving options include cooked turkeys

Whole Foods Market’s many Thanksgiving options include cooked turkeys

As usual, the Santa Cruz and Capitola branches of Whole Foods Market have stocked up on lots of delicious Thanksgiving options. You can place your Thanksgiving orders in person or online — but remember the deadline for both is Tuesday, Nov. 24. Here is the 2015 holiday menu.

Whole Foods Market’s selections include prepared meals such as turkey dinner for two, four, or eight people. Choices include regular, organic, smoked, or lemon herb turkey. Other dinners include 72-hour sous vide short ribs, and spiral-cut hams. You can also order cooked (or uncooked) turkeys a la carte, and sides a la carte. A few side dish highlights are sage sausage sourdough stuffing, broccoli cheddar gratin and sweet potato mash. Serving a vegetarian Thanksgiving and want to do your own cooking? Check out Whole Foods Market’s online menu, complete with recipes.

If you’re in charge of bringing appetizers to your Turkey Day feast, they have many appealing party trays to choose from.  A classic antipasto platter features ingredients like prosciutto, salami, and marinated olives, artichokes and mushrooms; other platter options include vegetable-stuffed mushrooms. For something less traditional, there are selections like pumpkin-almond wontons (vegan) and Sriracha chicken wontons. Of course, top-quality cheese always serves as a dependable appetizer, accompanied by your favorite cracker or perhaps olive or walnut bread, and Whole Foods has hundreds of selections ranging from cow-milk to goat, sheep, and buffalo. In fact, any given location has anywhere from 250 to 1,000 varieties that come from all over the world—many of these are organic, too. One of my favorites is Red Hawk, a triple cream variety from Cowgirl Creamery. Each market has a cheese expert who can help guide you.

Let’s not forget about dessert. The bakery team at each Whole Foods Market makes pies from scratch, on site. Varieties include pumpkin (traditional or vegan), brown butter walnut, and apple cranberry. I had the traditional pumpkin one last year, and loved it.

The Capitola and Santa Cruz locations will both be open the day before Thanksgiving, Wed. Nov. 25, from 7 am–10 pm, and Thanksgiving Day from 7 am – 2 pm. Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information. Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

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Pre-order Thanksgiving food in Santa Cruz county and Los Gatos

Pumpkin pie from ManresaBread, available for pick up in Los Gatos or Santa Cruz Photo credit: ManresaBread

Pumpkin pie from ManresaBread, available for pick up in Los Gatos or Santa Cruz
Photo credit: ManresaBread

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching, and there are many stores, bakeries and caterers that can help you with prepared food options. These include New Leaf Community Market; see comprehensive article on their offerings  or visit store web site.

ManresaBread is offering advance orders for select items through their website available for pickup. Orders are required 48 hours in advance, and can be placed until November 23 for Thanksgiving (pick up November 25, the day before Thanksgiving). Pre-order a selection of breads, pies, sweet/savory pastries and more for pick up at the 276 N. Santa Cruz Avenue location in Los Gatos. Santa Cruz area residents can also pick up at PopUp (1108 Pacific Avenue) the day before Thanksgiving. Seasonal selections include pumpkin loaf, apple galette, pain d’Epices, and pumpkin pie.

The last day for Thanksgiving orders at Companion Bakeshop is Saturday, Nov. 21. Seasonal items available for pre-order include biscotti, pies such as pecan bourbon, Meyer lemon buttermilk pie, apple, pumpkin, and walnut (the latter two have gluten-free options), chocolate tartlets, maple bacon biscuits, and squash/herb galettes. Call (831) 252-2253 for more information.

The meat and seafood department at Staff of Life has lots of Thanksgiving offerings including pre-orders of organic turkey from Heidi’s Hens, pork crown roast, loin roast, grass-fed and finished prime rib, lamb crown roast. Other selections include Dungeness crab from Washington, seafood platters, and take-and-bake entrees.

Gayle’s Bakery in Capitola has pre-ordering available for a la carte items or packages. However, orders for complete dinners with a Diestel whole or half turkey are now closed (they sold out of pre-orders). They are still offering these dinners but with sliced turkey breast. Vegetarian options such as kale and wild rice stuffed acorn squash (with apricots, cranberries, and more) and butternut squash & carrot ginger soup are also available. Plus, they of course feature their famous bread plus a huge range of desserts such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake or shimmering pumpkin princess (chocolate cake, raspberry jam, pastry cream, chocolate whipped cream, with a pumpkin-shaped shell and a dusting of gold).

For the catering company Lifestyle Culinary Arts, orders must be in by 8 p.m. Nov. 21 and they can be picked up at the Food Lounge at 1001 Center St.; email chef Andrea Mollenauer at andrea@lifestyleculinary.com or call (831) 588-4515 to place order. See menu at Lifestyle’s Facebook page. Selections include whole cider-brined turkeys (stuffed with apples, onions, citrus, herbs), stuffed boneless turkey breast (white meat, ready to roast), and signature cranberry chutney (tart & sweet with a hint of ginger). For sides that will complement Lifestyle’s offerings, chef Andrea recommends Local Harvest Catering. Selections include sweet potato mash, green beans with caramelized onions and toasted pecans, and butternut squash/persimmon soup. See full menu at their Facebook page. Customers need to email orders to chef@localharvestcatering.com by Friday, Nov. 20, and Local Harvest orders can be picked up on Wed. Nov. 25th at Front Street Kitchen. For questions, call chef Denna at (831) 818-8482.

Emily’s Bakery offers items like stuffing, dinner rolls, cakes, and pies (the latter come in flavors like chocolate pecan, pumpkin, and apple). Customers need to place orders by Friday, Nov. 20. Call (831) 429-9866 for more information.

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New Leaf Community Markets: Thanksgiving offerings & holiday-themed classes

Thanksgiving dinner available from New Leaf Community Markets Photo credit: Angela Aurelio Photography

Thanksgiving dinner available from New Leaf Community Markets
Photo credit: Angela Aurelio Photography

Organic, Santa Cruz-based New Leaf Community Markets is offering lots of options for Thanksgiving Dinner. The store will be open until 2pm on Thanksgiving Day itself (Nov. 26) for any last- minute holiday needs. Also, they’ve added online ordering; you need to order online by Friday, Nov. 20 for meat and Sunday, Nov. 22 for deli items. You can still order in-store after these dates. Keep reading for specific selections and for highlights of a few holiday-themed classes.

During Thanksgiving week, New Leaf will have a large selection of a la carte items available in three areas: their grab ‘n’ go coolers, hot bar and deli. On Thanksgiving Day itself, the hot bar will have a “Green Plate Special” where you can get a turkey dinner with all the fixings for $9.99.

For personalized help during this busy season, the market is offering Holiday Solutions Stations at its stores—except for Felton and Boulder Creek. This is where you can place holiday orders, taste samples, get cooking tips, and ask questions about suggested pairings or accommodating your guests’ dietary restrictions. You are also welcome to sip on some seasonal beverages.

New Leaf only uses turkey from Sonora-based Diestel Family Turkey Ranch. There are many varieties available and they are featuring a few fully-cooked options that only require a quick reheat. These options include brown & serve turkeys and smoked turkeys. Other options include New Leaf’s herb rubbed and brined turkey, organic heirloom turkey, Cornish game hens, duck, or goose.

New Leaf also offers complete, freshly prepared turkey dinners that require no cooking. The “Turkey Dinner Package” ($99, feeds 4-6 or $119, feeds 6-8) includes an all natural brown and serve Diestel turkey, a 9-inch housemade pumpkin pie, and your choice of a side dish package (the latter has four selections to pick from including gluten-free and vegan offerings).

Some of their popular ready-to-heat-and-eat dishes:

  • parsnip bread pudding: a savory bread pudding with organic parsnips; which one staff member refers to it as “earthy” – it also includes bread cubes, grated Parmesan cheese and thyme
  • green bean casserole: a creamy mushroom sauce surrounds tender organic green beans, topped with housemade gluten-free crispy organic onions
  • butternut squash lasagna: a combination of sweet-and-savory roasted butternut squash and fresh sage
  • stuffing (a big serving of this is one of my personal indulgences every Thanksgiving—that and pumpkin pie, of course!): New Leaf is offering organic herb bread stuffing, gluten-free bread stuffing, and a cornbread version with sausage and apples

You can check out all of New Leaf’s offerings online at reservations.newleaf.com

Here are a few of New Leaf’s many upcoming classes; these are at the Westside location (1101 Fair Ave. in Santa Cruz). Pre-register here:

Cooking Class: Allergy-Free Holiday Side Dishes
Join Chef Lauren Hoover-West for a fun and educational hands-on cooking class. You will help prepare favorite holiday classic sides that are gluten- and dairy-free: stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, stove-top candied sweet potatoes, “never go back to the can cranberry sauce,” and veggies. You’ll learn to plan the meal so you can relax and enjoy your own holiday party. At the end of class, you’ll sit down with the class mates and sample tastes of all of the fabulous side dishes.
Tuesday, November 17, 5:30pm-8:30pm, $35/2 for $60

Fun with Succulents: A Wreath-Making Workshop
In this workshop, instructor Madia Jamgochian will guide you through the step-by-step process of creating your very own succulent decoration. Wreath rings, moss, and succulent cuttings will be provided. Hang your masterpiece up for the holidays, or give it away as a special gift. Succulent wreaths will thrive indoors, outside in your garden, or even as a table centerpiece, (put a candle in the center). Space is limited to 10.

Sunday, December 6, 2-4pm, $42

Holiday Cookie Exchange

This class, for kids and teens with their parents or relatives, happens once a year. We will be baking an assortment of cookies including Chocolate Chip, Ginger Snaps, Oatmeal and Shortbread Sugar Cookies to decorate. All gluten-free, dairy-free, low sugar, and high protein and fiber. There will be vegan cookies too. Come learn how to make no-guilt holiday cookies that everyone will want to enjoy, they also make great gifts. You will get to take home a plate of all the cookies we bake!

Thursday, December 10, 5:30-8:30pm, $20/kid, $30/adult

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This weekend’s food and wine events in Santa Cruz

Food by Ocean2table at a previous Food Lounge event (Pescetarian pop-up 11/8/15)

Food by Ocean2table at a previous Food Lounge event (Pescetarian pop-up 11/8/15)

There are many food and wine events occurring this weekend in Santa Cruz county. Below are details for a few of them.

Friday, Nov. 13: Food Lounge’s “Artisan Food Market”
From 4-9 p.m., the Food Lounge is the site of the Artisan Food Market, described as ‘farmers market meets cocktail hour.’ There will be many local food artisans and pop-up vendors, plus local wine and beer available for purchase and live music. Vendors include Mutari Hot Chocolate, Ocean2table, Notso Hot Sauce, and Makse Bars. The first of these monthly events was held in June; read details.
Location: 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz

Friday, Nov. 13: Food Trucks A Go Go event
Food truck event company Food Trucks A Go Go is hosting its third consecutive monthly food truck event at Skypark in Scotts Valley. They are offering a first-time beer and wine garden, including beer from Steel Bonnet Brewing Company, whose proceeds will benefit the Scotts Valley Education Foundation. Food vendors include Zameen Mediterranean, Aunt LaLi’s Mobile Café, Carmona’s BBQ, G’s Tacos, and India Gourmet. The event is 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Location: Skypark, 361 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley

Sunday, Nov. 15: Downtown Santa Cruz Wine Walk
The 3-6 p.m. event features the opportunity to taste wine from a dozen Santa Cruz Mountains wineries while browsing downtown Santa Cruz shops. Attendees check in at Abbott Square for their pass, glass, and pouring location map. It costs $30 online or at the “Downtown Santa Cruz” info kiosk (1134 Pacific Ave.). Participating wineries include Bargetto, Dancing Creek, Trout Gulch, Roudon Smith, Bonny Doon, and Pelican Ranch.
Location: Abbott Square, Cooper Street (next to Lulu’s at the Octagon), Santa Cruz

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Visit Pino Alto Restaurant for great meals by cooking students plus Friday farm to table dinner

Lemon buttermilk tart from a late October “New Releases” dinner at Pino Alto Restaurant

Lemon buttermilk tart from a late October “New Releases” dinner at Pino Alto Restaurant

If you are a foodie and haven’t yet discovered Pino Alto Restaurant, it’s a secret worth sharing. I just had the pleasure of dining there for the first time. The Cabrillo College culinary arts department operates Pino Alto, which is located in the historic Sesnon House on campus. It’s open during the fall and spring semesters, Sept.-Dec. and Feb.-May, and the Cabrillo Horticulture department grows a lot of the produce served. Students from the “Advanced Culinary” class are the ones who run the restaurant (with instructors’ supervision, of course). Lunch is served Mon-Thurs and dinner Wed-Fri. See the site for specific hours and menus. There are also special events like a farm to table dinner this Friday, Nov. 6: keep reading for details.

I dined at Pino Alto in late October; the menu I ordered from is available through Thursday, Nov. 5.  Dinner menus change every 3-4 weeks and lunch menus change weekly. A tapas-themed dinner menu will debut on Nov. 11. From the moment we entered the restaurant, everything was wonderful. Staff (culinary students) were very attentive, checking often to see if we needed beverage or bread refills (the bread was warm and fresh, so it was hard to say no, but I wanted to try several food items). The meal began with a complimentary salmon cake starter that they referred to as an amuse bouche, but it was bigger than the traditional one-bite amuse. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised by the generous sizes of all the courses! The salmon was delicious and moist, and the cake had a nice crunch. Chive masarpone provided a creamy, perfect topping. I had the chance to sample my husband’s crab-stuffed prawns with mango corn salsa, which was very tasty. Beet soup with ginger and coconut, garnished with a beet chip and crème fraiche, followed. It did not disappoint! All dinner entrees are accompanied by your choice of soup or salad.

Before I get to the rest of the meal, let me talk a little more about the way Pino Alto works. As I mentioned, Advanced Culinary students act as restaurant staff each semester. They fill all the typical positions including Manager, Set/Wait, Prep/Wait, Pantry/Wait, Bake, Pastry, Hot Line, and Head Chef. Our waitperson that night was Kimber Styles Ashley, who created—or helped create—quite a few dishes featured on the current menu, which is titled “New Releases.” She explained the menu-designing process that occurs each time: “This New Releases menu, which ends Nov. 5, was very much a collaborative menu. Individually we present a complete menu to our class in a discussion format on BlackBoard,” said Ashley. “Each meal is posted separately and we discuss, comment and vote on everyone’s dishes. We then discuss and vote on the dishes that received the most votes in class and then have a final vote. I was honored with having one of my main dishes and desserts chosen for the New Releases Menu. My main was grilled prime New York strip sirloin served with a lima bean and corn ragout and a nest of crispy string onions on top.”

My husband ordered the sirloin and it was divine; he pronounced it “buttery and tender.” My entrée was probably my favorite dish that night. I chose a wild mushroom cassoulet with artichoke hearts and onion confit. It was earthy and rich; the flavors and textures complemented each other beautifully. For dessert we shared a lemon buttermilk tart topped with vanilla whip cream and candied lemon rind. Let’s just say, it rocked our world and we sort of fought over the last bites. This was Ashley’s creation. She had the opportunity to work at Companion Bakeshop this past summer, and was inspired to create this tart after trying Companion’s Buttermilk Meyer Lemon pie, which she tasted at Pie Ranch up the coast.

Eric Carter, chair of the Culinary Arts program, serves as chef at Pino Alto restaurant and co-instructor for the Advanced Culinary class. He really enjoys these roles. “I love to see the growth in the students’ abilities and skills,” says Carter. “It’s a challenging class, nine units, and they are asked to perform at a very high level.”  It’s sometimes rough at the very beginning of the semester, he says, but things get much smoother very quickly as students become comfortable in both the front and back of the house. “Then I start to see them work independently and carry themselves with confidence.  It’s rewarding.”

Carter likes the fact that he gets to operate a restaurant that is well regarded in the community, and also influence many students’ lives in a positive way. He sometimes hears this from students years after they’ve finished the program.

The farm to table dinner on Nov. 6 will be a four-course menu with wine pairings, featuring lots of ingredients sourced from local purveyors like Jacobs Farm, Live Earth Farm and Stagnaro’s Seafood. The wine will be from Savannah-Channelle, Hunter Hill, Clos La Chance, Mountain Winery and Burrell School. See full menu below. The cost is $65 per person plus tax and gratuity. A reception starts at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7. For reservations, call (831) 479-6524.

Ashley is thrilled that several of her dishes were chosen for this event: the olive oil toast hors d’oeuvre, the rock cod fritter appetizer, the main course, and the dessert. She says that locally and seasonally harvested menus are her passion and that she’s been learning and growing in that direction through her Cabrillo culinary arts education. “I am definitely a California Cuisine-type of cook and would like to move towards the Slow-Food Movement as well,” says Ashley. “I think that’s why this Friday’s farm-to-table event was such a successful menu for me. Cooking from what’s at the farm makes me happy, excited and I feel alive.”

Carter hopes to see some new faces as customers in the near future. I can’t wait to go back myself. If you’re interested in getting on the list to keep informed about when Pino Alto is open and viewing current menus, Carter suggests writing to Sue Slater at suslater@cabrillo.edu.

November 6 menu

  • Three passed hors d’oeuvres: Jacobs Farm chive flatbread with garlic and brie; olive oil toasts with kale, feta, pine nuts and raisins; and ceviche on crispy won tons.
  • First course: smoked Pacific rock cod fritter with beet vinaigrette (or Romanesco fritter for vegetarian option)
  • Second course: grilled Monterey Bay calamari salad, mint vinaigrette, assorted Live Earth Farm vegetables
  • Main course: prosciutto wrapped halibut (depending on availability) with sage, served with rosemary apple braised chard and fennel potato gratin
  • Main course vegetarian option: Butterkin pumpkin sage risotto
  • Dessert: Apple pecan bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce and cinnamon ice cream

Pino Alto Location: Sesnon House at Cabrillo College: 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos

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