Tag Archives: Chaminade Resort & Spa

Restaurants for Easter in Santa Cruz, South Bay and SF

Past brunch dishes at Porta Blu in Menlo Park. Photo credit: Porta Blu

Dining out for Easter 2019? It’s this coming Sunday; here are some restaurant and food vendor highlights for Santa Cruz, the South Bay, and San Francisco.

Santa Cruz & Scotts Valley

Chaminade Resort & Spa

The Chaminade offers its annual Easter Brunch Buffet from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; the price is $65 (adults), $20 (kids 6-12), and free for kids under 6. Selections include fresh carved prime rib and leg of lamb, a seafood bar, omelets made to order, a devilled egg trio, a Mediterranean mezze display, several salads, and desserts such as Easter specialties and pastries. There will be hourly Easter egg hunts for the kids between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. – these are open to restaurant and hotel guests only. Call (831) 475-5600 for reservations. Visit chaminade.com.

One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Hilton Scotts Valley

The Hilton SV offers its annual Easter Brunch Buffet from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; the price is $35 (adults), $19 (kids 6-12), and free for kids under 6. Selections include roasted herbed turkey, a carving station with honey glazed ham, a smoked salmon platter, Belgian waffles with berry compote, chicken apple sausage, an omelet bar, and desserts including a shortcake bar and cinnamon apple bread pudding. There will be Easter egg hunts at noon and 2, and an appearance by the Easter Bunny. Call (831) 440-1000, ext 4 for reservations.

6001 La Madrona Drive, Scotts Valley

South Bay

Manresa Bread

At the three Manresa Bread  locations (Los Gatos, Los Altos & Campbell), a few special dishes are available for Easter feasts. Guests can pre-order partner/head baker Avery Ruzicka’s seasonal strawberry apricot Panettone, fig walnut or chocolate Babka, and tomato and asparagus quiche, to pick up at the bakeries between April 19-21. For advance orders, visit pre-ordermanresabread.com. Additional treats are available at the two bakeries (276 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos, and 271 State St, Los Altos) and the one all-day café & bakery (Campbell, 195 E. Campbell Ave.) during Easter weekend. For Easter brunch April 20, Manresa Bread Campbell will add dishes such as burrata and asparagus toast, vegan vegetable soup, and doughnuts. Visit manresabread.com.

 

Porta Blu

At Porta Blu there will be an “Easter Brunch Bash” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bay Area native / Chef de Cuisine Michael Riddell, has created a menu with dishes such as Lemon Pancakes, Rosemary Ham Benedict, and Dungeness Crab Toast. Families are invited to indulge in a gourmet spread of dishes, snap a photo with the Easter bunny, grab a basket for the egg hunt, or play in the petting zoo. Porta Blu’s weekly jazz brunch series will continue on Easter, with live music provided by local saxophonist Michael O’Neil. For reservations, visit portablurestaurant.com.

200 Independence Dr/, Lobby Level, Menlo Park

 

San Francisco

Recchiuti Confections

An artisan chocolate leader for over 20 years, Recchiuti Confections is known for meticulously sourcing ingredients and hand-crafting their recipes in small batches using traditional European techniques. Store locations are One Ferry Building, Shop #30, and 801 Twenty-second Street. Visit recchiuti.com. The below items are available both in store and online.

  • Force Noir Eggs (12 pieces, $25): Dark chocolate shells filled with vanilla-laced chocolate and hand-painted with a fresh new design of lustrous pink and purple. 12 egg-shaped halves making up 6 whole eggs packed in an elegant platinum box
  • Almond Hazelnut Praline Eggs (12 pieces, $25): Signature 45% milk chocolate shells filled with 45% milk chocolate hazelnut-almond praline. 12 egg-shaped halves making up 6 whole eggs packed in an elegant platinum box
  • Bunnies and Blossoms (8 pieces, $22): Hop into Easter with the Bunnies and Blossoms truffle collection. Each Burnt Caramel truffle is topped with original artwork; truffles are made by blending dark, smoky caramel with 70% dark chocolate ganache and enrobing it in semisweet chocolate

 

Presidio Social Club

Nestled in the heart of San Francisco’s iconic Presidio National Park, Presidio Social Club (563 Ruger St.) is a former military barrack turned modern eatery paying homage to its historical past by celebrating classic Americana cuisine and a completely in-house maintained barrel-aged cocktail program. Presidio Social Club invites families to enjoy Easter Sunday Brunch between 9 a.m. -3 p.m. either indoors or on the restaurant’s tree-lined open patio (dependent on weather). They will offer both classic and specialty a la carte menu items such as those listed below. Visit presidiosocialclub.com. Reservations can be made via OpenTable.

  • Mission-style chilaquiles ($15.95): with scrambled eggs, tomatillo, cotija cheese
  • Slow-roasted Leg of Pork ($23): with soft polenta, fried eggs, and salsa verde
  • Challah French Toast ($14.50): with pecan butter and maple syrup
  • Brioche Beignets ($10): with brown sugar hot chocolate

 

Capo’s Chicago Pizza & Fine Italian Dinners

Celebrating “Chicago-style cuisine with an emphasis on authenticity and quality ingredients,” Capo’s owner Tony Gemignani invites guests to experience a traditional Italian Easter dinner with classics such as his Stuffed Crust pies. Originally derived from the traditional Italian Easter pie, Scarciedda, Capo’s offers stuffed pizzas like the Big Jim, Old Chicago, and Frank Nitti.

641 Vallejo Street

 

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Valentine’s Day dining in Santa Cruz & Monterey counties, Part 1 of 2

Hanloh Thai offerings at a Food Lounge pop-up on Feb. 10. Photo credit: Hanloh

Hanloh Thai offerings at a Food Lounge pop-up on Feb. 10. Photo credit: Hanloh

Valentine’s Day 2017 is only three days away. Here are details on a few Santa Cruz and Monterey County dining options; I’ll publish more tomorrow.

 

Santa Cruz

Midtown Café featuring Hanloh Popup

Midtown Café (1121 Soquel Ave.) is hosting a popup dinner with Hanloh Thai from 5:30-9 p.m. A la carte dishes for sale will include a lettuce wrap, two types of curry (chicken Masaman with tamarind, cinnamon, cardamom, lemongrass and more; vegan sour orange curry with mushrooms and other veggies), and black sticky rice pudding and coconut custard for dessert. Prices will be $3-12. There will be local craft beer and wine available.

 

The Chaminade

The Chaminade (One Chaminade Lane) will serve a three-course dinner on Valentine’s Day from 5-9 p.m.; the price is $65 exclusive of tax and gratuity. Three first course options include lobster bisque or braised pork belly with fennel jam. Four entrée selections include Osso Bucco or pan-seared Arctic char with lemon couscous salad, candied ginger crème, and roasted cauliflower. Desserts include champagne crème brulee with roasted strawberries. Call (831) 475-5600 for reservations.

 

Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting

Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting (1411 Pacific Ave.) is doing a “Sweetheart Dessert” fundraiser to benefit Planned Parenthood. The dessert buffet with wine and champagne is from 6-9 p.m.; the price is $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Call (831) 466-0373 for more info.

 

Pour Taproom

Pour Taproom (110 Cooper St., enter on Pacific) is offering a three-course menu on Valentine’s Day that includes vegan and GF options. There will also be beer and wine pairings. Reservations are recommended for table seating. Call (831) 535-7007 for reservations. The venue is also hosting a Makers’ Market this Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. that will include gift ideas for Valentine’s Day. Vendors will include Ashby Confections, Turquoise Blue Jewelry, and My Mom’s Mole.

Your Place

Your Place (1719 Mission St.) is offering its Valentine’s prix menu all month long. Cost is $25 for three courses. Appetizer choices include crab cake; five entrée selections include rib eye steak and 4 oz. lobster or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Desserts include chocolate ganache cake or Meyer lemon tart. Call (831) 426-3564 for reservations.

 

MONTEREY COUNTY

 

Estéban

Estéban at Casa Munras (700 Munras Ave., Monterey) is serving a prix fixe dinner on Valentine’s Day, with seatings available from 5 to 9:30 p.m. The five-course dinner costs $100 for two people; wine pairing is $35 extra per person. Featured selections include Kusshi oysters with cucumber mignonette; butternut squash and lobster soup with jumbo prawns and scallops; and duck and foie gras terrine. Wines include Madeleine’s 2012 L’Arsouille Pinot Blanc. A limited a la carte menu will also be available. Make reservations at 831-324-6773.

Il Vecchio

Il Vecchio (110 Central Ave., Pacific Grove) is serving a Valentine’s four-course dinner for $46. First course is a choice between two salads including Sicilian oranges, artisan greens and garlic dressing. Second course choices include house-made ricotta and spinach ravioli or house-made fettucine with sausage and mushrooms. Entrée highlights include tri-tip simmered in Chianti with pearl onions or Saltimbocca Romana. Dessert choices include limoncello sorbet with preserved amarena cherries. Make reservations at 831-324-4282.

 

Edgar’s

Edgar’s at Quail Lodge and Golf Club (8205 Valley Greens Drive, Carmel) is serving a prix fixe dinner on Valentine’s Day, with seatings from 5 to 9 p.m. The three-course dinner features appetizer choices including diver sea scallops or Dungeness crab salad. Entrée selections include sea bass with potato rosti and tarragon butter sauce and desserts include molten chocolate cake with raspberry coulis. Cost is $69 per person. Reservations are recommended at 831-620-8910.

 

Bistro Moulin

Bistro Moulin (867 Wave St., Monterey) is serving a prix fixe menu beginning at 5 p.m. The three-course meal is $55 per person; wine pairings cost extra. The regular dinner menu will not be available. The meal begins with choices such as lobster bisque with crème fraiche and chives with optional pairing of Sheldon’s grenache blanc; or truffle gnocchi with optional chardonnay from Figge. Entrée choices include filet mignon with cognac, peppercorn demi-glace and pommes frites. Dessert selections include crème brûlée and lemon meringue tartlett. Make reservations at 831-333-1200.

 

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Tickets available for Friday farm to table wine dinner at Chaminade

Wrights Station is one of three wineries being featured at the Chaminade dinner July 8

Wrights Station is one of three wineries being featured at the Chaminade dinner July 8

 

The second installment of Chaminade Resort’s annual Farm to Table Dinner summer series is Friday, July 8, and there are still some tickets available for this event with local libations from Summit to Sea Wineries and fresh ingredients from Fiesta Farm. In case you missed it, here is my preview article which describes the series in more detail. You can also visit the Chaminade web site for more information.

 

The cost is $110 inclusive per person and this includes hors d’oeuvres (served at the 6 p.m. reception with wine), a multi-course family style dinner with wine pairings (6:30 p.m.), and dessert. Call (831) 475-5600 for reservations.

 

For this Friday’s dinner, Executive Chef Nicholas Church is utilizing produce from Fiesta Farm; see menu below. Three wineries from the Summit to Sea wine group will be featured: Burrell School Vineyards, Loma Prieta Winery and Wrights Station.

July 8 menu

Reception:

Flat Bread

Crostini with Grilled Vegetables and Fava Bean Puree

Bacon wrapped Figs

Pork Satay

Wines:

2013 Burrell School “Teacher’s Pet” Estate Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains

2012 Wrights Station Unoaked Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains

2013 Loma Prieta Pinotage, Amorosa Vineyard, Lodi

2013 Wrights Station Pinot Noir, Arena Block, Santa Cruz Mountains

 

Starter:

Seared Day Boat Scallop with a Prosciutto and Mango Relish

Wine: 2013 Loma Prieta Viognier, Amorosa Vineyard, Lodi

 

Appetizer:

Crispy Pork Belly with Quail Eggs

Apple Puree

Wine: 2013 Wrights Station Pinot Noir, Arena Block, Santa Cruz Mountains

 

Salad:

Grilled Romaine with Smoked Pork Loin and Peaches

Ancho Vinaigrette

Wine: 2012 Burrell School Estate Cabernet Franc, Santa Cruz Mountains

 

Entrée:

Pork Osso Bucco

Soft White Polenta

Roasted Vegetables

Wine: 2013 Loma Prieta Pinotage, Amorosa Vineyard, Lodi

 

Dessert:

Cherry Bombe

Cherry Mousse, Almond Genoise

Salted Caramel

 

The Details

Farm to Table Dinner

July 8, 2016 at 6 p.m.

Courtyard Terrace at Chaminade Resort, One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

(831) 475-5600

$110 per person

 

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Santa Cruz’s Chaminade launches 2016 Farm to Table Wine Dinners this Friday

Chaminade’s 2016 Farm to Table Wine Dinner series starts Friday

Chaminade’s 2016 Farm to Table Wine Dinner series starts Friday

Believe it or not, June is here (!), which means the start of Chaminade Resort’s annual Farm to Table Dinner series. The first dinner is this Friday, June 3, beginning at 6 p.m. with a reception, and there are still a few tickets available.

The series showcases local wineries, local farms and other local food vendors. Dinners are in a beautiful outdoor setting, with long communal tables and lots of great food and drinks. Representatives from wineries and farms attend the dinners and talk to guests about the history of their products, which often stimulates interesting dialogue.

The cost is $110 inclusive per person and this includes hors d’oeuvres (served at the 6 p.m. reception with wine), a multi-course family style dinner with wine pairings (6:30 p.m.), and dessert. Call (831) 475-5600 or visit web site for details, including specific wineries/farmers for particular nights.

For this Friday’s dinner, Executive Chef Nicholas Church is utilizing produce from Fiesta Farm and Coke Farm; see menu below. Wine from Equinox/Bartolo Winery will be featured. Church returned to Chaminade in August 2015; he first worked at Chaminade in 1994 as a line cook, moving up to executive sous chef—a position he held until 2012.  When he returned to Chaminade in 2015 he was executive sous chef under executive chef Kirsten Ponza. In April 2016, Ponza was promoted to Food & Beverage Director and Church was promoted to executive chef.

Church is very excited about his first season of leading the farm to table wine dinners.

“It is always fun to cook with seasonal ingredients fresh from the farm,” he recently shared. “I look forward to working with all the farms this year.”

I didn’t have the opportunity to attend a Chaminade farm to table dinner in 2015, but I have vivid memories of one from 2014, when produce from Santa Cruz’s Yellow Wall Farm was featured. During the reception, there were several appetizers including strawberries stuffed with smoked blue cheese and pancetta. At the time, I spoke to executive chef Ponza who said it was Yellow Wall Farm’s delectable crop of strawberries that helped inspire the stuffed strawberries, in addition to a wonderful first course during the sit-down dinner. The unique strawberry hazelnut gazpacho starter had a delightful Belle Farms olive oil and chive garnish.

Before returning to the Chaminade, Church owned and operated restaurant Mama Mia’s in Felton for two years. His career includes 28 years of culinary experience. I’m sure the new executive chef will do amazing feasts this season. Between now and October, the bounty of top ingredients from local vendors will include produce from Live Earth Farm, Everett Family Farm and Route 1 Farms, seafood from Stagnaro Bros. and grassfed beef from Leftcoast. Beverages will be provided by first-rate wineries such as Storrs, Martin Ranch, Alfaro and the Summit to Sea wine group.

I recommend planning ahead for at least one dinner this season; these events do sell out.

June 3 menu:

Reception
Canellini Bean Soup Shots
Pulled Chicken Spring Roll
Lamb Sliders and Flatbread

First Course
Chicken Pate served on Walnut Bread with Sofritto Oil

Second Course
Braised Pork Belly with Slow Poached Eggs

Third Course
Roasted Beet Salad with Frisee and Arugula, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Fourth Course
Beer Brined Chicken served with Chicken Jus
German Potatoes, Rainbow Baby Carrots, Herbed Fava Beans

Dessert
Apricot Tart with Almond Frangipane
Cherry Mousse

The Details
Farm to Table Dinner Series
Monthly through October 2016, Selected Fridays at 6 p.m.:
June 3, July 8, Aug. 5, Sept. 9, Oct. 7

Courtyard Terrace at Chaminade Resort, One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz
(831) 475-5600
$110 per person

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News for Chaminade Resort & Spa: Easter, new tequila program, hotel renovation

Patrón Barrel Select Tequila and a Chaminade Patrón cocktail

Patrón Barrel Select Tequila and a Chaminade Patrón cocktail

Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz has lots of news to share including a decadent Easter brunch this Sunday (with egg hunts!), a unique Patrón tequila program, and the completion of a multi million dollar room renovation.

Easter buffet
The Chaminade offers its annual Easter Brunch buffet from 9am-3pm; the price is $61.95 (adults), $18.95 (kids 6-12), and free for kids under 6. Selections include honey ham with Jack Daniels glaze; rosemary and garlic encrusted lamb leg; a seafood bar with fried calamari, peel and eat prawns, and more; omelets made to order; Belgian waffles with fresh berry compote; gourmet salads; cheese ravioli; and spinach and cheese mini quiches. Desserts include chocolate fondue and a sundae bar. There will be a special kids’ menu with items like mini pancakes and mac-and-cheese. Kids can enjoy Easter egg hunts at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30 p.m., 1:30pm, and 2:30pm, and appearances by the Easter Bunny. Egg hunts are for hotel and dining guests only. Call (831) 475-5600 for reservations.

Patrón Tequila program
The Chaminade is the only resort in Santa Cruz area offering Patrón’s “Barrel Select” program, which they launched in January. Through this program, businesses can do a taste testing and hand-select their own “bespoke barrel” of Patrón aged tequila. This is equal to about 27 cases. Because each barrel has been in Patrón’s aging room for a specific period of time, no two are alike. Chaminade chose a Reposado that had been aged for 9 months in a Hungarian Oak barrel.  It’s a blend of tahona and roller mill produced tequila, characterized by an aroma of citrus, fresh wood and light vanilla.  “We wanted to be able to offer our guests and the locals something unique and different,” said Kevin Herbst, general manager at Chaminade.  “This barrel is exclusive to Chaminade and there’s not another tequila like it-which is exciting!” The quantity is limited, so Herbst encourages anyone interested to come in for a taste soon.  Customers can try the tequila in a variety of ways. Two options are the Chaminade Paloma (Patrón Reposado tequila, grapefruit juice, agave nectar, lime, topped off with Cava Freixenet and dash of salt) or the Renovation-rita (Patrón Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, lime, and orange juice).

Hotel Renovation
Speaking of renovations, the Chaminade recently finished a $7.9 million renovation. All 156 guest rooms and corridors—located across 11 villas—were transformed. The new designs were inspired by themes such as “vintage technology” (railroads, etc.) and “eclectic, bohemian styles from the artisan community of Santa Cruz.” You can book an overnight stay online or call 800-283-6569. Be sure to browse the web site for assorted packages, which include family- and romance-inspired options.

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Chaminade location: One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Valentine’s Day and discounts at Santa Cruz’s Chaminade Resort & Spa

Rose geranium body polish: part of a Valentine’s Day spa package at Chaminade

Rose geranium body polish: part of a Valentine’s Day spa package at Chaminade

Chaminade is a wonderful setting for Valentine’s Day dinner, an overnight stay, a spa treatment, or all of the above. They’ve got some special offers right now; here are a few highlights.

Seafood-themed buffet
For Valentine’s Day dinner on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, Executive Chef Kirsten Ponza and her culinary team are offering an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner with lots of seafood from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Enjoy items like Monterey Bay calamari, a variety of shrimp, ahi sashimi, assorted sushi, cracked crab, oysters, and a smoked seafood platter. A selection of hot entrees such as rotisserie chicken and pasta with porcini crème and wild mushrooms will also be served. There will be New England and Manhattan clam chowders as well. Last but by no means least is dessert. Chaminade is renowned for its decadent, always-scrumptious sweets, and there will be NY cheesecake, Bananas Foster, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and more. The Valentine’s buffet price is $120 per person inclusive and each guest receives a glass of sparkling wine. Reservations are required at Opentable.com or 831-475-5600.

Don’t forget, the Chaminade offers a great brunch buffet every Sunday (including this year’s Valentine’s Day) from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Cost is $30.95 for adults, $17.95 for kids 6-12, plus tax/gratuity. Reservations are available by phone or online.

An Affair to Remember
Through February 29, Chaminade is offering a special package for two that includes overnight accommodations at 10% off the best available rate, two glasses of wine and an appetizer to share at Linwood’s Bar & Grill, and wine tasting for two at wineries MJA Vineyards and Beauregard Vineyards. Blackout dates apply. Package prices start at $219. For reservations or more information call 800-283-6569 or visit the web site.

Spa Valentine’s Packages
The Spa at Chaminade has created two different Valentine’s packages, both available until Feb. 29. For reservations and information call The Spa at Chaminade at 831-465-3465. When enjoying spa treatments at The Spa at Chaminade, guests can relax before and/or after on the spa’s peaceful patio with a rock waterfall and a beautiful view of the Santa Cruz Mountains. I took time to tour the patio recently, and it was divine.

  • The Be My Valentine spa package includes a 75-minute rose geranium body polish, a glass of sparkling wine, and chocolate-covered strawberries made on-site. Cost is $216 inclusive.
  • The Valentine for Two package features an 80-minute side-by-side couples massage, a split of sparkling wine, and chocolate-covered strawberries.  Cost is $405 inclusive.

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Chaminade location: One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Santa Claus visits breakfast buffet at Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz

Santa Claus and a breakfast guest at last year’s “Breakfast with Santa” at Chaminade

Santa Claus and a breakfast guest at last year’s “Breakfast with Santa” at Chaminade

During the next two weekends, Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz is a great place to visit with your family for “Breakfast with Santa.” These events are Saturday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 12 from 9 to 11 a.m.

At the Breakfast with Santa events, Chaminade will serve an extensive buffet with made to order waffles and omelets and more plus champagne or mimosas for adults. There will also be take-home teddy bears for the kids, unlimited pictures with Santa (with your own camera), and letter writing to Santa (Chaminade sends a personalized letter back to kids). The cost is $36.95 adults, $17.95 kids 6-12, and $11.95 kids under 5. Make reservations at the Chaminade web site.

Chaminade also has a holiday shopping event coming up. On Tuesday, Dec. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m., they’re hosting a pop-up Makers Market at the on-site spa. There will be lots of locally handcrafted products and artwork to choose from, plus spa products. Attendees can purchase beverages such as wine to enjoy while they’re shopping.

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Location: One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz, 831-475-5600

Santa Cruz’s Chaminade serves up new season of Farm to Table Wine Dinners

A scene from Chaminade’s 2014 Farm to Table Dinner Series. Photo credit: Chaminade Facebook page

A scene from Chaminade’s 2014 Farm to Table Dinner Series. Photo credit: Chaminade Facebook page

Chaminade Resort’s annual Farm to Table Dinner series, which features very fresh items from local farms plus delectable libations from Central Coast wineries, is starting soon. Want to whet your appetite? Read my recap of 2014’s opening night feast.

2015 Chaminade dinner dates:

  • June 26: Martin Ranch Winery, Coke Farms, Black Hen Farm
  • July 24: Storrs Winery, Fiesta Farm
  • August 21: Morgan Winery, LeftCoast GrassFed
  • September 25: Summit to Sea Wineries, Everett Family Farm
  • October 30: Alfaro Winery, Route 1 Farms

The cost is $110 per person and that includes hors d’oeuvres (served at the 6 p.m. reception), a seated five-course dinner at 6:30 p.m., and wine (served at reception AND dinner). Tax and gratuity are excluded. Call (831) 475-5600 or visit web site for details, including links to the wineries and farms that are being showcased. The specific menu is posted as each event draws near.

Chef Kirsten Ponza promises an exciting season. “We are very excited to be welcoming a new farm Pescadero called LeftCoast GrassFed,” says Ponza. “Also, Rebecca King will be coming back this year with her Garden Variety Cheeses.” I’m a big fan of Garden Variety Cheese; if you haven’t yet tried King’s products, or even if you have, I can only imagine the scrumptious and creative ways that Ponza will incorporate them into her menu! Chef Ponza hasn’t yet decided which night she will feature these, but when she does, it will be posted on the Chaminade site.

For people visiting from another town who want to stay overnight—or for locals interested in a fun “staycation,” the Chaminade offers Farm to Table culinary packages that include overnight accommodations for two, Farm to Table dinner for two, and breakfast for two.

Chaminade’s first Farm to Table Wine Dinner was held in 2008 with only a dozen guests. Now each event draws dozens of guests, and usually sells out quite a while ahead of time.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.
The Details
Farm to Table Dinner Series
Monthly, June through October 2015: Selected Fridays at 6 p.m.
Chaminade Resort, One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz
(831) 475-5600
$110 per person

Valentine’s Day & February events at Chaminade Resort & Spa in Santa Cruz

There will be lots of seafood at Chaminade's Valentine's Night buffet

There will be lots of seafood at Chaminade’s Valentine’s Night buffet

Chaminade is a sweet spot to spend time with your sweetheart, with gorgeous views plus killer food and some of the most attentive and gracious staff around. And if you’ve only thought of the overnight accommodations for out of town visitors, think again—could make a great ‘staycation’ for locals!

Here are a few highlights of this month’s offerings.

Sweetheart Seafood Buffet
For Valentine’s Day dinner on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, the talented Executive Chef Kirsten Ponza and her culinary team have created a sophisticated all-you-can-eat seafood buffet that will be available from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Enjoy items like crab legs, smoked salmon, oysters on the half shell, sushi and sashimi, ceviche, and a flambé station. Dinner includes unlimited champagne, and the buffet price is $120 per person excluding tax/gratuity. After paying, each guest receives a $20 dining card valid for a future visit (not valid that evening). Reservations are required at 831-475-5600.

An Affair to Remember
During the month of February, Chaminade is offering this special package which includes overnight accommodations for two, a welcome amenity at check-in (chocolates, etc.), two glasses of wine and an appetizer at Linwood’s Bar & Grill, and wine tasting for two at MJA Vineyards. Package prices start at $229, not including tax or resort fee.  For reservations or information call 800-283-6569 or visit www.chaminadepackages.com.

Spa Package
The Spa at Chaminade has created a package featuring aphrodisiac ingredients. Available until Feb. 28, the Be My Valentine spa package includes an 80-minute side-by-side couples massage, a half bottle of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine, and four chocolate-covered strawberries.  The price is $392 (including gratuity) and that reflects a discount.  For reservations and information call The Spa at Chaminade at 831-465-3465.
Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Chaminade location: One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Web site: chaminade.com

Ashby Confections in Scotts Valley: First-class sweets for Valentine’s Day & beyond

Chocolates at Ashby Confections

Chocolates at Ashby Confections

Whether you have treats to buy for Valentine’s Day, or just want to treat yourself or someone else, Ashby Confections in Scotts Valley is a must-visit stop!

Valentine’s Day goodies include a five-piece set of heart-shaped chocolates that are each handmade and decorated.  It features a Honey Truffle, Liquid Toffee, 70% Dark Chocolate Truffle, Earl Grey Tea Truffle and a Mocha Truffle. Also, there are four-piece Valentine’s-themed sets: Aphrodisiac Truffles with either a “calming and relaxing blend” (herbs include Kava Kava) or “stimulating and invigorating” blend (includes Siberian Ginseng). Or you can create your own gift with chocolates such as Monterey Bay Sea Salt Caramels or Ceylon Cinnamon Ginger Creams.

In December 2013, chocolatier Jennifer Ashby opened the chocolate shop Ashby Confections in Scotts Valley, at 16C Victor Square. Have you visited yet? It’s chock full of tasty, award-winning chocolate made by a fabulous local artisan. This talented confectioner has lots of fans–ones like Chaminade Resort & Spa (they are utilizing her sweets in a special “An Affair to Remember” romance package this month), her many online customers (order at ashbyconfections.com), and people that pick up Ashby treats when they’re grocery shopping at retailers such as New Leaf Community Markets, Shopper’s Corner, and Staff of Life.

I first became an Ashby Confections fan after tasting the amazing chocolate at the 2011 Santa Cruz Chocolate Festival—they are a longtime participant of this festival that benefits UCSC re-entry students. At the January 2015 Chocolate Festival, the company received several awards: Best Truffle, Best Caramel, Most Unique Use of Chocolate, and Best in Show.

Ashby, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and the Culinary Institute of America, formed her chocolate company in 2004. Before opening the SV store, Ashby made and sold her creations at Heather’s Patisserie in Aptos.

Jennifer and her staff make everything at the shop by hand using fresh, local, organic ingredients whenever possible.  All of the chocolate is either fair trade or direct trade, and some of it is organic as well.  She regularly uses locally sourced ingredients, including ones from Route One Farms.

One chocolate she uses a lot these days is Askinosie, which is produced in Missouri by Shawn Askinosie and his team. It’s a relatively new addition to Asbhy’s confections. “It’s is single origin and sourced for either Tanzania, Ecuador, Honduras or the Philippines,” says Ashby. “We are using the chocolate from Ecuador beans in our confections now, she adds. “We also are blending our own milk chocolate in house now using the dark Ecuadorian chocolate.”  Ashby is proud to be using this chocolate.  “Shawn does direct trade with the farmers, and does profit sharing with them as well as numerous things to help the community that these beans come from, like building water wells.”  The flavor is complex, and the texture is smooth.  “The aftertaste is so pleasant.  Using his chocolate has definitely made my confections better,” says Ashby.

She has recently created several new products such as Coco Tortoise, which has caramel on toasted coconut with either milk or dark chocolate; Rosewater Marshmallows; and Dark Chocolate Truffles made with local honey. She is also coming out soon with a line of chocolate bars made with organic California olive oil and “other foods and spices that promote a healthy lifestyle, such as turmeric.”

In case anyone needs suggestions for a chocolate to try, the most popular items at the shop right now are Ghost Pepper Caramels. Ashby describes them as “pleasantly spicy with the amount of ‘kick’ that is found in medium-hot salsa…a delicious menagerie of sweet, spicy, salty and chocolatey.”  Another customer favorite is Rocky Road. But I’m sure whatever you try, you’ll enjoy. Bon Appetit! Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Store location: 16C Victor Square, Scotts Valley, 831-454-8299
Store hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tue-Sat, Noon-6 p.m. Sun
Web site: ashbyconfections.com
Facebook: facebook.com/ashbyconfections