Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas and Hanukkah goodies at Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz & Capitola

Christmas and Hanukkah are coming soon—in case you need some inspiration, I looked to Whole Foods Market for a few tips. Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola (1710 41st Ave.) and Santa Cruz (911 Soquel Ave.) always have lots of delicious, seasonal products, and the company generously gave me a gift card to enjoy a few items.

You can place orders in person or online; they must be made 48 hours before you want to pick them up. Depending on occasion, customers can place their holiday orders through Dec. 29; pick up dates are from Dec. 19-31.

Whole Foods Market has partnered with James Beard Award-winning chef, restaurateur and author Michael Solomonov for a pre-made Hanukkah meal for eight. Solomonov wrote “Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.” Here are details on the meal:

  • Chicken Schnitzel with Apple Amba SauceMatzo-crusted chicken cutlers with hawaij—turmeric, cumin and black pepper—then fried crisp and served with a tangy Apple Amba Sauce
  • Green Beans with Mushrooms and Tehina (Vegetarian) – Tender green beans roasted with mushrooms and tossed in tehina sauce—tehina, apple cider vinegar, shallots and fenugreek—topped with beluga lentils and crispy garlic
  • Twice-Cooked Eggplant (Vegetarian) – First charred for deep flavors, eggplant is then mashed and simmered with onions, red bell pepper, paprika and coriander, and brightened by sherry vinegar and lemon juice
  • Leek and Potato Cakes – Shredded potato, matzo and onion pancakes, fried until crisp and tasty

There are three other chefs that Whole Foods Market has collaborated with this holiday season: Nicole Rucker, James Beard Award–winning cookbook author Stella Parks, and cookbook author Jenné Claiborne. Their special offerings include desserts like Honey Chess Pie (think buttery custard, warming spices flaky crust, whipped cream and candied ginger – this is from Rucker, a four-time blue-ribbon pie contest winner and author of “Dappled: Baking Recipes for Fruit Lovers). Have a different kind of sweet tooth? There’s Parks’ Caramel Spice Cake (includes buttermilk spice cake, layers of cranberry jam, cream cheese frosting, and caramel glaze—pastry chef Parks wrote “BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts). Chef/blogger Claiborne, author of “Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes,” has created a vegan Southern holiday meal for two which includes mushroom étouffée (delicious – I tried it!) and black-eyed pea fritters.

Traditional offerings include classic roast turkey dinner (turkey breast for four or whole turkey for four, eight or 12—includes sides like green beans with roasted shallots), and prime rib or spiral-sliced ham dinner for eight. A la carte sides include creamed spinach and kale (includes cream, Parmesan and garlic), corn pudding, and cider-roasted Brussels sprouts with pepitas.

Other Whole Foods Market order-ahead offerings perfect for the holidays:

  • Appetizers & Party Platters like Crostini Kits (varieties include Chevre & Tomato Crostini, Smoked Salmon Crostini, Roast Vegetable Crostini), Crab Cakes, or Antipasti Platter. Each of these platters serves 10.
  • Desserts like Mini Pastry Platter or Berry Chantilly Cake (each serves eight) or Pistachio Chocolate Torte (serves six)

 Local Store Details

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.

For more Whole Foods Market locations, see the store locator.

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Christmas 2016 at Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

Assorted cheese from Whole Foods Market Credit: Whole Foods Market

Assorted cheese from Whole Foods Market
Credit: Whole Foods Market

Whether you need to shop for a holiday feast or check some folks off your gift list, Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey have lots to choose from—including the always-dependable gift card idea (ones for the market itself or for other retailers).

Customers need to place orders for holiday dinners two days ahead of their desired pick up date. Food is available for pickup Dec. 18-24, and then again on Dec. 26 (WFM is closed on Christmas Day). Order in person or online.

For gifts, WFM has several selections where part of your purchase goes to a worthy cause. For example, they partnered with PBS Kids to carry the company’s toys and help raise money. I’ve seen some of the Aurora Plush Animals in the store (pandas, penguins, foxes and more) and they definitely look cuddle-able! Some of the animals are endangered species. There are also some colorful and fun PBS Kids toys made with a composite featuring rubber wood from mature trees that no longer produce latex. All net proceeds benefit PBS Kids’ mission of “building knowledge, critical thinking, imagination and curiosity to empower children for success.”

Other “gifts with a cause” include ones where part of proceeds goes to Whole Planet Foundation to help alleviate poverty worldwide. These include Alaffia trios (coconut oil triple-milled bar soap or whipped body butter); one percent benefits WPF. Or if you buy west elm kitchen products made from upcycled denim—such as potholders—a dollar from each purchase goes to WPF. In addition, they have gift cards for sale where one percent benefits the Whole Kids Foundation (which aims to support schools and inspire families to improve children’s nutrition and wellness). These include Chipotle and Best Buy physical gift cards, and Starbucks digital cards.

There are room sprays and handmade soy wax candles from Thistle Farms; scents include lavender & lemon (Gratitude) and Geranium & Citrus (Hope). Thistle Farms is a community, sanctuary and social enterprise led by women survivors of trafficking, addiction and prostitution. It provides housing, recovery support and education. Each spray or candle purchase directly benefits the women who made it.

WFM wine experts have compiled a list of “10 favorite wines for the holiday season.” Available online, each wine has several suggested food pairings plus a recipe for an additional food pairing. Two examples: Andover Estate Pinot Noir goes well with items like Sartori Herbs des Provence BellaVitano cheese or roasted winter vegetables, or with the dish “Easy Porchetta Pork Tenderloin” (recipe included). Autoritas Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with Vermont Creamery Coupole cheese, poached white-fleshed fish, or “Bay Scallop Linguine with White Wine and Parsley” (recipe included).

There are lots of other enticing articles on the WFM blog, including ones with recipes like “holiday cakes worth celebrating” (includes mini chocolate ricotta cakes and cinnamon-almond olive oil cake) and “holiday appetizers” (how about sweet potato bacon bites, spinach bites with honey mustard, or pigs in a blanket with cranberry-mustard dipping sauce? Ok now I’m hungry!).

For holiday appetizers, if you’re a cheese fan, WFM just announced a big “12 Days of Cheese” sale. From Dec. 13-24, a different artisan cheese is on sale for FIFTY PERCENT OFF each day! Some highlights with notes from the market’s cheese experts:

Vermont Creamery, Bonne Bouche (Dec. 15)

  • This mild ash-ripened goat cheese with earthy notes and a subtle hazelnut flavor is a visually stunning addition to any cheese board.

Uplands Cheese Company, Pheasant Ridge Reserve (Dec. 17)

  • The only three-time winner of the American Cheese Society Best of Show, this cheese has a sweet, broth-like flavor with notes of butterscotch and fruit.

Cypress Grove Chevre, Truffle Tremor (Dec. 19)

  • A silky, creamy soft-ripened goat cheese packed with truffles. Deep floral, herb and mushroom flavors. An American original!

Rapin, Le Maréchal (Dec. 20)

  • This creamy, raw-milk Alpine cheese is infused with flavor from herbs added by hand during the ripening process.

Papillon, Roquefort (Dec. 21)

  • This classic cave-aged sheep’s milk blue cheese shows rich spiciness, complex layers of flavor and a smooth texture.

Vermont Creamery, St. Albans (Dec. 23)

  • An American take on a traditional French cheese, sourced from milk from one farm. Delicate and smooth with rich creamy flavors and nutty notes.  Non-GMO Project verified.

As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving article, WFM’s 2016 holiday food shopping guide  features selections such as traditional turkey dinner for eight ($99.99). This comes with a fully cooked 10-lb. oven-roasted Diestel turkey, four pounds each of herb stuffing and mashed potatoes, a quart of turkey gravy, a pint of cranberry relish, 16 dinner rolls, and a nine-inch traditional pumpkin pie. You can also order turkeys (cooked or uncooked) and ready-to-eat sides a la carte.

Local Store Details

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Monterey is at 800 Del Monte Center, (831) 333-1600.

 

For more Whole Foods Market locations, see the store locator.

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12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day 2: Win Peet’s Coffee holiday blend

Holiday blend from Peet’s Coffee and Tea

Holiday blend from Peet’s Coffee and Tea

It’s Day Two of Santa Cruz Restaurant Examiner/Santa Cruz Foodie’s “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway.” See end of article for how to win great coffee from Peet’s. And if you haven’t finished (or started) your holiday shopping, here are some items to consider for coffee fans on your gift list.

Peet’s Holiday Blend: An annual tradition, this year’s special blend is spicy, rich and satisfying, slightly bittersweet balanced by notes of ripe fruit to create a smooth and full finish. It’s available at Peet’s cafes, local grocery stores and online (peets.com). It can be purchased by itself or as part of several gift packages. For example, if your gift recipient has a sweet tooth, there’s a gift set with a half-pound of 2015 Holiday Blend coffee and a three-piece package of popular Jo’s Peppermint Bark.

Exclusive Single-Origin Coffees in Festive Gold Tins: Peet’s exclusive line of exotic and rare premium coffees – CoopeDota Micro, Kona Peaberry and Jamaica Blue Mountain–are hand-scooped into golden keepsake tins. They’re available at all Peet’s stores nationwide.

DIY Coffee Lover Gift: You can use Peet’s premium coffee beans/grounds to make something creative. Peet’s suggests either 1) a DIY cold brew kit with the Holiday Blend or Peet’s Baridi (a special blend formulated for cold coffee), a re-usable coffee filter and a sampling of sweeteners. Stuff into a large mason jar and tie with a festive ribbon; or 2) a holiday survival kit including Peet’s coffee, bath products, candles, energy bars, a stress ball, and medicine for when you’ve attended one-too-many Christmas parties.

 

****

NOW FOR THE CONTEST:

Five lucky readers will each win a pound of Peet’s holiday blend coffee

To enter, email your name to tfatemi@gmail.com by 9 pm. Tuesday, Dec. 15 and include the word “Peet’s.” The drawing will take place the next morning and the winners will be notified via email.

Employees of Examiner.com are not eligible for the promotion.

Good luck and happy holidays!

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

 

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

If you’re on Twitter, please follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Christmas 2014 highlights for San Francisco and Oakland restaurants

Luce Restaurant's Maine lobster -- from traditional dinner menu

Luce Restaurant’s Maine lobster — from traditional dinner menu

It’s almost Christmas 2014! If you’re planning to dine in San Francisco or Oakland for the occasion, here are a few restaurants to consider including ones that feature additional holiday events like special teas and brunches.

A16 in San Francisco and A16 Rockridge in Oakland will once again celebrate Christmas Eve with “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” An honored Italian-American tradition, the seven-course meal will feature seafood fare from Executive Chef Rocky Maselli including dishes like Dungeness Crab with fried Brussels sprouts, Calabrian chili and Meyer lemon and Roasted Monterey Squid with saffron potato and salsa verde. This special Christmas Eve menu will be served family style with three optional wine pairings from Wine Director/Owner Shelley Lindgren including a classic pairing, a Rosso pairing, and a unique and rare pairing. Dinner is priced at $80 per person with wine pairing selections from $55-75 per person at A16 and $48-68 per person at A16 Rockridge. For reservations visit Open Table or call 415-771-2216 (SF) or 510-768-8003 (Rockridge).

Bocanova

If you want to celebrate Christmas Eve on the water this year, Bocanova on Jack London Square is serving dinner. Chef/Owner Rick Hackett and Executive Chef John Jackson have put together a prix fixe four-course tamale menu for $38 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. Menu highlights include the Cuban Tamale with Dungeness crab, the Green Tamale with chicken, chipotle, and tomato, and the Persimmon Pudding with eggnog ice cream. Call 510-444-1233 for reservations.

Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco
Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco, awarded a Michelin star for six consecutive years, is open for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day. Chef Daniel Corey is offering a four-course dinner to celebrate the merriment of the holiday season. Diners will enjoy a globally inspired meal prepared by Michelin-star Chef Daniel Corey with seasonal, local ingredients. Menu highlights include local mushroom potage with crispy chicken skin and herb pistou; marinated baby beets, pickled apple, turnip and burrata; sweetbread ravioli with crispy sweetbreads and truffle; black bass, Dungeness crab jus and cauliflower; and a poached and roasted duck breast with onions and quince. Desserts will include pear cake with roasted white chocolate mousse and crème fraîche ice cream and chocolate pound cake with ginger infused custard, orange marmalade and a cranberry reduction. The special menu, served exclusively on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, will be $90 per person or $130 with wine pairing. Children ages 12 and younger are $45. Reservations are required. Call 415-616-6566.

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins
The Top of the Mark is serving a buffet for Christmas Eve dinner, a buffet for Christmas Day brunch and dinner, plus special events listed below. For reservations for any event or meal, please call 415-616-6941.

  • Christmas Eve Dinner

Celebrate Christmas Eve at the festive Top of the Mark with the city of San Francisco twinkling in the background. Enjoy a dinner buffet including a raw bar, antipasto selection, chef station, small plates, entrees, roasts, and more. Chef Nenad Stefanovic will feature some traditional holiday favorites including Rosemary crusted prime rib, Upland Cress with frisee, white asparagus and horseradish mustard dressing, Bruschetta station with fava bean, manchego cheese, grilled pear, blue cheese, honey sweet potato and pancetta hash, and much more. Dessert will include Crepes Suzette with Grand Marnier sauce and orange supreme, as well as traditional holiday classics. Guests will also enjoy live music from San Francisco’s renowned pianist, Ricardo Scales. Top of the Mark’s Christmas Eve dinner buffet is offered from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Adults are $119 per person and children (ages 4-12) are $59.

  • Christmas Day Brunch and Dinner Buffet

There is a holiday brunch and dinner buffet on Christmas Day at Top of the Mark. From 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., enjoy every delicious holiday treat you could imagine from traditional prime rib and turkey to a sweet selection of holiday cakes and pies. Brunch highlights include an omelet and waffle station, Scrambled eggs with chives and seasoned breakfast potatoes, and La Mer Benedict with béarnaise sauce. Additional highlights include Bone in Ham with charred pineapple sauce, Beef Medallions with caramelized shallots au poivre and fried parsnip chips, Grilled Lamb Chops with spiced lamb breast and honey mint dressing, Lobster bisque, and more. Guests will also enjoy live entertainment from pianists Michael Athens and Ricardo Scales. Top of the Mark Christmas Day Brunch and Christmas Dinner buffet is $119 per adult and $59 per child (ages 4 – 12).

  • Holiday Tea

Celebrate at Top of the Mark’s annual afternoon Holiday Tea, which began Thanksgiving weekend and continues for a few more days. A selection of fine teas and delectable three-tier presentations of desserts, scones and tea sandwiches will be offered by Chef Nenad and will feature classics like Cranberry scones with Devonshire cream and lemon curd and Mini Yule Logs. Holiday Tea is held Mondays and Tuesdays from December 22nd to December 29th. Holiday Tea at Top of the Mark is $50 per person.

  • Children’s Magical Holiday Tea

Magical Holiday Tea is an entertaining family-friendly event open to kids and adults of all ages, featuring Perry the Magician and face painter Pixie. Guests will also enjoy a cookie decorating station with Chef Nenad. Adults are offered an array of both sweet and savory tea sandwiches as well as special items from the kitchen including Kobe beef sliders, meatball kebabs, and Bacon Monte Cristo Finger Sandwiches. Young tea-goers will receive a selection of popular kids’ treats and finger foods including Pigs in a blanket, Macaroni and cheese, and Chicken nuggets. Guests may also enjoy the elaborate dessert buffet filled with a Christmas Yule log, fresh fruit tartlets, homemade marshmallows, and more. Magical Holiday Tea began in early December. Remaining days are Friday, December 26 and Saturday, December 27 with seatings at 12:00 p.m., 12:30 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. In the spirit of giving, Top of the Mark invites guests to bring a new toy to donate to the Toys for Tots drive. Magical Holiday Tea is $60 per person, or $56 with toy donation.

  • Holiday Champagne Brunch

Top of the Mark’s luxurious holiday Sunday champagne brunch began Nov. 30 and occurs each Sunday until the end of December. Chef Nenad’s buffet has a raw bar, soups, salads and small plates, as well as roasts and breakfast selections. Menu highlights include Cioppino, Black Cod & Prawns with flageolet and braised chard stems, Turkey hash benedicts, Caviar selections, Porcini ravioli with seared Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and brown butter cream, and more. The brunch will also feature a decadent Viennese table dessert buffet and bottomless sparkling wine. Guests will also enjoy entertainment from a live jazz pianist. Brunch is from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and is $99 per adult and $59 per child.

Nob Hill Club at Intercontinental Mark Hopkins
The Nob Hill Club offers Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner. Christmas Eve Dinner showcases Chef Nenad’s selections of upscale holiday creations including Quince & Brie with pistachio and lavender honey, Braised Sea Bass with endive, pomegranate and fennel cream, Pork Tenderloin with honey & thyme braised tangerine, rapini and pommes dauphinoise, and a sophisticated dessert of Elderflower Panna Cotta. For Christmas Day, the menu includes Lobster bisque with tempura chives, Grilled Chicory with artisan lettuce, crispy duck prosciutto, grapes, olives and candied walnuts, Beef Tenderloin served with bone marrow butter, white asparagus bundles and duchesse potato. Dessert is a Lemon & Pink Peppercorn Pot de Crème with olive oil and rosemary water. 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.

One Market Restaurant
For Christmas Eve, One Market is serving a special a la carte menu by Chef Mark Dommen and Pastry Chef Patti Dellamonica-Bauler. The seven first course choices include Dungeness crab cakes; shaved lamb’s tongue with mache, Asian pear, and puffed quinoa; and beet carpaccio with radish, chèvre, and sherry vinaigrette. Seven entrée selections include wild arugula risotto with pears, black walnuts, and parmesan; roasted Liberty Farms duck with turnips, chanterelles, and honey jus; and day boat scallops with artichokes, potato puree, and lobster emulsion. Four dessert selections include Valrhona chocolate palet d’or with white chocolate sorbet. Please call 415-777-5577 for reservations.

Happy Holidays!

If you’re on Twitter, please follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Whole Foods Market news: lobster special, holiday selections, and raffle prizes

Bûche de Noël, a decadent holiday treat at Whole Foods Market

Bûche de Noël, a decadent holiday treat at Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market in Northern California, including stores in Santa Cruz and Capitola, has lots of selections for the 2014 holiday season including food and gifts.

Also, just for today, Friday, Dec. 19, the Capitola and Santa Cruz locations are having a great deal on lobster tails: three for $15.

I’ve been introduced to a few new WFM treats this holiday season, including Whole Foods-brand chocolate truffles and Fleur de Sel French caramels. I highly recommend both as a hostess gift, co-worker gift, or a gift to yourself!

A tip for Hanukah, Christmas, or New Year’s: My family decided to have WFM Dungeness crab for Thanksgiving and it was some of the best crab we’ve had in a long time. If you buy 3 crabs or more, you get $1 off per pound (the initial cost varies depending on market price that day).

They offer a build-your-own Hanukah dinner for eight for $119.99. Customers choose one entrée from

  • Brisket 4 lbs
  • Roast Turkey 10-12 lbs
  • Organic Roasted Chickens 6-9 lbs
  • Vegan Stuffed Field Roast En Croute 4 lbs

With this meal, you also receive Matzoh Ball Soup–3 qts, Chopped Chicken Liver–2 lbs, Tzimmes–4 lbs, Applesauce–1 qt, 12 Potato Latkes, 16 Rolls, and Chocolate Matzoh Crunch — 2lbs.

WFM has several Christmas feasts with turkey, serving from 4-12 people. If you want something less than traditional, they have options like a roasted pork loin meal for four with a fully cooked pork loin (tender thanks to sous-vide technique), mashed maple sweet potatoes, green beans with shallots, roasted root vegetables, and rosemary and thyme seasoning blend.

No matter what you decide to order for a holiday feast—and remember you can add party platters, flowers, desserts, and more—the deadline for ordering Hanukah and Christmas meals is 12/22. In-store pick-up for Hanukkah is daily until 12/24; for Christmas it’s 12/19-12/26 (except 12/25 when they are closed).

Want a chance to win a fabulous prize while donating to a great cause? The Capitola store is holding a raffle benefiting Teen Kitchen Project (teenkitchenproject.org). Donate $5 at the register and be entered to win a ham dinner for 8 (to be picked up 12/24), a $100 gift card, or a holiday gift basket filled with WFM goodies. You get to choose which of the three prizes you’re competing for. The raffle drawings take place at the end of the day Dec. 21, but the store will continue to fundraise for Teen Kitchen Project until Dec. 24.

Other seasonal news:

  • Planning a Hanukah feast? WFM has menu suggestions including a recipe for pear and sweet potato latkes
  • Whole Foods Market in Santa Cruz has unique “Ornaments for the Planet” made by kids. They partnered with Gault Elementary 5th grade classes, teaching them about the Whole Planet Foundation and how micro-loans work. Students made ornaments that are being sold for $5; all proceeds benefit Whole Planet Foundation
  • A stocking stuffer idea: WFM sells holiday gift cards in denominations of any amount

Whole Foods Market Santa Cruz is located at 911 Soquel Ave. Call (831) 426-9901 for more information.

Whole Foods Market Capitola is located at 1710 41st Ave. Call (831) 464-2900 for more information.
If you’re on Twitter, follow me @santacruzfoodie

Holiday gift ideas from Peet’s Coffee and Tea

The Holiday Connoisseur Coffee Collection from Peet’s Coffee and Tea

The Holiday Connoisseur Coffee Collection from Peet’s Coffee and Tea

Are you behind on Christmas shopping? Buying for folks who are tea or coffee lovers? Peet’s has some fun options including special holiday packages.

I had the opportunity to receive a wonderful gift package from Peet’s, and I’ve already enjoyed all of the coffees enclosed in the beautiful box (see photo above). The Holiday Connoisseur Coffee Collection ($32.95) includes a half-pound each of four ground coffees: Holiday Blend, Major Dickason’s Blend, Garuda Blend and Uzuri African Blend. Below are details on each of these; the tasting notes in parentheses are directly from Peet’s:
1. Holiday Blend (Exquisite, Complex, Celebratory, Dark Roast): Each season, Peet’s seeks the year’s best beans to create a unique, celebratory blend. The 2014 blend is elegant, smooth, and refined with hints of dark chocolate and brown sugar, with beans from Guatemala, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sumatra.
2. Major Dickason’s Blend (Rich, Complex, Full Bodied, Deep Roast): One of the first Peet’s blends, it’s the company’s all-time bestseller (and one of my favorites).
3. Garuda Blend (Gutsy, Earthy, Full Bodied, Deep Roast): A blend of first-rate single-origin Indo-Pacific coffees that celebrate the diverse flavors of the islands.
4. Uzuri African Blend (Beautiful, Dark Berry Notes, Deep Roast): A fully sustainable coffee that you can drink while knowing you’re helping small-scale farmers improve their lives.

If you’re not interested in the exact package listed above, the 2014 Holiday Blend ($16.95/lb.) makes a great gift on its own, or as part of a gift package you design yourself. It’s also part of a few other Peet’s holiday gift packs like the Holiday Blend & Gold Stainless Logo Tumbler Gift ($35.95).

Holiday teas include Holiday Breakfast Blend ($11.95/4-ounce tin, $9.95/25 tea bags), a strong black tea that features Darjeeling and other varieties, and the new Vanilla Keemun ($9.95/4-ounce tin). Peet’s is offering a special “Holiday Breakfast Blend Tea Bags Gift” ($25.95) with tea, a red holiday mug, and chocolate-covered cherries.

Interested in a very decadent gift for a coffee & tea-loving friend or family member? The Peet’s Ultimate Holiday Gift ($149.95) includes one pound each of Holiday Blend coffee and Major Dickason’s Blend, Holiday Breakfast Blend Tea, an 8-cup Bodum Young press pot, a Bodum Assam teapot, two red holiday mugs, Jo’s Peppermint Bark, and Semifreddi’s Almond biscotti.

Happy Holidays and Bon Appetit!

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz and South Bay restaurants open on Christmas, Part 1 of 2

Aquarius in Santa Cruz

Aquarius in Santa Cruz

It’s the countdown to Christmas; do you have your restaurant reservations yet for Santa Cruz or another South Bay area? Here are details and menu highlights for several venues; I’ll publish a few more tomorrow and also let you know of some restaurants that are closed for a few days over the holidays.

Santa Cruz Restaurants

Aquarius
Located at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn overlooking the Wharf, Aquarius is serving a special 3-course prix fixe menu on Christmas Day from 1-8:30 p.m. The cost is $48; there will be a kids’ menu available. Entrée choices include 12-ounce prime rib with horseradish crème fraiche and roasted root vegetables, and chanterelle mushroom pappardelle. Call (831) 460-5012 for reservations or more information.
175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz

Chaminade offers a Christmas Eve buffet from 5-9 p.m. The cost is $46.95 for adults, $15.95 for kids 6-12, and free for kids under 6. On Christmas Day the restaurant is serving a buffet from noon-6 p.m. The price is $49.95 for adults, $16.95 for kids 6-12, and free for kids under 6. Visit the holiday web site to view menus. Call (831) 475-5600 for reservations.
One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

Hindquarter
The restaurant is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 12/24: Hindquarter is open from 5-9 p.m. 12/25: Hindquarter is open 2-8 p.m. The restaurant is serving the regular menu plus holiday specials. Call (831) 426-7770 for reservations.
303 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz

Solaire at Hotel Paradox
On Christmas Day Solaire is offering a four-course prix fixe menu from noon-8p.m.: $45 for adults, $35 for seniors, $14 for kids 6 and older, and free for kids 5 and under. For reservations call (831) 600-4545.
611 Ocean St, Santa Cruz

Also note that Hoffman’s is open on Christmas Eve, but closed on Christmas Day. For Christmas specials visit the restaurant’s web site at hoffmanssantacruz.com.

San Jose

LB Steak
The Santana Row restaurant is open on Christmas Eve from 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. It’s offering a regular menu at lunch. At dinner there will be a limited regular menu, plus a special $64.50 prix fixe four-course dinner (the prix fixe selections are also available a la carte). Entrée choices include crispy roast pork shoulder with parsnip puree, roasted cauliflower, cipollini onions, and salsa verde. Call (408) 244-1180 for reservations.
334 Santana Row, Suite 1000, San Jose

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Santa Cruz holiday shopping: restaurant bonus gift certificate offers

Dry aged filet mignon from Paradise Beach Grille

Dry aged filet mignon from Paradise Beach Grille

If you’re in Santa Cruz or Capitola and still have some holiday shopping left to do, you’ll be happy to know that several restaurants are offering “gift certificate bonus deals.” Here are a few options:

  • Takara Japanese Restaurant & Grill: Buy a $25 gift card and get a $5 voucher. Offer available until December 24, 2013.
  • Paradise Beach Grille: Buy an $80 gift certificate and get $100 instead.
  • Hoffman’s Bistro & Patisserie: Buy a $50 gift card and receive a free $10 gift card. Visit web site to print offer.
  • Hula’s Island Grill: Purchase a $50 gift card and get a $10 card free. Purchase $100 and get a $20 card free. Offer available until December 24, 2013.
  • Erik’s Deli: Buy a $25 gift card and receive a free “sandwich with character” or entrée. Offer expires Jan. 2, 2013.
  • Peet’s Coffee and Tea: Buy a $25 gift card and receive a free medium beverage. Offer valid Dec. 16-24, 2013 at participating Peet’s retail locations.

Also, as of Mon. Dec. 16, Costco in Santa Cruz had several restaurant gift certificate bargains, including Manuel’s (buy two $50 gift cards for $80), Kianti’s (buy four $25 gift cards for $80), Coldstone Creamery (buy four $10 gift cards for $28), and Peet’s Coffee and Tea (buy five $20 cards for $80).

Happy holiday shopping!

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Green Mountain Coffee and Lindt Sweets for Christmas Treats

Spicy eggnog coffee from Green Mountain Coffee

Spicy eggnog coffee from Green Mountain Coffee

There are lots of sweets and special coffees available for Christmas treats, including a few selections from Green Mountain Coffee and Lindt Chocolates.

Green Mountain’s two holiday coffees are Gingerbread and Spicy Eggnog. They are both light roasts, and the eggnog variety features cinnamon and nutmeg. Both are good on their own to make cups or pots of coffee, but they also make flavorful additions to baked desserts if you like experimenting in the kitchen.  You might consider them for stocking stuffers or hostess gifts for your next holiday party; they’re available seasonally until supplies run out. They come in bags or K-Cups, online or at stores nationwide.

Lindt has released its newest truffle variety, LINDOR Sea Salt truffles, in time for the holidays but it’s actually available indefinitely (not just for the winter season). These yummy treats can be found online  and in Lindt stores across the country. Although these also make a great gift, once you taste them you might just decide to keep them for yourself. They come in 25-piece and 75-piece bags.

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