Tag Archives: holidays 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

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

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

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

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

Interested in SF or Oakland? Click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oysters and champagne at Farallon Restaurant SF

Oysters and champagne at Farallon Restaurant SF

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

San Francisco

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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).


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!

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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.
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Holiday food & gifts from organic New Leaf Community Markets

Complete turkey dinner from New Leaf

Complete turkey dinner from New Leaf

If you want suggestions on how to make your holidays less stressful, look to organic, Santa Cruz-based New Leaf Community Markets this season. They have a large variety of gifts including Andes Gifts – Fair Trade, handmade alpaca items – and PACT organic cotton socks, available in the Bloom Departments. New Leaf will also wrap your gifts for free in gift bags during the month of December.

New Leaf also has a blog that includes an early December entry entitled “Simple Tips for Holiday Success.” Check it out at newleaf.com/blog.

For holiday meals — including a la carte items or full dinner packages — you need to order by Saturday, Dec. 20 for pick-up on Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014.

New Leaf has Holiday Side packages – the perfect compliment to any centerpiece with three delicious options – savory, gluten-free and vegan, for $49.99 each.

Other holiday ideas, both traditional and alternative:

  • New Leaf offers easy catering options, here is the general (not-holiday-specific) catering menu. Selections include coffee/tea carafes, and assorted platters such as cheese, crostini, Mediterranean, and cookies
  • Butternut Squash Lasagna is a house favorite from the deli ($7.99 per pound, serves 3-4)
  • Parsnip Bread Pudding (also $7.99 per pound, serves 3-4) is a fun, different side dish and I personally recommend it – I had the chance to sample it around Thanksgiving
  • New Leaf’s Own pie crust is now available in the freezer section – made with all butter, and reportedly very light and flaky
  • A popular item that can be used as a festive snack or unique dessert: Angie’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt popcorn

The market has holiday packages like “Turkey Dinner” ($139.99, feeds 4-6) with Diestel brown and serve turkey, organic herb bread stuffing, buttermilk mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and more. There’s also a gluten-free dinner package ($139.99, feeds 4-6) with the same turkey. Accompaniments include wild and brown rice stuffing, citrus beet salad, organic green bean casserole, gluten-free dinner rolls, and gluten-free pumpkin pie. These packages are available at all New Leaf locations except for Felton and Boulder Creek, which are offering different holiday dishes.

Read more at the New Leaf web site newleaf.com/holidays.

Several store locations are hosting Holiday Solutions Stations to help customers during the holiday season. This is where you can place orders, find recipes and cooking tips, and ask questions about suggested pairings and/or accommodating your guests’ dietary restrictions. The stations also feature occasional holiday treat and drink samples.

Find the station at the front of each store—including downtown Santa Cruz, Westside SC, Capitola, Half Moon Bay, San Jose, Pleasanton—open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until Dec. 30.

Contact Info (there are also locations in Half Moon Bay, Felton, San Jose, Pleasanton, and Boulder Creek)

  • Westside Location: 1101 Fair Ave, Santa Cruz, (831) 426-1306
  • Downtown SC Location: 134 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, (831) 425-1793
  • Capitola Location: 1210 41st Ave, Capitola, (831) 479-7987

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Santana Row Holiday Wine & Dine benefits Second Harvest Food Bank

Santana Row is hosting a holiday wine & shopping event

Santana Row is hosting a holiday wine & shopping event

Santana Row shops and restaurants are offering a fun holiday event over four Tuesdays in December, and you have two more opportunities before it’s over.

The “Holiday Wine & Dine Around” is Dec. 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 6 to 8 p.m. Participants can enjoy complimentary wine and food tastings, plus shopping discounts, inside several Santana Row shops and restaurants.

Tickets are $15 and proceeds benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. The ticket price also includes a signature Santana Row wine glass. If you donate canned food when you purchase your ticket, you receive a $2 discount (this is when you buy in person through the Santana Row Concierge; note these tickets are cash only). Tickets are also available at SantanaRow.com. If you pre-purchase your ticket, go to the walkway between Left Bank and Sino Restaurant after 5:45 p.m. the night of the event to complete your registration.

You must be 21 years or older to attend. For more information, call the Santana Row Concierge at (408) 551-4611.

Santana Row, which features 70 shops and 20 restaurants, is located near Stevens Creek and Winchester Boulevards.

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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!

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Santa Cruz ocean-inspired holiday shopping plus gourmet food gifts

Mutari Hot Chocolate, a vendor at Jingle Shells

Mutari Hot Chocolate, a vendor at Jingle Shells

Jingle Shells will be on Sunday, Dec. 7, at Seymour Center in Santa Cruz. It’s a family-friendly holiday shopping event with ocean- and nature-inspired gifts plus gourmet food gifts.

The annual Jingle Shells Arts & Crafts Festival is from noon to 5:30 pm. Participants can explore the Seymour Center’s exhibits and aquarium, and meet local artisans while shopping for unique holiday gifts including jewelry, ceramics, and art glass. There will be crafts for kids, too.

Vendors selling gifts include four related to food and drinks. Twins Kitchen creates innovative jams and mustards using seasonal and organic fruits from local farms. Flavors include Strawberry Balsamic Jam with rosemary, Black Pepper Raspberry Vanilla Jam with lavender, and Apricot Bourbon Mustard. Farmer Freed makes culinary salt blends using local organic ingredients. Yami’s Spicy Secrets will be there with curry spice blends, and you can purchase gifts from Mutari Hot Chocolate which creates handcrafted single origin hot chocolate blends using organic cacao beans.

Seymour Center will be serving free hot cider, and selling Odwalla bars and juices. Weather permitting, Gary and his Snappy Dog truck will be selling his famous sausages for people to eat. Attendees can also enjoy live music.

Also note that the Center’s Ocean Discovery Shop (this is separate from the special vendors appearing that day) is offering 10% off all purchases on Sunday. All proceeds from these shop sales benefit the Center’s educational programs. For anyone unfamiliar with the Center, it’s dedicated to educating people about the role scientific research plays in the understanding and conservation of the world’s oceans. Read more at Seymour Center’s web site or call (831) 459-3800.

The Details
Sunday, December 7: Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and free for Friends of Center members, UCSC undergrads, and kids under 3
Location: Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab, 100 Shaffer Road (past Natural Bridges State Beach, at the end of Delaware Avenue).

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