Tag Archives: Monterey

Valentine’s Day dinner reservations available at Jacks Monterey

Jacks Monterey at the Portola Hotel & Spa
Photo courtesy of Jacks Monterey

Jacks Monterey has an intriguing four-course prix fixe dinner menu available for Valentine’s Day 2018, and they are still accepting reservations (call 831-649-7874). Dinner is $64.95 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. In addition to the meal below, diners receive a box of chocolate-covered strawberries to go!

 

I had the opportunity to dine at Jacks a couple months ago, and the food from executive chef Danny Abbruzzese was exquisite. The restaurant is located inside the Portola Hotel & Spa at Two Portola Plaza.

 

Here is the menu, which will be offered from 4-11 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14 (Jacks Monterey’s regular menu will not be available that night):

 

First Course

Lobster Bisque profiterole, tarragon, orange oil

Second Course

Hearts Of Palm Salad organic gold beets, endive, pancetta, Pt. Reyes blue cheese dressing

Entrée (pick one)

  • Filet Mignon & Sweet Breads potato puree, local porcinis, perigord truffles
  • Wild King Salmon Dungeness crab gratin, haricot verts, tarragon, meyer lemon sauce
  • Mama’s Eggplant Parmesan Sicilian style with layers of fried eggplant, whole milk mozzarella, Reggiano-Parmesan, rich San Marzano tomato sauce

Dessert

Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cake served with raspberry sauce, whipped cream

For more details, visit portolahotel.com/jacks-monterey.com.

 

 

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Pi Day discounts at Blaze Pizza and Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

Blaze Pizza has $3.14 pies on Pi Day, March 14, 2017 Credit: Blaze Pizza

Blaze Pizza has $3.14 pies on Pi Day, March 14, 2017
Credit: Blaze Pizza

Pi Day, March 14, is tomorrow and people and businesses will be celebrating across the country—including restaurants and food vendors on the Central Coast such as Blaze Pizza and Whole Foods Market.

Blaze Pizza, which offers customers personalized pizza cooked in three minutes, has 185 restaurants—mostly in the US, but also in Canada. It’s celebrating Pi Day by offering $3.14 whole pizzas all day at all locations on March 14. Originally imagined as an unconventional “pop-up” event three years ago, Blaze’s Pi Day celebration has become very popular. They expect to serve close to 250,000 pizzas on March 14, 2017.

 

Whole Foods Market is celebrating Pi Day by offering customers $3.14 off both large bakery pies and large take-and-bake pizzas. Frozen products are excluded from this promotion.

This deal is only valid on March 14 and available while supplies last at shops across the county including Bay Area ones like Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey. Varieties of pies and pizzas vary from store to store, but may include pumpkin pie, apple pie, gluten-free apple pie, cherry pie, pepperoni pizza, cheese pizza, and vegan pizza. All WFM pies and pizzas contain no hydrogenated fats, no bleached or bromated flours, and no artificial flavors or preservatives.

Here are some facts about Pi Day provided by Blaze Pizza:

  • Pi Day is celebrated each year on March 14, to commemorate the irrational number of 3.141592653
  • In 2009 the US government recognized March 14 as National Pi Day
  • Pi, or π, is defined as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s an irrational number, meaning it cannot be written as a simple fraction
  • March 14 is also Einstein’s birthday. He was born in Germany in 1879
  • The first organized Pi Day was in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium. Physicist Larry Shaw had the idea to celebrate the day by marching around a circle and then eating some pies. They still have the celebration today

 

Local Blaze Details

  • Blaze San Jose-Almaden is at 5353 Almaden Expressway. Call (408) 440-2307 for details.
  • Blaze Marina is at The Dunes, 110 General Stilwell Dr. Call (831) 324-0246 for details.
  • Blaze Salinas is Northridge Mall, 796 Northridge Shopping Center. Call (831) 443-1123 for details.

For more Blaze locations, including one in SF at Stonestown, see the store locator.

Local Whole Foods Details

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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A roundup of Santa Cruz and Monterey County restaurant Thanksgiving offerings

The main dining area at Solaire, one of several local restaurants serving a special Thanksgiving menu Photo credit: Hotel Paradox

The main dining area at Solaire, one of many local restaurants serving a special Thanksgiving menu
Photo credit: Hotel Paradox

The countdown to Thanksgiving is on – if you’re planning to dine out in the Santa Cruz area or in Monterey County, here are a few restaurants to consider.

Santa Cruz & Capitola

Solaire at Hotel Paradox offers an a la carte Thanksgiving menu from 4-10 p.m. The nature/nurture-themed menu highlights local, sustainable cuisine with fresh ingredients. Entree choices include Roasted Turkey with mashed potato, stuffing, blue lake beans and gravy, Slow Roasted Prime rib, Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb, and Zucchini Fritters with spinach, red cabbage and chive cream. Other highlights include roasted pumpkin soup, butternut squash salad, and cranberry white chocolate chunk graham bars and miniature pumpkin pies. Call 831-425-7100 or visit hotelparadox.com for reservations.

I wanted to also share a fun Hotel Paradox package, whether you’re a local planning a staycation or have friends or family visiting Santa Cruz sometime this holiday season. The Polar Express™ Train Ride package makes it easy to enjoy this seasonal attraction. Afterward, families are invited to snuggle fireside at Solaire for smores and hot cocoa. The “I Believe” package includes overnight accommodations, an exclusive Golden Ticket required for entry to the train, fresh-baked cookies and milk delivered after check-in, a keepsake “I Believe” sleigh bell, and complimentary parking and Wi-Fi. Price is $175 adults/$29 kids. The Polar Express is traveling to Santa Cruz for the first time this season, recreated to match the sights and sounds of the beloved story. It departs from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. On board the train, dancing chefs will serve warm cookies and hot cocoa to guests, while the Polar Express™ movie soundtrack–including a reading of the story–is played. Santa Claus will meet with each child, delivering silver sleigh bells. Contact the hotel at 831-425-7100 or hotelparadox.com for details.

Chaminade has a Thanksgiving buffet from noon to 6 p.m. The cost is $59.95 for adults, $18.95 for kids 6-12, and free for kids under 6. Selections include roast turkey with warm orange-cranberry compote, roasted Dijon-crusted lamb leg with mint jelly, apple cider braised pork loin with dried cherry bordelaise and crispy prosciutto, butternut squash ravioli with porcini crème and roast vegetable bruschetta, several salads, and winter squash soup with toasted pepita seeds.

One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz (831) 475-5600

 

Zelda’s has a traditional turkey dinner plus additional items on its holiday menu, beginning at noon. The dinner includes oven-roasted turkey, sage stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied sweet potatoes, cranberries and a roll. A 10 oz. adult portion is $19.95, 14 oz. is $23.95. Kids are $11.95 and pumpkin pie is $5.95.

203 Esplanade, Capitola (831) 475-4900

 

Hoffman’s is serving both brunch and dinner on Thanksgiving. Brunch is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner starting at 3 p.m.

1102 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, (831) 420-0135

 

Your Place has a Thanksgiving buffet from noon to 7 p.m. The cost is $36.95 for adults, $13.95 for kids 6-12, and free for kids under 6. Selections include traditional roast turkey and house-made cranberry sauce, apple pecan bread stuffing, prime rib, honey brown sugar-glazed ham, grilled salmon with lemon caper sauce, eggs benedict (until 2 p.m.), penne pasta Bolognese, roasted beet salad, Caesar salad, pumpkin pie, apple crisp, lemon tart, chocolate cake and carrot cake.

1719 Mission St., Santa Cruz, (831) 426-3564

 

Monterey County

Anton & Michel Restaurant will serve its regular dinner menu plus a prix fixe three-course Thanksgiving dinner noon to 8 p.m. There are two choices for first course including spinach and radicchio salad with grilled pears, toasted walnuts, goat cheese and cinnamon-pear vinaigrette. The entrée is roast free-range turkey with cornbread and sausage stuffing, cranberry-port chutney, sweet potato-green onion mash and more. Dessert choices are pumpkin cheesecake and pecan pie. Tea and coffee are included.

Cost is $42 for adults and $21 for kids 12 and under.

Location: Court of the Fountains on Mission between Ocean and Seventh Avenues, Carmel, 831-624-2406

 

Estéban

Estéban at Casa Munras is offering a few options for Thanksgiving Day, from 1 to 7 p.m. The last seating is at 6:30 p.m. A prix fixe three-course meal is $48 for adults and $23 for kids 5-12. Chef Thomas Snyder will offer two appetizer selections including butternut squash soup with rock shrimp and piquillo peppers. Customers can choose an entrée of turkey, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and homemade cranberry sauce or Snake River trout with white beans, garlic confit and bacon lardons. These items plus Snyder’s signature tapas will also be available a la carte.

700 Munras Ave., Monterey, 831-324-6773

 

Fandango is serving a prix fixe meal on Thanksgiving from noon to 8 p.m. Cost is $38.95 for adults and $16.50 for kids 12 and under. Entrée choices are roast Tom turkey with chestnut sage stuffing and fresh cranberry sauce; roast sirloin with mushroom sauce; Virginia baked ham with Hawaiian sauce; grilled salmon filet with Café de Paris butter; and fresh cheese tortellini with basil cream sauce. Mashed potatoes and vegetables accompany all entrees except the tortellini.

223 17th St., Pacific Grove, 831-372-3456.

 

The Portola Hotel and Spa is serving a Thanksgiving buffet from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in its grand ballroom. Selections include California cheeses and cured meats; peel and eat shrimp; carved to order turkey, prime rib and maple glazed country ham; candied garnet yams; Coke Farm beets with feta, pancetta, Marcona almonds and cider vinaigrette; and acorn squash with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds. Desserts will include pecan and pumpkin pie and holiday cookies. Cost is $54.95 for adults, $39.95 for seniors 65 and up, and $25.95 for kids 6-12. There will be live music by pianist David Conley in the ballroom from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. and football games will be showing in the foyer.

Two Portola Plaza, Monterey, 831-649-7874

 

Pacific’s Edge at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands will serve a four-course dinner on Thanksgiving with seatings from 3 to 8 p.m. Cost is $95. Selections include butternut squash soup with Frangelico, brown butter and pepitas; roasted beets with buttermilk mousse, pomegranate seeds, wild arugula and pistachio; and Pacific halibut with mussels, clams, heirloom chile bouillabaisse, saffron rouille and foccacia bread stick.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands, 120 Highlands Dr., Carmel, 831-622-5445

 

Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel is serving a prix fixe meal on Thanksgiving, with seatings from 2 to 9 p.m. Cost is $150 per person with optional wine pairings for $110. Selections include white truffles from Alba with carnaroli risotto ($85 supplement); slow-roasted organic turkey; and 21-day dry aged ribeye.

Monte Verde Street and Seventh Avenue, Carmel, 831-624-8578.

 

The C at Intercontinental The Clement Monterey is serving lunch and dinner on Thanksgiving. Lunch is 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and there will be a la carte Thanksgiving dishes in addition to the regular lunch menu. Selections include Diestel Farms turkey with Yukon potato puree and sage-brioche stuffing. A prix fixe three-course dinner, from 5:30 to 10 p.m., costs $85 or $125 with wine pairings. Kids 5-12 cost $45. Choices include persimmon salad with Humboldt Fog, candied pecans and pomegranate vinaigrette; matsutake and sweetbreads with parsnip puree and truffle vinaigrette; Niman Ranch natural ribeye with salsify, chanterelle, creamed spinach and sauce bordelaise; and pumpkin upside down cake. There will be live music from noon to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. In the evening, a bar menu will be available for bar and patio seating only.

750 Cannery Row, Monterey, 831-375-4800

 

Sardine Factory is serving a four-course prix fixe menu on Thanksgiving. Seatings are available between 1 and 8 p.m. The menu includes a first course of butternut squash bisque with toasted pumpkin seeds and maple Chantilly crème and an entrée of all-natural Diestel turkey with sage dressing, pan gravy, cranberry orange relish, Yukon gold and sweet potato gratin, fresh green beans and buttered baby carrots. The menu costs $49.75 for adults, $47.75 for 65 and older, $25 for kids 6 to 12. It’s free for kids five and under. A limited a la carte menu and the regular kids’ menu will also be available.

701 Wave St., Monterey, (831) 373-3775

 

Andre’s Bouchee is serving a three-course prix fixe menu from 2 to 8:30 p.m. Three appetizer choices include Redwood Farm goat cheese salad with baked cheese, baby greens and honey apple cider vinaigrette; and pumpkin soup with brown butter and cinnamon. Three entrée selections are free-range turkey stuffed with chestnuts and winter truffles with mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce; Bavette (flank) steak; and Monterey black cod with wild mushrooms and cognac reduction. Cost is $46 for adults and $21 for kids 12 and under.

Mission Street between Ocean and Seventh, Carmel, 831-626-7880

 

TusCA Ristorante at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa is serving a buffet brunch from 1 to 6 p.m. (last seating is at 5:45). Selections include pumpkin soup; seasonal salads; a carving station with roasted turkey and honey ham; a pasta station; and sides such as green bean casserole and glazed yams with marshmallow gratin. Cost is $55 for adults, $25 for children ages 6-12 and free for kids 5 and under. The price includes one glass of champagne for adults over age 21, or sparkling cider. There will be live jazz from 3 to 7 p.m.

1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey, 831-657-6675

 

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Thanksgiving 2016 at Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

A few Thanksgiving side dishes from Whole Foods Market Credit: Whole Foods Market

A few Thanksgiving side dishes from Whole Foods Market
Credit: Whole Foods Market

Whole Foods Market locations in Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey have a wide array of Thanksgiving selections. You can place your Thanksgiving dinner orders in person or online http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/online-ordering — and if you order by Tuesday, Nov. 22, you get a $10 credit to use on a future in-store purchase of $75 or more (valid from Nov. 27 through Dec. 31).

Another promotion WFM is currently offering is if a customer buys a fresh or frozen organic turkey from the meat department, they receive a few free items from the “365” product line: a free 365 stuffing, free 365 broth and two 365 canned vegetables.

WFM has an online 2016 holiday guide. Selections include the always-popular traditional turkey dinner for eight for $99.99. It contains 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. For the same dinner for eight with an organic turkey, the cost is $159.99. When customers pick up these dinners, products are cold but they are packaged in reheatable containers (WFM recommends allowing up to three hours for reheating turkeys).

Other prepared meals include spiral-cut ham dinner for eight ($129.99) that includes green beans with roasted shallots, sweet potato mash and more. I bought some sweet potato mash yesterday from the Capitola location’s hot bar and enjoyed it last night with my dinner; it went well with a roasted ready-to-eat chicken plus kale from my Live Earth Farm CSA that I cooked with olive oil and garlic. I’ll definitely be buying more sweet potato mash this season.

You can also order turkeys a la carte (cooked or uncooked), and ready-to-eat sides a la carte—in addition to the aforementioned sweet potato mash, stuffing, green beans with roasted shallots, and mashed potatoes, there are dishes like cauliflower potato puree with crème fraiche, broccoli cheddar gratin, sweet cornbread pudding, roasted butternut squash salad and vegan spicy pumpkin soup.

Want to cook your own Thanksgiving dinner, or are you tasked with bringing a dish or two to a friend or family member’s house? The store has lots of great ingredients, including made-in-house sausage that’s perfect for stuffing. If you’re hosting a feast at your house, WFM also stocks many party-friendly options including an exquisite variety of cheeses—actually each shop has between 250 and 1,000 varieties! One example, new this year at WFM, is an exclusive porcini flavored Herve Mons Camembert. If you want to pre-order appetizer platters, choices include a 3-pound fruit/cheese tray ($39.99); the cheeses are Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Saint Andre Triple Cream Brie and Chevre.

For dessert, pie choices include pumpkin, caramel apple, pecan and strawberry rhubarb. The latter is vegan and gluten-free, from the company Natural Decadence. Other selections include pumpkin vanilla roulade cake.

Local Store Details

 

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

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Valentine’s Day dinner and hotel/spa discounts at Monterey’s Portola Hotel & Spa

Jacks Restaurant is offering Valentine’s Day dinner for tw

Jacks Restaurant is offering Valentine’s Day dinner for tw

If you’re looking for a getaway for Valentine’s Day, the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey has packages available—and they’re good all the way through March—or you can just choose to dine there for a romantic and delicious dinner. Here are highlights of their offerings.

Valentine’s Dinner at Jacks Restaurant
For Valentine’s Day dinner on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, Jacks Restaurant’s executive chef Jason Giles is serving a four-course dinner for two for $99. The meal includes a complimentary glass of sparkling wine for each person. Reservations are required at 831-649-7874.

  • First course: smoked serrano & chicken boudine with lemon spätzle chimichurri sauce and a micro green salad
  • Second course: choice of butter lettuce salad with roasted beets, candied pecans, glacier bleu cheese, and a port vinaigrette or lobster bisque with brioche croutons and crème fraîche
  • Third course: choice of petite filet mignon with grilled rosemary gulf prawns served over parmesan-whipped potatoes and asparagus; sesame and black pepper crusted ahi tuna served over cashew rice with a broccolini sauté; mesquite roasted chicken breast served with a cherry & faro ragout, organic spinach topped with a sherry vinegar butter sauce; roasted beet ravioli chive and white wine sauce with shaved parmesan
  • Fourth course: white and dark chocolate mousse filled tulips with fresh raspberries and a vanilla crème anglaise

Romance for Two Package
Through March 31, the hotel is offering a special package starting at $199 that includes overnight accommodations for two, warm homemade chocolate chip cookies at check-in, a bottle of Piper-Sonoma sparkling wine, chocolate-covered strawberries, and use of the 24-hour fitness center plus the pool, Jacuzzi, and poolside cabanas. Blackout dates apply.  For reservations or information call 888-222-5851.

Spa Packages
The hotel’s Spa on the Plaza is offering a couple of Valentine’s specials; see details below. For reservations call the spa at 831-647-9000.

  • Aromatherapy Massage with a Hydrating Facial & private tub, 110 minutes / $175 (valued at $245)
  • Symphony Massage with a Spa Pedicure, 1.5 hours / $159 (valued at $180)

Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay location: 201 Alvarado Street, Monterey

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12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day 10: Win $50 gift certificate to Abalonetti in Monterey

Abalonetti offers gift cards, good for holiday gifts or anytime

Abalonetti offers gift cards, good for holiday gifts or anytime

It’s Day 10 of Santa Cruz Restaurant Examiner/Santa Cruz Foodie’s “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway.” Today’s prize is a $50 gift certificate for Abalonetti in Monterey. See end of article for how to enter.

Abalonetti Bar & Grill will be closed on Christmas Day but open on Christmas Eve during traditional business hours (11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.). They will be serving the full regular menu. For more information or reservations, call 831-373-1851. The restaurant is located at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey.

Abalonetti has been open since 1951. They specialize in Monterey Bay calamari, offering several varieties. Since 1999, Monterey County Weekly readers have voted them as having “Best Calamari” 14 times! Other menu highlights include delicious antipasto, wood-roasted oysters with garlic-pesto butter, clam chowder (choice of cup, bowl, or sourdough bread bowl), sandwiches at lunchtime (like crab or a fresh abalone BLT), pasta, cioppino, fish & chips, and grilled seafood (salmon, swordfish, etc.). The antipasto is a treat: it features marinated mushrooms and artichoke hearts, roasted whole garlic bulbs, marinated tender Monterey calamari, grilled eggplant, feta cheese, roasted bell peppers, garlic spinach, and olives. You can get a full ($17.95) or half ($12.95) order.

If you’re in need of a holiday gift idea, Abalonetti offers gift cards you can purchase in person, as well as from the web site. When you purchase online you can instantly email, text or tweet the certificate to your gift recipient. These can be anywhere from $5-$250.
****
CONTEST:
One person will win a $50 gift certificate to Abalonetti Bar & Grill.

To enter, email your name to tfatemi@gmail.com by 9 pm. Wed, Dec. 23 and include the word “Abalonetti.” The drawing will take place the next morning and the winner will be notified via email.

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

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway Day 6 & 7: Monterey Hyatt restaurant & bar certificates

An entrée at TusCA Ristorante

An entrée at TusCA Ristorante

For the weekend, we are combining Day Six and Seven of Santa Cruz Restaurant Examiner/Santa Cruz Foodie’s “12 Days of Christmas Giveaway.” See end of article for how to win gift certificates to TusCA Ristorante and Knuckles Sports Bar at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa. The Hyatt is located at 1 Old Golf Course Road.

TusCA Ristorante at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa offers a blend of Italian and California cuisine. They are serving a Christmas menu on Friday, Dec. 25, and two menus on Thursday, Dec. 31. On Dec. 25 from 4:30 to 9 p.m., there will be an Italian-inspired Christmas dinner available with a special entree and wine pairing. Prices vary.

Customers can also order from the regular TusCA menu. On Dec. 31, customers can choose “pre-theater” seatings between 5 and 6 p.m. or “gala menu” seatings from 7:30 p.m. onward.  For Christmas and New Year Pre-theater costs $55 and includes one amuse, one entrée (from four choices), and one dessert (from three choices).  Gala costs $75 and includes the same food choices plus a glass of sparkling wine and an appetizer. Reservations are required at (831) 657-6675.

Knuckles Sports Bar has a menu that includes chicken wings, fried calamari, hummus, and footlong hot dogs. There is always complimentary popcorn and peanuts. Each month the bar offers a rotating specialty burger, with top grade beef and most of the toppings handmade on the premises. For January, they are featuring the “Aloha” Burger for $13, and customers can add any draft beer for $4 more. It’s a grass-fed Strauss burger with grilled pineapple, bacon, and thousand island dressing. Knuckles is family-friendly with a kids’ gaming area. There are also 24 flat screen HD TVs and a pool table.

If you’ve never been to the Hyatt, you should know it also has a very pleasant Fireplace Lounge that features live jazz every weekend. The jazz director and drummer-in-residence now going on 17 years is Dr. David Morwood (also a plastic surgeon). Morwood has been honored by the world-wide jazz writers association for hosting the late night Hyatt Regency jazz jam sessions after the annual Monterey Jazz Festival, and for operating on children with cleft lips and palates in developing countries). The lounge has a bar menu, signature cocktails, and drink and dinner specials.
****
THE CONTEST:
One person will win a $50 gift certificate to TusCA Ristorante, and one person will win a $50 gift certificate to Knuckles Sports Bar.

To enter for TusCA Ristorante, email your name to tfatemi@gmail.com by Sun. Dec. 20 at 9 p.m. and include the word “TusCA.”
To enter for Knuckles Sports Bar, email your name to tfatemi@gmail.com by Sun. Dec. 20 at 9 p.m. and include the word “Knuckles.”
You can enter one or both.
The drawings will take place the next morning and the winners will be notified via email.
Employees of Examiner.com are not eligible for the promotion.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Chef Jason Franey transforms Monterey’s Restaurant 1833 into its best incarnation yet

Restaurant 1833’s Warm Radicchio Salad with oranges, pecans, pomegranate seeds, Gorgonzola dressing

Restaurant 1833’s Warm Radicchio Salad with oranges, pecans, pomegranate seeds, Gorgonzola dressing

I can’t recommend Restaurant 1833’s revamped menu highly enough—my recent dinner there was one of the best meals I’ve had in a very long time.

Restaurant 1833 closed for a few days in March so that Chef Jason Franey and his staff could perfect their new menu. This extra effort paid off, as customers have been gushing about the results.  “Since the re-launch of the restaurant, I have never seen as many locals, restaurateurs and chefs coming day after day to the restaurant to eat and re-eat the food multiple times,” says manager Kyle Beauregard.

During Pebble Beach Food & Wine in April, several world-renowned chefs dined at the restaurant. “We loved seeing their reaction when trying the food and being engulfed in the atmosphere, from the mood set by service staff to our cocktails and off-menu housemade amaro and Limoncellos. It is really rewarding seeing all the hard work of the chef and our staff paying off.”

The restaurant is the former site of Gallatin’s, which in its heyday attracted people like Harry Truman and Frank Sinatra. In 1996 it became the restaurant Stokes Adobe, and it became Restaurant 1833 in 2011. Three years later, it began transforming into its current, dare-I-say-best, incarnation to date by hiring Chef Franey (December 2014) and bringing in new wine director Bernabe De Luna Lopez.

“The local community and staff have been very supportive of the change that we went through and having that energy, excitement, and compliments from people, who have been eating in this establishment since it was Gallatin’s, has been most rewarding,” says Beauregard.

Chef Franey has cooked at Eleven Madison Park and Campton Place, and his last restaurant position was at Seattle’s Canlis. Franey was there when Food & Wine named him Best New Chef in 2011. He’s also a three-time James Beard Award finalist and a Relais & Châteaux “Grand Chef.” From the very first taste of his food, it’s obvious why he has received this praise, and why we should expect more awards in the future.

The main menu has three sections: Nibble, Nosh, and Dine. We started with Oysters from Nibble. Four Shigoku oysters served on the half shell were topped with white balsamic granita. Delicate fennel frond garnishes provided a beautiful and delicious juxtaposition; I appreciated this attention to detail.

I noticed the oysters (and the rest of dinner, actually) were served on stunning, very solid dishware, which the restaurant partnered with New Jersey-based ceramics designer Jono Pandolfi to create. When I asked Beauregard to name his favorite part of the restaurant revamp, he replied “Everything! From the beginning stages where we were designing the plateware, to meeting with the local historian to learn not just about the restaurant but also about the Peninsula itself from the mid 1800’s through mid 1900’s.”

We chose well from the Nosh section. Fire Roasted Sunchokes were vibrant, both visually and sensually.  Roasted Brussels sprouts played a key role in this dish, as did togarashi (Japanese spice blend) and “sunchoke sabayon” (a twist on the usual sabayon sauce made with champagne or white wine). Next, my Warm Radicchio Salad contained ingredients including spiced candied pecans and pomegranate seeds. The textures successfully complemented each other, as did the contrasting flavors (bitter greens, sweet pecans, etc.). I liked how Chef Franey placed the Gorgonzola dressing as the foundation of the dish. It provided great flavor without being overpowering or causing the ingredients to get soggy.

Our waiter suggested Buffalo Style Sweetbreads. I was hesitant, having never eaten sweetbreads, but I am so glad I trusted his guidance. The fried sweetbreads, accompanied by a smoked mango and Piquillo pepper sauce, blue cheese, celery, and pickled carrots, were divine. The preparation makes it unintimidating for novices like me. Beauregard says that both the sweetbreads and the signature 1833 Burger have been getting rave reviews and are “friendly to those looking for the familiar but also appeal to the foodies with the intricate techniques and uses of ingredient.” The burger, with fermented cucumbers, Vermont sharp white cheddar, tomato confit, and grilled red onions, is served with sauerkraut-dusted steak fries and aioli.

For entrees, we shared 48-Hour Beef Short Ribs and Salmon. The short ribs were incredibly tender, with a rich and flavorful sauce. Accompaniments included creamy polenta. Chef Franey’s salmon was hands-down one of the most moist, perfectly cooked pieces of fish that I have ever had the pleasure of eating, and the sauce was exquisite. It included saffron, baby Castroville artichokes, and clams.

Restaurant 1833’s setting is a two-story adobe house with several rooms, originally built in 1833. The atmosphere is interesting – the night I was there, several families were dining upstairs while there was a lively bar crowd near the main entrance. This all seemed to co-exist in a fluid way.

For the new menu, Ben Spungin created desserts such as Cookie Jar (variety of treats, sweets, and cookies) and family-style Butterscotch Trifle (serves 6-8 people!) with butterscotch pudding, banana, rum-soaked vanilla cake, almonds, whipped cream and meringue. I selected decadently satisfying Chocolate Cremeux with chocolate cake, blackberry meringue, and a unique coriander caramel. Spungin serves as corporate pastry chef for Coastal Luxury Management, the owner of Restaurant 1833 as well as Cannery Row Brewing Company.

There are many new aspects to the wine and cocktails menus, including a tableside martini cart, and a No Whey cocktail made with a whey byproduct from chef Franey’s housemade ricotta, balanced with cognac, lemon and simple syrup to create a sweet, salty and nutty cocktail.

Restaurant 1833 is at 500 Hartnell St. Call 831-643-1833 or visit restaurant1833.com.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Bay Area restaurants for Mother’s Day: Monterey, Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove

A few recent dessert choices at Tarpy’s Roadhouse, as posted on their Facebook page April 30, 2015

A few recent dessert choices at Tarpy’s Roadhouse, as posted on their Facebook page April 30, 2015

It’s Mother’s Day, time to treat that special lady right–how about a nice brunch out? Here are some Bay Area restaurant highlights, with several in the Monterey/Carmel area.

Monterey

Tarpy’s Roadhouse

Tarpy’s (831-647-1444) is offering Mother’s Day brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Featured selections include Maine lobster & avocado benedict on griddled brioche with two poached eggs, citrus-chive hollandaise, herb salad, and crispy fingerling potatoes; asparagus & gruyere quiche with Benton’s aged Tennessee country ham & arugula salad with herb roasted heirloom tomato; oxtail & fingerling potato hash with pimento cheese grits, two poached eggs and red eye hollandaise; and country French toast with olallieberry compote & candied pecan butter. They will also be serving their regular brunch menu. Visit tarpys.com.
2999 Salinas Highway

TusCA Ristorante
The Mother’s Day brunch buffet ($40 for adults, $15 for kids over 5, free for kids under 5, seatings from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) will include a cage-free omelet and waffle station; natural smoked bacon and chicken sausage; eggs benedict; sliced fresh fruit; salads such as crunchy jicama and mango salad with chile and lime; and a carving station with all-natural salt crusted beef prime rib. There will also be entrees including Parmesan gnocchi with grilled chicken, sundried tomato and garlic cream, and a dessert table with cream puffs, chocolate-dipped strawberries, fruit tarts, mini cheesecakes, and more. Call 831-657-6675 or visit opentable.com.
Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, 1 Old Golf Course Road

Montrio Bistro
Montrio Bistro has one Mother’s Day special. Reservations are recommended; call 831-648-8880. On Sunday, May 10, if you bring in a photo of yourself with your kids, you will receive a complimentary eight-ounce bottle of house-made Meyer lemon oil and a rose. See montrio.com.
414 Calle Principal

Sardine Factory
The restaurant is serving a three-course $39 prix fixe menu, with seatings from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m and 4 to 8 p.m., plus a selection of specialties from the full menu. For the prix fixe, guests receive a choice of starter (five selections include Maine lobster bisque; smoked salmon mousse profiteroles), a choice of six entrees including eight-hour-slow-roasted prime rib; housemade lobster ravioli; pan-seared Monterey snapper); and a choice of three desserts such as Cherries Jubilee. Call 831-373-3775 or see sardinefactory.com/ reservations.
701 Wave St.

Carmel Valley
Hyatt Carmel Highlands

At the Hyatt Carmel Highlands’ restaurant Pacific Edge, there will be an a la carte brunch menu created by Executive Chef Chad Minton and Chef Alvaro Dalmau. For those seeking a buffet brunch, one will be available in the Lobos Lounge; both events are from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The a la carte menu includes frittata with cast iron baked eggs, potatoes, chorizo, caramelized onions, and peppers; brioche French toast with local berry compote and vanilla bean whipped cream; and Cioppino with sautéed mussels, clams, local catch, squid ink linguini, spicy tomato broth, and grilled garlic bread. Call 831-622-5445 for reservations and visit www.highlandsinn.hyatt.com for more information.
Hyatt Carmel Highlands, 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel

Pacific Grove
Fandango

Fandango (831-646-1700) is offering a prix fixe brunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The cost is $38.75 for adults and $18.75 for kids 12 and under. The menu includes Caesar salad; entrée choices such as leg of lamb Provencal with Pinot Noir demi-glace sauce and shrimp scampi spaghetti; and very berry shortcake with French vanilla ice cream, berries, shortcake, toasted almonds, raspberry sauce and whipped cream. See fandangorestaurant.com.
223 17th Street

Asilomar Conference Grounds
Asilomar is offering a winemaker’s lunch under the iconic ‘Grand Cypress’ at Asilomar State Park.
The first seating is at 1 p.m. Wine pairing and lunch will be provided along with live music and tours of the historic buildings designed by Julia Morgan.  The cost, excluding tax/gratuity, is $65 for adults, $20 for kids 5-12, and free for kids 4 and under. Reservations are required at 372-8016.
800 Asilomar Avenue.

Pebble Beach
Porter’s in the Forest

The restaurant is serving a few Mother’s Day brunch specials. These will be available until 3 p.m. and include blueberry and ricotta pancakes with lemon curd ($9.50); eggs benedict with smoked salmon, avocado, caviar, roasted potatoes, and kale ($19); asparagus, housemade bacon, tarragon and Brie cheese omelet plus roasted potatoes and kale ($17). For reservations call 831-622-8240. Visit poppyhillsgolf.com.
Porter’s is at Poppy Hills Golf Course, 3200 Lopez Rd.

Marina
Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse

The Mother’s Day brunch buffet (seatings from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) is $33.95 for adults, $26.95 for seniors and military with ID, $12.95 for kids 6-11, and free for kids under 5 – prices include gratituity and a complimentary glass of champagne, Mimosa, or sparkling cider. Chilled selections include poached salmon; Asian chicken salad; Hawaiian sweet rolls; and and Caesar salad. Hot selections include an omelet station; eggs benedict; French toast casserole with orange marmalade and cream cheese, Nutella chocolate crepes; baked ham with pineapple glaze sauce; and roast beef carving station with au jus and horseradish cream. The restaurant will also feature a Mimosa fountain and an outside area for kids to watch Toy Story. For reservations call 831-883-9479. Visit kula-ranch.com.
3295 Dunes Drive

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