Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

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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Valentine’s Day gifts & activities from Santa Cruz chocolatiers, Gilroy Premium Outlets

Mutari Craft Chocolate House on Pacific Ave.
Photo credit: Mutari Facebook page

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching—here are some shopping ideas if you’re a chocolate lover in Santa Cruz or you’re considering a trip to Gilroy Premium Outlets.

 

Santa Cruz Chocolatiers

Santa Cruz County residents are very lucky; we have a variety of talented local chocolatiers. Some highlights, in alphabetical order:

 

Ashby Confections, 16 Victor Square, Scotts Valley

 

Donnelly Fine Chocolates, 1509 Mission St., Santa Cruz

 

Mackenzies Chocolate, 1492 Soquel Ave. Santa Cruz

 

Mutari Chocolate (specializes in single origin craft drinking chocolate, it’s featuring housemade bon bons for Valentine’s shopping) – two locations: 1108 Pacific Ave., next door to Assembly, and 504A Front St. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Front St. location — usually open weekends only — is going to be open Wednesday 2/14 from noon to 9 p.m.

Gilroy Outlets

 

If you haven’t made restaurant reservations yet, there aren’t many left—how about staying home with your significant other or gathering a group of friends for some Valentine’s Day fun? Host a stay at home date or girls’ night with goods from Le Creuset or Kitchen Collection for accessories and tools to whip up a festive dinner party. Both have shops at the Gilroy Outlets.

 

Want to buy a sweet Valentine’s gift, either for yourself or someone else (whether it be a romantic partner, a co-worker, family member or friend)? You can find raspberry hearts, “conversation beans,” sour “smoochi” lips, Valentine’s Day gift boxes and more at the Jelly Belly store.

 

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

Valentine's dessert trio at Michael's on Main: passion fruit mousse shooter, strawberry-filled chocolate bon bon & French vanilla bean macaroon. Photo credit: Michael's on Main

Valentine’s dessert trio at Michael’s on Main: passion fruit mousse shooter, strawberry-filled chocolate bon bon & French vanilla bean macaroon. Photo credit: Michael’s on Main

Valentine’s Day is two days away; have you made your plans? Here are details on a few options in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. If you missed yesterday’s post, here is a link.

Santa Cruz County

Food Lounge

The Santa Cruz Food Lounge (1001 Center St., Santa Cruz) has a couple options on Valentine’s Day. People can sit at the bar and have a chocolate tasting accompanied by a drink or two, or they can pick a spot in the dining room or lounge and order food from Tanglewood. Chef Rachel of Tanglewood will be creating selections including carrot ginger soup topped with crema and cilantro oil; and dinners with choice of pork tenderloin or grilled portabella mushroom plus lemon white wine sauce and garlic mashed potatoes. Roasted veggies accompany the tenderloin, and arugula in balsamic vinaigrette accompanies the portabella. No reservations are required (or allowed); and everyone is welcome including families, singles, etc. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m.

 

Johnny’s Harborside

Johnny’s Harborside (493 Lake Ave., Santa Cruz) is offering a four-course Valentine’s prix menu. Cost is $60 per person. Starter choices include raw abalone nigiri with honey miso glaze and seaweed salad; second courses include Dungeness crab bisque and salad with strawberries, candied walnuts, Gorgonzola and balsamic. Four entrée selections include prosciutto-wrapped halibut or Surf and Turf with 4 oz. filet mignon and half lobster tail. Desserts include strawberry shortcake or lemon tart. Call (831) 479-3430 for reservations.

 

Michael’s on Main

Michael’s on Main (2591 Main St., Soquel) began offering its Valentine’s prix menu Friday, Feb. 10 and it lasts until Tuesday. Cost is $35 for three courses. Appetizers include ahi tuna poke cups with wasabi cream; four entrée selections include cold water lobster tail with forbidden black rice, veggies and pink peppercorn beurre blanc or petit NY steak (8 oz.) with garlic mashed potatoes, Béarnaise and veggies. Everyone receives a dessert trio (see photo above) with passion fruit mousse shooter, strawberry-filled chocolate bon bon and French vanilla bean macaroon. Call (831) 479-9777 for reservations.

 

Assembly

Assembly (1108 Pacific, Santa Cruz) is offering a three-course Valentine’s prix menu for $55 per person; a few optional supplements are extra such as Kusshi oysters ($3/$15/$24 single/1/2 dozen/dozen). Starter choices include roasted quail with wild mushrooms, pinot soaked figs and herbed couscous. Four entrée selections include grass-fed Manhattan filet with creamed nettles and truffled Yukons and arugula almond pesto or sand dab Meuniere with caper brown butter sauce and roasted cauliflower rice. Desserts include sorbet trio from Penny Ice Creamery or dark chocolate pave with candied kumquats and salted butter ice cream. Call (831) 824-6100 for reservations.

 

Hindquarter Bar & Grille

Hindquarter Bar & Grille (303 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz) will have Valentine’s specials like Rack of Lamb, Prime Rib and seasonal seafood from 5-9:30 p.m. The restaurant will also serve its regular menu. Call (831) 426-7770 for reservations.

 

Ideal Bar & Grill (106 Beach St. at the Santa Cruz Wharf), The Point Chophouse & Lounge (3326 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz), Café Cruz (2621 41st Ave., Soquel) and Severino’s Bar & Grill (7500 Old Dominion Ct., Aptos) are all serving Valentine’s Day specials.

 

MONTEREY COUNTY

 

California Market at Pacific’s Edge

California Market at Pacific’s Edge at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands (120 Highlands Drive, Carmel) is serving a Valentine’s prix fixe dinner. The four-course Valentine’s dinner is $125 per person and reservations are required at 831-622-5445. First course choices include ahi tuna tiradito with fennel-cucumber salsa. Entrees include Colorado rack of lamb with piquillo peppers and chimichurri or wild mushroom risotto with winter truffle and Parmesan cheese crisps.

 

Steinbeck House

The historic Steinbeck House (132 Central Ave., Salinas) is serving a Valentine’s Day dinner. The meal includes one glass of wine, cheese tortellini soup, Caesar salad, entrée (choice of Porterhouse steak or filo-baked salmon) and dessert. Call 831-424-2735 for reservations; seatings are available from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Cost is $60 per person inclusive.

 

Jacks Restaurant at Portola Hotel and Spa

Jacks Restaurant (Two Portola Plaza, Monterey) is serving a prix fixe menu 5 to 10 p.m. on Valentines Day, Tuesday, Feb. 14. The four-course meal is $64.95 plus tax and gratuity; call 831-649-7874 for reservations. The meal starts with an amuse bouche of Hog Island oysters and caviar. First course options include lobster bisque with brioche croutons, Pernod and orange oil. Entrée choices include filet mignon and sweet breads with potato puree, local porcinis and Périgord truffles or wild King salmon with Dungeness crab gratin, haricot verts and Meyer lemon sauce. Dessert is passion fruit soufflé for two with macadamia nut and crème anglaise, plus a box of chocolate strawberries to go. Also, the hotel is offering a romance package until March 31. This includes accommodations, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot delivered to your room, breakfast for two at Jacks and more.

 

TusCA Ristorante at Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa

TusCA (1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey) is serving a special menu designed for two, from 5:30-9 p.m. Cost is $80 for two people. For reservations call 831-657-6675. Customers can choose an appetizer and dessert to share, and each person receives an entrée and a glass of sparkling wine.

 

Tarpy’s Roadhouse

Tarpy’s (2999 Monterey-Salinas Highway, Monterey) is doing a couple promotions for Valentine’s Day. Customers will receive fifty percent off all “bubbles by the glass” plus full and half bottles. Also, the restaurant will feature a special appetizer of seared diver scallops with lobster-parsnip puree and artichoke-corn succotash. Call 831-647-1444 for reservations.

 

Gordon’s Café and Catering

Gordon’s (343 Main St., Salinas) is doing a take-out promotion. If you order dinner to go for two people, the restaurant will include a special complimentary appetizer created just for Valentine’s Day. Call 831-422-4133 for more information.

 

Sardine Factory

Sardine Factory (701 Wave St., Monterey) is serving a prix fixe menu from 5 to 10 p.m. The four-course meal is $75 per person. A limited a la carte menu and Valentine’s drink specials will also be available. The meal begins with Dungeness crab bisque with sherry, cognac and crème fraiche, followed by a salad with greens, roasted strawberries, toasted pecans, feta cheese and cocoa balsamic dressing. Entrée choices include filet mignon and foie gras or King salmon with truffled gnocchi and artichokes. Dessert choices include chocolate pot au crème with spun sugar, Chantilly crème and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Reservations are required at 831-373-3775.

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

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

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

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

 

Santa Cruz

Midtown Café featuring Hanloh Popup

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

 

The Chaminade

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

 

Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting

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

 

Pour Taproom

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

Your Place

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

 

MONTEREY COUNTY

 

Estéban

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

Il Vecchio

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

 

Edgar’s

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

 

Bistro Moulin

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

 

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February at New Leaf includes Valentine themes & classes for kids and families

Decorate Valentine cookies with the family at New Leaf Community Markets

Decorate Valentine cookies with the family at New Leaf Community Markets. Photo credit: New Leaf

New Leaf Community Markets has several events in February including Valentine’s classes and workshops for kids and families. Here are some highlights; these are all at the Westside Santa Cruz location at 1101 Fair Ave. (831-426-1306).

Preregistration is required at newleaf.com/events.

 

Thursday, Feb. 9

Chocolate Creations

Ayurvedic practitioner and chef Talya Lutzker will introduce attendees to a spectrum of delectable chocolate desserts. You will learn “how the taste of sweet is of great benefit to the body, mind and spirit” and discover a “world of good-for-you sweet foods you may not have thought of before.” Plus, learn how to make your own delicious chocolate confections from scratch.

Time & Cost: 6:30–9pm, $40/Two for $70

Register at:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/chocolate-creations-tickets-30307158527

 

Friday, Feb. 10

Kids’ Class: Valentine Cookie Decorating Workshop

For ages 8 and up: drop your kids off for a fun workshop led by Kristen Valenza of Living Roots Food and Floral. Valenza will provide homemade sugar cookies made from organic ingredients, and kids get to decorate with an assortment of toppings.

Time & Cost: 6–8pm, $35

Register at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/valentine-cookie-decorating-workshop-for-kids-tickets-30314128374

 

Sunday, Feb. 12
Family Class: Mommy/Daddy & Me Valentine Cookie Decorating Workshop

This class with Kristen Valenza is for Moms or Dads and their little ones ages 3-6. Families will decorate an assortment of Valentine’s Day cookies made from organic ingredients, then take home a box of creations to give away as gifts–or eat themselves!

Time & Cost: 1–3pm, $45 for one adult & one child, $30 each additional child

Register at:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mommydaddy-me-valentine-cookie-decorating-workshop-tickets-30314804396

 

Tuesday, Feb. 21

For Seniors: Tuesday Talk & Tea on Heart-Healthy Foods

While you enjoy tea and snacks, you can learn which heart-healthy foods are high in antioxidants, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. The session is led by Nutrition Consultant Madia Jamgochian.

Time & Cost: 12–1pm, Free (but registration required)

Register at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tuesday-tea-for-seniors-heart-healthy-foods-tickets-30236352745

 

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Valentine’s Day 2016: celebrating at San Francisco restaurants

Valentine’s Day dessert: Red Velvet Crepe “Cake” from SF’s Presidio Social Club

Valentine’s Day dessert: Red Velvet Crepe “Cake” from SF’s Presidio Social Club

We are 3 days away from Valentine’s Day — if you’re planning to dine in San Francisco, here are a few restaurants to consider.

Roka Akor
On Valentine’s Day weekend at Roka Akor there will be a five-course tasting menu. Led by Executive Chef Roman Petry, the robatayaki-style menu ($98 per person) features dishes to share, such as Tuna Tataki with spicy ponzu, red onion and lotus root chips; Robata Grilled Wagyu Filet with grilled bone marrow and spicy sweet garlic soy; Sake Kasu Marinated Sea Bass with shiso and lime; and Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake with almond caramel and vanilla ice cream, among others. Additionally, the lounge downstairs, Roka Bar, will be offering five love-inspired cocktails ($7-13), including the Fatal Attraction ($13) with Zaya rum, Appleton Estate rum, Dumante pistachio liqueur, Combier triple sec, fresh blackberries, lime, and fresh mint; and At First Glance ($7) with cherry blossom infused rice milk, Rihaku Nigori Sake, hibiscus bitters, pomegranate seeds, orange zest, and fresh shiso. A limited a la carte menu will also be available. Reservations are required, and can be made by calling 415-362-8887 or visiting the restaurant’s site.

A16
A16 in San Francisco is celebrating Valentine’s Day (and their 12th anniversary) with a multi-course menu from Executive Chef Rocky Maselli and traditional wine pairing options from Wine Director/Co-Owner Shelley Lindgren. The five-course menu will be available on both Saturday and Sunday night with dish highlights including Southern Italian specialties like Squid Ink Tonnarelli Puttanesca with chili, capers, and oil cured olives, and a special Coccola – a heart-shaped blood orange Cappelletti jello shot – for dessert from Executive Pastry Chef Hannah Buoye. The prix fixe dinner is $85 per person with optional wine pairings optional. Reservations can be made by visiting the restaurant’s site or calling 415-771-2216.

Flour + Water
Chef Thomas McNaughton and Chef de Cuisine Evan Allumbaugh have created a menu that focuses on traditions from the Umbria region interpreted through the flour + water style of cuisine. Umbria is rumored to be the birthplace of San Valentino making it the perfect reason to celebrate. The menu is $95 per person with wine pairings available for an additional $70 per person. Menu highlights include: Mushroom Mousse and Perigord Truffle Bruschetta, Beet Cured Trout with roasted beets, compressed beets, poppy seed, creme fraiche, and horseradish, Pappardelle with rabbit ragu, Suckling Pig Porchett, and Chocolate Hazelnut Torte. Call 415-826-7000 for reservations.

Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco
Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Luce with dinner prepared by Michelin-star chef Daniel Corey. Guests can order off the regular a la carte menu or enjoy a three course Valentine’s Day menu for $75 per person. Highlights from the a la carte menu include handmade sweetbread ravioli with crispy sweetbreads with black perigord truffles and mustard leaves;  prime new york strip steak, slowly cooked with rosemary & garlic caramelized salsify, date-coffee marmalade, and trumpet royale; and duck breast, poached & roasted, baby carrots with honey & lavender, apple, and trompette de la mort. For reservations, visit the restaurant online.

Presidio Social Club
Along with the regular menu, Presidio Social Club will have several special items available a la carte throughout the entire weekend, including a blood orange and shaved fennel salad with black olives and sumac vinaigrette; smoked salmon carpaccio with fried capers, caviar cream, chervil and rye toast; chitarra pasta with jalapeño, cilantro, uni butter and dungeness crab; and braised beef short rib with celery root purée, pickled red beets and chocolate red wine sauce. For dessert, pastry chef Rene Cruz will be serving a delicate Red Velvet Crepe “Cake” made of thin crepes layered high with cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut tuile, and the Passion Parfait made with passion fruit mousse, coconut brittle, honey roasted cashews, and white chocolate crisps. Visit the restaurant’s site for information or reservations.

SPQR
This Valentine’s Day, Executive Chef Matthew Accarrino of SPQR will be offering a three-course prix fixe lunch for $52 per person and a four-course prix fixe dinner for $94 per person with an optional truffle course. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 415-771-7779.

SalumeriaMake Valentine’s Day Dinner at Home
This Valentine’s Day, Salumeria is offering a “flour + water” pasta project for $45 plus tax, ideal for two people. The kit includes all you need to make beet caramelle with salsify, prosecco and calabrian chili. Make it a complete meal by adding on cured meats and cheeses or chocolate budinos. Order by calling 415-471-2998.

Aatxe
Celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend with Aatxe and enjoy a special supplemental menu created by Chef Ryan Pollnow on Friday and Saturday evening – highlights include oysters on the half shell and California Osetra Caviar Montadito. In addition, guests can let the kitchen decide, where chef will bring out a tasting of his favorite tapas for $65 per person. Aatxe will be closed on Sunday, February 14 so that their staff can enjoy Valentine’s Day. For reservations call 415-471-2977 or visit the restaurant’s site.

Fogo de Chão 
Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Southern Brazilian Steakhouse Fogo de Chão in San Francisco, which opened in late December. The restaurant is located on the corner of 3rd and Howard in the heart of San Francisco’s SoMa District. Fogo de Chão will be offering one complimentary dining card to each couple that dines with them during Valentine’s Day weekend (February 12-14). Complimentary dining cards are redeemable for one lunch or dinner on their next visit (valid February 15 – April 28). For more information on location and pricing for San Francisco please visit the web site.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chaminade location: One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Web site: chaminade.com

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

Chocolates at Ashby Confections

Chocolates at Ashby Confections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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