Craft Beer
Locally Inspired

October 31st, 2014
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Executive Chef Jason Giles, doesn’t only talk the talk, he walks the walk.  Committed to incorporating as many locally sourced and sustainable ingredients as possibly in his menu development at the Portola Hotel & Spa’s two onsite restaurants, Peter B’s Brewpub and Jacks Restaurant & Lounge, Chef Giles is definitely making it happen.

I was recently invited for an afternoon tasting of some of the season’s newest menu items and was in awe of the detail not only taken with the presentation, but in the preparation.  One of my favorite parts of the tasting was learning about how the ingredients were selected and sourced. Even more impressive, was that some of the ingredients were created, on site, in particular Peter B’s own Craft Beer.  Amazing to drink, but even more impressive to have as an ingredient in an entrée and even dessert!

One of the stand-out dishes we were served included a mouth-watering, fall off the bone, U.S. domestic lamb shank. Seared and braised in Peter B’s own Stout Resistance Ale (brewed on-site by Brewmaster, Kevin Clark) with aromatic vegetables, cinnamon and orange zest, this entrée is served over herb whipped potatoes and roasted, local Castroville Brussel sprouts then dusted with parmesano reggiano.

If that wasn’t amazing by itself, dessert was then served – drumroll please…house made Stout Resistance vanilla bean ice cream!  A collaboration with local creamery, KaiLee Creamery, this dessert was not only delicious, but memorable. Served with fresh strawberries and crispy barrel-aged coconut, this creamy treat should definitely be added to one’s culinary bucket list!

So, I invite all to sip, savor and share the next time you have the chance to visit the Portola Hotel & Spa!

Recipes
For the Love of Pumpkin

October 23rd, 2014
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

 Fall is upon us and that means it’s time for all things pumpkin.  This weekend as I strolled through the grocery store pumpkin flavored goodies filled the aisles.  Pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin cereal, pumpkin scones, pumpkin butter, pumpkin ravioli – you name it!

So I thought I would repost one of my favorite Autumn-inspired baked goodies from the Portola Hotel & Spa’s Executive Chef, Jason Giles – a Pumpkin Roll.  Have fun and let’s celebrate the flavors of Fall!

 

Originally posted, November 14. 2012

When it comes to holiday baking I’m always on the search for something new and different that will “wow” family and friends. I decided to go straight to the top and asked Executive Chef Jason Giles at the Portola Hotel & Spa to share one of his favorites (that was also easy enough for a rookie baker like me) and VOILA, he had the answer! So here it is, Chef Jason’s Pumpkin roll, delicious and completely doable! Enjoy and happy baking!

Chef Jason’s Pumpkin Roll

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (after reducing on stove see below)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch jelly roll pan or cookie sheet.

2. Pumpkin filling tends to have high moisture content, so I like to gently cook the pumpkin puree in a skillet over low heat for about 10-15 minutes to remove excess water and intensify the pumpkin flavor.  Cool completely before adding to recipe.

3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir in pumpkin puree, eggs, and lemon juice. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spread the mixture evenly.

4. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 minutes.

5. Lay a damp linen towel on the counter, sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar, and turn the cake onto the towel. Carefully roll the towel up (lengthwise) with the cake in it. Place the cake-in-towel on a cooling rack and let it cool for 20 minutes.

6. Make the icing: In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and sugar with a wooden spoon or electric mixer.

7. When the cake has cooled 20 minutes, unroll it and spread icing onto it. Immediately re-roll (not in the towel this time), and wrap it with plastic wrap. Keep the cake refrigerated or freeze it for up to 2 weeks in aluminum foil. Cut the cake in slices just before serving.

 

P.S. Need a great pumpkin cookie recipe – try another one of Chef Giles’ recipes! Click Here

Family Fun
Fun Fall Activities for the Kids

October 20th, 2014
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Although California’s warm weather continues, there is the unmistakable feeling of Fall in the air. While we don’t have the same explosion of color that the trees in New England have, our incredible growing climate allows the Monterey Peninsula to have Halloween themed farms and events aplenty this time of year. The kids and especially their parents will be especially thrilled to have so many options within such a short distance.

For a good old fashioned Halloween experience, check out Swank Farms in Hollister or Borchard Farms in Salinas. Swank Farms offers an over the top bevy of Halloween activities including a fantastic corn maze that becomes a haunted event at night and a more relaxed pumpkin patch. It also offers an interactive Kiddy Corral as well as a Pumpkin Catapult and Corn Ear Cannon, bouncy elements and a fully stocked snack shack and store. Check the website for the most current schedule of events and tickets and be prepared to be haunted!

Borchard Farms, home of the giant pumpkins also offers a family friendly corn maze, a spooky ghost town, a haunted barn and a petting zoo for kids of all ages. The ghost town is perfect for the little ones as it is 10 and under only and includes pumpkin bounce houses, a haystack maze, a leap the pumpkins game and plenty of Halloween photo op areas.  The haunted barn is a bit scarier and is great for your older ghosts and goblins.  Both Swank and Borchard Farms are also great for picking up pumpkins and decorations for your home or office.

A more relaxed family experience can be found at Earthbound Farms in Carmel Valley. The organic farm offers a wide range of regular and specialty pumpkins amongst a tranquil setting. The farm includes an expansive selection of other organic fruit and vegetables, as well as premade food and other offerings made on site including ice cream, soft serve and other kitchen goodies. The farm stands also include a cut your own herd garden and a walking labyrinth and an interactive kid’s garden with touchable foliage.

If you’ve already got your fill of farm, you can enjoy the thrill of a pirate’s treasure hunt at the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey. The Portola Hotel’s Pirates Program is a great way to engage your little buccaneer while at the hotel and emerge them into a world of high-seas adventure. Guests of the hotel from 3-12 years old can participate for free and will receive a Portola Pirate Bag and a self-guided treasure map so you can hunt for buried treasure.

Or, you can visit Downtown Pacific Grove on October 25th, 2014 for a free family friendly trick or treating event. Between 10am-4pm costumed kids and a responsible adult are invited to take to the streets of Pacific Grove and enjoy candy and toys given out at participating businesses while being entertained by musicians throughout downtown.

There is no shortage of Halloween events throughout the Monterey Peninsula. On your October visit, don’t have a fright, have fun and enjoy the spooktacular times today!

Local Events
Carmel International Film Festival

October 13th, 2014
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Nothing says Monterey Peninsula like a festival. Whether it be a music, art or wine event, Monterey County is home to some of the most famous and eclectic gatherings the world over. While the Monterey Jazz and the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festivals garner much of the attention, some of area’s more intimate offerings can turn out to be quite a treat!

Carmel has a long and storied history as an artist’s enclave. While much of the art is of the traditional kind, in recent years there has been a greater focus on film. Clint Eastwood’s “Play Misty For Me” may have been the genesis but it was his stint as mayor that truly brought the focus to the sleepy city by the sea. The sixth annual Carmel International Film Festival rolls out the red carpet October 15 – 18, 2014. With independent and contemporary offerings, movie buffs of all generes will be satisfied as over 100 films will be screened over the five day event. Categories include student, animation, feature, documentary and narrative and will be shown at the Sunset Center, Carmel High School Performing Arts Center, Adobe Theatre and Cherry Center for the Arts.

The festival offers more than the celluloid form as traditional art and photography as well as music which is also an important part of the event. The festival offers yearly scholarships to worthy students pursuing an education in film, drama, fine art and photography. The films range to the truly independent to ones with Hollywood A-listers. Stars like Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Miles Teller, Tommy Lee Jones, Hillary Swank, Josh Duhamel and many others will be gracing the silver screen at this year’s festival along with Q&A sessions with some of the film’s directors and producers. Special to the festival this year is a screening of Merry Friggin’ Christmas, one of Robin William’s last films.

For a more detailed lineup and to buy tickets, visit www.carmelfilmfest.com

So if you are looking for something a little different, join the food and film festivals of fun in Monterey County!

Action & Adventure
SCCA National Championships

October 6th, 2014
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

Photo Courtesy of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

While much of the nation’s automotive focus is pointed to the Monterey Peninsula during Car week in August, in recent years the hardcore racing fan’s appetite has been satisfied with a bevy of races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The world famous track has played host to the internationally renowned Red Bull Grand Prix, the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix and from October 10-12, 2014 the raceway will host the Sports Car Club of America’s National Championships.

Although billed as an amateur event, these competitors are far from Sunday drivers. The top drivers from each of the SCCA’s 115 national regions are invited with drivers slotted in 27 different car classes. Throughout the week, drivers will get plenty of practice time on Mazda Raceway’s famous twists and turns before qualifying begins. Friday through Sunday the drivers and their teams rev up the fun with three days of competition.

Some of the more popular classes include Production, which allows for performance modifications to an existing design, Formula which are single seat, open-wheel race cars and Sedan which include American muscle cars like the Camaro, Mustang or GTO. Unique to this type of competition is the vast number of different cars all racing against comparable models. Universal, however, is the skill and passion that every driver shows and the dedication to the performance of their cars.

The races will be broadcast live and on demand at www.speedcasttv.com, but if you’d rather get up close and personal to the action, Advanced General Admission tickets are available for $25 per day or $60 for a three day pass. Children under 12 are free with a paying adult and parking is also free with preferred parking only $25.

So if you’re in the mood for some high performance speed from a driver that might just live around the corner, check out the SCCA National Championship Runoffs at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Drivers, start your engines!