Enjoy Locally Sourced Ingredients at Jacks Restaurant

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Jacks Restaurant & Lounge inside the Portola Hotel & Spa has recently raised the bar with an interior and menu upgrade from Executive Chef, Jason Giles. Before dinner or after checking in to your room, take a moment to relax in their cozy and comfortable lounge. With a crackling fire and thick comfortable leather chairs, you can enjoy a glass of Monterey County Chardonnay or sip on the  featured wine of the month from their impressive wine list. Giles has gone to great lengths to create a menu that is not only sustainable, but locally sourced as well.  The Sustainable movement is relatively new in the United States, but with the Salad Bowl of the World a short distance away and fresh, responsibly harvested seafood from the Monterey Bay arriving almost daily, the menu is on par with the finest local establishments.

By adhering to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® Program Giles is assured of providing the right kind of seafood. He also utilizes 100% Harris Ranch Beef as well as other hormone and chemical free meats. Portola’s attention to detail works with their emphasis on green initiatives throughout the hotel and creates an atmosphere of guilt-free, responsible dining at Jacks Restaurant. For the money, this truly is “Monterey’s Best Kept Secret”, but the secret is about to get out.

Check out this delicious recipe provided by Chef Giles:

Caramelized Fennel & Steamed Clams with Pancetta & Heirloom Tomatoes

By Chef Jason Giles


  • 2 lb fresh littleneck clams in shell washed clean of sand
  • 3 bulbs fresh D’Arrigo Bros. brand fennel julienned
  • 2 yellow onions julienned
  • ¼ lb pancetta diced
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped shallot
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1 cup sliced heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cup clam juice
  • 1 cup Monterey County white wine
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste

The trick to having great success with this recipe is to have everything done and ready to go.  Most everything can be prepared ahead of time.

In a medium sized sauté pan or heavy bottom Dutch oven (my choice) cook off the pancetta until light golden brown.  Remove the meat and leave the oil in the pan.  Add the fennel and onions and cook until golden brown.  Once cooked to your liking remove the fennel mixture and put in a bowl to reserve for later.

The pancetta and fennel mix can be prepared a day or two in advance.  Just refrigerate until you are ready to use.  It will last up to a week in the fridge.

Using a Dutch oven type pan or large sauté pan heat the pancetta over medium heat until warm.  Add the cleaned clams, garlic, shallots and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the white wine, fennel mix and clam juice.  Cover and let the mix steam until the clams pop open about 3-8 minutes depending on how high the heat.  Once the clams pop open add the parsley, basil, tomatoes and butter. Turn off the heat.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

I recommend serving the fennel clams in a large bowl with toasted sourdough and a wine of your liking.

Serves four, family style.

Enjoy and have fun!!

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