Archive for November, 2012

Holiday Survival Tips from the Portola Hotel & Spa Team

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
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Before you know it those sleigh bells will be ringing and the holidays will be upon us. When searching from some fun, yet useful tips, I decided to look no further then the dynamic team at the Portola Hotel & Spa, so…don’t fret, no need to stress, the team at the Portola has got you covered.

Check out these fun tips from the best of the best to help you survive the hustle and bustle of the season.

  1. Try to avoid peak travel times. The worst are Monday through Fridays between 7am-10am and 4pm-8pm. The best days to travel are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Timo, Sales Manager
  2. Save for the holidays all year long, that way you will have plenty of funds throughout the season! Cristy, Group Rooms Coordinator
  3. Don’t drink and drive. Be safe this holiday season and designate a driver if you plan to go out. Kevin, Brewmaster
  4. Make charitable giving a high priority. Volunteer with your family and clock some quality time together while making a difference. Terri, Director of Sales
  5. Start your holiday shopping months in advance so that you are not cramming in all your last minute shopping with the crowds! Anna, Reservations
  6. A busy kid is a happy kid! Pack your child a fun filled backpack full of exciting, new things to do when traveling. Don’t forget the snacks and juice. Christian, Food & Beverage Coordinator
  7. Do less this holiday season; relax and enjoy more! Jackie, Marketing
  8. Wrap your gifts with newspaper (Sunday comics are great!), cloth that can be reused or wrapping paper made with recycled content – think green. Eddie, Catering Manager
  9. Do your shopping on Christmas Eve. The sales have already started and there are no crowds. Sonny, Director of Food & Beverage
  10. Consider using a smaller airport such as the Monterey Airport. You will be surprised with how many flights the regional airports offer. Janine, General Manager

Chef Jason’s Pumpkin Roll

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
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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.

Enjoy!

Stay & Skate Free Package

Friday, November 9th, 2012
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California is known for many things – surf, sand and sun immediately come to mind, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would add ice skating into that thought. Unless you are from Monterey, that is! The Portola Hotel & Spa is proud to announce the return of the wonderfully unique Ice Skating by the Bay. Beginning November 17, 2012 and running through January 6, 2013, “Ice Skating by the Bay”, located at the historic Custom House Plaza (behind the Portola) features the thrill of a holiday tradition, while overlooking the beautiful Monterey Bay.

The Portola Hotel & Spa is inviting everyone from near and far to experience this treat with their Stay & Skate Free Package. This ultimate family package includes a one night stay PLUS ice skating for two. The package also includes a nautically inspired guest room, hot cocoa for the family in Jacks Lounge, warm homemade chocolate chip cookie upon arrival, the Portola Pirates Program & Scavenger Hunt for children between the ages of 3 and 12, complimentary 24 hour fitness center, outdoor heated pool, relaxing cabanas & Jacuzzi! All that, and the rates begin at only $179 per night. So if you are looking to experience the feeling of holidays gone by or introduce your family to a something new this season, book your Stay & Skate Free Package at the Portola Hotel & Spa.

…Be sure to book now though, before it’s too “skate”!

Big Sur Food & Wine

Friday, November 2nd, 2012
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 Photo © Big Sur Food & Wine

Big Sur has been the location of movies and commercials and an inspiration to beatniks and metaphysical practitioners. It is beautiful, rugged and has been called the “greatest meeting of land and sea” by poet, Robinson Jeffers. And, while several thousand people call it home, interestingly, there is no actual city or town of Big Sur. What better way to properly celebrate this wonderful mish-mash of quintessentially Californian attributes, than to have a food and wine festival in its honor!

The Big Sur Food & Wine Festival runs Thursday, November 1st through the 4th and features a bevy of out of the box food and wine centric events, just like the region itself. Friday’s offerings feature the beginning of the Hiking with Stemware series with allows participants to take in the beauty of Big Sur on foot along with the beautiful taste of some of the area’s best wines. The events feature meals al fresco from local chef’s and are often paired with an inside look at artisan producers from around the state.

Evenings embrace the wild mystery of the area with events like the Wine & Swine and a series of Winemaker’s Dinners. These limited seating events feature small batch wineries paired with the creations of local chefs. The nighttime activities conclude with the After Parties at the Henry Miller Library. This venue has played host to a Who’s Who of American creative genius from Jack Kerouac to The Red Hot Chili Peppers and this weekend features music, wine, food and fun.

There is a wonderful mix of events throughout the weekend so you can choose to try a taste or go whole hog. The event organizers have graciously provided shuttle transportation for some of the events so be sure to check the Big Sur Food & Wine website for more details. As food and wine festivals go, this one may give you a little more than you bargained for; and that’s a good thing!