Archive for August, 2013

Summertime Chillin’ & Grillin’

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
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Nothing says summertime like a backyard BBQ. From the first sizzle of a perfectly seasoned steak on the grill, everyone enjoys one of the most revered of summer pastimes. Chef Jason Giles, Executive Chef at the Portola Hotel & Spa and the brains behind the menus for Jacks Restaurant & Lounge and Peter B’s Brewpub, loves backyard BBQ’s and has graciously shared his favorite summertime recipe with Central Coast Living.

All great recipes share one core aspect, which is the quality of ingredients. According to Chef Giles, meats that are a bit higher in fat will cook better on the grill because the marbling in the meat keeps it moist and full of flavor, he personally recommends the following cuts:

  • Rib-Eye
  • New York Strip Loin
  • Skirt Steak
  • Tri Tip
  • Flank Steak

Chef Giles has a few tips that he always follows when preparing the meat.  He recommends that the meat be seasoned/marinated for a few hours before cooking to allow it to soak up the flavor of the marinade.  For a little extra zip and pizzazz, try his famous Season Salt:

  • ½ cup Kosher Flake Salt
  • 3 Tbsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1Tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1Tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Coriander
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

This seasoning is great for beef, chicken or pork. Once the ingredients are mixed together, they need to be stored in a clean, dry glass jar.

Now that the seasoning is taken care of, it is important to focus on the best way to grill the meat. Make sure that the grill is nice and hot – if it is too cold, the meat will just steam. When the grill is warmed up pull the meat out of the refrigerator and let it start to come up to room temperature to ensure an even cooking time. Always be prepared to season the meat with salt and pepper, even if the marinade has a ton of flavor the meat will most likely benefit from a sprinkle of salt and a dash of pepper.  Once the grill is nice and hot, cook the meat to about 10-15 degrees below how it is usually grilled and let it rest for 15-20 minutes after cooking.

When the perfect steak is cooked, Chef Giles recommends adding the popular Argentinean sauce, Chimichurri as a side condiment:

  • 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 leaves fresh basil chopped fine
  • 3 mint leaves chopped fine
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves minced ( or grated on a micro planer)
  • 1 ½  cup Olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To create the sauce, mix all the ingredients in a bowl EXCEPT the lemon juice.  Let it sit in a bowl for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marry together.  Just before serving add the lemon juice and taste for seasoning. It is important to add the lemon juice last, as it will discolor the herbs if added at the beginning. 

Your friends and family will think you’ve been a master of the grill with this simple recipe and cooking tips from your secret summertime BBQ hero, Chef Jason Giles.

The Annual Monterey County Fair – At the Heart of It All

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
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August 28 – September 2, 2013

Nothing quite says summer like a trip to the fair. Whether it’s a local, county or state fair, the smells of cotton candy and kettle corn mixed together with laughter and music make for an experience that is both familiar and new at the same time. The fair is Americana at its best and an event that holds a special place in almost everyone’s heart.

Since 1935, the Monterey County Fair has been bringing back that iconic childhood feeling while making new memories for the next generation. Who can forget, or wait, for the food, rides, livestock, carnival games and plain old-fashioned fun. This year, the theme is “At the Heart of it All” and from August 28 through September 2, 2013, the Monterey County Fair returns once again to bring smiles to the Monterey Peninsula.

The Fair kicks off on Wednesday August 28th with Kids Day. Admission is free all day long for children under the age of 12.  Kids Day features children’s themed entertainment all day long, including KWAV’s Central Coast’s Got Talent Show at 4pm, Circus Imagination performing throughout the day and the Marshall Tucker Band at 7:30pm.

Thursday the 29th is Senior’s Day for those ages 65 and better! The Ag Building will feature cooking demonstrations and at 5:30pm the People’s Choice Wine Tasting event (with separate admission) is always a crowd favorite! The evening fun goes on with the iconic 90’s band, the Spin Doctors taking the stage at 7:30pm.

Military Appreciation Day is Friday the 30th and admission for active duty military is FREE with a valid ID. There is a military dedication at 6:00pm at the Pattee Arena followed by a free Rodeo at 6pm. The Ag Building is home to the Beer Stampede from 5:30pm to 7:30pm (with separate admission) and live music from the Tower of Power closes out the evening’s fun.

Saturday the 31st brings the Junior Livestock Auction and Water Awareness Day. The auction starts at 10:00am and the day also features a free Rodeo at 6:00pm. The evening’s entertainment is cover band, Journey Revisited which hits the stage at 7:30pm.

Fiesta Day, Sunday September, 1st continues the week’s festivities and features Hispanic themed music throughout the day. Additional livestock shows include the ever popular Rabbit and Round Robin Shows at 9:00am and the Pee Wee and Adult Showmanship events at 5:00pm and 6:00pm respectively.

The Fair wraps up Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd with International Day. The Wool Auction is at 12:30pm with the Monterey County Pops close out the week’s music from 4:30pm to 5:30pm.

In addition to the special entertainment, daily entertainment includes cooking demonstrations, wine tasting, dancing, rides, hypnotists and carnival games just to name a few. The Fair is not to me missed, so come on out and create memories to last a lifetime!

Monterey Auto Week & Concours d’Elegance – A Tradition for over 60 Years

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
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 Photo Courtesy of RM Auction

 

What began as a small social event in the 1950’s, paired with a road race through Pebble Beach, the Concours d’Elegance has evolved into what is known as “Automotive Week” taking place at various venues throughout the entire Monterey Peninsula. Beginning August 13th, a jammed packed schedule of social events, auctions, shows and more will commence.

Downtown Monterey is a central hub for all the week’s action.  With cars lined up for blocks, guests from all over the globe gather to show off their prized collections and participate in one of the week’s most popular events, the RM Auction right here at the Portola Hotel & Spa.

Famous for the Lone Cypress, breathtaking views and 17-Mile Drive, every year on the third Sunday in August, Pebble Beach plays host to the Concours d’Elegance.  On August 18th, the 18th Fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links will be transformed, showcasing prized collector automobiles. Connoisseurs, collectors, enthusiasts, celebrities and more will gather to take part in what has grown to become one of the top-ranking collector car shows in the world.

Popular events throughout the week include (for a complete list of the week’s happenings visit See Monterey):

  • Concours On The Avenue, Carmel by the Sea – 8/13
  • Little Car Show in Downtown Pacific Grove – 8/14
  • McCall’s Motorworks Revival at the Monterey Jet Center – 8/14
  • Concorso Italiano, Laguna Seca Golf Ranch – 8/16
  • Legends of the Autobahn, Rancho Canada Golf Course – 8/16
  • The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering at Quail Lodge, Carmel Valley – 8/16
  • Pacific Grove Concours Auto Rally, Downtown Pacific Grove – 8/16
  • RM Auctions at the Portola Hotel & Spa – 8/16 & 8/17
  • Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – 8/16 through 8/16
  • Concours d’LeMons, Laguna Grande Park, Seaside – 8/17
  • Concours d’Elegance – 8/18

 

Hailed by some as the World Series or Super Bowl of the automobile universe, the week’s events, unique cars and magical scenery, makes Auto Week, one not to be missed!

State Parks in Our Own Backyard

Monday, August 12th, 2013
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The Monterey Peninsula is known worldwide for its magical scenery, both by land and sea, and in order to ensure this beauty remains for our children and our children’s children, many of these most gorgeous sights are protected by the California State Parks system. The Monterey Peninsula offers California State Parks and Reserves that will delight both land lovers and beach goers alike. Keeping friends and family of all ages entertained in these parks is easy, as there are endless activities to choose from including hiking, kayaking, walking paths, surfing, horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking, diving, birding, tide pooling and more!

Take a look at some of my favorites in the local area easily accessible from the Portola Hotel & Spa!

Monterey State Historic Park

Located just steps away from the Portola is the Monterey State Historic Park, which boasts a collection of significant historical houses and buildings that can be found throughout Old Monterey. Visitors can discover Monterey’s unique history by taking a stroll on the “Monterey Walking Path of History,” a two-mile path that is marked by yellow-tiled markers – Robert Louis Stevenson walked the same trail in 1879. The historical park stands to preserve places and objects that are of historical significance including 12 buildings and several residences. Visitors should be sure to check out the spot where the Spanish explorers first landed in Monterey in 1602; Custom House, which is the oldest building in California and one of the nation’s last remaining whalebone sidewalks. Many of the historic adobes can only be viewed with a State Park Guide so be sure and stop by the Pacific House Museum to get tickets.

Asilomar State Beach

Located about 10-15 minutes from the Portola in Pacific Grove, is Asilomar State Beach offering gorgeous white sand beaches and tide pools galore! Friends, families and their dogs are always welcome to come explore this one-mile strip of white sandy beach and its rocky coves. Visitors can pack a picnic, go surfing, explore the tide pools and take a stroll on the short boardwalk loop that winds through the natural dune preserve. The State Beach is free of charge and vehicle parking and a bicycle lane are adjacent to the state beach on Sunset Drive.

Point Lobos State Reserve

About 25 minutes from the Portola heading south on Highway 1 toward Big Sur, is the Point Lobos State Reserve, which represents some of the greatest coastal beauty that Monterey County has to offer. With teal waters, white sand beaches, cypress trees and an abundance of wildlife including sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, birds and even whales, Point Lobos should not be missed. There are a number of hiking trails that are easily accessible from the parking lot with the majority of them being perfect for beginners. Visitors should be sure to check out Whalers Cove, which offers spectacular views that often include whales. Humpback whales migrate through the area from April until December and Gray whales can be seen during their migration mid-December until mid-April. Another great spot within the park to view wildlife or simply take in the calm atmosphere is China Beach, a secluded beach that harbor seals and sea otters also use as a quiet refuge. Trail maps are available at the entrance kiosk and there is also signage located throughout the park.

Andrew Molera State Park

For spectacular views and an overall great outdoor experience, head south on infamous Highway 1 to Andrew Molera State Park in Big Sur. The journey will begin long before entering the park as Highway 1 is packed full of breathtaking scenery that includes dramatic coastal cliffs, giant redwood trees and the famous Bixby Creek Bridge. Andrew Molera State Park is located right off Highway 1 and is a great place to go on a long walk and experience the dramatic scenery of Big Sur. There are great swimming beaches at this park and for those who want to stay off their feet; horseback riding is available from commercial stables nearby. Be sure to pack layers as it can be windy at Andrew Molera State Park and also pay attention to signs that point out dangers such as jagged cliffs and poison oak.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Just 20 minutes south of Andrew Molera State Park is the home of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. This is another State Park that is not to be missed as it offers extensive views of the powerful Big Sur coastline, ginormous redwood trees and an abundance of wildlife. The famous McWay Falls is not to be missed and is probably the most spectacular feature at the park. An easy five to 10 minute walk from Highway 1, McWay Falls is an 80-foot waterfall that drops right onto a white sand beach and then straight into the Pacific Ocean. There is scuba diving available at the Underwater Area of the park, but special permitting is required. In December and January, Gray Whales can be seen from Overlook trail migrating southward to their breeding and calving grounds off the Baja California coast. Springtime is also a great time to visit, as it is lush with wildflowers and the smell of sage. Be sure to bring layers no matter the time of year.

From divers to hikers, whale watchers to bikers and history buffs to kayakers, there is a State Park for everyone’s taste right here in our own backyard. The Concierge at Portola is always happy to help plan the perfect day trip so grab family, friends and a camera and get out there and enjoy the Central Coast at its finest!