Archive for January, 2014

Portola Team Profile: Meet Executive Chef, Jason Giles

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

One of the great culinary institutions on the Monterey Peninsula is Jacks Restaurant & Lounge, led by Executive Chef Jason Giles. The full service restaurant, located inside the Portola Hotel & Spa is more than just a run of the mill eatery serving middling hotel fare. Jacks has won countless awards for food, wine and location during its history, and continually is evolving to keep up with the latest trends in the culinary world.

Inspired by his mother’s love of cooking and culinary heavyweights Jacques Pepin and Julia Child, Chef Giles enrolled in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and following graduation, headed north to Sonoma where he worked at the Grill at the Sonoma Mission Inn, which is now known as the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Chef Giles then moved south to the Pebble Beach Resorts where, as Sous Chef, he played an active role in the development and opening of Stillwater Bar & Grill.

Giles is at the helm of all the Portola Hotel & Spa’s culinary operations, including menu development for the hotel’s two restaurants, Jacks Restaurant & Lounge and Peter B’s Brewpub, as well as the creation of menus for in-room dining, banquets and special events.

As Executive Chef, Giles hand selects local produce and ingredients, many of which are brought in from the nearby Salinas Valley (better known as the “Salad Bowl of the World”) and fresh seafood from the Monterey Bay arrives daily. As a true believer in the “green food” movement, Chef Giles supports local farmers, fishermen, ranchers and dairymen, while adhering to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® Program. He also utilizes 100% Harris Ranch Beef, as well as other hormone and chemical free meats.

In 2013, Chef Giles launched a fabulous Oyster Bar and Live Action Kitchen in Jacks Lounge, where guests can enjoy freshly prepared oysters and Champagne by the glass, while watching the Portola’s culinary team prepare appetizers and salads.

So if you are a local or a traveler from far away and you are in the mood for a wonderful meal, come by Jacks Restaurant & Lounge or Peter B’s Brewpub and experience the culinary skill of the Portola Hotel & Spa’s Executive Chef Jason Giles.

Come to Jacks and savor the local flavor!

Come One & Come All to the Fourth Annual Whalefest

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

 

If you are like me, you love the ocean. Whether it’s walking along the beach, visiting an aquarium or experiencing some nautically inspired art, the ocean and specifically the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary give each and every one of us so much to be thankful for. That’s why I’m calling all marine-life enthusiasts, from near and far to swim on over to Monterey’s Historic Fisherman’s Wharf for the Fourth Annual Whalefest. This free, family-friendly event takes place this weekend, January 25-26, 2014 from 10am to 5pm.

The event is a celebration of the whale, its environment and the many organizations that protect the Monterey Bay. Not only does Whalefest offer music, lectures, exhibits and films, but there are live art demonstrations and a 60 foot model gray whale that attendees can explore. And since it is migration season, now is the time to observe these beautiful creatures. So, if an up close view of these huge mammals is more your speed, whale watching trips are available throughout the day as are tours on a 29 foot Coast Guard Transportable Response Boat.

Old Fisherman’s Wharf is a site rich in Monterey’s iconic history and this event will be buzzing with vibrant sights and exciting exhibits in every nook and cranny. There’s a world of deep-sea adventure to be had right here in Monterey. Whalefest promises to be a weekend of inspiring, educational and empowering exploration of the majestic Monterey Bay. With the mission of protecting the beautiful Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Whalefest is a weekend of fun, for a cause.  Don’t miss out on a moment of the excitement.

Visit www.montereywharf.com for additional info plus a schedule of performers and events.  Don’t miss out on this “whale” of a good time!

Looking to book a whale-themed getaway – check out the Portola Hotel & Spa’s Whale Watching package, it includes two tickets for a whale watching tour, plus 15% off the regular nightly rate.

Win a Second Honeymoon in Beautiful Monterey

Friday, January 17th, 2014
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

#MontereyWeddings

I don’t know about you, but I have always wanted to plan that second honeymoon, but just haven’t got around to it between, work, kids and life in general! Well, you are in luck, because your chance to have that long overdue romantic getaway is right at your fingertips.  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the Portola Hotel & Spa is holding a Second Honeymoon Contest, from which one lucky couple will receive a complimentary one-night stay at the Portola Hotel, along with breakfast for two at their award-winning Jacks Restaurant & Lounge.

What could be better than quality time with your sweetheart at one of the most romantic destinations in California to remind you why you fell in love in the first place?  Nothing beats spending time away, especially when it involves visiting the iconic Monterey Bay coastline and relaxing in luxurious quarters AND most importantly taking in a few peaceful moments for just you and your significant other.

To enter Portola’s Second Honeymoon contest, post your favorite picture from your wedding day on the Portola Hotel & Spa Facebook page accompanied by 50 words or less, telling your favorite memory from your wedding day and don’t forget to include the hashtag #MontereyWeddings in your post. The winning couple will be announced via the Portola’s Facebook page on Valentine’s Day (deadline to enter is February 12th).

This could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for so don’t waste a moment!  Grab your wedding album because a trip down memory lane might be just the thing to inspire some brand new memories.  Who knows, your second honeymoon might even be better than your first!

Monterey Swingfest

Friday, January 10th, 2014
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

At Central Coast Living we are always surprised by the interesting facts we uncover. Did you know that California has an official state dance? We didn’t either, but it does and it’s the aptly named West Coast Swing!  It comes as no surprise, then that Monterey holds its very own festival celebrating California’s favorite dance.

Join the fun January 16-20, 2014 for an entire week of swing dancing at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel just minutes from the Portola Hotel & Spa, for the 21st Annual Monterey Swingfest. Whether you’re a pro looking to compete or a beginner eager to learn, the Monterey Swingfest promises to be a good time for one and all.

Learn from the best, including intensive workshops with the likes of Sarah Vann Drake, Torri Smith and none other than West Coast Swing legend Skippy Blair.  Swingfest offers classes for every level, from beginning to advanced, and with activities planned on most days from 10am until the wee hours of the morning, you’re sure to wear out your dancing shoes.

Featuring two types of dance competitions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, show off your skills, or merely be a spectator. Hope for the partner of your dreams to help you dance your way to the winner’s circle in the Jack & Jill contest or bring along your better half and sign up as a dynamic duo for the Strictly Swing contest.  Competition not quite your speed, then Monterey Swingfest has something for everyone, including open dance sessions for early birds starting at noon and then throughout the day so you can literally dance the whole day…and night away!

It’s bound to be a weekend of toe tapping competition and thrilling entertainment, so put on your dancing shoes and let the fun begin!

Best Bets for 2014

Friday, January 3rd, 2014
Facebook Twitter Email Pinterest

 

The NEW YEAR is finally upon us and 2014 promises to be jam-packed with excitement.  With all of the fun you’ll be having, the year is sure to fly by, so don’t waste a moment. Here are some of your best bets for spending the New Year on the Monterey Peninsula and beyond.  From wine tastings to outdoor adventures, the Monterey Bay has something for everyone and is the perfect getaway for the whole family.

Family friendly and fun, the breathtaking 17-Mile Drive is regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world.  Running from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach, this drive features awe-inspiring landscapes and legendary sites, including the Lone Cypress, Spanish Bay, and Stillwater Cove.  17-Mile Drive is perfect for a day of exploration, afternoon drive or a brisk morning jog.  Just don’t forget to bring your camera.

Beloved by Peninsula locals is the Old Monterey Farmers’ Market taking over three and a half blocks of Historic Downtown Monterey every Tuesday afternoon/evening.  Established in 1991 and attracting both locals and tourists, the Old Monterey’s Farmers Market lets you take a spin around the globe in just three blocks, sampling arts and crafts, handmade jewelry, furniture, clothing, food, organic produce, flowers and pastries from local artisans and growers. Rain or shine, you can be certain to find some good food and entertainment.

A prime location for wine enthusiasts from near and far and recently named as a Top 10 Destination by Wine Enthusiast, the Monterey County is home to many vineyards, wine-tasting rooms and festivals.  Year round, you can be sure to find a place to sip delectable samples of some of Monterey’s award-winning varietals. Explore the region’s numerous tasting rooms, experience a guided tour of a vineyard or simply visit one of the many specialty stores, you can experience the rich diversity of tastes available from our local wineries. Check Portola’s very own Wine Trolley Package!

The local region offers plenty of fun for the younger crowd too.  Home to the Monterey Zoo, nothing could be better than a day exploring the animal kingdom on a 51-acre ranch located just off of the Monterey-Salinas Highway.  Home to over 100 wild, exotic, and domestic birds and animals, “Wild Things” promises an afternoon of excitement for the whole family including special rooms available for overnight guests and special events.

For folks who fancy the outdoors, Monterey’s Adventures by the Sea is the perfect way to take advantage of all that the natural beauty the Peninsula has to offer.  Providing options to explore by land or by sea; discover beautiful Monterey Peninsula by bicycle, kayak, or guided tour.  Nothing completes a stay on the Monterey Bay like taking in the majestic sights and historic landmarks of the Peninsula with Adventures by the Sea.

One of the most famous events on the Monterey Peninsula is the internationally renowned Big Sur International Marathon. Whether you’re keen to participate or just enjoy cheering on the runners, this celebrated marathon, taking place on April 27, 2014 is one of the running world’s iconic events. The course traces 26 miles of breathtaking views from Big Sur to Carmel.  Visit the website www.bsim.org for further details and to register online and learn about other races and events throughout the year!

Each year the month of January brings the promise of new adventure and experiences and there is no place better to enjoy them all than right here on the Monterey Bay.

Cheers to a wonderful New Year!