Archive for the ‘Food & Wine’ Category

Chef’s Summer Recipe

Monday, July 30th, 2012
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Summer food can mean many things for many people. For some, it’s a simple sandwich thrown into a backpack before rushing off to the beach. For others, it’s a taste-a-pallooza of barbecued meats and other seasonal traditional treats. And then there are those that enjoy something light and cool to beat the heat. The trick, however, for a great summer meal is combining all those tastes into one incredible dish that can be enjoyed by all.

Sounds daunting, but when the Portola Hotel & Spa’s Executive Chef Jason Giles has got your back, you are only a few simple steps away from wowing guests, friends and family alike. Luckily, the man behind the great tastes at Jacks Restaurant & Lounge and Peter B’s Brewpub is sharing some of his summertime secrets with all of us.

Take it away Chef!

This is a great summer salad that is easy to prepare and doesn’t heat up the kitchen.  I would serve this with a nice crusty sour French bread and sit out on the patio enjoying all that summer has to offer.

Begin by marinating the Flank steak.  Place the Flank steak in a container that can hold the meat and ½ cup of the balsamic vinaigrette (see recipe below).  Pour the vinaigrette over the steak, being sure to coat both sides and then let it marinate for about 2 hours in the refrigerator. 

Combine all of the ingredients except the oil in a blender.  Mix until well blended.   Add two pinches of black pepper.  Slowly add oil until well blended. Taste and season with salt if needed.

When you are ready to eat…

Heat the grill on high and lightly oil the grilling surface.  To prepare the steak for grilling, lift out of the marinade and let most of the dressing drip off (otherwise the grill will flare up when you put the meat on). Then season with salt and black pepper.  Grill for 6-8 minutes per side or until desired doneness.  Remove from the grill and let the steak rest lightly covered with foil on a plate on the kitchen counter. 

While the grill is still hot, lightly oil again.  To prepare the peaches, lightly season with the salt and black pepper and then grill for 3 minutes or until some nice charring happens.  Remove and let rest until service.

To assemble the salad….

Peel and dice the avocado, slice the peaches (each half in to 5 pieces), chop and rinse the red leaf lettuce.  Make sure the arugula and spinach are clean as well. In a large salad or serving bowl combine the three lettuces and toss with the remaining ½ cup balsamic vinaigrette.  Arrange the sliced peaches and avocado on the top of the lettuce and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

For the meat I would recommend slicing it very thin as Flank tastes better that way. Then you can either put it over the salad in the bowl or serve it on the side and let your family and friends dish it up themselves.

Enjoy life, savor great food and embrace good company!


Chef Jason

Portola Burger; the best burger in town

Thursday, July 5th, 2012
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Burger & Beer @ Peter B’s Brewpub

Since the 18th century, the humble hamburger has graced the plates of commoners and kings throughout Europe and the United States. Originally a “food fit for a king” (literally as it was only the wealthy aristocracy that could afford it) it was brought to America by German immigrants who had adapted the dish to fit their station, shredding low-grade beef and mixing it with regional spices and serving it both cooked and raw. As the dish caught on, it began to be served on bread during the late 1800′s and soon made its way onto the menus of restaurants across the country. As its popularity grew, so did the styles of burger as well as the types of establishments serving it. Synonymous with fast food, the hamburger stood pat for many years and different chains competed to see who could serve the most, not the best.

That trend began to change in the late 1980′s as chefs in high end restaurants began to experiment with prime cuts of beef and expensive condiments. From Kobe to Angus and everything in between, the hamburger now is served alongside the most extravagant dishes in the most exclusive restaurants in America.

That is why Portola Hotel & Spa’s Executive Chef extraordinaire Jason Giles is proud to introduce The Portola Burger, quickly becoming known as “The Best Burger In Town”. The burger features 1/2 pound of hand formed certified Angus ground chuck grilled to perfection and served on a toasted Brioche bun. It comes with locally grown red leaf lettuce, shaved white onion and the Chef Giles’ very own special B&B sauce. As an extra treat the dish is also served with homemade pickles!

Served at Jacks Restaurant & Lounge for lunch and at Peter B’s Brewpub, The Portola Burger a “must-indulge” on your burger bucket list!


Wine Trolley Package for Two

Monday, June 25th, 2012
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Wine is the most ancient of libations and one that through the ages has been enjoyed by princes and paupers alike. There are many ways to experience wine. It could be over a fine dinner or at home with friends, but nothing beats experiencing wine at the source; the tasting room. And nothing complements the tasting room like an expertly guided tour of several of the region’s best aboard an open air Wine Trolley. According to the Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association, more grapes are grown in the Monterey County region than in any other area in California and Monterey County wines are quickly becoming some of the most sought after varietals in the country.

Experience a five hour guided wine tour with the Portola’s Wine Trolley Package for Two. Each Wine Trolley tour stops at five of the area’s finest boutique wineries while taking in the sites along the way. The package also includes a stay in one of the Portola Hotel & Spa’s newly renovated, elegantly appointed guest rooms, a warm chocolate chip cookie upon arrival and breakfast buffet for two at Jacks Restaurant. In addition you’ll also receive complimentary corkage fees at Jacks Restaurant & Lounge and access to the outdoor heated pool, relaxing cabanas, Jacuzzi and state of the art fitness center.

Fine wine, a journey of discovery that awakens the pallet, comfortable lodging and more. Salud!

Monterey Wine Festival

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
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Who doesn’t love wine? There are many different varieties, tastes and flavors. It’s been around for centuries, fits almost any occasion and has been the central character in countless movies. We serve it at our most important occasions and are a part of cultures worldwide. Most importantly, they have entire festivals dedicated to the mighty grape. In the foodie centric times we are in, the wine festival of old has become more than just a few local vintners getting together for some fun. Multiple wineries and culinary vendors are now the norm and the Monterey Wine Festival is no different (and that is a good thing)!

In its 36th year, the Monterey Wine Festival boasts wineries and a host of other participants over two days, June 8th – 9th 2012, at Monterey’s Custom House Plaza. Want more? Then how about the Bartender’s Fedora Cocktail Throw Down, June 9th at 2pm and from Noon to 3pm the return of the West Coast Chowder Competition? The Portola Hotel & Spa’s very own Executive Chef, Jason Giles will be touting his unique take of the American staple in the Seafood Chowder category. The festival will also feature an evening of indulgence at the Night to Celebrate Reds June 8th from 5pm to 9pm and the blind taste competition where Gold, Silver and Bronze medals will be awarded. For more information log onto


Great Monterey Clam Chowder & Calamari Festival

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
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Nothing says Memorial Day like the beach, barbeques and time with the family, but nothing says Memorial Day on the Monterey Peninsula like Clam Chowder and Calamari! The inaugural Great Monterey Clam Chowder & Calamari Festival will be held May 26-28, 2012 at the historic Custom House Plaza directly adjacent to the Portola Hotel & Spa.

Monterey’s waterfront will come alive with a full weekend of food, live music, cooking demonstrations and more types of chowder than you can possibly imagine! This free family friendly event will also feature a bevy of different food and beverage options with arts & crafts, marine-oriented educational organizations and local chefs teaching some of their culinary secrets. Live bands are scheduled throughout the weekend with the festival running from 11am-7pm on Saturday and Sunday and from 11am to 6pm on Monday.

So if you are looking for a reason to come to the Monterey Peninsula on Memorial Day Weekend, and seriously, who isn’t, make your reservations at the Portola Hotel & Spa today and plan on great food and good times at the Great Monterey Clam Chowder & Calamari Festival.