Archive for the ‘Food & Wine’ Category

Cooking For Solutions 2012

Thursday, May 10th, 2012
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In recent years the “food scene” has exploded across the American consciousness. From television networks devoted entirely to food to festivals focusing on every aspect of the industry, food is on everyone’s mind. One of the best movements to come out of this gastronomic renaissance has been that of sustainability. Many restaurants source local and look for organic products, but when it comes to seafood, there was not a clear set of sustainable guidelines.

Enter the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their Seafood Watch® Program. The program sets these guidelines for the supplier and the consumer and their Cooking for Solutions event brings together culinary stars for three days of fantastic food and fellowship designed to educate and raise money toward the stewardship of the ocean. This year’s Cooking for Solutions event kicks-off May 18th and runs through the 20th at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The event features over 40 award winning chefs and television personalities including the Portola Hotel & Spa’s very own Executive Chef, Jason Giles preparing sustainable seafood in an incredible environment.  With a variety of events from the Opening Night Gala and the weekend’s Salon Series to the Celebrity Chef’s LIVE series and the Food & Wine Adventure, you are sure to find an event that fits your taste. So learn the ins and outs of sustainable seafood and helping to save the seas at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking for Solutions event. Your taste buds will thank you and so will the ocean!

5th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine

Thursday, April 12th, 2012
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Not since the days of Bacchus, has a feast so sumptuous and splendid been laid out as will be gracing the grounds of Pebble Beach this week for the 5th Annual Pebble Beach Food and Wine (PBF&W), April 12-15, 2012. Each year, the event seems to top the previous year’s offering and this year will be no different. Take over 50 of the world’s top chefs, mix in world class food and wine, a liberal dash of glitz and glamour and you’ve got the PBF&W.  Check out their website for this year’s incredible line-up of celebrity chefs, sommeliers and talent including: Guy Fieri, Tyler Florence, Masaharu Morimoto and Daniel Boulud, just to name a few!

The Monterey Peninsula is quickly becoming recognized as one of the foremost destinations for the finest in food and wine.  From the boutique wineries lining Carmel Valley to the finest craft beer; fresh, sustainable seafood of the Monterey Bay and  numerous innovative award-winning restaurants,  foodies from all over the globe are adding Monterey as a must visit destination during their travels. So pack those bags and set forth on a culinary adventure that will not disappoint.

Easter Brunch

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
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The Easter Bunny, egg hunts, jellybeans, spring flowers, and a delicious brunch with friends and family, nothing says Easter like great traditions.  If you want to start a new tradition or continue with an old favorite, choose Jacks Restaurant for your Easter Brunch.

 Perfect for the entire family, the famous Easter Brunch at Jacks, boasts a gourmet selection of traditional and specialty dishes.  Chef Jason Giles has created the ultimate brunch menu featuring: a made-to-order omelet station, traditional Eggs Benedict, Ricotta cheese blintzes, seasonal sliced fruit, artisan breads and pastries, assorted salads, imported and domestic cheeses, poached prawns and so much more. Make sure to visit the carving station featuring ginger and honey glazed ham, baked salmon with a tropical fruit relish and grilled chicken with a Pinot Blanc sauce. Last but not least…leave room for the heavenly dessert bar featuring assorted pies, cakes and European pastries! 

 And not to worry…the culinary team at Jacks Restaurant have thought of everything. This year, Chef Giles will be preparing popular, child-friendly options too!  The hungriest (and pickiest) of Easter Bunnies will be able to help themselves to creamy mac n’ cheese, classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, yummy chicken nuggets, and one of our favorites, Jell-O!   Plus, this children’s brunch menu includes a soft drink, milk or juice.

The Jacks Restaurant Easter Brunch is Sunday, April 8th, 11:30am-4pm, children age five and under eat free and complimentary valet parking is being offered to all Jacks Restaurant customers enjoying brunch. To learn more, call (831)649-2698 or book your reservation today through Open Table.

Enjoy Locally Sourced Ingredients at Jacks Restaurant

Friday, March 16th, 2012
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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!!