Posts Tagged ‘Monterey’

Peter B’s Brews & Bites Contest

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
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And the Winner Is…IPA Braised Carnitas Over Polenta Cakes by Camilla Mann

Peter B’s Brews & Bites Contest

During the month of July Peter B’s Brewpub held one of the coolest contests around town! Rookie chef’s where challenged to design an original recipe for an appetizer incorporating one of the brewpub’s original craft beers.

Three very creative finalists were carefully selected they were (in no particular order):

  • Beer Fondue by Rachel N.
  • IPA-Braised Carnitas over Polenta Cakes by Camilla M.
  • Vegan Beer Caramelized Leek & Onion Dip served with Beer Pretzel Bites by Briana S.

After some serious tasting by a savvy panel of judges during KRML’s live broadcast of Pub Talk with Chris and Merideth from thebeergeek.com and KRML’S very own Mike Hale and Jeff White at Peter B’s on July 30th, Camilla Mann’s recipe for IPA Braised Carnitas Over Polenta was declared the winner in a very close race.

On behalf of the Peter B’s team, thank you to all those that entered and keep on cooking!!

 

IPA-Braised Carnitas Over Polenta Cakes by Camilla Mann

 

 

Legend of Laguna IPA-Braised Carnitas

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless pork, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 12 oz Legend of Laguna IPA
  • 1 T pine honey
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Bring all of the ingredients – except salt and pepper – to a boil in a large, flat-bottom pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pork is fork-tender, approximately an hour.

Uncover pork; simmer until liquid evaporates and pork begins to brown, approximately half an hour. Continue to cook, for another 10 minutes, until the pork is nicely browned. Shred pork with a fork.

 

Pan-Fried Polenta Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 C polenta
  • 5 C warm water
  • 1/2 C Legend of Laguna IPA
  • 1 T pine honey
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed kumquat juice
  • 4 T butter
  • Freshly ground sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Bring water, IPA, honey, and citrus juices to a boil in a large saucepan. Add freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Gradually whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring constantly, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in butter, and season to taste with more salt and pepper. Spoon into a buttered pan and let cool.

Once cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To Assemble:

  • Butter
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Freshly ground salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Melt a pat of butter in a skillet. Slice your polenta into serving size pieces – whatever size you want. I tried both bite-sized and larger. Pan-fry the cakes until a crisp crust forms, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Reheat the carnitas with 1/2 C water in a covered pot, adding more water if needed to keep pork moist.

Place the polenta cakes on your serving plate. Drizzle with salsa. Top with carnitas. Add a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

A Memory Garden Memory

Monday, July 28th, 2014
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So… it’s not too often that I get personal on our Central Coast Living Blog, but every July I get a little sentimental!  Nine years ago, this month I was walking down an aisle dusted with rose petals at one of the most magical venues in all of Monterey (in my humble opinion)  – the Memory Garden.  I’ll never forget walking through the Portola Hotel & Spa on my way to marry my best friend.  Each step I took through the lobby as the sun was shining through the windows; I was one step closer to becoming Mrs. Thomas.

My husband and I were immediately drawn to the Memory Garden.  The clean white walls of the adobe and enchanted garden were exactly what we had envisioned for our wedding day.  The natural flora and fauna of the garden didn’t really need any extra decorating; it was perfect just as it was.

I remember vividly, as I peeked from the gates before the ceremony, that this was it – my dream wedding, simple, romantic, elegant and quintessential old Monterey. After, we walked hand in hand to Frank Sinatra’s “It Happened in Monterey” (yes I know he’s referring to Monterey, Mexico, but it still worked) and as we gazed back at our family and friends, all was right in the world at that very moment!

Now our walks near and around the garden include our amazing six year old twins, who fondly call it Mommy & Daddy’s Wedding Flower Garden, and every time we take that first step through the gates, my husband and exchange a glance with one another, reflecting on our wedding day.

 

 

 

 

 

August Happenings On & Around the Monterey Bay

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
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No matter what weekend you decide to make Monterey your summer getaway, chances are there’s a festival just waiting for you to enjoy.  With everything from the Scottish and Greek Festivals to the Watsonville Strawberry Festival, there’s no shortage of good food, fun entertainment and great excitement to be had!

Start off with a weekend of sweet strawberry bliss and the annual Watsonville Strawberry Festival on August 2-3, 2014.  A two-day festival in historic downtown Watsonville, this event showcases the strawberry, one of Monterey County’s most famous crops.  Free admission to all and fun for the whole family, the festival features delicious food, premier live entertainment, an exciting carnival and the beloved gooey strawberry contest.

Also on the same weekend is the 47th Annual Scottish Games and Celtic Festival. This event brings the tartan of Scotland and the green of the Emerald Island to Monterey from 9am – 5pm on August 2-3, 2014. Featuring authentic music, dance and athletic events there are activities galore for the whole family. One of the centerpieces of the festival is the pipe band competition where teams of bagpipers and drummers toe the line to see who is best. Throw in Highland and Irish dancers, as well as arts and crafts and you have an experience not to be missed.

Next, let a quick trip down to Monterey’s historic Custom House Plaza transport you to exotic Greece for the annual Greek Festival.  A favorite event for locals and visitors alike, the Monterey Bay Greek festival offers three full days of Greek culture and excitement, set amid the charming backdrop of Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf.  With free admission you can enjoy a weekend full of authentic Greek cuisine, live music and dancing.  Kicking off Monterey’s beautiful Indian Summer, the festivities, spanning from August 30 -September 1, 2014, will have you feeling Greek in no time.

These are just three of the many exciting August activities on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula. So whether you are a local or a visitor, you’ll have the opportunity to experience some of the more colorful countries and cuisines of the world, Monterey style.

 

We can’t wait to see you here!

Live to Run – Jair’s Story

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
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Jair Sanchez, Elite Master Runner  2014 Bay Area Race

Many of the topics we cover on our Central Coast Living Blog are any number of the wonderful sights, events or activities to experience here on the Monterey Bay. Occasionally, we are lucky enough to welcome a Guest Blogger to bring an element of unique insight, but we are truly honored to have the opportunity to tell the story of one the Portola Hotel & Spa’s very special employees.

Jair Sanchez has been working at the Portola Hotel & Spa for over seven years and is currently the Kitchen Supervisor, but his journey has taken this elite runner on a much greater path. Jair began running when he was in the 6th grade. His natural talent for the sport shone through during a 1200 meter race where he took first place, but it was not until he was 19, when he ran a blistering 49-second 400 meters.

Jair took 3rd place in the 400 meters State Morelos, 1992

Soon, Jair immigrated to the United States, but because of work he put aside his pursuit of a competitive running career and concentrated on making a better life for himself. As Jair began to establish himself in this country, he was hired at the Portola Hotel & Spa in 2006 which provided a springboard to return to running at an elite level. Two years ago, Jair made a commitment to return to the rigourous training required of a competitive athlete.

Jair in 2010 over weight at 190 pounds

He has excelled for someone who was way from the sport for such a long time, but through hours of training, sacrifice, discipline and the support of the Portola, Jair has quickly become a fixture in many of the races throughout the Central Coast of California, crediting his friend and trainer Ulises Fernandez for much of his success.

While reaching  a masters level of elite running is a goal well within his sight as evidenced by a 1:15:13 time at the Half Marathon of Modesto, Jair is most proud of being able to influence his friends to live healthier lifestyles. His message to anyone who wants to improve their overall health and feel better about themselves, “It is never too late to change!”

The Portola Hotel & Spa is extremely proud to support Jair and all he has achieved and with his drive and passion, we are sure to see much more from this very special part of the Portola family!

Best Beaches on the Monterey Peninsula

Friday, July 11th, 2014
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It’s common knowledge that the Monterey Bay has one of the most beautiful coastlines on the entire planet. But with all those miles of photo-worthy shore, how can you tell which beach is right for you? Central Coast Living’s team has visited them all and here are a few of our favorites!

Located off of Highway 1, just south of Carmel is Carmel River State Beach.  With a lagoon formed by the Carmel River, this California State Park attracts a large number of migratory birds, making it a great place for birders.  Also providing access to notable kelp forests in the area, the beach is a hotspot for scuba divers and kayakers as well.  Not the best place for swimming due to its strong currents, beautiful Carmel River State Beach is better suited for a day in the sand or cozying up to warm fire for s’mores in the evening.

Just a mile north of Carmel River Beach, within charming Carmel-By-The-Sea, is Carmel Beach. Renowned for good surf, soft sand and excellent dog-walking conditions Carmel Beach is a favorite spot for locals and visitors alike.  Perfect for sandcastle building, it’s no wonder that Carmel Beach annually hosts a beloved sandcastle contest as well as the Sunshine Freestyle Surfabout, one of California’s longest running surf contests.  Even better than the sand under your feet are the evening sunsets painted where the sky meets the sea. Carmel Beach is also an ideal spot for bonfires and evening picnics.

Spanning from Monterey to Seaside, the Monterey State Beach offers a long uninterrupted stretch of sand and surf beginning next to historic Fisherman’s Wharf and ending in Seaside. This popular beach is the perfect place for many outdoor activities, such as surfing, kayaking, swimming, kite flying and even fishing. Look toward the sea and you’ll spot scuba divers emerging from the depths.  Look toward the sky and you’ll find hang gliders soaring over the dunes. Perfect for everyone, Monterey State Beach is a great place for a true California beach experience.

This next beach packs a whole lot of beautiful views and natural diversity into a single mile of coastline.  Providing public access to the Monterey Peninsula’s rocky coastline and dune habitat, Asilomar State Beach is a popular spot for every beach activity from nature walks and surfing to a romantic date night. With a quarter-mile long trail running through the dunes, Asilomar is the perfect place to take in breathtaking views or go for a morning jog.  Explore the little worlds hiding within Asilomar’s many tide pools or set up shop for an evening bonfire.  A fully accessible beach, Asilomar State Park features beach wheelchairs to allow full access to those with limited mobility.  Dog friendly and child-friendly alike, Asilomar is a great family beach.

One of Pacific Grove’s most beloved landmarks, Lovers Point Beach is a favorite for both P.G. natives and visitors alike.  With a safely protected seashore perfect for children, a rec trail wrapping around the iconic coastline, and lovely Lovers Point Park overlooking the rugged Pacific, Lovers Point is the perfect beach destination for families and visitors of all ages.  Enjoy a game of volleyball while overlooking the water, or bring your children to play in the Lovers Point Children’s Pool.  Enjoy a run on the rec trail or take your dog for a walk with a view.  Featuring bike, surrey and kayak rentals during the high season, Lovers Point has been named Best Place for a Wedding for several years running. So if you are looking for the perfect blend of romance and family fun, look no further than Lovers Point Beach and Park.

From small hidden beaches and long stretches of shoreline to rocky points and quiet tide pools, Monterey Peninsula’s cost offers something for everyone. The next time you visit Monterey, discover how many things there are to do at the beach!