Posts Tagged ‘Monterey’

And the Winner is…

Monday, November 10th, 2014
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Known as one of the premier venues in in Central and Northern California for conferences, meetings and corporate events of all sizes, the Portola Hotel & Spa was recently named a winner of the Smart Meetings Magazine 2014 Platinum Choice Award. I am thrilled to share with the followers of our Central Coast Living Blog, the press release that was distributed by Ballantines PR to local, regional, national and trade industry media outlets announcing this exciting news!

Portola Hotel & Spa, Monterey’s first and only Silver LEED® EB certified hotel, has been selected by Smart Meetings magazine as a winner of its 11th annual Platinum Choice award. This prestigious award recognizes excellence in service and amenities among meeting hotels and resorts in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. An additional category recognizes outstanding services by destination marketing organizations and convention and visitor bureaus across North America.

Out of thousands of qualified properties and organizations, Smart Meetings honors a select group of 192 businesses this year, one being Portola Hotel & Spa. Winners earn this recognition by setting exemplary standards in a range of categories, including ambience, amenities, breadth of resources, facility quality, guest services, meeting space, meeting packages, recreational activities, restaurant and dining facilities, and technical support. The honorees are chosen by the publication’s readers, who vote for their favorites, with additional input from editors and industry experts.

“The winners reflect the diversity of destinations and properties available to meet the needs of meeting planners. These organizations, hotels and resorts exemplify the professional standards expected by event professionals and attendees,” said Marin Bright, Smart Meetings Founder and Publisher. “We are proud to honor industry leaders that celebrate excellence, innovation, exemplary service and facilities to help make meetings and events extraordinary for planners and attendees.”

“We are excited and honored to have been selected by Smart Meetings as a Platinum Choice Award winner and will continue to strive for excellence and be a leader in the hospitality industry,” said Janine Chicourrat, General Manager of Portola Hotel & Spa.

Portola Hotel, along with the premier group of honorees, will be celebrated in the December 2014 issue of Smart Meetings magazine and on smartmeetings.com. View the full list of 2014 winners click here.

Savoring the Holiday Season

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
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Guest Post by Sonny Petersson, Portola Hotel & Spa Food & Beverage Director

Food and wine are my passion. I think, breath and live it, every single day.  Whether at work, at home, at a party or restaurant, I literally savor every bite and sip I take, appreciating the process, creativity and time one takes to prepare beautiful food.  Food brings together family and friends and there is nothing better than sharing a delightful culinary experience, especially during the holiday season.    As a native of Sweden, we have many beautiful and traditional dishes that are served during this time of year, here are a few of my all-time favorites!

 

Pickled Herring Paired with Akvavit

Home is where the heart is and pickled herring reminds me of Christmas in my hometown in Sweden. For some it may be an acquired taste, but the saltiness and texture of the herring complement a traditional holiday feast.

 

Turkey with Truffle Cream Sauce paired with Jordan Chardonnay

Maybe not so Swedish, but definitely perfect for the holidays, this savory seasonal favorite becomes transformed with served with a rich and creamy truffle sauce. Literally, you could cover a shoe in truffle sauce and I would eat it (and I’m not joking)!

 

Mincemeat Pie paired with Mulled Wine

This classic dish reminds me of Christmas Mass when I lived in London.  Traditional, rich and very English, I urge you to try a piece or two of this holiday favorite!

 

God Jul och Gott Nytt År

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Locally Inspired

Friday, October 31st, 2014
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Executive Chef Jason Giles, doesn’t only talk the talk, he walks the walk.  Committed to incorporating as many locally sourced and sustainable ingredients as possibly in his menu development at the Portola Hotel & Spa’s two onsite restaurants, Peter B’s Brewpub and Jacks Restaurant & Lounge, Chef Giles is definitely making it happen.

I was recently invited for an afternoon tasting of some of the season’s newest menu items and was in awe of the detail not only taken with the presentation, but in the preparation.  One of my favorite parts of the tasting was learning about how the ingredients were selected and sourced. Even more impressive, was that some of the ingredients were created, on site, in particular Peter B’s own Craft Beer.  Amazing to drink, but even more impressive to have as an ingredient in an entrée and even dessert!

One of the stand-out dishes we were served included a mouth-watering, fall off the bone, U.S. domestic lamb shank. Seared and braised in Peter B’s own Stout Resistance Ale (brewed on-site by Brewmaster, Kevin Clark) with aromatic vegetables, cinnamon and orange zest, this entrée is served over herb whipped potatoes and roasted, local Castroville Brussel sprouts then dusted with parmesano reggiano.

If that wasn’t amazing by itself, dessert was then served – drumroll please…house made Stout Resistance vanilla bean ice cream!  A collaboration with local creamery, KaiLee Creamery, this dessert was not only delicious, but memorable. Served with fresh strawberries and crispy barrel-aged coconut, this creamy treat should definitely be added to one’s culinary bucket list!

So, I invite all to sip, savor and share the next time you have the chance to visit the Portola Hotel & Spa!

For the Love of Pumpkin

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
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 Fall is upon us and that means it’s time for all things pumpkin.  This weekend as I strolled through the grocery store pumpkin flavored goodies filled the aisles.  Pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin cereal, pumpkin scones, pumpkin butter, pumpkin ravioli – you name it!

So I thought I would repost one of my favorite Autumn-inspired baked goodies from the Portola Hotel & Spa’s Executive Chef, Jason Giles – a Pumpkin Roll.  Have fun and let’s celebrate the flavors of Fall!

 

Originally posted, November 14. 2012

When it comes to holiday baking I’m always on the search for something new and different that will “wow” family and friends. I decided to go straight to the top and asked Executive Chef Jason Giles at the Portola Hotel & Spa to share one of his favorites (that was also easy enough for a rookie baker like me) and VOILA, he had the answer! So here it is, Chef Jason’s Pumpkin roll, delicious and completely doable! Enjoy and happy baking!

Chef Jason’s Pumpkin Roll

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (after reducing on stove see below)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch jelly roll pan or cookie sheet.

2. Pumpkin filling tends to have high moisture content, so I like to gently cook the pumpkin puree in a skillet over low heat for about 10-15 minutes to remove excess water and intensify the pumpkin flavor.  Cool completely before adding to recipe.

3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Stir in pumpkin puree, eggs, and lemon juice. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Spread the mixture evenly.

4. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 15 minutes.

5. Lay a damp linen towel on the counter, sprinkle it with confectioner’s sugar, and turn the cake onto the towel. Carefully roll the towel up (lengthwise) with the cake in it. Place the cake-in-towel on a cooling rack and let it cool for 20 minutes.

6. Make the icing: In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and sugar with a wooden spoon or electric mixer.

7. When the cake has cooled 20 minutes, unroll it and spread icing onto it. Immediately re-roll (not in the towel this time), and wrap it with plastic wrap. Keep the cake refrigerated or freeze it for up to 2 weeks in aluminum foil. Cut the cake in slices just before serving.

 

P.S. Need a great pumpkin cookie recipe – try another one of Chef Giles’ recipes! Click Here

Fun Fall Activities for the Kids

Monday, October 20th, 2014
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Although California’s warm weather continues, there is the unmistakable feeling of Fall in the air. While we don’t have the same explosion of color that the trees in New England have, our incredible growing climate allows the Monterey Peninsula to have Halloween themed farms and events aplenty this time of year. The kids and especially their parents will be especially thrilled to have so many options within such a short distance.

For a good old fashioned Halloween experience, check out Swank Farms in Hollister or Borchard Farms in Salinas. Swank Farms offers an over the top bevy of Halloween activities including a fantastic corn maze that becomes a haunted event at night and a more relaxed pumpkin patch. It also offers an interactive Kiddy Corral as well as a Pumpkin Catapult and Corn Ear Cannon, bouncy elements and a fully stocked snack shack and store. Check the website for the most current schedule of events and tickets and be prepared to be haunted!

Borchard Farms, home of the giant pumpkins also offers a family friendly corn maze, a spooky ghost town, a haunted barn and a petting zoo for kids of all ages. The ghost town is perfect for the little ones as it is 10 and under only and includes pumpkin bounce houses, a haystack maze, a leap the pumpkins game and plenty of Halloween photo op areas.  The haunted barn is a bit scarier and is great for your older ghosts and goblins.  Both Swank and Borchard Farms are also great for picking up pumpkins and decorations for your home or office.

A more relaxed family experience can be found at Earthbound Farms in Carmel Valley. The organic farm offers a wide range of regular and specialty pumpkins amongst a tranquil setting. The farm includes an expansive selection of other organic fruit and vegetables, as well as premade food and other offerings made on site including ice cream, soft serve and other kitchen goodies. The farm stands also include a cut your own herd garden and a walking labyrinth and an interactive kid’s garden with touchable foliage.

If you’ve already got your fill of farm, you can enjoy the thrill of a pirate’s treasure hunt at the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey. The Portola Hotel’s Pirates Program is a great way to engage your little buccaneer while at the hotel and emerge them into a world of high-seas adventure. Guests of the hotel from 3-12 years old can participate for free and will receive a Portola Pirate Bag and a self-guided treasure map so you can hunt for buried treasure.

Or, you can visit Downtown Pacific Grove on October 25th, 2014 for a free family friendly trick or treating event. Between 10am-4pm costumed kids and a responsible adult are invited to take to the streets of Pacific Grove and enjoy candy and toys given out at participating businesses while being entertained by musicians throughout downtown.

There is no shortage of Halloween events throughout the Monterey Peninsula. On your October visit, don’t have a fright, have fun and enjoy the spooktacular times today!