Posts Tagged ‘Summer’

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 Music By The Bay

Thursday, June 26th, 2014
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The Monterey Peninsula has always been known for its musical roots. Festivals have been an integral part of Monterey Bay culture since the 1950’s and the region is quickly becoming a must-visit for some of the biggest names around!  With headliners playing nearly every single weekend, why not make the trip to Monterey and not only enjoy great music, while taking in amazing views, top notch accommodations and world class food, wine and craft beer.

This coming Saturday, June 28th, the 2nd Annual Monterey Americana Festival brings country legend, Dwight Yoakam to the stage at the Monterey County Fair & Event Center.  Kick-back and take in the sounds of Americana music artists playing throughout the day and make sure to cruise by vendors and food booths.

Now in its 77th year, the Carmel Bach Festival is a 15-day festival and educational event taking place throughout the entire Monterey Peninsula, July 19th – August 2nd.  The Sunset Center in sophisticated Carmel-by-the-Sea plays home to the festival’s Main Concert Series, as other smaller venues dotted throughout the area feature intimate concerts, lectures and other events.

Next up at the same venue, July 26th – 27th is Blues Brews & Barbeque at Monterey Bay.  This celebration is one you won’t want to miss.  Enjoy the best of blues from musicians like Kenny Neil, Memphis Gold, Terrie Odabi and many more. The perfect mild summer weather will be complemented with amazing food and some of the best craft brews around!

August 23rd – 24th “Monterey meets Coachella” during the First City Festival.  This two day festival also at the Monterey County Fair & Event Center will play host to over 30 acts including Beck, The National, Phantogram and The Naked & Famous.

Wrapping up the summer festival season is the infamous Monterey Jazz Festival, September 19th – 21st. With tickets now on sale, this year’s festival will welcome The Roots, Herbie Hancock, Gary Clark, Jr., Michael Feinstein, Cecile McLorin Salvant and many, many more Jazz legends and superstars.

From Jazz to Americana and from Classical to Electronic, the rhythm of summer is the music of your choice. Here’s to enjoying your favorite on the Monterey Peninsula!

 

 

2014 Monterey Beer Festival

Monday, June 2nd, 2014
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Somehow the picture of summer isn’t quite complete without the idea of a cold beer in hand, and in that vein, a summer on the Monterey Peninsula isn’t complete without the annual Monterey Beer Festival.

Featuring over 30 breweries, the Monterey Beer Festival will allow you to take a spin around the world, taking a sip of culture and flavor as you go.  Join the fun Saturday, June 14, 2014 from 12:30-5pm at the Monterey County Fair and Event Center for the chance to taste unusual offerings from major beer companies, as well as smaller small batch and independent craft breweries – including Monterey’s first craft brewery, Peter B’s Brewpub, located behind the Portola Hotel & Spa.

Don’t drink on an empty stomach!  Don’t worry! With food trucks and local specialty vendors, there will likely be a different dish to go with every beer.  From Thai noodles to old-fashioned Bratwurst there’s a booth to satisfy your every craving.  Live cover bands including: Powerage, Journey Revisited and Wicked Garden will be rocking the festival AND don’t forget to register for the highly competitive Beer Pong Tournament.

With only a little over a week to go, visit the Monterey Beer Festival website for a countdown to the festivities and to purchase tickets Click here! Advance tickets can be yours for $45 each, or buy them at the door for $50 (tickets for designated drivers available for $20 per person).  Admission includes beer tasting til your heart’s content and a full day of good times and entertainment.  And be sure to look into the VIP tickets ($70 in advance, and $80 at the door), which grant access to a VIP area with private restrooms, festival souvenirs, entry to the main festival and more.

Cheers AND please drink responsibly.

Unforgettable Beach Picnics on the Monterey Peninsula

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
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For many people summertime means lazy days in the sun, kicking back with good friends and good food!  In my opinion, there is no better way to celebrate this tradition then heading to the beach for an old fashioned picnic.  The Portola Hotel & Spa has some fun tips to create you perfect beach picnic!

 

Step One – choosing the right beach. The Monterey Peninsula is filled with amazing beaches and each one comes with unique scenery and features. Here are some favorites along with what makes each location so special.

Del Monte State Beach – Just a short walk from Portola is the Del Monte State Beach, which spans from the Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf to Seaside. The long stretch of beach allows picnic goers to find their own intimate spot in the sand or a grab a picnic table and watch the crowds go by on Monterey’s bike trail. Dogs are welcome on this beach and the water is perfect for boogie boarding and surfing. Great for activities for all ages, it is ideal for flying kites, playing catch or a game of volleyball with courts located right off the beach. For picnickers that are planning to stick around after sunset, be sure to bring ingredients for S’mores along with firewood, since beach fires are permitted.

Lovers Point – The teal waters, protected swimming coves and tide pools galore make Lovers Point the perfect spot for picnics! Make camp on the sandy beach or in the park just above the beach at the picnic tables. A protective cove makes this beach a little warmer than the others and once lunch is fully digested, wade into the Bay or take a dip in the Lovers Point Children’s Pool open daily from noon to 4:30pm.  Kayak and paddle board rentals are also available at the beach from Adventures by the Sea.

Asilomar State Beach – Just south from Monterey in Pacific Grove are the white sands of Asilomar State Beach. Asilomar is Spanish for “refuge by the sea,” and it lives up to this name. Picnickers and their dogs too, can spend all day walking the boardwalks surrounding the beach and the sand dunes, exploring tide pools and watching the surfers catch big waves, as a State designated beach, beach fires are also permitted.

Carmel Beach – Bright blue waves, white sand and dogs galore await you at Carmel Beach. The long stretch of beach with views of golfers on the Pebble Beach golf course, quaint Carmel homes and the luscious scenery of Point Lobos will keep picnickers entertained for hours. The world-renowned beach attracts people from all over the world to picnic by day, take in the beautiful sunset and set up bonfires by night.

 

Step Two – food and beverage. The Monterey Peninsula is jammed packed with great restaurants and cafés that serve food to go. We have picked a few that will delight the taste buds with a little local flavor!

Jacks Restaurant & Lounge – Located inside the Portola Hotel & Spa, Jacks is one of the Peninsula’s most popular spots for lunch and is available for take-out.  As a member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch® Program, Jacks is committed to using healthy, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients.  Jacks lunch menu features a Mediterranean Vegetable Sandwich, Whole Wheat Chicken Wrap and a Classic Club Sandwich, just right to pack in your picnic basket. For something a little lighter, try their Warm Chicken & Cashew Salad or a Crispy Dungeness Crab Cake Salad, pair these with the perfect wine and you’ll be all set!

Happy Girl Kitchen – Two blocks form the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Happy Girl Kitchen is a café and cannery that specializes in house-made baked goods. Delicious organic breakfast and lunch options include sandwiches, soups and delicious cheese and cracker plates. This spot also specializing in preserves so be sure to grab one of the jams, pickles or a jar of local honey.

Troia’s Market – Located just a few blocks up the hill from Portola, Troia’s Market is a great place to stop to pick up traditional quality deli sandwiches, a selection of sides such as potatoes salad and other homemade options such as mac and cheese, salads and lasagna. There is a vast assortment of snacks to grab and a nice beverage selection for those of age.

Whole Foods Market – Located right off the freeway at the Munras exit, Whole Foods is a great option for picnickers on their way to Asilomar or Carmel Beach. Offering a full service deli, sushi bar and big selection of ready food to go, Whole Foods is a great place to stop to ensure that everyone in the picnic party will be able to enjoy their favorite food on the beach.

Wine – What is a great beach day without a bottle of wine? Just steps from Portola are two great places to pick up world famous local Monterey County wines. Stop in Wine From the Heart or Terranova Fine Wines to taste a few before purchasing your new favorite bottle and heading to the beach.

It’s hard to go wrong on the Monterey Peninsula when selecting a location along with food and beverage for a picnic. Don’t forget sunscreen, towels, a blanket, chairs, sand toys and a football or volleyball!

When it comes down to it, finding the time to relax and be around loved ones is precious, so get out there and have day on the Peninsula that everyone will remember!

Summertime Chillin’ & Grillin’

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
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Nothing says summertime like a backyard BBQ. From the first sizzle of a perfectly seasoned steak on the grill, everyone enjoys one of the most revered of summer pastimes. Chef Jason Giles, Executive Chef at the Portola Hotel & Spa and the brains behind the menus for Jacks Restaurant & Lounge and Peter B’s Brewpub, loves backyard BBQ’s and has graciously shared his favorite summertime recipe with Central Coast Living.

All great recipes share one core aspect, which is the quality of ingredients. According to Chef Giles, meats that are a bit higher in fat will cook better on the grill because the marbling in the meat keeps it moist and full of flavor, he personally recommends the following cuts:

  • Rib-Eye
  • New York Strip Loin
  • Skirt Steak
  • Tri Tip
  • Flank Steak

Chef Giles has a few tips that he always follows when preparing the meat.  He recommends that the meat be seasoned/marinated for a few hours before cooking to allow it to soak up the flavor of the marinade.  For a little extra zip and pizzazz, try his famous Season Salt:

  • ½ cup Kosher Flake Salt
  • 3 Tbsp. Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1Tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1Tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Coriander
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

This seasoning is great for beef, chicken or pork. Once the ingredients are mixed together, they need to be stored in a clean, dry glass jar.

Now that the seasoning is taken care of, it is important to focus on the best way to grill the meat. Make sure that the grill is nice and hot – if it is too cold, the meat will just steam. When the grill is warmed up pull the meat out of the refrigerator and let it start to come up to room temperature to ensure an even cooking time. Always be prepared to season the meat with salt and pepper, even if the marinade has a ton of flavor the meat will most likely benefit from a sprinkle of salt and a dash of pepper.  Once the grill is nice and hot, cook the meat to about 10-15 degrees below how it is usually grilled and let it rest for 15-20 minutes after cooking.

When the perfect steak is cooked, Chef Giles recommends adding the popular Argentinean sauce, Chimichurri as a side condiment:

  • 1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 leaves fresh basil chopped fine
  • 3 mint leaves chopped fine
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 garlic cloves minced ( or grated on a micro planer)
  • 1 ½  cup Olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To create the sauce, mix all the ingredients in a bowl EXCEPT the lemon juice.  Let it sit in a bowl for at least an hour to allow the flavors to marry together.  Just before serving add the lemon juice and taste for seasoning. It is important to add the lemon juice last, as it will discolor the herbs if added at the beginning. 

Your friends and family will think you’ve been a master of the grill with this simple recipe and cooking tips from your secret summertime BBQ hero, Chef Jason Giles.