Posts Tagged ‘Summer’

The Annual Monterey County Fair – At the Heart of It All

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
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August 28 – September 2, 2013

Nothing quite says summer like a trip to the fair. Whether it’s a local, county or state fair, the smells of cotton candy and kettle corn mixed together with laughter and music make for an experience that is both familiar and new at the same time. The fair is Americana at its best and an event that holds a special place in almost everyone’s heart.

Since 1935, the Monterey County Fair has been bringing back that iconic childhood feeling while making new memories for the next generation. Who can forget, or wait, for the food, rides, livestock, carnival games and plain old-fashioned fun. This year, the theme is “At the Heart of it All” and from August 28 through September 2, 2013, the Monterey County Fair returns once again to bring smiles to the Monterey Peninsula.

The Fair kicks off on Wednesday August 28th with Kids Day. Admission is free all day long for children under the age of 12.  Kids Day features children’s themed entertainment all day long, including KWAV’s Central Coast’s Got Talent Show at 4pm, Circus Imagination performing throughout the day and the Marshall Tucker Band at 7:30pm.

Thursday the 29th is Senior’s Day for those ages 65 and better! The Ag Building will feature cooking demonstrations and at 5:30pm the People’s Choice Wine Tasting event (with separate admission) is always a crowd favorite! The evening fun goes on with the iconic 90’s band, the Spin Doctors taking the stage at 7:30pm.

Military Appreciation Day is Friday the 30th and admission for active duty military is FREE with a valid ID. There is a military dedication at 6:00pm at the Pattee Arena followed by a free Rodeo at 6pm. The Ag Building is home to the Beer Stampede from 5:30pm to 7:30pm (with separate admission) and live music from the Tower of Power closes out the evening’s fun.

Saturday the 31st brings the Junior Livestock Auction and Water Awareness Day. The auction starts at 10:00am and the day also features a free Rodeo at 6:00pm. The evening’s entertainment is cover band, Journey Revisited which hits the stage at 7:30pm.

Fiesta Day, Sunday September, 1st continues the week’s festivities and features Hispanic themed music throughout the day. Additional livestock shows include the ever popular Rabbit and Round Robin Shows at 9:00am and the Pee Wee and Adult Showmanship events at 5:00pm and 6:00pm respectively.

The Fair wraps up Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd with International Day. The Wool Auction is at 12:30pm with the Monterey County Pops close out the week’s music from 4:30pm to 5:30pm.

In addition to the special entertainment, daily entertainment includes cooking demonstrations, wine tasting, dancing, rides, hypnotists and carnival games just to name a few. The Fair is not to me missed, so come on out and create memories to last a lifetime!

Summer Festivals in Monterey

Friday, May 10th, 2013
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As many know, the Monterey Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places on earth. From the rugged coastline of Big Sur and the serene inlets of Moss Landing’s Elkhorn Slough to the winding trails of Carmel Valley and the Fort Ord National Monument, there is something for everyone. While those attractions are available throughout the year, some of the Peninsula’s most popular attractions only come around every 365 days.

Monterey and the surrounding area have long been synonymous with music and art of many kinds and nothing exemplifies that better than the summer festivals that make Monterey their home. The granddaddy is the Monterey Jazz Festival September 20-23, 2013. The longest continuously running jazz festival in the world, the MJF has continued to hold its September dates since 1958 and has features some of the biggest names in Jazz and popular music. Not to be outdone is the Carmel Bach Festival which is celebrating its 76th year with 15 days of performances, talks and educational events July 13-27, 2013.

 

Monterey stamped itself on the counterculture scene with the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, which was the blueprint for future musical spectacles like Woodstock and Lollapalooza and continues the tradition today, although with a slightly mellower vibe. The California Roots Music & Arts festival gets the summer started right, Memorial Day Weekend May 24-26, 2013. The good times continue August 9-11, 2013 with the Monterey Bay Reggaefest. In its 18th year, the festival is one of the largest in Northern California and features over 20 performers.

The ear has been satisfied, but how about the mouth? The food festival season kicks off with Cooking for Solutions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The three day event, May 17-19, 2013, focuses on sustainability and environmental stewardship in the food and beverage industry.  Also that weekend is the 54th annual Castroville Artichoke Festival. Celebrate California’s newly crowned State Vegetable and soak in a bit of history as the Festival counts a young Marilyn Monroe as one of their first “Artichoke Queens.” Memorial Day weekend features the Great Monterey Clam Chowder & Calamari Festival as two of the peninsula’s favorite seafood dishes collide at Custom House Plaza behind the Portola Hotel & Spa. If you are a wine lover, the area also plays host to the Monterey Wine Festival, June 7-8, 2013 and the Winemaker’s Celebration on August 10, 2013.  Both showcase the best of Monterey County’s vast winemaking region which was recently named one of the “Top 10 Wine Travel Destinations” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Ear; check. Mouth; check, but what about your eyes? Monterey also hosts a number of summertime art festivals and while music and food are certainly considered art, these are the traditional forms are highlighted at events like the Carmel Art Festival May 16-19, 2013. With its origins as a bohemian artist colony, Carmel-By-The-Sea plays host as the 20th annual event that showcases visual arts, sculpture, a judged plein air painting competition and much more. Three weeks later, the Valley gets into the act with the Carmel Valley Art & Wine Festival June 8, 2013. Carmel Valley Village comes alive as over 60 artists and art galleries display their works. Sand City, Monterey County’s hotbed of alternative art and vision hosts the Sand City West End Celebration August 23-25, 2013. Known for its independent and irreverent artistic atmosphere, the West End Celebration features and open air artist’s fair throughout the streets and the public is invited into the many studios and creative spaces that call Sand City home.

So if the dog days of summer are getting you down or you need to break for the coast to beat the heat, cruise into Monterey County and enjoy the eclectically rich summer festival scene. There truly is something for everyone!

Spa On the Plaza Fall Specials

Monday, August 20th, 2012
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As summer starts to turn to fall, don’t you deserve a little break from the end of summer/back to school madness? Whether you are rushing to pack in that last bit of fun in the sun or sprinting to fill your kid’s school supplies list everyone could use some “me” time. That’s why Spa on the Plaza at the Portola Hotel is offering a full line-up of relaxing and rejuvenating specials sure to soothe even the most harried mom or dad.

Always inventive with their offerings, Spa on the Plaza has infused the tropical favorite, coconut into several of its treatment packages. The Mini-Vacation includes a coconut balm massage and a pedicure for only $129. The coconut helps with disease prevention and anti-aging and when coupled with the Spa’s other award winning services can make your visit something more than just a simple spa service.

The Refresh ($175/120.00 minutes) includes the coconut balm massage as well as the CEO Facial and hand treatment. The CEO emphasizes essential oils, while it relaxes, helps to diminish fine lines and improve facial circulation. If that was not enough, you can also request the Rejuvenation Package ($190/180 minutes) which also includes the Coconut Balm Massage, a Spa Mani-Pedi and an exhilarating hand and foot scrub.

Spa on the Plaza is one of the largest spas in the country with over 6,000 square feet dedicated to spa services, health and fitness. It is also one of the most decorated with numerous “Best of” awards from local and regional publications. So if the end of summer has you going a little “nuts”, slow things down at the Spa on the Plaza at the Portola Hotel & Spa. Relaxed, Refreshed and Rejuvenated are the three “R’s” for moms and dads! Call (831) 647-9000 or visit www.spaontheplaza.com to book your well-deserved spa day!

 

 

Top 10 Picnic Spots

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
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It’s summertime, and with all the vacations, camps, games and other activities, we sometimes forget that this time of the year is supposed to be relaxing.  Even mealtime seems hurried as we try to fit one last thing into the longer summer days. So why not downshift and spend a little quality time with the family (and don’t forget to bring the dog) while taking in the beautiful scenery of the Monterey Peninsula? Food, family and fun are always a recipe for relaxation so here is our unofficial Top 10 (in random order) picnic spots on the Peninsula and a little beyond.

1. The nearest park or open-space or enchanted garden. Keep it simple and enjoy each other’s company, explore the Custom House Plaza and nearby Memory Garden/Pacific House or Old Whaling Station Garden.

2. Lovers Point Beach: What’s better than a lush park right next to a beach, with a view of Monterey Bay?

3. Dennis the Menace Park: Picnic tables and grills behind the park overlook Lake El Estero and a skate park. Perfect for kids of all ages (dogs not allowed in the park gates).

4. Marina State Beach: Miles of beach are perfect for flying kites and the occasional hang glider make for great entertainment; make sure to bring a windbreaker, as that’s why this is the best place for kite flying!

5. Colton Hall: Revel in the beauty downtown Monterey and sit among shady trees, beautiful architecture and a lush lawn.

6. Garland Ranch: Work up an appetite with a hike before sitting down to drink in the beauty of Carmel Valley.

7. 17-mile Drive: Beach, forest, golf or all of the above are offered along this famous stretch of road. The views aren’t half bad either!

8. Asilomar State Beach: Catch one of the area’s great sunset spots and white sand beaches, build a small bonfire, go tide-pooling and a walk amongst the dunes.

9. Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail: By bike, foot or surrey rental you can take-in the views and stop at any of the numerous benches and open spaces along the route for a meal.

10. Pfeiffer Beach State Park: This State Park offers it all and is a wonderful way to explore nature with your family and enjoy the majestic views and tranquility of Big Sur.

If you are looking for the perfect culinary compliment to this family fun, why not stop off at Peter B’s Brewpub or Jacks Restaurant at the Portola Hotel & Spa and pick up a delicious lunch for your group. With choices galore, your family and your taste buds will thank you!

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!

Cheers,

Chef Jason