Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Latest

Wine Weekend Getaway at Hotel Valencia Santana Row

OK wine lovers! Looking for a fun alternative to Napa Valley that’s within driving distance of Sacramento and the Bay area?

Andy and I just checked out the Hotel Valencia at Santana Row in San Jose. They’re doing a Wine Weekend Getaway promotion (available Fridays and Saturdays only) that includes luxurious accommodations for two, a bottle of local wine with artisan cheeses and a prepared picnic lunch for a day of wine tasting.

I surprised Andy for his birthday weekend by planning the trip and coordinating some activities we would do during our stay at Hotel Valencia.

977785_10152035533932616_3367018339227644823_o

Andy did not know much about the birthday weekend in store for him. Just that we’d be driving to somewhere about two hours away, and that wine would somehow be involved (duh!). Speaking of wine, upon arrival, we were greeted with a lovely fruit and cheese plate and a bottle of local wine. Surprise, Andy, and welcome to Hotel Valencia at Santana Row!


welcome amenity

For Andy’s birthday dinner that evening, we walked to nearby Fogo de Chao, also located in Santana Row. I’ll be writing a separate blog post about our meal there. It was fabulous! Another benefit of staying at Hotel Valencia is the proximity from your room to delicious places to eat. Just walk there and walk back and no hassles with parking. :)

The next morning, I hit the gym in the hotel for a little damage control. The gym is small, but very nice with three treadmills, two elliptical machines, a stationary bike, and a weight station. There are also towels on ice and a large container of water to take care of your thirst. :)

gym

Following the workout, Andy and I headed down for the complimentary breakfast buffet at Citrus restaurant (located inside Hotel Valencia) that runs from 6-10am daily.

paleo breakfast
The hotel’s breakfast buffet is the best I have ever seen for being complimentary. There was an assortment of fruits (melons and berries), an oatmeal station, sausages, and an egg dish (the first day was an omelette of sorts, and the second day was scrambled (as pictured above). There is also coffee and juice bar, as well as a station to toast bread and bagels (if that is your thing) ;) It was nice to eat a great meal that we did not have to go out and find or pay extra. A very big bonus for Hotel Valencia guests! :)

The hotel’s interior is very unique, (as you’ll see in several of the photos below). I would describe it as modern with a Spanish flair that is present in the color and even in the hotel’s logo. It has 212 rooms.

hallway

ph_601_lobbyalcove

ph_reno_dancerelevator
Most rooms are approximately 350 square feet and feature views of the Santana Row neighborhood or the beautifully landscaped courtyard. They are furnished with either two double beds or one king bed with custom bedding, 42″ flat panel color TV, an oversized armchair, desk, and private bar. The full bathroom offers a traditional bathtub and shower combination. Rooms feature complimentary wired and wireless high-speed Internet access and daily newspaper, upon request.

ph_reno_guestroomkingbedmoney

ph_reno_lobby2

ph_reno_lobbyVchairseating

ph_reno_Mirror-Wall 
After breakfast, we relaxed by the pool (pictured below) for a few hours. Don’t worry, I didn’t swim for at least 30 minutes. ;)

pool-spa
Following swimming and sunbathing Then it was time for the rest of the birthday activities to be revealed. I told Andy that first, we would be going wine tasting and then I had planned a larger event that evening that would be outdoors and we would be picnicking in the parking lot. So after the hints, Andy assumed we were headed to a Giants game! Ha… silly him. :P

Equipped with the picnic basket, we set out to explore one of the four wineries to which the hotel has given us tasting passes. After deciding not to purchase wine at our first stop, we decided to head up the mountain to visit and do a tasting at Ridge Vineyards. (We were not given passes to Ridge, but were set on dropping in anyway). Why? Well, Andy and I met over a tasting of Ridge’s Cabernet at the Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event nearly three years ago.

The staff at Ridge couldn’t be more friendly and loved hearing about how we met. We tried several of their wines and decided on a full case to take home. Gotta love that industry discount! ;) A big thank you to Ridge Vineyards. We’ll be back to sit outside with some wine and take in the magnificent view at your winery when we have time to stay a little longer!

By the time we were done at Ridge, it was almost time to head down to the main birthday event! A picnic and concert at Mountain Winery: Creedence Clearwater Revisited.

mountain winery
The view through the trees taken at Mountain Winery.

picnic basket

The picnic basket and blanket (above, provided by the hotel–amazing job on the fruit and meats, by the way), and the tailgate party (below) we had at Mountain Winery before the start of the show. I highly recommend tailgating before a concert at the winery to avoid exorbitant dinner costs.

So happy Andy and I finally saw a show together at Mountain Winery. Stu Cooke and Doug Clifford still rock!

PS: Don’t worry Paleo friends, no crackers were harmed/eaten during our picnic (and were returned with the blanket and picnic basket). ;)
  tailgate
We had such a great time over the weekend and at the show! A huge thank you to my friends at Hotel Valencia for helping me arrange a wonderful birthday getaway for my best friend!

Hotel Valencia Santana Row is located at 355 Santana Row, San Jose, Calif. Information about upcoming events and packages are available online at www.hotelvalencia-santanarow.com, or call 866.842.0100 for reservations and additional information about lodging at Hotel Valencia Santana Row.

You can find Hotel Valencia on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

room door

More about Hotel Valencia:

Hotel Features:

  • 212 elegantly appointed accommodations
  • The only hotel located on Santana Row, away from the hustle and bustle of San Jose and Silicon Valley
  • Complimentary deluxe continental breakfast served daily in Citrus Restaurant
  • Vbar, an ultra modern lounge with expansive balcony views
  • Fitness Center
  • 4,000 square feet of meeting and event space
  • Outdoor year-round swimming pool
  • Complimentary wireless Internet in guest rooms and all public areas of the hotel
  • Business center with 24/7 access
  • Same day laundry and valet
  • 24-hour room service
  • Handicap accessible facilities

Nearby Attractions:

  • Santana Row – dynamic mix of upscale shopping and entertainment!
  • A myriad of dining options from Strait’s with Singaporean cuisine to
    Left Bank, a French bistro. There is something for every palate!
  • Santana Row has ongoing programs of street entertainment from music
    to movies.
  • Across Stevens Creek Boulevard, Valley Fair mall offers more than 250
    stores for your shopping pleasure including a new Luxury Wing as well as
    Nordstrom and Macy’s.
  • Winchester Mystery House—the world’s oddest mansion. 160-room
    Victorian mansion designed by Winchester Rifle heiress.
  • Levi’s Stadium – Hotel Valencia is only 11 miles away from the New Levi’s
    stadium which is home to the 49ers as well as a multipurpose facility for
    other sporting events and concerts.
  • Home to NHL’s San Jose Sharks!

Win a Pair of Tickets to Sactown Wings on August 23rd, 2014

Event_Logo_1
Sacramento’s booming food festival scene now has a special day to dedicate to the ever popular party food: the chicken wing. That day is August 23rd at 2pm (until 7pm) at Fremont Park (16th and P streets). event flyer below

I was very happy to team up with Xoso Sports to help promote this event because the proceeds from it will benefit the Food Literacy Center! :) I recently interviewed Nick Berruezo (founder of Sactown Wings and Xoso Sports) and here’s what he had to say about it:

Cavegrrl: How did you come up with the concept to have a wings festival in Sacramento?
Nick: The wing fest concept actually came from a friend of mine, and I hadn’t heard of anything like it in Sacramento.  There are a lot of wing lovers out there, and some of them might even be considered fanatical about their wings, so I thought it could be a fun, popular event for Sacramento! Plus, there are some great local restaurants and bars who have some amazing wings, and I thought this event could help bring them future business.

Cavegrrl: What made you decide to name the Food Literacy Center as a beneficiary?
Nick: I met with my friend Nicole Rogers with the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Farm to Fork division, who also serves on the board of the FLC and she put me in contact with Amber Stott with the Food Literacy Center.  The FLC has a great mission to educate the community about healthy, sustainable eating and Amber and Nicole were very excited about the event. It seemed like a great opportunity to work together!

Cavegrrl: Please tell me about attendee ticket options. I understand there are different levels.
Nick: There are three different ticket options:
-$10 Event Attendee: Admission only. You can purchase food and full priced beer at the event.
-$30 Wing Eater: Includes admission, 15 wings from Chicago Fire, souvenir beer mug with two free beers, and $2 beer refills.
-$40 VIP Wing Judge: Includes Wing Eater package plus additional 10 wings (2 each from five wing vendors) and a Sactown Wings Judge t-shirt. You’ll be one of only 100 people who get to vote on who has the best wings!

Cavegrrl: Do you have any entertainment lined up for guests of the event?
Nick: So far, our entertainment will consist of games: corn hole, bear pong (giant beer pong), giant jenga, and some live bands, which tentatively include the Golden Cadillacs and Musical Charis.

Cavegrrl: What else do you think my readers should know about the event?
Nick: I think the ticket packages are a great value and we’re hoping that this event grows and becomes an annual event.  It’s a great opportunity to not only support the Food Literacy Center, but many local restaurants, brewers, and musicians at the same time!

Awesome, Nick! Also, I want to thank you for generously donating a pair of tickets to give away on cavegrrl.com! :)

TO WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS TO SACTOWN WINGS ON AUGUST 23rd, PLEASE SHARE THIS POST ON FACEBOOK, “LIKE” THE SACTOWN WINGS FACEBOOK PAGE (CLICK HERE), AND LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW STATING YOUR FAVORITE PLACE FOR WINGS IN SACRAMENTO! Please leave some way I can contact you if you win. I will announce the winner on Friday, August 1st! Good luck! :)

Sactown Wings will take place on August 23rd from 2-7pm in Fremont Park. You can purchase tickets here.
You can like their Facebook page here and follow them on twitter here!

The Food Literacy Center’s mission is to inspire kids to eat their vegetables. They teach low-income elementary children cooking and nutrition to improve their health, community and environment.

Event_Flyer

Roasted Carrots with Curry and Pecans

carrots
Every year Andy and I get together with another family for a nice dinner party on the back deck at our house in Incline Village. We collaborate on a menu for our guests and make a fuss over the food and wine. The first year, we tricked everyone into eating a fully Paleo meal. Since then, all the guests know it’s a Paleo meal, and no one seems to mind. :) No one misses the bread or the sugar!

Typically, I am in charge of two side dishes, and Andy grills the meat (main course), makes a big salad, and makes his classic Bacon Wrapped Dates.

I have to say, Summer Solstice Party Number Three was a success and for one of my sides, I made and served these carrots.

I used a stevia sweetener called Pyure Sweet in the recipe. Many thanks to the manufacturer for sending me the samples.

Ingredients:
(feeds about 8-10 as a side dish)
1 cup pecans
5 pounds carrots
8 Tbs coconut oil (or butter)
1/4 cup Pyure Sweet
1 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs curry powder
1/2 cup lemon juice
Sea Salt to taste
Cracked black pepper

First, you’ll need to toast the pecans. You can do this in the oven or in a skillet on low heat. Whatever works for you. Just be careful not to burn them. Let them cool once toasted, and give them a rough chop. Set aside.

So, I personally choose the oven to toast my pecans, because it heats up the oven for my carrots that go in next. I have the temp at about 375°F for toasting the pecans. I heat it up to about 400°F when it is carrot roasting time.

Before the carrots go in, you’ll need to clean them up by peeling and cutting them into “french fry” shapes. It’s up to you what size you cut them down, but make sure they are uniform so they will cook evenly. Then, put them on a sheet tray (or two) that’s well oiled/greased (coconut oil or olive oil works best), salt liberally with sea salt, and roast until browned. I would tell you how long to leave them in the oven, but it all depends on how thick you have cut them, so I am leaving that up to you.

While the carrots are roasting away, you can make the curry sauce. Melt 8 Tbs of coconut oil (or butter) together over low heat in a saucepan with 1 Tbs molasses, 1/4 cup of Pyure Sweet stevia blend, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and 1 Tbs curry powder. Make sure all ingredients have combined over the heat (without boiling) and set aside.

Remove the carrots from the oven when they are close to being done. Drizzle the curry sauce over the pan/pans of carrots. Return to the oven and roast an additional 5-10 minutes.
Then the sauce has saturated and cooked into the carrots, remove them from the oven, and sprinkled the toasted pecans over them.

Serve the carrots warm or room temperature. A perfect party side dish and a true crowd-pleaser! :)

Raley’s Food for Families Refresh Dinner at Vierra Farms kicks off Summer Donation Campaign

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Refresh dinner 199
Last Wednesday, Andy and I attended a fundraising dinner at Vierra Farms held by Raley’s Food for Families. The purpose of the event was to introduce a new program to supply fresh produce to food banks and to kick off the Fresh Summer Donation drive.

Food For Families Farm to Fork Dinner Vierra Farms

The event was catered by Beth Sogaard Catering. The meal began with a House Smoked Salmon Salad on fresh spring greens with grilled apricots, herb and pollen crusted chevre, shaved celery, cucumber ribbons and a shot of honey-lemon vinaigrette.

IMG_4147

The main course was a duo of meats: Raley’s Free Range chicken breast stuffed with sweet peppers, spinach, basil and fontina, and an herb-glazed Raley’s Black Angus Beef tenderloin with a grilled young artichoke, on a bed of truffled potato puree and cherry tomato-basil-sweet corn compote with arugula pesto.

IMG_4161

There was a short presentation by both Michael Teel and Jennifer Teel-Wolter. Jennifer then kicked off a donate-by-texting program and guests of the dinner could text the amount of money they wished to donate and their name throughout the evening. By the end of the event, nearly $300,000 was raised!

IMG_4157

IMG_4159
In honor of National Fruits and Vegetable Month (the month of June), Raley’s Food For Families is launching a pilot program designed to increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables at local food banks. Food For Families’ partner food banks throughout Sacramento and Placer counties will now be provided with access to a variety of fresh produce, in addition to dry goods, to distribute in their respective communities. This new program allows food banks to choose what they need in their community.

Raley’s also announces their Fresh Summer Donation campaign, beginning June 9 and lasting through July 31, to help increase donations of fresh produce to local food banks.

Food For Families has raised more than $31 million and donated more than 21 million pounds of dry groceries to food banks in our communities since the program began as a holiday food drive in 1986. Raley’s Co-Chairman and Owner, Joyce Raley Teel, and CEO emeritus, Charles Collings, founded the program.

Today, food banks throughout Northern California and Nevada benefit from this non-profit program. Food For Families helps feed hundreds of thousands of hungry families year round.

Raley’s absorbs all administrative costs of the program with 100 percent of every donation going directly to help feed the hungry. All donated food is distributed by local food banks.

Customers can donate in four easy ways: At the checkstand at all Raley’s, Bel Air or Nob Hill Foods; online at foodforfamilies.org; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/raleysfoodforfamilies.com; or by texting the keyword ENDHUNGER to 85944. 100% of all donations go towards feeding families in need in the community in which the donation was received.

Raley’s will provide a matching donation for every dollar donated during the Summer Donation drive, up to $25,000, now through July 31. Customers can donate at any Raley’s, Bel Air, Nob Hill or Food Source store, online at Raleys.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/Raleys.

You can find Raley’s Food for Famillies on Facebook here and follow Raley’s on twitter here. Get in on the social media conversation with the hashtag #followthecart. To donate to the program, click here.

Special thanks to Raley’s Family of Fine Stores for most of the photos.

Lake County People’s Choice Wine Tasting to be Held Saturday, June 14th, 2014

PostcardFront_PeoplesChoice
Lake County is a wine region that might not have the cachet of Napa Valley, but I can definitely tell you they are making wines of Napa Valley caliber. Currently, Lake County has over 8,400 acres producing winegrapes. There are now 167 growers and 32 wineries in Lake County. I was first exposed to a large cross-section of wineries who call Lake County home at the Wine, Tunes & Classics event held at the California Automobile Museum last year.

The event combined a showcase of classic cars, music, and featured wineries from the Lake County Winery Association. There, I was able to taste and find several wines I really enjoyed. I was also told about the People’s Choice Wine Tasting that was held in 2013, and unfortunately already had plans for the weekend.

This year, however I am excited to attend the People’s Choice Wine Tasting this coming Saturday at Guenoc & Langtry Vineyards (21000 Butts Canyon Rd, Middletown, CA 95461). The event will begin at 1:00 PM and ends at 4:00 PM.

It will be an afternoon of wine, music, and fun. Music will be provided by the popular band “The Special Guests”.  The Yuba College Culinary program will be featuring some of their sweet treats, and food trucks will be onsite to satisfy your culinary cravings and stop by the photo booth to create a lasting memory of the event.

Tickets are $35 per person ($25 if you buy before June 10th with a special promo code–see below). Designated drivers encouraged and will be admitted for free. You must be 21 or older to participate in this event.

The Lake County Wine Competition is open to wines that contain at least 75% Lake County winegrapes and bear a Lake County appellation on the label. Lake County’s reputation for both high-quality wines and high-quality winegrapes continues to grow. The 2013 competition drew more than 120 wines to be judged. This number is expected to increase this year.

People’s Choice Wine Tasting – Special Offer
Treat your favorite Dad to an afternoon of wine, food, music, and fun and celebrate Father’s Day at the People’s Choice Wine Tasting on Saturday, June 14th. Eighteen of Lake County’s premium wineries will be pouring their award winning wines at Langtry Estate and Vineyards. Use promo code “4dad” to get $10 off the ticket price.  This offer expires on June 10th. Tickets will be available at the door for $35. For complete details or tickets, go to www.lakecountywineries.org/choice

To purchase tickets, follow this link. For more information on the Wine Awards you can visit the website here. Don’t miss your chance this year to be a wine judge!

You can find the Lake County Winery Association on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Dametra Café: Mediterranean Fusion at its Finest in Downtown Carmel

Return to Mundaka: A Spanish-Style Tapas Restaurant in Downtown Carmel

It was less than a year ago when we last visited Mundaka, a small plates restaurant nestled in the heart of downtown Carmel. Since then, the restaurant has continued to thrive and recently celebrated its 5th anniversary!

During our recent stay at The Vendange Carmel Inn and Suites Andy and I were honored to be invited back to Mundaka for dinner to try some new items on the menu, as well as some of our favorites from last time.

Please excuse the photos in this post. They are rather dark as was the room in which we were seated. ;)

We began the meal by ordering the Bravas: Fried potatoes, brava sauce, aioli. It happens to be one of the most classic tapas in Spain, and a must try at Mundaka.

bravas2

Of course the Bravas were excellent, but I think the Crudo was the first new thing on the menu that caught my eye. When the plate came out, I was surprised to see such a beautiful presentation of multi-colored julienned vegetables: Carrots, Brussels sprouts, beet purée, candied walnuts.

crudite

The juxtaposition to the Crudo dish was the Charcuteria! Time to get our fat on! The plate was composed of Serrano ham, Iberico sausages, house cured lomo. Slice upon slice of meaty goodness. And there was more to come!

charcuterie
I guess you could say our main event was the Carne: Hanger steak, truffle fries, free foie butter. The hangar steak was tender and flavorful, and cooked a perfect medium-rare. The fries were the very skinny variety–like matchsticks, if you will–they soaked up the foie butter that had melted onto the plate from the steak.

carne

Next up: A pan fried sole, salad of baby poached potatoes, grapefruit, arugula, saffron vinaigrette. This was probably my least favorite dish of all, but I still liked it, so that’s not much of a complaint. I just felt like the potatoes were a little clunky and didn’t belong on the plate with the fish.

sole
By this point, we were getting full and decided on a few non-dessert items to close out the meal:

Dessert #1: Huevo: Fried duck egg, crispy Iberico bits, toast. It was such a simple dish, but the quality of the ingredients and the richness of the duck egg combined with the Iberico was very rich and indulgent. Highly recommended as a starter dish or for a grand finalé!

duck egg

Dessert #2! Again with the eggs, ha! Tortilla: Potato, egg, onion, sea salt.

tortilla
So maybe we worked backwards, but my one of my favorite foods is egg, so these plates were like dessert to me. If you’re more into sweets and coffee for your finalé, Mundaka has a dessert, coffee, and digestives menu, pictured below:

dessert menu

What to drink? Mundaka serves a “Party Wine” house wine (red blend) poured from a giant bottle for $5 a glass (if you don’t ask what is in the blend). We enjoyed 2 different cavas (one, a rosé) and switched over to the Party Wine later in the meal. (Below is a photo of the bottle of sparkling rosé that Andy ordered and the glass of cava that I ordered).

cava rosecava

Mundaka uses organic, local, free-range, line-caught, sustainable, fair-trade ingredients, and DOESN’T use ingredients containing hormones, pesticides, high fructose corn syrup, or anything artificial. That’s so Paleo!

Mundaka is located on San Carlos Street between Ocean and 7th Ave and open daily from 11am-5pm for coffee/lunch/pintxos and open daily at 5:30pm for Tapas/pintxos. You can download a sample menu here. You can find Mundaka on Facebook here. You can make a reservation at Mundaka via Open Table here.

A big thanks to Mundaka for their hospitality during our second visit. Always a delicious and memorable meal! :)

bar area

Menu:
menu

To finish, a shot of my stunning dining companion. Love that guy! :)

andy

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,019 other followers

%d bloggers like this: