Back in September, Andy and I attended the 70th birthday party of the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar, a legendary tiki bar located in the basement of the Fairmont Hotel. Walking into the room is like stepping back in time to the post-war days of exotic cocktails, food and all things Polynesian. A time when South Pacific food and culture were all the rage, along with the clothing styles to match. Originally, the room housed the hotel’s indoor swimming pool. The pool and its original tiles have been saved, but it’s now equipped with a floating stage for bands to play live music. Every thirty minutes, a thunderstorm erupts, and rain falls into the pool.
The 70th birthday party featured an incredible buffet, cocktails and live music by the Island Groove band. It was surreal to be in San Francisco on a work night surrounded by so many fun people dressed in their best festive tiki attire, laughing and dancing without a care.
The Tonga Room is a true relic, surviving a threat of closure, and thriving to become what it is today. In 2013, the menu was redone and the drink recipes were given an update to match the more traditional style. It was an incredible experience to be part of the celebration.
If you have never been to the Tonga Room, please put it on your list of travel destinations in 2016 or make arrangements NOW to celebrate with them on New Year’s Eve (details below)!!
Get a real taste of what the Tonga Room looks like and all the fun we had at the party. More photos from the 70th birthday celebration can be found by clicking HERE.
Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar New Years Eve Luau
Ring in 2016 in a tropical paradise! Tonga Room offers a decadent Luau buffet package featuring a sumptuous buffet, party favors, Mai Tai or Champagne toast at midnight & dancing to The Island Groove band from 7:00pm until 12:30am.
Tonga Room New Year’s Eve Luau: 6:00pm-close
Cover Charge: $30 per person
1st Seating 6:30pm ~ Dinner Buffet:
$89 per adult, $49 for children under 12
2nd Seating 9:00pm ~ Dinner Buffet & midnight toast:
$119 per adult, $59 children under 12
Tonga Room New Year’s Eve Buffet Menu:
• Raw Kushi Oysters with Rice Wine Mignonette & Wasabi Tobikko
• Chilled Crab Claws with Chinese Mustard Dipping Sauce
• Poisson Cru, Sweet & Hot Peppers, Lime Juice, Coconut Shell
• Chilled Soba Noodle Salad with Ponzu Dressing
• Tropical Green Salad: Toasted Macadamia Nuts, Shredded Carrots, Pickled Peppers, Hearts of Palm, Shaved Cucumber, Crispy Wonton Strips, Sesame Soy Vinaigrette, Rice Wine Vinaigrette, Miso Vinaigrette
• Kona Baby Back Ribs
• Assorted Steamed Dumplings
• Red Lentil Soup
• Chow Mein Noodles, Bok Choy, Oyster Mushrooms, Cabbage, Carrots
Mongolian Beef Stir Fry
• Lu Pulu Taro leaf wrapped Corned Beef with braised Cabbage& Coconut Milk
• Huli Huli Chicken
• Vegetarian Tonga Hot Pot
• Whole Roasted 3-day Hoisin-Brined Berkshire Pig:
• Kalua Pork & Tropical Fruit Stuffing, Sweet Molasses Glaze & Apricot- Star Anise Compote
• Mashed Sweet Potatoes
• Wok Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Black Garlic, Sesame Oil
• Chef Attended Sushi Rolling Station: Tuna, Salmon, Amber Jack & Hamachi with all the accompaniments
Dessert Station: Coconut Clafouti, Petite Pineapple Rum Cake, White Chocolate Matcha Mousse, Assorted Mochi
To make arrangements at the Fairmont Hotel and for a glimpse of everything going on this holiday season, you can click here! You can find Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar on Facebook here and on Twitter here. For more information call (415) 772-5278.
Have you ever just wanted to escape? I mean, just ditch everything and all of your responsibilities?
I was so ready to do that this past weekend!
Lucky for me, Andy and I got the chance to travel to Carmel Highlands and were hosted for an evening at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands. It’s a destination hotel heavy on amenities and a sensory overload of picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean and Big Sur coast.
We were invited to stay there along with a few other writers–including L.A-based bloggers Kat and Kelly of Edible Skinny–and over the course of the weekend (which also included a stay at another Hyatt property) we were treated to dinners, massages, wine tastings and other fun things. For this chronicle, I’ll focus on the sheer excellence of the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and the meals we enjoyed at the restaurants located there. PS: Color me blessed and lucky for sure!
When we arrived at the hotel, we immediately joined up with the hotel tour already in progress. Sacramento is about 3 hours and 30 minutes away from Carmel Highlands. We were welcomed by the hotel staff and a woman from Holman Ranch Vineyards. She poured us a refreshing Chardonnay to sip during the tour. I asked the woman’s name because I thought she just might be “Hunter” for whom one of Holman Ranch’s wines is named, because I had spoken with her before on twitter. She confirmed her name and I laughed saying, “I thought that was you, you’re my favorite wine!” I have written about them before here.
The tour of all the meeting facilities was very interesting. The hotel is equipped with all different sized meeting/banquet rooms to fit different needs (4,945 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting spaces). Although the hotel can support any sort of indoor or outdoor business meeting you can think of and offers full service catering, as well as controlled heat, lighting and audio/visual systems, Hyatt Carmel Highlands is an even more ideal wedding and romantic getaway spot. Below is a picture of the gazebo (the setting for many nuptials).
One of highlights of the hotel for me was the gym/fitness center, which many hotels in Carmel and Carmel Valley do not have. It is small, but adequate for a property of 48 rooms. From the elliptical machines, you can actually see the ocean. I spent a lot of time in that room during my stay! :)
After our property tour, we gathered by the lounge and enjoyed some appetizers and Holman Ranch wine. Hunter told us a little more about Holman Ranch and their wines as well as the estate-grown olive oils.
After a few rounds of appetizers and the fabulous Holman Ranch wines, our group relocated to the restaurant, just a few feet away from the lounge. The restaurant at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is called Pacific’s Edge, and oddly enough, Andy and I almost went there for my birthday in June, but we were staying in Carmel-By-the-Sea, and opted to eat somewhere within walking distance of our hotel. I was thrilled to learn we would be enjoying dinner at Pacific’s Edge with other travel writers that evening at the only restaurant in Carmel with a view of the ocean!
Soon, we were served two new wines: a 2012 Chardonnay by Domaine Eden and a 2004 Austrian wine: Brundlmayer Cabernet Franc, “Vincent’s Cuvée”. Below is a picture of the Chardonnay. Andy and I had more of it with our dinner, as it was a better pairing with our food.
Everyone in our group was given a menu crafted just for us, just for that evening. We were told to choose one appetizer and one main course. For my appetizer, I chose the Zucchini Carpaccio with wild arugula, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, picked mushrooms and lemon olive oil vinaigrette.
Andy went with the Octopus “Confit” with fingerling potatoes, smoked paprika, extra virgin olive oil and Maldon salt. Since octopus doesn’t have it’s own fat to be a confit, the olive oil was used to slowly cook it, hence the name.
Then for our main course, Andy and I both ordered the same meal. We usually try to order something different, but this time we couldn’t resist the special being offered for the evening:
It was a line-caught Chilean Sea Bass with grapes and crispy sunchokes. It was one of the best fish dishes I have ever had. There were several layers of flavor and textures going on within the plate: flakey, creamy, crispy, savory, sweet, umami. It was everything I want in a bite of food. Comforting, but not too heavy. And so perfect I had to show you another picture:
We also happened to capture a picture of one of the other journalist’s dinners:
Then came dessert: I chose the fromage plate and a glass of 2005 Château Guiraud Sauternes.
The next day, after a few hours in the gym at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands for myself—Andy opted to go on a 5 mile run—we were treated to lunch at another one of the hotel’s restaurants (open for breakfast and lunch): California Market.
It was bubbles for me (Domaine Carneros Brut) as I decided what I should order for lunch. The patio of California Market features space heaters to keep you warm when the sun is busy hiding behind the clouds, and gorgeous views of the ocean and the beautiful landscaping of the property. I took the picture below from my table at the restaurant.
I order Cobb Salad a lot in restaurants because it has the trifecta of love: avocado, bacon and blue cheese! :) I ordered the dressing on the side (which was actually a very good Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette). It was the perfect low carb lunch after a long workout! The Cioppino was fragrant of mussels, clams, shrimp and cod with a spicy tomato broth. Andy jumped ship on the gluten free boat (momentarily) to enjoy the crusty garlic bread as a mop, catching every drop of the soup. What a satisfying lunch and sure to keep us full until dinner.
Following our meal, we said goodbye (reluctantly) to the staff at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands–one of the nicest stays I have had in recent memory. I think for me it was really all about the views and the cozy fireplace in our room. And OK, someone DID leave a bottle of my current favorite red wine in my room (how did they know about my love for Talbott Kali Hart??) accompanied by a cheese plate. :)
Indeed it was hard to leave, but incredibly excited to tour and stay at the next Hyatt property on our agenda for the weekend: The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, which I will be writing about in the upcoming week!
You can find Hyatt Carmel Highlands on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here and on Instagram here. You can find Holman Ranch on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Thanks to Hyatt Carmel Highlands for their generosity and hospitality.
I just found out about another fun food and wine event, this time featuring wine regions north of I-80. It’s called the 2nd Annual Golden Wine Festival and it’s going to happen on October 31st, 2015 from 11:00am-4:00pm at Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland. (Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm is located at 1415 Pumpkin Lane in Wheatland, CA).
Up to 25 top wineries and olive oil companies from the Sierra Foothills and Sacramento Valley will showcase their products.
This is an opportunity for wine lovers throughout the North State to interact directly with the vintners themselves while sampling a wide range of varietals and wine-making styles from this unique wine producing area of Northern California.
The event will take place in a beautiful hand-hewn, timber-frame barn, and will be accompanied by tasty hors d’oeuvres, a sampling of other locally-grown products and the option of Bishop’s famous barbeque lunch.
Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm will have its full facility open to allow adults as well as children to enjoy its corn maze, special baked goods, shops, miniature train, petting zoo and other down-home attractions.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Yuba-Sutter United Way to benefit grants for non-profit organizations providing services for “Healthier Children.”
Tickets are $25 — all tastings and hors d’oeuvres included. To purchase tickets, please CLICK HERE. If purchased before October 21st , the usual parking fee will be waived.
Andy and I attended the dinner as guests of the restaurant and were thrilled to be back at one of our favorite places to dine. I enjoy the wine dinners in particular because we always meet new people who are just as into wine as we are, as well as the wine representatives who are more than happy to talk about the wines in great detail that are featured in the dinner.
At a Dawson’s wine dinner, the evening typically begins at 6:30 in the form of a sparkling wine reception. Guests are given light appetizers and bubbly to kick off the evening and to open their palette and appetite for the incredible food and wine pairings to come.
Soon after the appetizers and bubbly, the chefs and wine representative come out into the reception area to introduce themselves and explain the meal and wine pairings that will be served for the evening. Below, chef Jason Poole gives a rundown of what he’s created for the night.
Following the menu introduction and the featured wines, guests are led into the restaurant to their assigned seats. There are a few communal tables and a few booths that are used for wine dinner guests. Andy and I were happy to be seated across from the wine representative as well as the wife of a well-known Sacramento chef. :)
Soon, the servers poured our first wine and brought out our first course of the evening: A Maple Glazed Pork Belly with a quail egg, pickled chanterelle mushrooms and green onion grits. This course was paired with a 2013 Jayson Pinot Noir. (Jayson is a secondary label of the Pahlmeyer brand.) Of course, Pinot Noir is a classic pairing with pork, and it was almost like an upscale breakfast for the first course with the pork belly (bacon), egg, and grits. I completely approve of that!
Next up was the second course and wine pairing: Yellow Watermelon and Yellow Tail Tuna: Avocado cream, cocktail sauce, feta and cilantro flowers, paired with the 2013 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay.
I loved the plating of this dish most of all and the fun flavors that resounded. Yes, feta really does go with almost everything, and it was great to have yellow watermelon (something I don’t get to enjoy that often) featured in a dish. The 2013 Pahlmeyer Chardonnay served with this dish could really stand on its own. I actually think I found a new favorite white wine.
Moving on to the third course, beef, a Wagyu Flat Iron. It was plated with butternut squash cream, charred jimmy nardello peppers, eggplant, quinoa and currants. It was paired with a 2012 Pahlmeyer Merlot.
The beef course was my favorite because for me it was the most cohesive. Also, this was the best pairing—the wine did not compete with the food, but enhanced the flavors of its smoky eggplant and rich fruit (currants).
The fourth course brought us a Rabbit Saucisson (a sausage which originates in France that is typically made of pork, but here with rabbit and looked to have been made as a terrine). The saucisson was arnished with cornichons, white peach, pickled green tomato and a red wine mostardo.
This course was paired with a 2012 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red (a classic Napa style Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot). This full bodied wine paired well with the richness of the sausage, the boldness of the mostardo and the pickled items on the plate. Even a month later I remember how much I liked this particular dish and how unique it was.
For dessert we enjoyed a caramel tart filled with a nut trio of almonds, pistachios and cashews and served with a vanilla gelato. The crust was much like a buttery shortbread, filled with a thin layer of chocolate ganache, followed by a thicker layer of caramel. It was one of the best desserts I have ever eaten in a restaurant, and that’s a high compliment, as I myself am a pastry chef who rarely indulges unless it’s just fruit or a cheese plate. Old Soul coffee was poured for guests to enjoy with their dessert. Depending on the winery, sometimes a late harvest wine or a port is served with the last course.
Up next for Dawson’s wine series is their wine dinner featuring Silver Oak. It will be on Friday, November 13th at 6:30pm, 5 courses for $95 per person. To make a reservation, call (916) 443-1234. Hope to see you there! :)
Last Sunday, not one but two dinners took place on a bridge to celebrate Farm-to-Fork and the amazing bounty we are lucky to enjoy living in the greater Sacramento region.
One of those dinners took place on the Deadhorse Island Bridge and was hosted by the California Pear Advisory Board. The menu featured locally grown produce, namely pears, in almost every course, and the signature beverage of the evening was a pear martini crafted by Jay Yoon of Dawson’s Steakhouse.
From the moment I heard this dinner was going to take place for people who were unable to attend the Tower Bridge Gala dinner, I was very excited for the organizers, and very interested in attending. Especially when I heard my friend and fellow blogger (Munchie Musings), Catherine Enfield would be attending.
It’s really something when you anticipate something so much and it turns out to be everything you expected, but so much more. On the evening of September 27th, we arrived in Walnut Grove and the Dead Horse Bridge (given its name from retired work horses who spent their last days on the island), located across the water from Giusti’s (a local restaurant responsible for the main course to be served that evening). The table and the bridge were beautifully decorated for the guests slated to dine there.
Soon Andy and I were mingling amongst the other guests, as well as Catherine and her guest. The starter was a pizza from Hot Italian in Sacramento, featuring pears and gorgonzola cheese, their Murino pizza.
Being gluten free 95% of the time did not stop me from tasting the appetizer and I enjoyed it with a pear martini, crafted by the aformentioned Jay Yoon of Dawson’s Steakhouse. If you haven’t been to Dawson’s, you’re missing out. Dawson’s is one of the most underrated restaurants in Sacramento. If you’re a wine lover, check out the wine dinners they have every few months. Here’s Jay making my martini!
I loved the addition of the pizza and the pear martini. It was such a touch of class, and made the Dead Horse Bridge Dinner seem so much like a private cocktail party. Then there was the wine, all provided by Bogle Wines and the beer, provided by Sudwerk Beer. The sodas were provided by River City Sodas, and the drinking water was even infused with pear. I could tell the organizers were beaming with pride and showcasing their product (pears) in the best way possible.
On display were several works of art (photography) by Skyler Stanley, including the piece below. Skyler was also the event photographer and took all the photos that were made into a video slideshow of the event that can be viewed by clicking here.
Then the courses began. First, a Delta Islands organic tomato and basil with fresh mozzarella salad. The Bogle Chenin Blanc was a perfect pairing with this salad and the next salad to come.
The first salad was a traditional mozzarella salad, but the endive salad really showcased the pears. Blue cheese and walnuts are a classic sidekick for pear. and the platter of salad didn’t last long amongst my table mates.
Then following the salads was the main course: A barrel-roasted pork rib roast with caramelized pears. Some meals just go down in history as the best you have ever had, no matter how simple the preparation. This meal was headed that way, and the pork we had next only added to my enthusiasm.
It’s really the atmosphere and the company with which you share your meal that makes it great, but it doesn’t hurt to have one of the best pieces of pork you have ever had in your life in front of you as well. The pears in the dish gave a sweet element that danced with the well-seasoned pork. Guests were also served sweet corn-on-the-cob from Dixon with the main course. Bogle’s Petite Sirah and Phantom Red Blend rounded out the wine selections.
OK, so I was all ready for seconds. I really was. But next came dessert, a delightful array of items from Golden State Fruit including dark chocolate crumbs, dried and fresh pears, almonds and Fiscalini cheddar cheese. It was like I was in charge of the dessert plate because it was a stunning combination of all of my favorite things on a plate!
With the dessert items, Bogle’s Petite Sirah Port was also served.
The words amazing and incredible can’t even describe my experience. The Pear Bridge Dinner was such a great success, but could not have been without the help and donations of time and goods by the following people… I want to give a round of applause to the chefs who put the meal together: Mark Morais of Guisti’s and his team –Sam Rainwater, John Baranek and Katie Morais. More thanks goes out to J.B. & Jeannie Morais of Delta Islands; Sudwerk Brewing Co.; Rich Collins, California Endive; Jim Boyce, Produce Express; Dixon Ridge Farms; Bogle Vineyards; Rivermaid Trading Company and all of the local Delta pear farmers, as well as Golden State Fruit.
More kudos goes to Chiles Wilson, Daniel Wilson, Chiles Wilson Jr., CJ Jensen, and Dixie Wilson for the use of her bridge. Rivermaid Trading Company was responsible for set-up, serving and clean up before, during and after the event. Big love to Jay Yoon and his assistant, Susan, from Dawson’s Steakhouse in the Downtown Hyatt for the delicious pear martinis. More thanks to Jody Bogle, Janice Lucas, Steve Lucas, Tim Lucas and Judy Rhea for pouring wines and beverages. Emily Allen of EJA Designs created the beautiful flower arrangements for the event.
To say the Pear Bridge Dinner was memorable evening is simply an understatement, and if you’re reading, one I hope you’ll take part next year. To keep up with future events, you can find the California Pear Advisory board on Facebook here, follow them on Twitter here, on Instagram here and on Pinterest here.
I can’t believe it’s been four years since I met Andy at the Curtis Park Wine Tasting and now we live here in Curtis Park together. We are really looking forward to taking our annual walk over to the Sierra 2 Center in a few weeks to enjoy food, wine and friends. :)
I am happy to share information on this event (which happens to be one of the best food and wine tastings of the year in Sacramento) put together by the Sierra 2 Center, and I hope you will join us for the 25th Annual Curtis Park Wine Tasting! -cg
The tradition continues at the 2015 Curtis Park Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event on Sacramento, October 10th, 2015 4-7pm.
Building on the success of 24 previous years, this event showcases more than 50 wineries, 20 restaurants and handpicked craft brews by owner & operator of Curtis Park’s own Pangaea Bier Cafe.
The Wine Tasting, Silent Auction & Beer Garden Event is the biggest event of its kind in Curtis Park. Event proceeds benefit SCNA, Bret Harte Elementary School and McClatchy High School. The event takes place at the Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th Street, Sacramento, California 95818
Bring your friends with you, or come meet some new ones. This year we’re turning 25 and we’re celebrating in a VERY big way.
• Raw Oysters on the Half Shell (Scott’s Seafood on the River)
• Dad’s Kitchen
• Freeport Bakery
• Lucca Restaurant & Bar
• Localis (apart of the Broderick Restaurant family)
• Sugar Plum Vegan Bakery
• Tower Café
• Tapa the World
• Taylor’s Kitchen
Event Sponsors: Cook Realty, McDonald Plumbing, Joseph F. Eschleman, Black Pine Communities, Melissa Heede (Remax)
Advance until 11:59pm, Oct. 7: $40 (SCNA Members)/$45 (Non-members) Membership can be purchased or renewed during your registration process. Online ticket sales will close at 11:59pm on Oct. 7. After Oct. 7: $50 all online tickets available until 11:59pm, Oct. 7. After Oct. 7, tickets available at Sierra 2 Center office and at the door the day of the event. Tickets are also available for purchase by visiting the Sierra 2 Center office at 2791 24th Street or by calling 916-452-3005 prior to 5:00 p.m. Friday, October 9, 2015. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door prior to the event.
On September 27 at 4 pm, a dinner coordinated by the California Pear Advisory Board will take place on the historically-named Dead Horse Island Bridge on the Delta near the community of Walnut Grove. Attendees will mingle with other guests and local California pear farmers while enjoying a scenic view in the heart of one of the largest pear-growing regions in California.
The event will include locally-raised meats, Delta-grown crops such as corn, tomatoes, endive, and, of course pears. The dinner will be catered by Giusti’s Place, a great local restaurant located next to the bridge. An appetizer and cocktail from the Farm-to-Fork Pear Recipe Contest that was held in August will be featured: Grilled Pear Bruschetta from Taste Restaurant and Jay Yoon with Dawson’s Steakhouse at the Hyatt will be serving his House Pressed Bosc Pear Martini (shown below). Delta area wines and local beers will also be served.
Each person will be allowed to reserve no more than four tickets at a price of $125 each. To reserve tickets, please send an e-mail to the California Pear Advisory Board at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note the event is for people over the age of 21.
The California Pear Advisory Board is a non-profit organization made up of farmers who grow pears in California. The cost of Pear Bridge Dinner tickets is meant to cover expenses only. Any money remaining after costs are covered will be donated to a local charity.
If you’d like to try some special pear dishes at local restaurants you can CLICK HERE to find out what’s being served and where.