A typical Thursday night at the California Academy of Sciences finds the Academy bustling with its very popular, hip and successful NightLife program. However last Thursday, April 18, was not your average Thursday night: instead, the museum was packed with party-goers enjoying the Academy’s biggest night of the year, Big Bang: Party After Dark! in conjunction with the annual Big Bang Gala.
As guests streamed into the Academy for Party After Dark! they were welcomed by vibrant, colorfully decorated human butterflies, gracefully towering above on stilts. Attendees were first received in the Piazza, specially adorned with graphic black and silver lounge furniture, delicate orange flowers and bold black bars. Music piped through the building as bartenders started whipping up cocktails and pouring wine. The evening’s specialty drink, our very own Spa Collins, was a hit: a zesty and refreshing concoction of vodka, lemon and lime juices, simple syrup, pickled ginger, mint leaves and cucumber slices. Buffets of scrumptious finger foods were open to those hungry for Chicken Siu Mai, Fried Chicken Sliders and Crispy Purses of Swiss Chard, Preserved Lemon and Feta – to name a few edible delights. Bars and buffets continued outside in the East Garden, where the Del Popolo pizza truck was also stationed, dishing up pizzas to guests checking out Rock the Bike featuring DJ Izzy Wise.
Towards the end of the night, DJ Mayer Hawthorne threw down on the turntables in the Piazza, where guests danced up a storm. As guests left the event, they were tempted by abundant candy buffets offering up a wide array of treats to satisfy any sweet tooth.
The gala dinner, which took place for a smaller group prior to Party After Dark! was also a tremendous success. Gala diners were invited first to participate in one of two lectures in either African Hall or the Planetarium by two of the world’s leading natural scientists in the field of biodiversity: James Balog and William McDonough.
Upon the conclusion of these illuminating discourses, attendees were lead into a tent impressively designed by Blueprint Studios, who drew design inspiration from the natural world that the Academy helps to protect. Decorative green and brown walls enclosed diners in an intimate setting, topped off with multi-shaped geometric chandeliers – hanging like stars against the clear-top tent. Succulents and vibrant floral arrangements in stone containers ornamented the tables, alongside candles floating in vases of water.
In this atmosphere of natural wonder and beauty, guests supped on fresh antipasto until the service of the first course, a Monterey Artichoke Salad with Shaved Fennel, Butter Lettuce, Chiogga Beets, Spring Peas, Artichoke and Chenel Cheese. Seared Halibut followed replete with Potato Turnip Puree, Fava Beans, Romanesco Broccoli, Carrots Vichy, Cipollini Onion and a Lemon Dill Beurre Blanc. A delectable dessert course of Raspberry Sorbet with Santa Cruz Berries in a Nougat Basket followed for those who saved room for dessert.
Revelers at both the Big Bang Gala and Party After Dark! not only enjoyed a rollicking grand time, they also helped to raise money for the sustainability and conservation programs for the Academy of Sciences. We are already looking forward to supporting these great initiatives with next year’s Big Bang!
To find out more information about the California Academy of Sciences and its programs, please visit their website at: http://www.calacademy.org/
The Exploratorium, one of San Francisco’s most beloved and interactive museums, has found a new home in Pier 15 and on Friday, April 12, we got a sneak peak at the cutting-edge space during the Opening Gala reception. It goes without saying that we were blown away.
Full of wonderful, thought provoking exhibits – for both the young and old alike – the Exploratorium is one of the leading museums where science is presented as an interactive activity and where all are encouraged to dive in to discover, or rediscover, one’s love of learning. When the new Exploratorium opens to the public in just a two days, a quarter of the 600 exhibits will be brand new, taking inspiration from its new location on the Embarcadero and highlighting the Museum’s dedication to implementing green technologies. From top to bottom, the entire building is an architectural testament to green reforms: the roof is the second largest solar roof in the City and the pipes in the floor use water from the bay every hour to heat and cool the building.
Nestled among all the fascinating scientific displays, the Opening Gala proved as fun, creative and diverse as the exhibits themselves. The VIP reception was hosted in the East Gallery which was sprinkled with a wide variety of lounge furniture vignettes, from a 1970’s VW bug camp set-up complete with tie-dye and bean bags, to a charming antique, Shabby-Chic arrangement. Mingling among these vignettes, guests took in the breath-taking view of the Bay Bridge and tasted passed hors d’oeuvres such as Grilled Prawns with Tamarind and Powdered Lime, Long Braised Pork Cilantro Empanadas with Avocado Crème, as well as Spring Peas and Mint Chilled Soup Shots served in test tubes.
As the sun set over the Bay, VIP diners headed up to the Observatory for dinner. Sleek minimalist glass tables, adorned with silver branch-like placemats and illuminated “O” centerpieces – a trademark of the Exploratorium – complemented the stunning view of the San Francisco Bay. Here, invitees were treated to a delectable three course meal starting off with Maine Lobster, Gem Lettuce, Oranges, Chioggia Beets, Baby Arugula and Hearts of Palm, followed bya hearty entrée of Grilled Grass-Fed Mignon of Beef, Braised Onion and Mustard Seeds, Smoked Potato Gratin, Colossal Asparagus, and Pommery Mustard Sauce. A trio of small desserts rounded off the meal with an Almond Tuile with Fresh Raspberries, a Chocolate Mousse with Bacetti Gelato and a Financier Pyramid.
The excitement and exploration did not stop after dinner. More guests poured in to enjoy an energetic after party where they reveled in mouth-watering desserts, a full bar and live entertainment by Reggie Watts, Tainted Love and Capital Cities.
The doors of the revamped Exploratorium officially open on the morning of April 17th, but if you are not able to make it during business hours, be sure to stroll by Pier 15 after work on April 17th or 18th so you can catch a glimpse of a striking video installation by Obscura Digital. Whatever your schedule, definitely find a time to pay a visit to the Exploratorium to enjoy this beautiful new space andto immerse yourself in a realm of marvel and curiosity.
To find out more about the Exploratorium, please visit their website at: http://www.exploratorium.edu/.
At McCalls, we strive to keep up with constantly changing trends while also thinking ahead of the curve with experimental and progressive programs. This couldn’t be more true when it comes to our bar initiatives.
Last fall, we sent 15 of our most skilled bartenders to one of the most prestigious and cutting edge mixology academies, The Beverage Academy at Bourbon & Branch in San Francisco. There, over the course of several weeks, our team refined their technical craft and explored the world of small batch spirits with some of the industry’s expert mixologists. Using tintures and herbs, they were trained to devise innovative cocktail creations and to realize the significance of fresh ingredients.
With this education and training, and an inevitable burst of reinvigorated confidence, our bartenders turned mixologists are charismatic, well spoken, and knowledgeable, keeping up to date with the ebb and flow of spirits and cocktail evolution. As such, the McCalls bar program promotes the utilization of fresh organic seasonal produce and herbs in conceiving unique cocktail concoctions that look to the future by infusing the old favorites of the past with the new inclinations of the present, but always including a twist, or spank, of our own.
Feel like whipping up your own cocktail at home? Try these two original recipes from our Beverage Manager, Roberto Franco.
In a pint glass, mix with ice:
- 1 oz. Hendricks Gin
- 1 oz. Amoro Nonino
- 1 oz. Cocchi Americano
- ¾ oz. Fresh lemon juice
- 1 healthy dash of celery bitters and a pinch of basil leaves muddled together
- Spoonful of honey
- Shake well and strain over a martini glass
- Garnish with a spank of basil (slap the leaves on the back of your hand to release the aromas)
The Nutty Ginger
In a pint glass, mix with ice:
- 1 oz. Aperol
- 1 oz. Nocino Walnut Liqueur
- 1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
- Spoonful of ginger syrup
- 2 healthy dashes of Peychauds bitters
- Shake well and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass
- Garnish with fresh pickled ginger
This past Thursday, January 24th, the San Francisco Ballet celebrated its 80th season with a black tie gala that gave nod to the global diversity of this prominent artistic institution as well as the City it calls home. Swathed in colorful modernity and eclecticism, with a delicious menu and vividly graphic design, the San Francisco Ballet sent a clear message about the transcendental power of dance – a language that remains universal in this international modern age.
Blueprint Studios choreographed the bold design aesthetic in City Hall, where pops of bright colors and graphic details were abundant. South Light Court was scene to a lively cocktail reception decked out in decorative blue shelving towers, yellow flowers and framed panel images of compasses. Guests enjoyed cocktails crafted behind gold bars and nibbled on delectable bites of Curried Quail Egg on Brioche Toast, Duck Confit Cigars with Red Currant Confiture, as well as Short Rib Grilled Cheese Morsels with Gruyere and Fig Marmalade sandwiched between Cinnamon Raisin Pullman bread.
Dinners in the Rotunda and North Light Court were just as effervescent as the reception. In the Rotunda, softly illuminated floral-like chandeliers danced overhead a sea of reclaimed wood dining tables adorned with canary yellow glass candelabras, orange flowers and retro chartreuse suede chairs. The Rotunda staircase, a grand statement in itself, was embellished with a blue, yellow and orange color blocked carpet. Equally as impressive as the Rotunda, the chartreuse draped North Light Court was not to be outdone. Shocks of red and blue punctuated the room and metal globe-like centerpieces gently rotated over the dinner tables eliciting thoughts of travel and the passage of time.
Against this colorful background, attractively dressed attendees were served a three course meal by our chefs that commenced with Veloute of Wild Mushroom Soup served over a Shiitake Mushroom and Gruyere Bread Pudding, followed by the main course of Chicken Merguez Sausage & Leek Stuffed Guinea Hen accompanied with Herbed Cheese Grits, Romesco Broccoli, Petite Zucchini, Parsnips, Carrots and completed with a Shallot Marsala Sauce. Lambrusco Poached Pears topped with Mascarpone Crème, Biscotti Crumbles, Zabaglione-Mocha Gelato and Caramel Brittle was served for dessert, a sweet note to end the dinner portion of the evening as guests made their way to the War Memorial. There guests reveled in a “Prosecco Promenade” and a one-night-only performance of a series of eight short globally inspired dance pieces.
After this impressive and beautiful show, an after party at City Hall awaited the crowd where DJ Chris Clouse, DJ Sebastian Concha, Freddy Clarke and Wobbly World moved guests to show off their own dance techniques into the wee hours of the night. The supping wasn’t over either, with a plethora of savory and sweet bites available to satiate dancing induced hunger including: Sandwiches of Prosciutto, Fresh Ricotta and Braised Rapini, Lemongrass and Coriander Vichyssoise, House-Made Dim Sum, a wide assortment of Maki and Nigiri Sushi, Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce and Petite Fortune Cookie Cones with Espresso Mousse.
Bravo, bravo to the San Francisco Ballet on another stunning and energetic opening night gala! At 80 years young, we are exited to see where you will chasse next in the wonderfully diverse world of dance.
To learn more about the San Francisco Ballet and its 2013 season, please visit: http://www.sfballet.org/
The holidays are a special time of year when we like to surround ourselves with our nearest and dearest, as well as a time to give thanks by aiding those in need. This Christmas, McCalls was excited to give back to our community due in part to our partnership with Food Runners, a local organization that works to assuage hunger here in San Francisco, and our second annual partnership with the sisters of the San Francisco branch of Fraternité Notre Dame, a soup kitchen with worldwide reach.
Leading this collaborative effort from our team was Tim Stewart, Kitchen Safety Manager and one of our many talented chefs. Building on our current relationship with Food Runners, who picks up our leftover food and delivers it to numerous soup kitchens in the Bay Area throughout the year, Tim was able to foster a connection with the sisters of the local chapter of Fraternité Notre Dame and volunteer some much needed services for the holidays: a kitchen and a few extra sets of culinary hands.
The sisters of Fraternité Notre Dame typically prepare and serve hot food for up to 300 people in need every afternoon out of their “Mary of Nazareth” Soup Kitchen in the Tenderloin. They also prepare and deliver food to nearby senior citizens and others who are not easily mobile and need meals delivered to their homes.
Upon learning about this wonderful organization through Food Runners, and their inspiring efforts to feed the hungry, Tim wanted to find a way for us to give back. So, on Christmas Eve day and Christmas morning, McCalls opened up its doors to our prep kitchen and many of our own staff generously volunteered their time and culinary skills to help prepare Christmas feasts from food charitably donated from many San Francisco benefactors. Once prepared, Food Runners picked up the meals from our kitchen and delivered them onsite to the sisters who served them up to at least 400 homeless people on Christmas Eve at the Fulton Street Plaza as well as in Bayview, and at least another 400 people on Christmas Day at their Tenderloin facility.
We send big thanks to Fraternité Notre Dame, Food Runners, our volunteer chefs and Tim for organizing and getting involved in such a wonderful endeavor.
On behalf of the entire McCalls team, we hope you enjoyed a happy holiday and wish you and yours a healthy and prosperous New Year!
If you would like to volunteer or learn more about Fraternité Notre Dame, please visit their website at: http://www.fraternitenotredame.com/2011_2_0/index.php
If you would like to volunteer or learn more about Food Runners, please visit their website at: http://www.foodrunners.org/
Looking to eat, drink and be merry this holiday season? In the spirit of the upcoming winter celebrations, we have asked our in-house wine director and former executive chef, Peter Koenig, to share his recommendations on festive food and wine pairings.
As the aromas of cooking fill our homes, we often ponder what wines should accompany our meals. Full bodied red wines can be expected to pair favorably with many traditional holiday meals of hearty roast meats. Cabernet Sauvignons marry well with beef or lamb dishes, while Peter suggests pairing Syrahs or Zinfandels with sweeter meats, such as a honey glazed ham. For fowl dishes we enjoy the lighter notes of wines like Pinot Noirs. Peter particularly recommends those Pinots hailing from the Santa Lucia Mountains, such as the Pisoni Pinot or the Paraiso Pinot Noir, if you enjoy something with more heft. Peter also favors the Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a fiery and spicy Rhone blend that would make even Jack Frost feel toasty.
While red wines often steal the savory show, white wines are the standouts when pairing with desserts. To accompany traditional fruit pies and fruit compotes, open a bottle of late harvest Riesling, Gerwürztraminer, or even Sauvignon Blanc. For something semi-dry and not too sweet, try the Johannisberg Riesling and partner it with a bread pudding for a particularly harmonious and delicious dessert course. Fruit distills are also excellent accompaniments to ice cream dishes. Sprinkle some Kirschwasser, William Pear, or peach distills over a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream for a simple, yet flavorful sweet treat.
Born and raised in Switzerland, Peter fondly recalls Christmas memories of chestnuts roasting on open fires out on the streets and enjoying a complementary young Pinot Noir or Beaujoulais. Another personal holiday favorite that reminds Peter of home, and is easy enough to create in any kitchen, is Gluehwein. A spiced wine similar to hot cider, Gluehwein is a concoction of a hearty red wine, sugar, lemon peels, cloves, and cinnamon sticks that is boiled for a couple of minutes and then strained creating a steaming, delicious drink that will keep the chills of a foggy San Francisco night at bay. (See Peter’s full Gluehwein recipe below.)
As much as we enjoy a nice glass of wine, we think nothing gets you into the holiday spirit like bubbles. Kick off your festivities with a sparkling Rosé such as Peter’s favorite, Blanc de Noir. Another tried and true holiday beverage, what else says Christmas like a cup of Eggnog? Peter likes his made with Rendezvous Rye Whiskey or Bulleitt 95.
If you aren’t entertaining this holiday season, the above wines and spirits also make great gifts for the wine and cocktail lovers on your gift list.
For more information about Peter, please visit his bio on our website: http://mccallssf.com/about-us/our-people/
Peter’s Gluehwein Recipe
1 liter hefty red wine (Peter suggests a Merlot, Cabernet or a spicy Syrah. The key is a good and inexpensive table wine.)
2 cups sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
10 whole cloves
Zest of one whole lemon
Combine all ingredients in a pot and boil for two minutes. Strain before serving. This recipe makes 6 – 6 ounce servings. Share with those around you and enjoy!
With the winter quickly approaching, if not already here, many of us are racking our brains to come up with fun, interesting and educational indoor activities to stay warm. Might we suggest a trip to Paris? This may sound extravagant, but thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Musée du Louvre in Paris and the Legion of Honor Museum in Lincoln Park, a small slice of French history is easily accessible to San Franciscans with the Legion’s newest special exhibit: Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Maire-Antoinette.
This show features many pieces that have never before been seen in the United States. The Legion of Honor will temporarily be home to a plethora of ornate, beautifully designed pieces reflecting the culture of the French Royal Court, including ornamental gifts that were given to cement alliances between countries and works of art patronized by the Kings. Make sure to seek out the Gemmes de la Couronne, an exquisite and skillfully crafted vase mounted in gemstones personally collected by Louis XIV, as many deem this to be the highlight of the exhibit.
Before or after indulging in the treasures of decadent French history, make sure to find your way to the Legion Café to feast on fare inspired by the French delicacies on loan from the Louvre. Options include Salads, Quiches, and Sandwiches named after – and fit for – the Royals themselves: “Henry XIV” takes the throne as a warm winter quiche made with butternut squash, cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses and served with a side salad.
In anticipation of the exhibit opening, the Museum hosted a sneak peak for many of its patrons. The black-tie fête was reminiscent of the French Court itself with long, beautifully draped banquet tables richly adorned with silver candelabras and vases of delicate pink roses. Guests mingled and made the first official sweep through the galleries while enjoying French stylized appetizers such as Smoked Chicken, Deviled Quail Egg, Ciabatta Toast and topped with Caviar. Upon being ushered into the French Court inspired tent, attendees were served a four course meal of Lobster Bisque with a Maine Lobster Medallion, Grilled Filet of Beef with Black Winter Truffles, a Cheese Course featuring a Petite Basque, and a Chocolate Pyramid – a perfectly sumptuous ode to the Musée du Louvre itself.
If the San Francisco winter weather proves to be fickle and makes a turn to the sun, take a stroll on the Legion grounds. You may not see the Eiffel Tower or L’Arc de Triomphe, but you may catch a glimpse magnifique of our own Golden Gate Bridge.
To learn more about this exhibit, please visit: http://legionofhonor.famsf.org/legion/exhibitions/royal-treasures-louvre-louis-xiv-marie-antoinette
To learn more about the Legion of Honor Café, please visit: http://legionofhonor.famsf.org/legion/visiting/legion-honor-caf
Pandas and giraffes were spotted everywhere last month as enthusiastic San Francisco Giants fans proudly donned their orange, black and “zoo” gear in anticipation for an exciting – and always torturous – Orange October.
The World Series between the SF Giants and the Detroit Tigers kicked off at our own AT&T Park on October 24th with an impressive shut out win by our boys that included three homeruns by Pablo “Panda” Sandoval. The next day, anotherexhilarating home game win by the Giants followed. All the nail-biting, shouting and cheering of true devotees certainly works up an appetite and McCalls was delighted to participate in all the excitement by hosting the home game after parties on Pier 48. Faithful fans were greeted to huge bowls of steaming Cioppino and Corn Chowder, Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Artisanal Cheeses and a Candy Buffet overflowing with orange and black candies.
Games Three and Four carried on in Detroit, but it didn’t damper the enthusiasm here in San Francisco. As soon as Sergio Romo threw the last strike in Game Four – securing our second World Series Title in three years – the City exploded in celebration rejoicing in our sweep.
While Giants followers exulted in the streets, the McCalls team took to the drawing board to begin preparations for the upcoming city-wide victory celebration. Food and beverage menus were planned, organized and prepared in just two days.
Halloween morning saw the Giants players, staff, and their families waving from convertibles and cable cars amidst a sea of black and orange revelers. Their route ended at City Hall, where they were able to enjoy a small intimate celebration with family and friends before their on stage ceremony. Players and guests noshed on offerings of Chicken Verde, German Potato Salad, New York Sirloin of Beef, and Mini Reuben Sandwiches, the likes of which did not escape the keen eye of our former mayor, Willie Brown, who wrote in SF Gate, “Hooray as well to […] McCalls catering for all those Reuben sandwiches, which many players were stuffing not only into their mouths but also into their pockets.”
As a big fan and supporter of the Giants, McCalls looks forward to the continuing growth and success of this team. Our Giants, often called a team of misfits, in fact appear to be perfect fits in this dynamic baseball force that is not to be underestimated. Here’s to our boys in orange and more San Francisco Giants World Series Championships!
To read more of Willie Brown’s article about the Giants parade, please go to: http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/Parades-of-S-F-champs-a-regular-event-4006486.php?cmpid=emailarticle&cmpid=emailarticle
A fun and eventful October continues here in the Bay Area with the annual San Francisco Fall Antiques Show next week, and we are thrilled to be a part of it. The almost week long festivities begin Wednesday, October 24th at Fort Mason, when we partner up with the Antiques Show on their Preview Party Benefit Gala, which helps fund Enterprise for High School Students. In the four days following the Gala, exhibitors will feature both fine and decorative art spanning over different time periods, countries and styles. Riding on the coattails of the America’s Cup here in San Francisco, this year’s Antiques Show features a nautical theme. The exhibits will largely center on the life aquatic with items ranging from sea shell crafted pieces to shipwrecked relics, delicate ship models to ancient sea faring tools. The weekly lecture series will focus on works of art and how many of them relate to the ocean, ships and sea travel.
Among the sea of artistic and decorative treasures, we encourage guests to navigate themselves to CaféGirandole where our Chef de Cuisine, Josip Martinovic, will be serving up delectable fare. Pulling from this years’ nautical theme, our menu (displayed below) was inspired by the fresh abundance of seasonal seafood and San Francisco treats. Try the Fisherman’s Lobster Bisque or our Meiggs Wharf Salmon and Bay Shrimp Salad. Toast to a day of antique perusing while supporting a good cause and enjoy a glass of wine or champagne.
The San Francisco Fall Antiques Show will run from Thursday, October 25 to October 28th, so don’t forget to get on board and buy your tickets for either the Gala, the Antiques Show, or both!
To learn more about the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show and to buy your tickets, please visit the Antiques Show website at: www.sffas.org
Read more about Enterprise for High School Students, whose mission it is to empower and prepare young people for success in employment and higher education, here: www.ehss.org
Music and melody, frivolity and fanfare, and wining and dining were all key ingredients to the fundraising efforts of the San Francisco Symphony as it kicked off its 101st season on September 19th.
Playing host to the Symphonix and Supper Club dinners, City Hall was dressed up in bright, playful colors thanks to the innovative designs of Blueprint Studios. During cocktail hour in South Light Court, guests were enticed with appetizers of Parsnip Feta Cheese Rolls with Cilantro Jalapeno Dressing and Corn Blinis of Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Crème Fraîche.
Suppers followed in the Rotunda and North Light Court – both equally adorned in bold shapes and whimsical color combinations. The Rotunda dazzled brightly with turquoise chairs, pebbled blue chargers and linens of chartreuse green, while North Light Court stood out in platinum with bursts of silver and red swirled linens accented with deep blue chargers. Just as vibrant as the dining rooms was the dinner itself, with scrumptious courses that included a Roasted Marchini Ranch Nectarines, Sonoma Duck Salami and Gem Lettuce Salad, Seared Filet Mignon with Smoked Gouda Potato Gratin, Baby Green Beans, and Heirloom Carrots, and for dessert, a Raspberry adorned Hazelnut Chocolate Layer Tranche.
Conducted simultaneously, the Patron’s Reception was lively with cocktails in Davies Symphony Hall and dinner in the beautifully tented pavilion also styled by Blueprint Studios. Surprising bold pops of greens, oranges, blues and reds were all throughout the tent – including the dramatic blue chandelier and the strong, but delicate, blue and orange floral wall. Attendees feasted on an amuse bouche of Heirloom Tomato Panzanella with Basil Sorbet, a California Citrus Dungeness Crab Salad, Seared Cornish Game Hen Breast with Stuffed Baby Leeks and Fennel Sausage, and a mouth watering Peach Melba decorated with Berries.
Following these delectable dinners, all guests were invited into Davies Symphony Hall for a spectacular concert conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas featuring renowned violinist, Joshua Bell. While many could have become fatigued after such an eventful evening, the celebrations didn’t stop there: a European carnival themed after-party, complete with carousel horses and street circus entertainers, ensued on Grove Street with more music, dancing, imbibing and nibbling.
A little music for your ears: All the partying goes to a good cause as the SF Symphony supports education and community programs to over 75,000 Bay Area children each year.
To learn more about this fun-filled night, take a peek at SFGate’s article:
To learn more about the San Francisco Symphony and its programs, please visit their website: