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Leave the Milk & Cookies to Santa: Holiday Wine & Food Pairings from our Wine Director

December 12, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

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:

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!

A Tourist Here Myself: A French Afternoon at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor

November 20, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

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:

To learn more about the Legion of Honor Café, please visit:

Pandas, Tigers, and Reubens, Oh My! The San Francisco Giants Win the 2012 World Series

November 8, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

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!

Shall we start preparing the Mini Reubens for 2013?

To read more of Willie Brown’s article about the Giants parade, please go to:

A Sneak Peak at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show

October 18, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

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:

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:

A Pitch Perfect Evening at the San Francisco Symphony 2012 Opening Gala

September 25, 2012
Kirsty Gumina

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: