Ca’Del Bosco – The Food

This is the first part of a three-series post on a dinner that took place at the Hotel Bel Air on Wednesday, October 23rd featuring the wines of the Ca’Del Bosco and the cuisine of Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud. You can see the first part here

One of the things that separates Haute cuisine from every day cooking is not just the the quality of the ingredients, but knowing how to utilize them. Santa Barbara spot prawns can be found on quite a few menu’s around town, but rarely are they blanched to a pinkish perfection as I witnessed in Wolfgang Puck’s course.

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Ca’Del Bosco @ The Hotel Bel Air – The People

This is the first part of a three-series post on a dinner that took place at the Hotel Bel Air on Wednesday, October 23rd featuring the wines of the Ca’Del Bosco and the cuisine of Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud. 

Watching men like Chef Daniel Boulud is like reading a story within a story. You are in the presence of a man who has spent decades in kitchens of the highest rank. Not only has he worked with the absolute best ingredients that can be found anywhere in the world, he is among the 1% of every man who has ever transformed ingredients using fire. The amount of information he must be processing with every glance, every evaluation both visual and physical is fascinating. His hands are heavy, as if he was a sculptor of marble, yet they move with intricate accuracy. Several times I had to stop taking pictures to watch him moving a piece of fish with a delicate fish spatula, checking on a chef’s haricot vert, shaving a white truffle.

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The runners were definitely under the gun and I could see that communication was difficult. Yet in high class kitchen’s such as Wolfgang Puck’s at the Hotel Bel Air, there is a backbone of organization that I witnessed everywhere from the bread toasting station, to the way the servers entered, looking through the portal first – then saving the black butter slates in a predetermined location. The entire team possessed excellent technique, allowing them to weather the onslaught of 150 covers doing 6 intensive courses. The dining room was at perfect ease to contrast the tense atmosphere of concentration in the kitchen.

I asked Chef Boulud’s Sous if there were specific seating times, and he replied, “No, they are going to come at different times, as it should be, like a real restaurant.” These men and women are professionals, they eschew the ease of doing 75 plates all at the same, the result of a prescribed seating time. I watched one of Chef Daniel’s Sous take an all-day count at upwards of 14 Beef Duos, working on several simultaneously at multiple stages of completion. His two Sous Chefs, Jean and Fabrizzio were like woodwind players, each so practiced in every motion that communication was rendered to short commands in Spanish or French, whichever shortest. Almost every haute kitchen I’ve ever worked or been in speaks primarily French. Oui, Chef! On y va! Heard Chef.

I delighted at hearing a Japanese response coming from one of Wolfgang’s sous chefs in, “12 amuse chef, Hai!” Daniel speaks to Wolfgang in crisp French, but Wolfgang responds in English, though he spoke heavy German whom I’m guessing is one of the Sommeliers. It was apparent from top to bottom, world class talent both in the front and the back of the house. Chef Puck was deeply interested in every station, routinely going around and tasting at every stage of his dishes. I watched him dunk a few Santa Barbara spot prawns in a court bouillon and taste them, quipping with Daniel that he couldn’t afford truffles because they were to expensive.

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Maurizio Zanella himself was like a walking painting, his expressions were endless going from consternation, contemplation, and elation. All three of the stars of the evening made their rounds to the VIP tables. Chef Michael Cirimusti, sporting his trademark beard dined with Chef Josiah Citron in the stylish booths to the rear of the open air dining room. Amy and Patrick Sweeney of Ammo called me over to share a fantastic Amarone with me to finish the meal. Adam Fleishman of the Umami Empire as well as good friend Mike Hogland of Orsa & Winston, Baco Mercat, and Bar Alma were also in attendance.

Check back for further coverage on the FOOD and the WINE!

Ca’ del Bosco!

red clay is honored and thrilled to have been asked to do photography for a special event featuring the famed Ca’del Bosco (‘house in the woods’), producer of some of the finest sparkling wines in all the world. Ca’del Bosco was named “Winery of the Year” by Italy’s leading wine magazine, Gambero Rosso 2002. 

Maurizio Zanella, the president and founder of Ca’del Bosco will be in attendance at the Hotel Bel Air on October 23rd. 



As if this event could get any better, In addition the wines will be paired with the cuisine of world renown chefs Wolfgang Puck and Daniel Boulud!  

G and E Wedding

G and E’s wedding in San Diego was a very special occasion. They both are people who value simplicity and natural design. His craftsmanship was apparent in everything from the candle holders to the handmade trays for passing food and beverages. Gather Events and Occasions was the event planner and designer.

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High upon the Southern California coast in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve the event got underway as the sun was setting against the backdrop of a calm ocean.

G and E wished to honor their Japanese heritage by featuring a Japanese inspired cocktail. The cocktail, titled Yuzu Gimlet featured a fresh Yuzu Juice direct imported from Japan, Junmai Sake, and John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, a liqueur made from rum, lime, almond, clove, and sugar. The cocktail was served of shaved, ‘snow’ ice, and topped with a homemade honey Chrysanthemum foam that bled a deep purple gradient into the the bright green yuzu.

To start things off, we featured a pre ceremony table with two non-alcoholic options. The first was a homemade Mugicha, or barley tea. Desiring to deepen the complexity we made tea from lightly roasted, medium roasted, and dark roasted barley and combined them together reaching the color of fresh cream in coffee. The second was a special request in a Ginger Mint Lemonade. To make this one we used Eureka lemons from Peter Shaner of Shaner Farms (based in Point Loma), Ginger, and steeped Maggie’s Mint, a curiously strong varietal that we’ve used for quite some time on a variety of cocktail concepts.

We took advantage of nearby Green Flash Brewery for their celebrated and well known Green Flash IPA which we served in growlers, picked up just hours before the wedding and still ice cold – we also served Scrimshaw Pilsner.

The bar fruit display featured the bounty of fall; cinnamon persimmons, damson plums rhubarb stalks, black cherry tomatos, meyer lemons, and dry farmed apple hybrids (the prized Sierra Beauty, Gold Rush varietals) as well as the rare and delectable Ya Pear or Chinese White Pear, which has notes of rose and pineapple.

The highlight of the bar program was the flight of sake that guest were invited to experience, as well as the education on tasting points, rice polish, and SMV (sake sweetness value) provided behind them by our knowledgeable team.

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We Featured Kanchiku Junmai Daiginjo, Hakkaisan Junmai Ginjo, and Sho Chiku Bai Toku-Junmai.

After dinner, we debuted a traditional Tea Service. Our tea was selected from Wing Hop Fung, a specialty purveyor in the San Gabriel Valley. We brewed to order Gyokuro Sencha, “Tama Shizuku”. This is the proclaimed ‘Foie Gras’ of green tea, undergoing a special process designed to increase the nitrogen uptake of the plant, resulting in a deeper more concentrated flavor at a lower brewing temperature. Ethereal with kind of like a rich seaweed taste with a slight sweetness – very pleasing mouthfeel.  Beneficial for beginning tea drinkers we also featured Queen Pearl of Jasmine from Fujian as another option. While largely unneeded on the tea station were several sweet additions in ginger simple syrup, cranberry sugar, and demerara.

We decided feature an accouterment of roasted pumpkin seeds to go alongside the tea. Our thinking here was that the naturally sedative properties of magnesium in which pumpkin seeds are naturally high, would balance out some of the effects of the caffeine. For a decaffeinated option we offered 2nd and 3rd infusions of the delicate leaves, as they possess a markedly lower caffeine level.

[We source Maggie’s Mint from Nate Pietso of Maggie’s Farm (who just recently welcomed the addition of his first experimental organic wheat crop, that is being stone ground and baked into bread by two of our good friends and coworkers at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.]

Special thanks to Mutual Trading Company’s Toshio Ueno, a Master Sake Sommelier for consulting on the Sake selection and sourcing.



Japanese Food & Restaurant Expo

The 25th Annual Japanese Food & Restaurant Expo is put on by Mutual Trading Company, one of the largest and oldest importers of Japanese products to the United States. Mutual Trading has asked me to demonstrate the use of some of their new Japanese bar products as well as their exceptional selection of Sochu .

I will be making cocktails with farmers market produce at the Pasadena Convention Center, Saturday October 19th from 9:00am – 4pm. I’m especially excited to participate as my good friend and SSI Certified Master Sake Sommelier Toshio Ueno will be there to talk Sochu and Sake. Toshio was also a fellow judge at the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition.

I’ve been told that there will be some DEEP discounts on Japanese Knives, as well as some of the top restaurants from around the city in attendance.

Register Now!