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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jubilee Lau & Gloria Wong: Role Models For Wedding Designers and Event Planners

It seems like Jubilee Lau and Gloria Wong have got it all backwards. They hosted a vendor appreciation luncheon for those of us who were lucky enough to work one of the most incredible weddings in 2010. Although they were thankful for our efforts WE should have been the ones taking THEM to lunch. After all, the industry still seems to be buzzing from that September 18 extravaganza that went completely off the charts on its production value alone. Although I can't go into details of that wedding it was reviewed by my friend and industry colleague, Stacie Tamaki on her blog. Click to read A Day In The Life of a Professional Wedding MC.

Gloria and Jubilee chose the legendary Top Of the Mark to indulge us. The wraparound views of The City alone made the trip to the top of this Intercontinental Hotel well worth it.

This Appreciation Luncheon started off with a traditional Caesar Salad topped with a generous helping of Parmesan shavings. Although the salad was almost entree size we followed it with either of these two main courses:

Farfalle with grilled chicken in a lemon cream sauce.

The vegetarian option was a Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli in a rich sundried tomato and thyme cream sauce with deep fried vegetable shavings.

Capping our luncheon was the classic Italian Tiramisu presented in a white and dark chocolate cup.

The entertainment group was well represented at the luncheon. Shown here is dance coach, Cynthia Glinka, Carl that MC Guy, and talent agency owner, Peter Rudolfi.

My parting shot is of everyone at the long luncheon table squeezing into our group photo. The wedding event we all did together in September had almost as many on-site wedding vendors and staff as it did guests. You're looking at some very hard working people who made it all come together under the direction of Jubilee and Gloria. Major props should go out to everyone who participated in this team effort. And, of course, a huge thanks to those you know as Jubilee Lau and Gloria Wong. I like to call them Jubilee Wow and Glorious Song.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Carl Cooks: Torta di Risotto Sounds Fancy But Is Actually An Easy No Risk Risotto Dish

It's time to acknowledge another one of my favorite cook books called "New Vegetarian" by Celia Brooks Brown. If you think all vegetarian dishes are just boring steamed veggies and slimy tofu, think again. Celia accurately tags her food as "bold and beautiful recipes for every occasion." Among the many great recipes in this book is a hearty Torta di Risotto. This dish is a very substantial side or paired with a green salad can completely stand on its own as an entree. It is also an excellent main course when you have any vegetarian guests. Best of all it is the least intimidating risotto recipe ever so don't be afraid of this sometimes temperamental ingredient.

2 medium zucchinis
3 garlic cloves
2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves
1 cup Arborio Rice
16 oz. chopped plum tomatoes
1 tbl. balsamic vinegar
1 tbl. brown sugar
1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs
1/3 cup olive oil
4 oz. Mozzarella Cheese
4 oz. Fontina Cheese
2/3 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Slice zucchini length-wise into 1/8" strips
Brush strips with olive oil/S&P
Heat grill or grill pan on high
Cook just long enough to get char marks and set aside

Chop garlic cloves & basil
Cut the mozzarella and fontina cheeses into 1/2 inch cubes
Heat oil in saucepan and add garlic until soft & fragrant
Add tomatoes,vinegar,sugar, S&P
Simmer about 10 minutes until thickened
Stir in the chopped basil

Bring about 2 cups of water to boil
Add some salt to the water
Add rice and bring back to boil
Simmer until rice is tender and water is absorbed (about ten minutes)

Combine rice into the saucepan with the tomato mixture
Fold in the cubed and grated cheeses

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Prepare 9x5x3 loaf pan by oiling lightly & bread crumb dusting
Pour 1/2 of the rice mixture into the pan
Layer the grilled zucchini
Cover with the remaining rice mixture
Top with sprinkling of remaining bread crumbs
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden and bubbly around the edges
Cool for at least 15 minutes
Run a knife around the edges to free it from the loaf pan
Place on a serving plate, invert pan, tap on the pan to release it
Cut into 2 inch slices for serving


As I mentioned this dish is rich and delicious enough to stand alone as an entree. The surprise element is the unexpected layer of grilled zucchini in the center but you could easily substitute another vegetable and I bet asparagus would also be a great choice.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Al Jardine's "A Postcard From California" Concert: A Big Sur Folk Festival Revisited

In September of 1969 many of the giants of folk and folk rock music gathered for the legendary Celebration at Big Sur. Just one month after the much larger and more famous Woodstock Festival the Celebration in Big Sur featured performances by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, and John Sebastian among others.

Although The Beach Boys were not on that bill the one founding member who was obviously the most influenced by folk music was Al Jardine. Al has called Big Sur his home since 1973, however, his Friday night show to debut his first solo album called "A Postcard From California" was also his first ever concert in those coastal woods.

My good friend and Beach Boys aficionado, Les Chan, had alerted me to this show. We made sure to leave Santa Cruz early enough for a stellar drive down Highway 1. About the only traffic hassle was so many drivers continuing to pull off the road (us included) to grab the seemingly endless scenic shots along the way. I decided my California flag cycling jersey would be most appropriate for this evening of props to the Golden State.

It is only about 26 miles between Carmel and Big Sur but the scenery is so spectacular that it attracts visitors from all over the world. There was no shortage of tourists at every scenic turnout to help each other snap photos. Here are a couple of shots I took as the autumn sun was starting set. It is easy to understand why many celebrities choose to live here.

Our destination for the concert was the Henry Miller Memorial Library. This venue is really not a library in the traditional sense but rather a tribute to a local legend. Henry Miller (1891 to 1980) was an American novelist and painter. Visiting the "library" you get an instant feel for Miller's free spirit and counter cultural work which makes for a perfect backdrop for any artistic event.

One of our goals was to arrive in time for the sound check. The sun had set behind the huge redwoods and we knew that a special evening awaited us.

When Al and his Endless Summer Band finally took the stage they thrilled the audience with about twenty Beach Boys classics and all but one of the songs from Al's new "A Postcard From California." The original Beach Boys were all about family and Al Jardine is keeping that tradition alive by performing with his two sons, Matt and Adam. Other regular band members include long time Beach Boys associates, Billy Hinsche, Bobby Figueroa, Ed Carter and poet, Stephen Kalinich.

There was no doubt that Al Jardine is still enjoying the ride. Next year the three remaining original Beach Boys are discussing a series of five free concerts to celebrate their 50th anniversary. In the world of pop music this kind of longevity is as rare as the California condor.

My parting shot is of Al's acoustic guitar. It is covered with autographs of musical friends and has a few stories to tell I'm sure. I am proud to be a fan of his music since 1962. Some might call his new album a "Love Letter To Big Sur" but even at that this brand new music from the original "Folk Beach Boy" is refreshing and long overdue. Thank you A.J.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Spirit of Japantown Festival San Jose

When my good friends, Pam Dunnett and Reiko Iwanaga of At Your Request Event Planners asked me to help them with this year's Spirit of Japantown Festival it was an automatic. I mean what's not to love about several city blocks of food, fun and entertainment that celebrates 120 years of Japantown San Jose.

This event featured three stages (Spirit, Hawaii, Kids) as well as all day Martial Arts demonstrations in the Buddhist Church Annex. I donated my sound system for the main Spirit Stage and enjoyed sharing the Master of Ceremonies duties with Robert Handa of KTVU Fox2.

Mother Nature cooperated beautifully with perfect Northern California fall weather.

The President of the Japantown Community Congress, Tamon Norimoto, chats with Robert Handa before the awards presentation and sake ceremony.

Tamon accepts a commendation from Congresswoman Zoe Logren honoring the 120 year history of Japantown San Jose.

The sake ceremony included the traditional breaking of the wooden drum (Kagami-wari) which holds the Japanese wine.

The entertainment bill was an eclectic mix of old and new. The award winning San Jose Taiko group got everyone's blood pumping early with their exciting drum sounds.

And in beautiful contrast were the subtle acoustic strings of the Marimo Kai Koto Ensemble.

We wrapped up the event with a raffle drawing and rousing performance of alternative pop by the Communiste Kayte Band. At the end of the day it was a great celebration of the heritage and spirit of San Jose's Japantown. I was thankful for the opportunity to be involved.