The summer party season is in full swing! This time of year brings about so many special occasions to gather and celebrate: weddings, graduations, beach parties, and even extraordinary wine tastings. It's hot out, you're working hard, and you deserve a toast!
Our amazing Director of Special Events and Catering, Sami Fromer, knows the ins and outs of all the work it takes to pull off a flawless event - she's been producing events in Los Angeles for over ten years! We sat down with Sami to chat about her background in the events and entertainment worlds, her party planning essential tips, seasonal trends, and the breakdown of how our #WallysEvents private dining and catering departments work. Learn more about how Wally's can make your next affair unforgettable below!
Q: You've been with Wally's for 5 years now, how did you get your start in events? What drew you to it?
A: "My love for events began back when I was in college – I actually started out as a business management major until I was introduced to Sex and the City… and I became completely inspired by Samantha's job in PR and events. I remember researching “PR” because I didn’t know what that meant and reading up about the industry until I finally switched my major! Then after school, I worked at a bunch of different places within the worlds of public relations, event planning, and entertainment. In between jobs, I would work in restaurants so that I could travel. When the opportunity to work at Wally’s came along it was the perfect blend of atmospheres for me, and the rest is history!"
Walk us through the planning process - do clients usually come to you with a specific vision in mind, or is it oftentimes a collaboration?
"Half of the time it’s the customer’s vision, and the other half, the customer needs direction. The process is simple: they’ll reach out to me and we’ll chat about their event: what type, how many people will be attending, what special touches I can offer them to make this affair memorable. It’s so fun to work with people. My favorite thing is being hands-on with the planning, like with design, flowers, balloons, silverware color….the details are the best part. I feel like it's my creative outlet. I’m always suggesting to guests, “put up a photo booth!" or "put an arrangement of balloons," or things like that to dress up a space. At our locations at Wally's Beverly Hills and Wally's Santa Monica, you can really use our private spaces as a palate and dress it up how you want to - and I'm here to help!"
From tastings, to bridal showers, to corporate events, and birthdays, which would you say is your favorite type of party to throw?
"Birthdays are so fun for me because everyone comes ready to celebrate and have a good time. I also really love doing our wine pairing dinners. Honestly, my favorite party to throw include people who are excited to plan and celebrate a milestone because it gets my creative juices flowing! We get a lot of referrals that way, messages saying, “my friend had a birthday there and it looked so cool, I want to do my party there!”
What is your favorite appetizer off of Wally’s Catering menu? What food options would you recommend for say – a graduation party?
"My favorite appetizer – it is so hard to choose! Some of my favorites are our tuna tartare, Tokyo-style beef skewers, and truffle deviled eggs - they are delicious! You also can’t go wrong with Calvisius Caviar. Whenever I plan events that want to include a caviar station with all of the fixings, it’s always a huge hit!
For a graduation party, I would definitely recommend our platters – you can order platters of food from us that include either assorted gourmet sandwiches, farmer's market crudité, or assorted cheese and charcuterie boards. The platters can feed a large party and come with a wide selection of options so everyone’s happy!"
What’s more important at a good event: music or a good bartender? What do you look for in choosing the perfect entertainment for a party?
"Music is always important, but so is a good bartender. Once people have a drink or two, it certainly elevates their mood - and great music enhances it!
In choosing entertainment for a party, I would say what’s most important is to think outside the box! There are so many different possibilities when it comes to entertainment, all which we host, organize, or offer at Wally’s. One of my favorites is a classic photo booth, but we’ve organized everything from hiring a keyboardist/musicians to burlesque dancers to bringing out a giant parmesan wheel and cooking fresh pasta right out of it!
I love when I get to collaborate with our chef and the kitchen on food displays and experiences, like designing seafood towers, serving caviar in a custom ice-sculpture, a gourmet cheese cart, a master Jamon Iberico carver, or our custom bloody mary cart. We really love adding unique touches to a party. If you have an idea, I'd love to hear it and see what I can do to make it happen."
What are some hot décor trends you’re seeing this season? What are you drawn to?
"A big trend I’m seeing right now that I’m a fan of is the use of bright white lights, clean simple geometric details, and gold accents. Also, embellishing with flowers and plants. I’m very drawn to florals, they’re at the top of my list for inspiration for party décor. I love how they can guide the color scheme. I’m really attracted to violet, peach, pinks, yellows, blush summery tones that brighten and warm up a space, as well as green plants and succulents that serve as accents and centerpieces. I also look to local florists and event planners often for inspiration – I love seeing what my peers are up to!"
Tell us a little bit about the difference in space options at Wally's - (there are a few!) What would you suggest to party sizes who are looking to host an intimate 8-person dinner vs. a big 40-person birthday party?
"It depends on the needs of the event. For Beverly Hills, I would suggest our semi-private Barrel Room located next to our wine vault for small groups. If an event needed complete privacy, I would suggest the Private Dining Room in the back, which can fit mid-sized groups and is great for multi-course dinners and wine pairings. In Santa Monica, I would suggest the fully private upstairs Green Room for very large parties, as it has its own private elevator entrance, full bar, and is fully customizable in table arrangement & decor.
It does depend though: some people prefer to be in the center of the scene with the rest of the restaurant, and if that's the case, I would secure for you one or more of our high-top tables in the back dining room of our restaurant. We really have a lot of options, and I always walk guests through all of them beforehand to ensure that we pick the perfect spot for their event's needs!" For more information about all of our private dining space options, click here.
What has been one of the most memorable events you’ve thrown to-date?
"One that really sticks out was a Domaine Romanee-Conti themed birthday party. Every guest had to bring a bottle to get admitted to the event. It was at the host’s home so it was fully catered by Wally’s. There were balloons in the front of the house coming down and floral arrangements. I worked closely with the host’s event planner to pick everything out. We set up so many different food stations, and it’s the most epic wine in the world... so it was quite a memorable party!
Another special event was a recent cookbook launch party. Our chef re-made a few of the author’s selected dishes for the guests and I got to do a lot of event design which I really loved: there were white roses and white walls and gorgeous food. Everything was so clean and sharp, really lovely. We did it at an art gallery in DTLA with some truly incredible live musicians. It was a completely empty space when we showed up and it was completely a blank palate that we were able to transform. It was a wild evening because we were cooking out in the back alley and the power kept going out, but we pulled it off!"
For general event inquiries or to receive a personalized consultation, contact Sami Fromer and the Wally's Events Team at email@example.com
To Book or Learn More about Wally's Catering, CLICK HERE
To Book or Learn More about Wally's Private Dining, CLICK HERE
To Download our Catering and Event Planning Package, CLICK HERE
I began my career in the wine business at a very young...
Universally recognized for the quality of its bold yet elegant wines, today Penfolds remains the crown jewel of Australian wine. From the delicious, dark-fruited Bin 28 Shiraz all the way up to the legendary, immortal Grange, the wines have never been better! Rich, fruit-forward and perfectly structured, these impeccably crafted reds drink beautifully when released but are also built to last. At Penfolds, the degree of winemaking skill is matched only by the quality of the vineyards from which they source their fruit. These vineyards are scattered throughout Southern Australia’s most legendary regions… Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, the Adelaide Hills. By picking at the precise moment of ripeness, Penfolds produces wines that walk the fine line between power and finesse. Wally’s is pleased to offer a wide range of bottlings and vintages from this gold-standard producer.
2015 Penfolds RWT Barossa Shiraz
95+ points, Wine Advocate
Wally's Price: $125
Very deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 RWT Shiraz leaps from the glass with expressive blackberries, black raspberries and wild blueberry notes plus underlying Indian spices, Sichuan pepper, forest floor and fertile loam notes with a waft of charcuterie. Full-bodied, rich and seductive in the mouth, it coats the palate with vibrant black berry and spicy layers, framed by firm, rounded tannins and finishing on a lingering earthy note. One for the long haul!
RWT stands for “Red Winemaking Trials” and was a departure for Penfolds’ portfolio back when it was first introduced with the 1997 vintage. Aged in French oak (traditionally they use American oak) and hailing from a single region, the Barossa Valley, the wine represents an alternative expression to South Australian Shiraz. This is focused and muscular with smooth, cedary oak framing a host of dark berry flavors, violets, tamarind, and root beer. Steak wine at its finest, and sure to please fans of full-bodied, massively endowed reds. Do not miss!
– Robert Vardanian, Australian Wine Buyer
2016 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz
91 points, Wine Advocate
Wally's Price: $30
“The full-bodied 2016 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz is a blend of fruit from Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Upper Adelaide and Wrattonbully. It's a warm-climate, rich, plush Shiraz, with a velvety mouthfeel and lingering savory notes on the finish.” – Wine Advocate
Penfolds’ Bin 28 Shiraz is a fan favorite here at Wally’s and throughout the world. Classic Barossa Valley Shiraz with rich flavors, juicy freshness and a long, lingering finish. For the price, it is one of the best values coming out of the country!
– Robert Vardanian, Australian Wine Buyer
2014 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz
94 points, Wine Advocate
Wally's Price: $90
This bottle was opened in front of me and served without decanting. Containing 4%Cabernet Sauvignon and with a deep garnet-purple color, the 2014 Shiraz St Henri has a relatively shy nose of black plums, black cherries and mulberries with nuances of underbrush, fruit cake and damp soil. The full-bodied palate has satisfying richness, with firm, rounded tannins supporting the earthy fruit layers, finishing with good depth and persistence.
St. Henri is a special expression of Shiraz in that the wine is aged in 50-year-old barrels! Unique in the wine world, barrels this old impart very little oak flavor. Instead they help emphasize the wine’s beautiful fruit and floral characteristics. The 2014 St. Henri is stunning with notes of pressed flowers, new leather, and soy sauce complementing the spicy, brambly fruit. This is certainly, the most charming and restrained wine in the portfolio. Excellent!
– Robert Vardanian, Australian Wine Buyer
2009 Penfolds Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon
91 points, Wine Advocate
Wally's Price: $350
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2009 Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon presents an intensely minty nose with undertones of ripe cassis, eucalyptus, cedar and a touch of herbs. Ripe and expressive in the mouth it has bright acid and medium levels of very fine tannins, it finishes concentrated and long. Drink it from 2014 to 2024+.
2016 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon
98 points, Wine Advocate
Wally's Price: $500
Aged in American oak, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 707 stands out for its bold aromas of vanilla, tobacco, and cassis. This year, it's close to 40% each from Coonawarra and McLaren Vale, with smaller proportions from Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills. It's full-bodied and rich, with a velvety mouthfeel, great intensity and super length. Yes, it's embryonic, but it's not unapproachable, much like any other high-quality New World Cabernet these days, with the ability to age for two decades or more.
Penfolds Great Grandfather Tawny Port
96 points, Wine Advocate
Wally's Price: $800
The 30 year old Penfolds Great Grandfather Rare Tawny is pale tawny in color and has a more profound nose than the Grandfather or Father labels of this style. The nose presents some earthy notes that wrap a complex spiciness around a core of Christmas cake, dried fruits, milk chocolate and incense. It’s a huge wine in the mouth - very serious stuff - with tons of layers and racy acid line to carry the flavor through the very long finish that also has a pleasant minerality.
2014 Penfolds Grange
98 points, Wine Advocate
Wally's Price: $850
Rich, concentrated and intense, the 2014 Grange delivers exactly what we've come to expect from this Penfolds icon wine. It's full-bodied, velvety in feel and loaded with plummy fruit, framed in vanilla and cedar. Dense, powerfu, and tannic, it should prove to be long lived, even by Grange standards. Gago doesn't rate the vintage overall that highly, but he says the selection this year for Grange was a bit more stringent and that production levels were just average. There are still over 1,000 cases for the United States.
2012 Penfolds Grange
99 points, Wine Advocate
Wally's Price: $750
Deep garnet-purple in color, the 2012 Grange sports an earthy/meaty nose with notes of tree bark, dusty earth, underbrush and chargrill over a core of dried mulberries and Christmas cake, plus hints of pepper and baking spices. Rich, medium to full-bodied and seductive, it has spicy layers and a long meaty/savory finish.
1971 Penfolds Grange
96 points, Wine Advocate
Wally's Price: $1,300
Medium brick colored, the 1971 Grange opens with touches of aldehyde / bottle-stink to begin over a core of fruit cake, leather, potpourri, game, and sandalwood. With an elegant light to medium-body, the palate blossoms into incredible spice box, anise, and mincemeat notes - wonderful multi-layered flavors –supported by a good backbone of remaining fine-grained tannins and lively acid. It’s a classic Grange in terms of construction, though a little atypical considering its pretty rather than powerful nature.
Meet Kurt Gurdal!
Executive Chef Ryan Kluver leads the kitchen at both Wally’s Beverly Hills and Wally’s Santa Monica and is passionate about highlighting quality, seasonal ingredients in every dish he creates! Read below for his bright and decadent Spring King Salmon Recipe (and the perfect wine pairing to go with it!)
by Chef Ryan Kluver
Ingredients (Serves 4)
• 4 filets wild salmon
• Olive oil
• Salt and pepper
• 2tbl unsalted butter
• 1 recipe ricotta gnocchi
• 1lb chanterelle mushrooms, or a mix of wild mushroom
• 4c mixed spring peas; Sugar Snap, Snow and English
• 1/2 tbl chopped garlic
• 1 tbl minced chives
1. Pre heat oven to 375 degrees
2. In a medium sauce pot heat mushroom and herb infusion to a slight simmer. Hold for final service.
3. Heat an oven safe cast iron pan over medium high heat. Season salmon filets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sear filets in hot pan until golden brown and transfer to oven to continue cooking to desired temperature; about 3 minutes for medium rare, 5 minutes for medium, 7 minutes medium well. Remove salmon from oven and set aside for final plating.
4. While salmon is cooking in oven heat large nonstick sauté pan over high heat. Add 1 tbl of butter and sauté gnocchi until golden brown and crispy, remove from pan and return pan to heat. Add remaining 1tbl butter and sauté mushrooms until golden and add mix of spring peas. Cook vegetables until beginning to color and return gnocchi to pan. Stir in chopped garlic, cook about 30 seconds and remove from heat. Off heat add in chopped chives and stir through out.
To serve place gnocchi and peas in 4 large pasta bowls, set salmon filets on top and scatter optional herb garnish around. Pour hot mushroom broth over herbs and allow to infuse 30 seconds. Pour hot broth over salmon and vegetables.
• 1 cup fine grated Parmesan
• 1 cup ricotta
• 2 whole eggs
• 2 egg yolks
• 1 1/2c ap flour
• 1 tbl chopped thyme
• Salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
In a large mixing bowl combine Parmesan, ricotta, whole eggs and yolks, salt, pepper, grated nutmeg. Mix in ap flour and stir to form soft, smooth dough. Roll dough out into gnocchi and blanch in boiling salted water until floating at the surface and cooked through. Remove gnocchi, cool on an oiled tray and set aside until ready to use.
MUSHROOM AND HERB INFUSION
• 8 oz mixed mushrooms
• 2 cups filtered water
• 1 leek, white part only, split in half
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 branch celery, chopped
• 2 cloves peeled and smashed
• 1 piece kombu
• White soy or tamari to taste
Herb pot for infusion; including optional mix of soft herbs including lemon thyme, lemon balm, dill, chive, spring garlic, lemon verbena.
For mushroom broth combine mushrooms, water, leek, garlic, celery, bay leaf and kombu in a medium sauce pot and cover with lid. Bring to a simmer and cook over a low flame for 30 minutes. Strain broth into clean pot and season to taste with white soy. Hold broth until ready to serve and pour over herb pot the surface and cooked through. Remove gnocchi, cool on an oiled tray and set aside until ready to use.
TO SERVE place gnocchi and peas in 4 large pasta bowls, set salmon filets on top and scatter optional herb garnish around. Pour hot mushroom broth over herbs and allow to infuse 30 seconds. Pour hot broth over salmon and vegetables.
2018 Hampton Water Rosé
Wally's Price: $25.00
Hand-picked and crafted to perfection, Hampton Water Rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre grapes. Gorgeous strawberry, raspberry, and melon flavors delight the palate while its bright, crisp acidity leads to a mouthwatering finish. Elegant and smooth, yet incredibly refreshing makes Hampton Water Rosé the perfect pairing for light, spring dishes at all of your backyard soirées!
Wally's Executive Chef, Ryan Kluver
The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer, and garden parties, wedding showers, and spring holidays are all around the corner. Now is the perfect time to stock your cellar with fresh spring picks to quench your thirst now and through the sweltering summer months! Selected by Wally’s expert buyers specializing in domestic and international wines - the list below is what we’ll be enjoying as the sun begins to shine again, and represent the top of the line at every price point.
2018 Hampton Water Rosé
Wally's Price: $25.00
Hampton Water is the newest superstar on the rosé scene and definitely a Wally’s favorite! This stunning wine is an incredible collaboration between our friends Jon Bon Jovi, his son Jesse Bongiovi, and famed French winemaker, Gerard Bertrand. Wine Spectator recently named Hampton Water the best rosé of 2018 and for good reason. Hand-picked and crafted to perfection, it is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre grapes. Gorgeous strawberry, raspberry, and melon flavors delight the palate while its bright, crisp acidity leads to a mouthwatering finish. Elegant and smooth, yet incredibly refreshing makes Hampton Water Rosé the perfect pairing for all of your backyard soirées!
2017 Miraval Rosé
Wally's price: $25.00
Pitt, Jolie, Perrin. Since it’s inception, this co-production between Hollywood and Rhone royalty has been a smash hit. It’s beautifully balanced and one of the best Provence roses on the market full stop!
2017 Liquid Farm Vogelzang Vineyard Rosé
Wally's price: $28.00
Made with inspiration from Bandol and Provence, and with notes of rose petals, wet stone, tea leaves, and peachskin on the nose and blood orange and strawberry on the palate, this rosé is light as air, crisp, clean, and delightfully refreshing. Just what we'll be reaching for as the days start to heat up!
2017 Tyler Santa Barbara County Rosé
Wally's price: $28.00
Nestled in Santa Barbara County, Tyler Vineyards produce some of the best wines in the Central Coast. Released in very small batches each year, the 2017 Tyler Rosé is a bright acidic treat that won't last long!
2017 Tayson Pierce Rothchild Rosé
Wally's Price: $29.00
Tayson Pierce has contracts with some of the most hallowed names in Napa including Stagecoach Vineyard and Hudson Vineyard. This fantastic rose was one of the best California roses we've tried this year.
La Bulle de La Coste Extra Brut Rosé
Wally's price: $33.00
From Chateau La Coste comes something a bit different from your regular Provence Rose. This lovely sparkling Rose marries the refreshing character of a Provence Rose with the fun and celebratory feel of Rose Champagne. At $33 this is a delightfully different take on Provence Roseand a great value.
2016 Clos Cibonne Tibouren Rosé Cuvee Speciale des Vignettes
Wally's price: $35.00
Clos Cibonne is one of the few vineyards producing the enigmatic Tibouren varietal that produces incredibly rich and complex roses. The Cuvee Speciale des Vignettes is a selection of their oldest vines. One of the most enjoyable and thought-provoking Roses in the world.
2017 Domaines Ott Rosé Clos Mireille Provence
Wally's price: $55.00
This one needs little introduction. The king of Provence Rose produces three different estate Roses. This one from the Clos Mireille estate is a more delicate expression of Luxury rose, a beautiful choice for summer that drinks like a whisper.
2017 Tempier Bandol Rosé
Wally's price: $60.00
2016 Chateau d'Esclans Garrus Rosé
Wally's price: $110.00
We're honored to accept these pretigious wins!