Fri08012014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Ambience: Fine dining that's small on portions, big on taste


Photos by Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Chef Morgan Song’s recent Ambience creations include chocolate ganache and chocolate mousse cake, pictured, lemon cream pastries with pulled sugar and candied violet, and tuna and prawns with ponzu sauce, wasabi caviar and fresh herbs.

The newly opened Ambience restaurant in downtown Los Altos is certainly full of intrigue. Passersby on State Street can’t help but peer in the tinted windows of the first-class fine-dining establishment to survey the chef’s 11-course sampler menu at $135 per person.

Chef Morgan Song’s new creation is a far cry from the former Lucky Chinese Restaurant that occupied the same space at 132 State St. a few years ago. Song, who has been in the restaurant business 37 years, has been anointed one of San Francisco’s top five chefs (and therefore, one of the nation’s best). He operated a top-tier restaurant in Carmichael, outside Sacramento, before coming to Los Altos.

If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat before dashing off to the theater, don’t make a reservation at Ambience. The dining experience is likely to take from two to four hours – our visit on the restaurant’s Aug. 15 opening night lasted nearly four hours.

The restaurant and its cuisine are the evening’s highlights, period. And the food is not mere sustenance, it’s high art – culinary art, that is. The courses are designed to wow the eyeballs, stimulate the imagination and satisfy the palate.

The system is much different from your standard dinner out. Instead of a few courses with a lot a food, Ambience paces the diner through small portions of each course. Select wines complement each dish. Note: The wine pairings are an additional $85 per person.

The goal of the dining experience, according to Song’s wife, Unni, is to leave the diner feeling neither hungry nor heavy, but perfectly satisfied.

At other establishments, the interaction between diners is the chief experience, and the food, no matter how good, is often an aside to the table conversation. At Ambience, the chef, his cuisine and his staff are at the center of everything. Song doesn’t appear to be interested in volume – a known perfectionist, he wants to serve his best to a handful of diners. During our opening-night stay, the number of customers totaled 15 or fewer.

From the moment you walk in, the Ambience staff makes it clear that you’re in for something special. The waitstaff offers detailed descriptions of each course – much of it went over our heads. Pretentious? Maybe, but we appreciated the spirit in which it was intended.

The menu offerings give diners a clue that this meal is not created for mere mortals: Seared Lobster, Green Horseradish Coulis, Tomato Ginger Puree, Russian Cucumbers, Wasabi Caviar, Rack of Lamb, Micro Greens, Songyi Mushrooms, Fonseca Port Apricot Glaze Reduction.

As with any restaurant this unique, there are a few trade-offs: You may love the lamb, as I did, and crave more than a small portion, while not enjoying the Chilean Sea Bass as much. But the advantage of a tasting menu is that you’re not stuck with a large portion of one particular item you’re indifferent to.

I’m confident, however, that most Ambience diners will enjoy virtually everything the chef offers. He’s a true pro with an already stellar reputation, and his new restaurant should prove a destination for culinary art aficionados all over the Bay Area. Imagine diners from San Francisco making the trek down to Los Altos for a change. If any fine-dining restaurant is going to make that happen, it’s Ambience.

For reservations and more information, call 917-9030 or visit ambiencefinedininglosaltos.com.


Ambience, Los Altos - Images by Los Altos Town Crier

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