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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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