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Food & Wine

Chocolaty character of stout beers blends spicy, sweet ingredients

Chocolaty character of stout beers blends spicy, sweet ingredients


photo Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Aged coffee beans join beer in Modern Times’ bourbon barrel stout.

Dark beers like stout highlight flavors reminiscent of coffee and chocolate, resulting in a great canvas for brewers to blend nontraditional in...

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Your Health

El Camino Hospital expands mental health treatment options

El Camino Hospital expands mental health treatment options


Asher Kohn/Town Crier
Shovels in hand, Dr. Peter Fung, from left, El Camino Healthcare District board chairman; Russ Satake, El Camino Hospital Foundation board chairman; donors Donna and John Shoemaker; State Sen. Jerry Hill; and Assemblyman Rich ...

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Your Home

Holidays by design: Los Altos company provides  seasonal decorating service

Holidays by design: Los Altos company provides seasonal decorating service


Megan V. Winslow/ Town Crier
Amy Fischer of Spectrum Interior Design decorated Los Altos resident Katie Beers’ living room for the holidays last week.

Don’t worry if you have no time to shop for unique holiday decor, decorate Christma...

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On The Road

Matt goes full throttle to fix BMW

In November 2015, one of my newer customers brought in his 2011 BMW Z4 35i because the service-engine-soon light went on.

He explained that the car did not idle well and was low on power. We connected the car to the Integrated Service Technical Appl...

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Senior Lifestyles

Making beautiful music together: Foothill Symphonic Winds inspires members of all ages

Making beautiful music together: Foothill Symphonic Winds inspires members of all ages


Photos by Megan V. Winslow/ Town Crier
Members of the ensemble rehearse at Blach Intermediate School.

Something special happens Wednesday nights at Blach Intermediate School. Seventy or so people ranging in age from 18 to 85, of varied backgroun...

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Wedding To Remember

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night


Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor....

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Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?


Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accuratel...

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Restaurant corkage is a courtesy

Increasingly, people in the area store wine at home. These home collections are stored anywhere from wine racks in closets to elaborate temperature-controlled cellars.

This equates to a lot of wine available to be brought by you to your favorite restaurant. There is usually a charge when you bring your own bottle, and it is called a corkage fee. It is important to remember that corkage is not a God-given privilege, it is a courtesy being granted by the restaurant.

Most white tablecloth restaurants make a high percentage of their profits on the wine mark-up. There are exceptions, and I recently talked with an owner of the "Kitchen" in Sacramento. They price the food to stand alone and sell all wine at retail and encourage corkage by eliminating the fee. It must work, as they are booked three months in advance and serve only 4 times a week. Dinner, however, is $75 per person.

Corkage fees usually run from $5 to $20 per bottle and some restaurants may not charge. Do not ever bring a bottle that is on the wine list so that you can save money. This is considered an insult. The bottle you bring usually should be a special bottle for a special occasion. I feel it is acceptable, occasionally, to just bring an expensive bottle without a special reason, but if it is a habit, you need to buy a good bottle for the same meal. It is polite to offer the sommelier or owner a taste of your special wine. This will be very much appreciated and helps smooth your way for the next time.

You should also consider the fact that the waiter is getting less of a tip because there was a lost wine sale, and increase your tip accordingly. This is especially true if you brought an old bottle that needed decanting. Remember the corkage fee always goes to the restaurant, not the waiter.

Always call in advance if you are going to a new place. Ask if it is okay to bring a bottle and inquire about the corkage policy. Several years ago we were at Squaw Creek, and I called and asked if I could bring a bottle from the year we were married - needless to say, an old bottle. When the bill arrived for the evening there was a charge of $450 for the bottle I brought! After I was resuscitated, the owner told me the waiter had made a mistake as there was a similar bottle on the list, and it cost that amount. I was glad I had called.

Local restaurants like Del Baffo and 231 Ellsworth have tremendous wine cellars that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. You should be able to find a suitable bottle on these extensive lists. They have made these large investments so you have many choices. I have also found that most places with extensive lists are usually the most amenable to corkage because they truly appreciate fine wine. Call ahead, follow the common courtesies and corkage should not be a problem.

Steve Hicks is currently a wine advisor and consultant. He is active in food and wine societies. You can reach him at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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