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Food & Wine

Humble shortbread cookie appears around the world, but with local twists

Humble shortbread cookie appears around the world, but with local twists


Blanche Shaheen/Special to the Town Crier
Ghraybeh shortbread cookies use sweet-tasting ghee in lieu of butter.

 

When Americans think of the shortbread cookie, they often imagine the traditional Scottish cookies, shaped like oblong rectangles and ...

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Your Health

CSA connects families with fresh, nutritious food

CSA connects families with fresh, nutritious food


Courtesy of Community Services Organization
CSA staff load groceries to take to Castro Elementary School as part of a new outreach program for children and families enrolled in the free and reduced lunch programs at Castro and Mistral schools.

Maureen...

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Your Home

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects

Healing art: Restoration 'doctor' preserves damaged objects


Photos by Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Art restorer Rho Brown performs delicate preservation work in her Los Altos studio, above. Once fully restored, below left, it’s difficult to tell which cherub was previously missing its head. Brown’s studio conta...

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On The Road

American muscle in the modern age: Bolting to Blackhawk in the Chrysler 300S

American muscle in the modern age: Bolting to Blackhawk in the Chrysler 300S


Photo by Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier; Bottom Right Photo courtesy of Chrysler
The Andersons recently drove the new Chrysler 300S to Danville’s Blackhawk Museum, where they saw “The Spirit of the Old West” exhibition.

 

When you have a p...

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Senior Lifestyles

Local pianist performs, volunteers and finds 'keys' to a good life

Local pianist performs, volunteers and finds 'keys' to a good life


RAMYA KRISHNA/TOWN CRIER
Doreta Strotman performs the classics with her signature jazz-style improvisations at Los Altos Grill Sunday evenings. The Mountain View resident has been playing since the age of 4.

Sunday evenings, Doreta Strotman’s job is to...

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Wedding To Remember

Ring options on Main Street range from traditional to unorthodox

Ring options on Main Street range from traditional to unorthodox


 

With nine fine-jewelry retailers concentrated along the Main Street corridor, downtown Los Altos offers a wealth of options for engagement and wedding ring shoppers. From one end of Main to the other, the choices range from the traditional to t...

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Your Kids

Living Classroom grows lessons for next-gen science standards

Living Classroom grows lessons for next-gen science standards


 

Providing local students with a tangible outdoor learning experience, the Living Classroom program aims to support a new generation of students who are excited about the environment.

The Living Classroom serves 9,000 students locally in the Los ...

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Back to School

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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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