Alpana a la Carte

Alpana Singh

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French dining establishments have been popular with our Check, Please! guests – over the course of the series, they have chosen more than 20 of them to be featured, so far. And it’s easy to see why, as these eateries tend to have a romantic, elegant, and often decadent ambiance, transporting you to another place and time.

I have spent a good portion of my career working in French restaurants, and have a fond appreciation for French food, culture, and wine. But as delicious as they may be, French wines can sometimes be intimidating and not as easy to decipher as New World wines from California, Australia, or New Zealand.

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Alpana Singh

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We’ve all heard of book clubs, but have you ever thought about starting a wine club?

I’m not talking about the kind of club where you arrange to receive monthly shipments of wine, but rather a semiregular gathering of like-minded wine lovers who are interested in learning more about their favorite beverage. It’s a wonderful way to share your passion and discover new wines while sharing the cost with others looking to do the same. Here are some ideas and elements to keep in mind when starting your own cork-based clique.

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Alpana Singh

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Oh, no! That dreaded moment when you realize you waited until the last minute or forgot to make a dinner reservation for a loved one’s birthday, anniversary, or even – GULP – Valentine’s Day.  Scoring a last-minute table at one of the city’s coveted hot spots may seem almost impossible at this point, but fear not – with a little creativity and flexibility you can still save the day!

BE FLEXIBLE: Especially with your requested time slots. The most requested dinner reservation times are between 7 and 8 pm, so you may not have access to those options. Consider dining before 5 pm or after 9 pm, which are less in demand and more likely to be available. Consider catching a show afterward or visiting a nearby cocktail bar as part of the evening’s adventures to help fill the time.

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Alpana Singh

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I had a recent conversation with a friend who posed an interesting question: Why do people get so intimidated by wine, but not other beverages such as beer or vodka? I replied that for starters, wine is the only beverage that requires a special tool just to get it open. Then there is the lasting legacy of the snooty sommelier, the weird ritual of sniffing and gargling, and the perceived prerequisite that one must be fluent in the language of wine to comment on everything from its bouquet, long legs, and aromas of dried potpourri and pencil shavings.

I will admit this to the outside observer – we wine people do seem to make it harder than it really should be, and this is quite unfortunate. I remember that when I first got into wine, I was hesitant to speak up in front of others for fear of saying the wrong thing.

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Alpana Singh

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Restaurants have become central fixtures in our lives, so it’s only natural that we want to celebrate our most momentous occasions at our favorite eateries. But what if you want to bring along a gaggle of your closest friends? Dining with a larger group can challenging for both the diner and the restaurant, but with these simple tips and some advance planning, you’ll be able to feast with your friends without the hassle of doing the dishes.

WHAT IS YOUR BUDGET? How much do you want to spend per person? Your budget will determine which restaurant you select for your outing. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of alcoholic beverages, tax, and tip, which can double the bill. For example, if you’re total budget is $50 per person, then plan on spending $25 for food, $12 for one alcoholic beverage and the rest going towards tax and tip.

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