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Eating Shrimp Cocktail in an Acceptable Manner

Emily Post is a brand name at this point. Her descendants (who are very much alive) continue to update her etiquette guides to account for changing times and customs. To refer to "Emily Post" the book is indeed accounting for the way manners evolve.

Feb 27, 2011
lhooq in General Topics

How much would you tip in these scenarios?

I have a dining trip coming up, and there are several gratuity scenarios that are vexing me. Any and all advice is welcomed. I am traveling for three days, in a major US city. I am normally a 15-20% tipper, and often higher for exceptional service.

1. How much would you tip the concierge? He has been helpful by email in advance of my trip, booking reservations for me at three of the resort's restaurants. I could easily have booked the tables myself, and none of them were "hot tables" that I wouldn't have been able to get otherwise. I simply wanted one point of contact, to save some time. I plan to stop by and see him when I arrive, with a personal note and some X amount of $.

2. How would you thank the manager? One of our reservations is for a fine dining resto. The assistant GM has been extremely helpful in advance of the trip. For example: the restaurant does not offer a tasting menu, but he has conferred with the chef to create one for us, featuring many signature dishes. He has made two subsequent changes as we have added courses. I definitely want to do SOMETHING for him, and would prefer to give cash... but if cash is not appropriate for management, and I don't know him personally, what would be a good alternative?

3. How much to tip the sommelier? He is creating a custom wine pairing to go with the aforementioned tasting menu. I have not interacted with him at all in advance, and likely won't even see him till the dinner. Or... what if I don't see him that night at all?

4. Should I tip my waiter on the non-alcohol total only, if I'm also tipping the sommelier?

Should I just leave a trail of small bills as I move through the resort? I want to tip well and appropriately, but I confess I'm slightly overwhelmed by all the permutations and protocols on this one.

Feb 18, 2011
lhooq in Not About Food

Creating a Cooking/Supper Club

I am in a cooking club with 4 people. Two of them are professional chefs. The goal was to try new recipes out on a friendly audience who can taste-test and offer feedback. So the one rule is that each person must cook something they've never cooked before. We all source recipes from different places, usually cookbooks and magazines.

Here's how ours works:

There is always a cuisine theme, usually seasonal. (in February it was "Lunar New Year"; in March we are doing Southern/Creole in honor of Mardi Gras. Past themes have been "farmer's market", "guilty pleasures", "Mediterranean", "party foods")

The host gets to do the main course, since she often needs more access to stoves, ovens, etc. The other three cooks select from 1st, 2nd or dessert. The host often provides an amuse as well.

Everyone brings a printed copy of his/her recipe, and after the course we discuss what changes the cook made, or ways to use the recipe in the future. Sometimes the discussion is, "Well, I never need to make that again!"

If we declare it a wine dinner, each cook brings a bottle that pairs with her course (one bottle = 4 glasses = perfect). There are usually a couple extra bottles of Champagne floating around. A couple times a year, we open the menu up to cocktail pairings.

At the end of each dinner, we confer on calendar dates for the next dinner, select a host, and select a theme. Host is mostly rotating among the 4 of us but calendar and family obligations determine host also. Occasionally if it does not work for anyone to host, we will select a new restaurant that everyone wants to try, and make it a dining-out night.

We occasionally invite spouses. Those nights are a lot of fun but they are less agile then our foursome, which over the years has grown very intimate and very comfortable cooking together in the same kitchen.

A couple years back, we had to replace one of our four, and it was VERY difficult! Took us months. Finding people who are a good fit in terms of attitudes around cooking, dining, and entertaining will always be a challenge.

It is great fun, and I find our supper club very enriching.

Feb 18, 2011
lhooq in Not About Food

Eating Shrimp Cocktail in an Acceptable Manner

"please remember there's also meat in the shelled tail area of the shrimp! "

This is exactly the reason I eat shrimp cocktail with knife and fork. I use the fork to anchor, and insert the knife tip inside the tail and "flick" it to split the tail off, so I can eat the WHOLE shrimp.

Then, at that point, I've already got my knife and fork in hand, so I might as well use them: to cut the shrimp in half, dip a piece, eat, repeat.

I'm just not interested in using my fingers to pry off the last bit of shell. Not at a nice dinner, anyway.

Feb 18, 2011
lhooq in General Topics