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September 22, 2004

'Waiter, I'd like a doggie-bag - for my wine.'


Excellent article by Katy McLaughlin in today's Wall Street Journal about the little-known fact that in most states, it's perfectly legal to re-cork wine you've ordered at a restaurant and take it home.

The law is crystal-clear in 27 states that it's OK.

Seven others have no statewide law that addresses the issue.

Here's the story.

Getting Your Bordeaux to Go

New Laws Let Diners Take Leftover Wine Home; Stashing the Bag in the Trunk

It's the perfect ending to an elegant evening out at a restaurant: Lugging the leftover wine home in a paper bag.

For years, it's been illegal in most states for restaurants to send unfinished bottles of wine out the door with customers who bought them.

But a wave of recent legal changes is making it possible in an increasing number of states.

The latest state to jump on the doggie-bag bandwagon: New York state, which put its new law into effect less than two weeks ago.

This summer, Colorado adopted such a law, and last year, Connecticut, Utah, Hawaii and Pennsylvania all put similar statutes into effect.

A doggie-bag bill is pending in Massachusetts, and liquor-authority staff members in a handful of other states say they expect more such laws will soon be proposed.

The upshot: Though many restaurant-goers don't know it, 27 states, from California to Texas and Vermont, now allow people to re-cork their wine and take it home.

Seven other states have no statewide law that addresses the issue, making it a gray area in some places - though it is forbidden by local ordinances in others.

The legal changes are partly an effort to curb drunken driving.

Letting diners take home unfinished wine removes some of the pressure to finish a bottle at the table before getting behind the wheel.

Restaurant associations in various states have also lobbied for the changes.

Their hope is that customers will be more willing to order bottles of wine (a profit center for restaurants) if they're free to leave with any leftovers.

That's welcome news for wine lovers like Andrew Pollock, a New York architect who regularly orders a full bottle of wine when dining out with his wife - but then feels compelled to polish the whole thing off.

"I always make sure I drink it, even if I have to stagger home," says Mr. Pollock.

Considering the markup on restaurant wine, "it would drive me nuts to leave a bottle" unfinished on the table, he says.

However, just because it's legal to doggie-bag that Chianti, doesn't mean every restaurant automatically allows it.

It's usually voluntary for the restaurant to participate, and some opt out amid concerns they could be liable if a driver toting wine home had a drinking-related accident.

In addition, in some states, the rules vary by city or county.

To avoid misunderstandings at the end of the meal, consumers should ask a restaurant about its policy before ordering.

Some states, including Texas, Connecticut, North Carolina and Utah, require restaurants to offer the doggie-bag option.

But even some of these laws don't explicitly say that restaurants will be punished if they don't allow it.

And in Florida, restaurants need a combination of permits to doggie-bag wine, but few restaurants have them.

In other states, your rights are less clear.

There's nothing on the books to say you can't take it with you in West Virginia, for example.

However, state law makes it illegal to have an open bottle of alcohol in any public place, which means theoretically you could be in violation of the law while walking through the parking lot to your car.

Because of open-container laws - which prohibit people from having open bottles or cans of alcoholic drinks in the passenger area of their cars - it's a good idea (and the law in some places) to stash the bottle in the trunk for the drive home.

Most doggie-bag statutes have been written with open-container laws in mind.

For instance, some require restaurants to reseal and repackage opened wine so carefully you would think people are transporting radioactive material.

Arizona's law says that the wine cork has to be reinserted so fully that the top of the cork is flush with the lip of the bottle.

A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control acknowledges that can be impossible and says this requirement isn't strictly enforced.

New York's law requires restaurants to reseal or recork the wine, place it in a "one-time-use tamper-proof transparent bag," and then securely seal the bag.

It may take time for the changes to fully take effect.

On a visit to Locanda Vini and Olli, an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn on Sept. 10 - one day after the New York state doggie-bag law took effect - the restaurant told a group of diners they couldn't take home wine leftovers.

Catherine de Zagon, a co-owner, says that her attorney advised her not to let customers take out wine until October since the police might not be aware of the change in law.

She adds that, since New York law doesn't require restaurants to allow doggie-bags for wine, she may continue to forbid them.

Montrachet, a New York City restaurant with a 1,400-bottle wine list, also isn't yet letting customers carry out wine, because the restaurant says the state hadn't yet informed them exactly how the wine was to be resealed.

But they say they intend to allow doggie bags in the near future.

The New York State Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control says all the information is available on its Web site and that restaurants can immediately begin offering the doggie-bag option.

September 22, 2004 at 09:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Takeout Turkey Sandwich Taste Test


The results are in; click on the picture above to get all the juicy details.

Long story short: the Washington Post visited Subway, Quiznos, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Cosi, Corner Bakery, and Panera.

They ordered the basic turkey sandwich at each.

Although the Post, sensitive perhaps to the fact that their writers' salaries are paid by advertisers, didn't rank the sandwiches from best to worst, by reading between the lines it becomes clear that the winner was Panera.

Subway was the loser, for "gummy processed cheese and tasteless turkey."

Of interest to me: price is pretty much unrelated to quality.

Panera's ($4.99) was the fourth most expensive.

Subway's ($3.49), though, was the cheapest, in keeping with its rank.

The Post decried the fact that most of the chains used deli turkey - "thin slices of bland, vaguely turkey-fied meat."

If you want a good turkey sandwich, you go to a deli and watch them slice fresh slices off a whole roast turkey breast. Period.

My favorite turkey sandwich consists of turkey, rye bread, and Kraft Sandwich Spread. Period.

It is a distant descendant of the best turkey sandwich I ever ate, which, when I lived in LA, came from Greenblatt's Deli on Sunset Boulevard.

That too consisted of turkey on rye bread, with Russian dressing.

Sandwich Project is devoted to the subject of sandwiches, if you've suddenly gotten hungry.

September 22, 2004 at 06:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Anatomy of a Murder'


This film (on DVD) was the second half of yesterday's double-feature here at bookofjoe ("The Bourne Supremacy" at the theater being the first).

Consider the cast of "Anatomy of a Murder":

James Stewart

Lee Remick

Ben Gazzara

George C. Scott

Eve Arden

Consider that Duke Ellington wrote the sensational score (and even appeared in the film).

Consider that the movie was shot in eight weeks in the spring of 1959.

Consider that it received seven Academy Award nominations, among them Best Picture, Best Actor (Stewart), and Best Supporting Actor (two nominations, for Arthur O'Connell and George C. Scott).

Consider that Lee Remick could easily have been nominated for Best Actress and Eve Arden for Best Supporting Actress, along with Ben Gazzara for Best Supporting Actor.

Those accolades don't begin to tell you how great this film - shot in black-and-white in a small upper Michigan peninsula town just like that where the story takes place - is.

The novel from which the movie was made is equally superb.

Author Robert Traver, a pseudonym for Judge John D. Voelker of the Michigan Supreme Court, submitted the book to three publishers who rejected it before St. Martin's Press published it in 1957.


It was an immediate smash, climbing atop the bestseller lists where it remained for 61 consecutive weeks.

I cannot recommend this movie highly enough.

It receives the coveted, rarely-bestowed bookofjoe 4-star rating.

September 22, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's best paper towel holder


Brendan Koerner wrote about one that's supposed to be it (above), in this past Sunday's New York Times.

It's made by Simplehuman, costs $24.99, and is available at some Bed Bath and Beyond stores, according to the article.

Frank Yang, founder and CEO of Simplehuman, says it's worth the price, ten times the cost of generic paper towel holders.

His company's engineers rigged up cameras in the kitchens of volunteers and logged their daily interaction with the family's paper towel holder, a research technique the company's dubbed "ethnovideography."

They found that three problems most irked paper towel users about their incumbent low-tech holders.

1) It's too difficult to change rolls

2) Rolls unravel at the slightest hint of a breeze

3) Upright holders tip over too easily - especially during one-handed operation

Simplehuman's holder addresses each of these three problems.

The knob at the holder's top, fashioned after an automotive gear shift, has a quick-release mechanism for pop-on, pop-off replacement.

The bottom rim is lined with clingy polypropylene, arranged in what Simplehuman calls a "raised wave pattern" to prevent impromptu unraveling.

The base is heavy enough to withstand powerful tugging, but not so heavy that the holder isn't portable.

Despite its extensive use of ethnovideography, Simplehuman has yet to calculate how much time people can save by using its paper towel holder.

Koerner's informal test found that "the newfangled holder takes about four fewer seconds to load than a traditional, spring-loaded hanging holder. Assuming two roll changes a week, that's about seven minutes a year."


It just so happens that I investigated this subject exhaustively about a decade ago, and have a paper towel holder (just below), purchased after many false starts and discarded failures, that has served me well ever since.


It's upright, deals with all three problems cited above, and is far more elegant in function and design than Simplehuman's.

For one thing, mine has no moving parts, unlike that ridiculous knob at the top of Simplehuman's.

And it's polished stainless steel, not cheesy polypropylene like Simplehuman's.

No contest.

I got mine from some catalog, the name of which I can't recall.

It's made by Gefu Küchenboss in Germany.

Amazingly, my crack research team was able with no effort at all to find my wonderful paper towel holder on the company's website.

Click on Produkte, then on Design, and the elegant object is the fourth item down.

I did find


this one, for $17.99;


it's stainless steel, with a spring-loaded arm.

However, it's got that silly knob up top and the spring arm is ugly as all get out.

Then there's


this one, for $19.99; again, stainless steel but once again, that ridiculous, superfluous knob on top has to be unscrewed to change rolls.


In addition, the static short stopper bar won't do a thing to keep the roll from unraveling.

Here's one


from Calphalon, for $23.99, that shows what happens when engineers and designers apply muscle to a problem requiring finesse.

They've employed the spring technique, but this time from the top down.

This thing looks like a miniature NASA cherry-picker. Sheesh.

There's a LOT of stainless steel in that thing.

September 22, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



A very entertaining and original online world clock.

[via redferret.net and Martin Zwernemann]

September 22, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

World's most expensive cities


Guess what: not one U.S. city is in the 10 most expensive, as determined by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the business information arm of the Economist's publisher.

Here's the list, Tokyo being the most expensive:












Amazingly, the most expensive U.S. city - New York - ranks only 27th in the world.

It's the dollar's weakness that's pushed New York down to 27th from last year's 13th.

Yen or euros, now that's real money.

We really are on our way to becoming a banana republic, though we're not down there with Buenos Aires quite yet.

If you want to see the entire list, go here.

September 22, 2004 at 06:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Spraymaster Aerosol Widget


"Spraymaster - the Aerosol Widget! Keeps your fingers Dry, Clean, and prevents painful thumb ache when spraying... Fits all standard aerosols and gives a much more positive spray control."

"Made from glass-reinforced nylon for low weight and added strength... will last for years."


[via redferret.net]

September 22, 2004 at 03:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'The Bourne Supremacy'


Once again, a movie that's better than the book.

And once again, it's a Robert Ludlum/Bourne novel.

The "Supremacy" is even better than the "Conspiracy" - the movies, I mean.

Matt Damon is the perfect Bourne, in the same sense Sean Connery was the perfect Bond.

Bourne was a CIA operative in a super-secret, highly compartmentalized/need-to-know "black-on-black" operation.

The operation went south and was closed down.

Except for Bourne, who never got the word and has amnesia for who he really is and what he did.

He remembers his killing skills very well, however.

Bourne goes from country to country and speaks the languages but, most important, when he's in Germany he looks German, and in Russia he looks Russian.

I mean, George Clooney's gonna stick out in those countries, but not Damon.

Excellent script, with lots of droll, amusing exchanges:

"He made a mistake. Or he's just moving randomly."

"They don't make mistakes. And they don't do random."

"Then what's he doing? Who's giving him his instructions?"

"Worst-case scenario? He is."

Even though you think you've seen all the car chase scenes you ever need to see, the one in this film, through Moscow, is compelling.

I rate the movie a very entertaining 3.5 stars on the bookofjoe 0-4 star rating scale.

Well worth your five bucks to see what $40 million looks like onscreen.

September 22, 2004 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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