Escondido, CA
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Mostly cloudy

Cork & Knife: When you have time to relax

Friends enjoying the intimate atmosphere at Cork & Knife.

Sometimes you just want to take the time to relax with friends over wine and cheese. No need to hurry. That’s when the newly opened Cork & Knife comes into its own. It’s not for fast food or rushing. In fact, not taking your time to enjoy would be a crying shame and would violate the sense of the place. 

Sit down and enjoy a wine and cheese pairing, with a glass from a local winery (or France, or Italy, or Napa). Or meat and cheese. Maybe a savory (but light) Cauliflower Soup. With the nearly endless variations you could make tempting tapas all day long.

You don’t have to stick with the choices that are offered on the menu. You can put together meat and cheese or cheese boards of your own taste.

Crusty bread topped by a goat cheese and slathered with fig jam, or—because some like it hot— a habañero raspberry jelly. It’s your choice. No matter how many times you return, you never have to travel the same culinary or wine road twice.

“We’ve have a lot of blue cheeses and all sorts of cheeses from all over Europe,” said wine specialist Anita Coleman, who describes Cork & Knife as “a wine and cheese and meat boutique.” 

A wine specialist who enjoys sharing her wine knowledge, Coleman says customers enjoy the quiet, companionable atmosphere.

Cork & Knife opened in Escondido in December next to DiCicco’s Italian Restaurant (the old Marie Callender’s) It has a sister shop in Rancho Santa Fe and another one under construction in Clovis, California. What makes this boutique special? “We’re not like a bar or a club,” said Coleman. “You can come, enjoy a nice glass of wine from a local winery, or France, Italy or Spain and Northern California without having to buy the bottle.” 

She really enjoys her work. “Before this I worked in customer service,” she said. “Now I’m selling wine and getting a chance to meet people.”

Lead Chef Brian Breeds, who helped open the other Cork & Knife, creates together the meat and cheese boards to go with the featured wines. 

I sampled three cheeses with accompaniments that included dates, raisins, pickled veggies. The cheeses were like small excursions into the countryside to sample the farmer’s cheeses. One was a goat cheese from a redwood forest in Arcata, California, flavored with fennel and lavender. The next was the Mabon Semicurado, a Spanish cow cheese aged for four months, with a creamy, nutty flavor. Finally there was the Morbier Montboissie, a pungent yet mild cheese from France.

Coleman didn’t hover as  I luxuriated in the galaxy of flavors and aromas, but was always available to answer questions, such as “What do you customers like about this place?” “I feel like it’s a warm, welcoming place to try something new, exceptional new cheeses and wines,” she said, and added, “and come back to try something new.”

The featured wines change monthly. Last month it was the Cabernet Franc. If you are a teetotaler they serve an Elixia French Sparkling Lemonade, which also complements cheese.

Cork & Knife does catering, drop-offs and pick up service. 

They will be having their first events this month. On March 24, 5:30-7:30 p.m. they will host Castelli Family Vintners for a free wine tasting. April 7, 5:30-7:30 p.m. 

For more information, call 858-703-8399 or visit

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