The one and only time I rafted down the American River was truly memorable.
It wasn’t just the camaraderie of friends laughing and paddling together in three rafts down the relatively calm part of the river.
It was also the wild blackberry bushes our guide had us maneuver our way to near the shore as we waited for the other rafts to catch up to us.
Truth be told, we were all secretly wishing those other folks would just take their sweet time, because we were as content as can be, reaching over the side of our raft to pluck berries that we devoured voraciously.
Nowadays, I get my blackberries from the farmers market or grocery store. Maybe it’s not as adventurous. But it is convenient, especially as blackberries are abundant even through early fall.
In fact, I eagerly picked some up recently specifically to highlight in “Blackberry & White Chocolate Muffins.”
Husband-and-wife, Mike and Denise Thornberry, might seem like an unlikely duo to open a wine bar-restaurant.
He is a senior director at Apple. She was executive vice president of global sales for Beats by Dr. Dre.
Neither has ever owned a restaurant before or even worked in one.
But they must know have a natural knack for it because their Tasting House in Los Gatos, which only opened in January, is already a hit. It garnered “Best Restaurant,” “Best Atmosphere,” and “Best Wine List” in the 2022 Best of Los Gatos list, and scored a “Best of Award of Excellence” this year from Wine Spectator. And when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week, the place was packed, even at all the tables on the patio where I dined on a toasty summer night.
Located in what was formerly Cin-Cin Wine Bar & Restaurant, Tasting House sports both a restaurant and an attached gourmet provisions shop.
That’s what the farmers market at San Jose’s Santana Row is — all one block of it on the main drag between Olin Avenue and Olsen Drive), with vendors on both sides plying fresh produce, flowers, and gourmet prepared foods.
The market, Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., is seasonal. So, if you want to check it out, you have until the end of this month before it’s gone until next year.
Because it’s an evening market, it’s an ideal place to pick up dinner or the fixings for it. Just follow your nose to find the Roli Roti truck parked in the center of the Row with spinning rotisseries packed with whole chickens and sides of ribs.
Just be warned that on a hot day before sunset, this truck is parked in full sun with heat radiating off the rotisseries, so bring a hat and a cool drink as you wait in line, as there almost always is one.
Who can blame people for flocking here when the rosemary-flecked chicken is so juicy, bronzed, and succulent that you barely need a knife. A whole chicken ($15.50) gets wrapped up hot off the rotisserie, ensuring it will still be warm by the time you dive into it at home.
Who doesn’t enjoy sipping up a creamy, fragrant Thai iced tea with spicy Southeast Asian food?
Now, you can make your own in a jiffy — and customize it however you like.
Heather Howitt, the founder of Oregon Chai, has developed Thaiwala, billed as the first brand of authentic Thai tea concentrate.
Just combine equal parts Thaiwala concentrate with whole milk, half and half, condensed milk, almond milk or any other dairy alternative in a tall glass with ice. You can even go fancy and add your own tapioca pearls to make bubble tea.
The concentrate is vegan and gluten-free, and can be enjoyed either cold or hot.
Meet piquette — quite possibly your favorite new summer sip.
This traditional French drink, whose name means “little wine,” is actually made by adding water to grape pomace (the skins, seeds and stems of the grapes left over after pressing), and fermenting the residual sugars.
It makes for a light tasting, low alcohol beverage.
In June, Une Femme Wines launched two canned piquettes that I had a chance to sample.
The brand was founded by Jen Pelka, owner of the now shuttered the Riddler, a Champagne bar in New York City and San Francisco, and her brother Zach.
Its intent is to produce only Champagne and sparkling wine made by women. In fact, for every bottle sold, the company makes a donation to a charity benefiting women.
With 8 percent ABV, the piquettes come in 250ml pull-tab cans.