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[whitespace] Cruising 101

Olsons mark a fruitful century-plus

By Christina Waters

The fourth generation of her family of Santa Clara growers, Deborah Olson gave me a quickie preview of the upcoming Cherry Festival, happening in Sunnyvale on June 3 and 4. Celebrating their 101-year anniversary, the Olsons settled in the Santa Clara Valley in 1899 and started planting cherries hand over fist. The results have been pleasing consumers and neighbors alike ever since, and the historic produce stand still does a booming business at the corner of Mathilda and El Camino Real in the heart of Sunnyvale.

"We're keeping the dream alive," chuckles Olson, who also admits that change has taken its toll on the once-vast acreage of orchards. But her dad, C.J., still works Olson plantings of cherries and apricots near the cherry stand, and he and all kinds of old-time farm equipment, live music and luscious, ripe cherries will be yours for the picking from 10am to 5pm each day of the festival. If you haven't ever experienced the joys of pit-spitting, you'll want to arrive in time for the 11:15am pit-spitting contest. There's also a cherry-stem-tying contest at 1:15pm followed by a cherry-cooking demo presented by chef Alain Gilot. And you can taste all kinds of cherries starting at 3pm. The Olson spread is still a fascinating place to time-travel back to the agricultural heyday of the valley, before "silicon" was even a word in the California dictionary. For details, call 408.736.3726 or check the website at www.cjolsoncherries.com.

Viaggio Vines

Join Byington Winery's Don Blackburn for a tasting of fine Santa Cruz Mountains wines, accompanied by appetizers created by chef A.J. Szenda, at Viaggio's Thursday night Wine Series, from 6:30 to 8:30pm at the Mediterranean-style dining room, located at 14550 Big Basin Way in Saratoga For an all-inclusive $20 per person, you can taste a half-dozen wines, listen to wine lore, watch a colorful cooking demo and sample appetizers. For more information, call 408.741.5300.

Finally, congratulations to talented chef and TV personality Joey Altman, whose Bay Cafe--a behind-the-food program on Bay TV--just won a James Beard Award for Best Local Television Cooking Show. Altman, you'll recall, fueled Miss Pearl's Jam House until starting up The Palace in Sunnyvale. Most recently, Altman applied his culinary spin to the stunning menu at Menlo Park's Wild Hare.

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From the May 25-31, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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