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[whitespace] Natural High

'Tis the season to grow wild

By Christina Waters

Almost nothing adds a touch of sensory magic to the table more than the incredible aromas of fresh herbs. And obviously, one of the best ways to bring those flavors into your own meals is to grow your own. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, mint, marjoram--these are all the "secret" staples of serious kitchen gardens. Even not-so-serious ones--you don't have to be Al Gore to make sensuous enjoyment a serious matter. Renee Shepherd just mailed me info on her new Renee's Garden seeds, to be introduced in the 2001 catalog of her fabulous specialty heirlooms and open-pollinated seeds. This year, Renee's Garden offers some distinctive new culinary herb varieties that will have next summer's salads way ahead of the pack. From France comes a sweet curly parsley that Renee says has a "nutty" flavor, as well as a delicate, faintly licorice-scented chervil. I'm committed to trying some seeds of a new Italian basil, "profuma di Genova," that has a "clean bright" basil flavor without clove overtones. All these items and many more new specialty seeds for gourmet vegetables, herbs and spectacular old-fashioned flowers can be found by checking online shopping at www.reneesgarden.com.

Harvest Wine Fest

A 75th anniversary is a big deal by any terms, and even bigger when it commemorates the founding of a family dynasty of winemaking. Congratulations to Guglielmo Winery, committed to fine fruit of the vine for three-quarters of a century. The Guglielmo folks know how to throw a party, and you're invited to join them, their friends and the entire Santa Clara County for a Harvest Festival 2000 this Saturday, Aug. 26, starting at 3pm. From Grape Stomp competition to games requiring almost surgical eye-hand coordination--like the salami toss--you won't want to miss this major afternoon of fun. Big band dance music by Wally's Swing World will get you up on your feet. These guys are top-notch, and the dance band scene alone should justify the $45 admission price ($35 wine group members). But it's not just fun and games. The Guglielmo 75th anniversary party puts on a lavish spread of Santa Maria-style barbecue (arguably the definitive barbecue west of the Mississippi), plus pasta, salad, garlic bread and dessert. You'll probably be able to find a glass of wine or two, if you look around. Dress for sultry summer weather and leave your inhibitions at home. Guglielmo is located at 1480 E. Main St. just off Hwy 101 in Morgan Hill. For details call 408.779.2145 or surf www.guglielmowinery.com.

Market Yourself

If you're not out each week at your local farmers market, you're blowing it! We don't live in Alberta or Buffalo. We live in the splendidly Mediterranean central California climate zone, where everything grows brilliantly. You can go out to farmers markets and meet the growers themselves, find out what they've harvested that week and what's coming up, and bring home incredibly flavorful produce at its peak of ripeness. As we speak, Roma beans, fresh basil, yellow and white corn as well as--finally!--tomatoes (heirloom, dry-farmed, and otherwise) are being harvested by local growers. Your local farmers market is the very best place to stay in touch with the seasons and meet the expert small producers who can answer your questions and give you their tips for serving and cooking. Besides--do I really have to point this out?-- it's fun. In San Pedro Square, in downtown San Jose, market's on Fridays 10am-2pm; Saturday morning in Willow Glen and Gilroy, Sunday morning in Los Gatos and Menlo Park. Call 800.949.FARM to find out where and when your closest farmers market happens! Have a great summer--I am!

Email me! Readers, restaurateurs, chefs: Please send any news items, tips, menu changes, openings, special events and juicy gossip to [email protected]

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From the August 24-30. 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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