DISTINCTIVE OR DISGUISED? We're quite sure that you're the sort of eater who regularly separates out those ingredients we use every day, or at least several times a week, for individual tastings. Because we're often in a rush to get lunch and get back to the office, or to put dinner on the table, we too often toss the same sorts of foods -- lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers -- together in salads or stack them atop sandwiches, rarely taking a moment to simply eat a single food at a single time. Maybe you are conscientious and do this as a matter of habit, or maybe an occasional reminder to dissemble our sandwiches and salads is in order. A good first stop is a tasting focusing on a single thing. Yep, wine tastings are common, and beer tastings, too, but more and more a single fruit, in several variety -- think apples or chile peppers -- is getting its own single-taste spotlight. Next up, in not one but two spots in the Golden State, is the tomato. Fairfield near the Bay Area will be saluting heirlooms over the third weekend in August, while the Arboretum in Fullerton will set up a tasting on Saturday, Aug. 3.
WHAT TO EXPECT: A wide range of tomato action, in short, sans salad dressing, sans cheese, sans croutons. It's just you, your taste buds, and that quintessential tomato squirt. A lot of homegrown fruits'll cameo, so the variety will be solid. Plus? A salsa contest is on that day, too. If you're a heat fanatic, and can't make it to Aug. 3, head for Oxnard over the final weekend in July, when the long-running Salsa Festival -- that's dance, music, and food -- swings through town.