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Head of the Class
On Saturday, June 8, WYES-TV Channel 12 welcomed cup-clutching crowds to its 19th annual beer tasting at the Fair Grounds, proving that wine isn't the only alcoholic beverage New Orleanians will stand in long lines to taste. More than 200 beers, lagers and ales were represented. I, however, barely made it through the selection Glazer's Companies of Louisiana offered in one room alone. Thank goodness for free red beans from Good to Go Catering (362-0312 or 227-0900). Satiating a summer craving for light, hoppy beers, my favorites were Chimay White Cap and Hoegarden White Ale from Belgium, and Spaten Franziskaner Hefe-Weissbier from Germany. Day's Lager, brewed in Marrero, also made a good showing. It was pleasantly bitter, fruity and slightly effervescent. Of course, that was after an hour of tasting. Try it for yourself. For information on future WYES events, call 486-5511 or log on to www.wyes.org.

I Found My Thrill
Following a tip from the daily newspaper, a friend and I drove to Blueberry Ridge (20 Marcus Mitchell Road, 601-798-0447) in Picayune, Miss., last weekend and collectively picked four gallons of the sweestest blueberries ever in just under two hours. Total cost: $20. The farm is basically operated on the honor system, and if you arrive at 9 a.m. on the dot, before the haze lifts, you'll have the run of the place. The picking should be good for the next couple of weeks. Call for directions.

For Pete's Sake
A recent dinner at Marisol (437 Esplanade Ave., 943-1912) reminded me of the peaceful patio dining area just steps from the French Quarter. It fills up on a first-come-first-serve basis, and owners Pete and Janis Vazquez seemed happy to accommodate diners who drop by for just a bottle of wine and a few plates from the enormous cheese selection. I don't think I could eat there again without ordering a bowl of Chef Pete's outrageously rich Thai-style coconut and crab soup.

Take Your Best Shot
June brings Tequilapalooza back to Vaqueros (4938 Prytania St., 891-6441). This Thursday, June 20, from 7 to 9 p.m., taste Mexico's finest for $1 per shot. Next Thursday, June 27, is a $55 dinner, which includes five courses and six tequila beverages. Log on at www.vaqueros-restaurant.com for more information.

Special Summer
Victor's (Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, 921 Canal St., 524-1331) is back with an unbeatable summer special: Three-course prix fixe business lunches for $28, and seven-course degustation dinners for only $60.

This week's column powered by the chai milkshake at Rue de la Course. -- Roahen

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