Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Ode to Blackberries

Blackberries aren't traditionally a Thanksgiving food. Nor is cereal, no matter how much I might lobby for its inclusion. But this Thanksgiving, I'm happy to report that I've discovered a great new breakfast combination, suitable for Thanksgiving day or any other day of the year—cereal topped with fresh blackberries.

How did I happen upon this marvelous discovery? Where else but at a hotel breakfast buffet? Allow me to digress. Eric and I are spending the holiday weekend in Charlottesville, Virgina, where my son, Aaron, and his fiancee, Karen, live. The first event on my road to blackberry discovery occurred yesterday evening, when we returned to our hotel room after a lovely dinner with Aaron, Karen, and Karen's sister, Amy. While Eric and I were out, an envelope addressed to me had been slipped under our door. Inside was a handwritten note saying that I had been selected as the "special guest of the day" by the hotel and that the hotel hoped I would enjoy the accompanying amenity. Thrilling. But where was the amenity? All I had was the note and nothing else. I decided to wait until morning to investigate the matter further.

This morning, I approached a young woman at the front desk and asked what amenity the "special guest" designation entitled me to. She had no idea. When I showed her the note, she thought for a moment and asked if I would like a bottle of wine.

"No thanks," I replied.

"How about a free movie?" she asked.

"Not really."

We were at an impasse, when I thought to ask where Eric and I might have breakfast. She mentioned the hotel restaurant and several places in the adjacent pedestrian mall, then paused for a moment.

"How about a free breakfast for your amenity?" Voila!

We were soon seated at the restaurant, where we ordered the sumptuous breakfast buffet, which included omelets, bacon, sausages, pastries, and muffins. I was pleasantly surprised to find among the cereals not only the usual array of Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, and Cheerios, but also Kashi 7 Whole Grain Flakes. In additon to regular and skim milk, there was even soy milk. Already impressed, I was further delighted to see a selection of berries offered as toppings, not only raspberries and strawberries, but also blackberries. Sadly, no blueberries, but you can't have everything. On closer inspection, though, the raspberries and strawberries looked a little overripe. That left the blackberries. I've never really been a fan of blackberries. In fact, I've rarely sampled them and when I have ventured a taste, they've seemed overly sour. But today, it was blackberries or nothing.

What followed was a revelation—something about the combination of the cereal, the milk, and the blackberries created the perfect taste sensation, sweet but tart, beautifully complimenting the bland but satisfying flavor of the flakes. I knew had found a new fruit accompaniment to my breakfast cereal. If blackberries tasted this good with Kashi flakes, I could only imagine how delicious they would be with my Stark Sisters Maple Almond Granola.

I passed up the omelets and pastries in favor of a second bowl of cereal and blackberries. It was hard to resist a third bowl, but mindful of the Thanksgiving feast to come later today, I resisted the urge.

On Thanksgiving, my greatest thanks are always reserved for my wonderful family and my terrific friends. Today, however, let me also offer thanks for the lowly blackberry.


  1. All summer in Oregon we would walk a path with blackberry vines. As the summer progressed, so would the blackberries. Just before we had to go back to Chicago, if the stars were perfectly aligned, the blackberries would be ready for us. Walking up or down the path now took more time as we helped ourselves to these wild gems.

  2. I am also a blackberry fan. Out here on the Olympic Peninsula we are blessed with the small wild blackberry. Talk about a taste sensation! Each summer, usually late July, we pick and freeze them. Quite often our Thanksgiving fare will include a wild blackberry pie. Quite a delicacy.


  3. Now that you've joined the fan club:
    Try apple and fresh blackberry crumble! All you have to do is add them to the apples, and put the crumble on top. You'll be surprised at the result!

  4. Try blackberries mixed with you favorite granola and one of those amazing greek yogurts...Yum!!