Something wonderful is growing at the San Jose Museum of Art.
"El Valle Verde" is the eye-catching installation currently residing right outside the museum's older wing as part of the "Around the Table" exhibition that examines the connection between food and art. The redwood planter box -- with curved sides sloping toward a central tower adorned with ceramic tiles -- was created by builder Rory Fukuda and ceramic artist Francisco "Pancho" Jimenez.
The second half of the piece consists of the vegetables growing within, an agricultural nod to the Valley of the Heart's Delight being cultivated by Raul Lozano, executive director of Valley Verde, a nonprofit that helps people in Santa Clara County grow their own vegetables. The veggies -- broccoli, kale, rainbow chard, snow peas, spinach and romaine lettuce -- were planted as seedlings, but now there's a veritable bounty growing.
Employees at the museum's Cafe Too periodically harvest the leafy plants and used them in dishes, making it the only art exhibit in Silicon Valley that goes home with visitors one bite at a time.
When "Around the Table" closes in April, the planter will be sold to support Valley Verde's home-garden program. If you're interested, contact Lozano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GETTIN' FIT WITH ST. NICK: You know that you want to join the rest of the jolly old elves at the second annual TiVo Santa Run in downtown San Jose next Sunday, Dec. 15. About 2,700 people took part last year, bounding through the afternoon streets dressed up in Santa suits to support both Christmas in the Park and the Downtown Ice skating rink. Of course, you don't have to dress up like Santa -- you can bring whatever holiday touch gets you in the spirit, be it Mrs. Claus, an elf, reindeer, dreidel or menorah. You can even be the Grinch (which would be like not dressing up at all).
Festivities begin at 1 p.m., and the race starts at 3 p.m. so finishers can then enjoy the twinkling spectacle of Christmas in the Park. Registration is $40, including a Santa suit you can run in, or $35 without. Spectators can sign up for a suit alone for $8. Go to www.santarunsv.com for details.
HOLIDAY WISHES: Next Door Solutions for Domestic Violence will be continuing a great tradition later this month with its 21st annual Holiday Boutique, when its clients -- battered women and their kids -- are invited to shop for one another. Thanks to the generosity of Next Door's supporters, no money ever changes hands, but everyone gets to select and wrap something to brighten the season for a loved one.
Of course, this is where the generous community comes in. To make those wishes come true, Next Door needs donations of new, unwrapped winter clothes for kids and moms, toys and other items, including wrapping supplies, by Dec. 16. If you'd like to donate, contact Donna Knowlton at email@example.com or 408-501-7571.
Next Door is also holding its seventh annual open house at its Gish Road headquarters to say "thank you" to donors, volunteers and other supporters on Dec. 17. Get more details at www.nextdoor.org.
LIVING THE HI-LIFE: "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon was in San Jose on Thursday, visiting NBC Bay Area's North First Street studios to tout his upcoming ascension to the storied throne of "The Tonight Show." He met the staff, joked around with anchor Raj Mathai and later stopped by Henry's Hi-Life for barbecue. Clearly, he's got good taste.
SPIRITED PRAISE: Fairmont San Jose bartender Darin Gile was asked his opinion of Texas-made Tito's vodka by a customer who'd just ordered a drink made with the spirit. Gile, whose Bay Area Daisy cocktail is on the Fairmont's worldwide drinks menu, praised it and even did a little trick to show how it evaporates on the hand more easily than another premium spirit (apparently that's a sign of quality; I usually just drink the stuff).
The customer handed Gile his card, and to the bartender's surprise it was company owner Tito Beveridge himself, who was in the hotel for a conference. He later sent down an autographed bottle for Gile to enjoy. "The irony is I'm a whiskey guy," the bartender told me with a smile.
MAY THE FONDANT BE WITH YOU: While I was at the Fairmont, I couldn't help but marvel at the life-size R2D2 of white chocolate fondant holding court in the middle of the Lobby Lounge. An incredible job by pastry chef Fernando Arreola that cleverly celebrates the eye-popping "Star Wars" exhibit currently at the Tech Museum and the holidays, thanks to a cute red scarf wrapped around Artoo's "neck."
Christopher Pageaud, the hotel's director of food and beverage, challenged Arreola to create the frosted droid and let me in on a secret: The structure is made of a trash can topped with a salad bowl. I'm sure Jedi Master George Lucas would be proud of the ingenuity.