A friend of mine was researching what rice to buy and I told her I like Tamaki haiga a short grain rice with the germ still attached. It tastes like white rice but it's supposed to be more nutritious. Anyway, it tastes good and we use the gaba brown, quick, or white rice regular setting on the Zojirushi so can't really screw that up. Tamaki haiga is better than your usual bowl of rice and it's good for rice bowls, stir fried rice, etc. Some more rice thoughts from somebody else. Also, there's no "best" rice. Buy what you like.
Other rice: Anson Mill's Carolina Gold Rice is good especially for red beans and rice but it's a bit too expensive for the trouble. Carnaroli for risotto, bomba for paella, and Kodafarms has good sweet (sticky) rice, rice flour, and Kokuho rose. I've made but I don't really fool around too much with jasmine, basmati, or long grain rice. And I don't like brown rice.
For pasta we go with Rustichella D'Abruzzo for spaghetti, bucatini, mezze maniche, farfalloni, and orecchiette. There's a couple bulk sales a year at Market Hall for this pasta and I grab some when it happens. Otherwise, Barilla is fine and fresh, home made pasta is easy enough.
Here's a white truffle risotto recipe from the French Laundry cookbook. It was a lot easier to make than I thought. Folding in whipped cream and letting the white wine actually get absorbed into the rice seems to be a couple of the tricks.
Hokkaido snow beef from Chateau Uenae is the beefy looking thing. I put some black truffles on it. It was good too.
Haydel's Bakery is our favorite. We always get the sugar only (the sugar + frosting is pretty sweet) and we get the package with the coffee, bead pack, etc. because why not!?! The high costs of these cakes are due to FedEx shipping but good luck trying to find a legit King Cake outside of NOLA. Buy NOLA and support their economy!
The new to me hotness -> hibiscus tea and the best is supposed to come from the Sudan.
Benefits of drinking hibiscus tea include weight loss, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent types of cancer and depression, and pro-liver; not at high doses.
Every tea seller has hibiscus tea but a lot are in blend form w/ black tea or berries, e.g Imperial Red from Imperial Tea. Luckily Berkeley Bowl has some just plain old hibiscus tea.
I'm not going to link to bad Google results for Karkade recipes which is a sweet hibiscus drink (there are no links to an Egyptian or Sudanese website for a recipe? really?). It's basically dried hibiscus, sugar, and water which is also agua de jamaica.
And I had no idea that jamaica was hibiscus. I didn't know what the red and tart drink was, just thought jamaica tasted good. Who knew? Anyway, it was nice to get introduced to hibiscus tea and will probably need to drink up other teas/mix it up a bit before I go overboard and get sick of it. Hasn't happened yet though.