Food Stuff 

Get pickled — It's been a good year for McClure's Pickles. The local company, which packs its pickles by hand in a special brine, has been operating in Detroit and selling in New York with much success. And co-founder Joe McClure is using the local company's "pickleversary" as an excuse to have fun and try some of the company's new products. McClure, who has been making pickles since he was "a little kid with my grandpa," says there will be new products to sample, including chunky relishes that come in garlic-dill and spicy flavors, good enough to eat on a cracker. There'll also be a new hot, spicy, beer-infused mustard made with brew from Clawson's Lotus Brewing Company, where the event will be held. Expect beer, a product raffle and, of course, the pickles — cured in a brine so special that even a couple bars buy the brine solely for use in cocktails. From 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, at the Black Lotus Brewing Company, 1 E. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson; for more information see mcclurespickles.com.

Dem bones — Roseville's Lazybones Smokehouse BBQ is celebrating Christmas with a "Heat and Eat" dinner special. Want to spend the big day or the night before with your family instead of in the kitchen? Pick up a Lazybones heat-and-serve meal with all the fixings, serving 8-10 (with leftovers) for $109.99 plus tax; quantities limited; call 586-775-7427.

Can-do spirit — Is the season for giving making you consider organizing a canned food drive? Gleaners Community Food Bank can help, supplying bins and arranging for pick-up when you're ready. To learn more, e-mail GCFB's John Kastler at fooddrive@gcfb.org or see gcfb.org for tips on organizing a successful food drive.


EAT THE PAGE

American expatriate Faith Willinger has been living in Italy for 30-odd years, indulging her passion for Italian food and cooking. In Adventures of an Italian Food Lover (Clarkson Potter, $32.50), she regales the reader with not only tales of restaurants, markets and regional cooks, but also with recipes from the many friends she has made in her explorations. From simple spaghetti to the more complex but nonetheless easy "Watery Mess Seafood," Willinger emphasizes the use of the freshest ingredients available — the Italian way.


A TASTY BEVERAGE

Luxardo maraschino liqueur is still made according to the original formula developed by Girolamo Luxardo in 1821. European marasca cherries from Luxardo's own orchards are crushed with their pits, distilled and aged for two years in ash wood vats. After a dose of cane sugar, the finished product is sweet, with the flavor of cherries and hints of bitter almond. With gin and freshly squeezed lemon juice it makes a superb "aviation" cocktail. Or straight with a twist of lemon as a digestif — a serving option not recommended with most of today's shallow, artificially flavored liqueurs.


IT WORKS

For a "stirring" experience, here's a great little inexpensive gift for one of your cooking friends: the "Luigi" spoon rest. For less than $20, you can provide a kitchen gondola that will help keep the cook's counter clean while providing a charming conversation piece, one that adds kitschy charm to a quirky room. When the meal is over, this colorful little gondolier can safely navigate a dishwasher, saving you the trouble of cleaning him for his next voyage. Check speranzaonline.com.

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