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Olive Days Around Sonoma County

The star fruit glistens at galas and to-dos throughout January and February.

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    Sonoma County's all about the orb, and all of its oil-nice, martini-enhancing ways, during January and February.

    IN THE DRINK OR ON THE DISH? When it comes to most edible, eatable things, there tends to be only two or three manners of proper consumption. Milk comes in a glass, atop cereal, or in coffee. A cracker sits upon a plate or is crumbled atop soup. And a banana? Eat it out of the peel or place it atop a few scoops of ice cream, split-style. (There are other manners of eating a banana, but surely those two are near the top.) But what of the olive? It's a fruit we can drop in alcohol, full submerging in liquid. We can mash it to a chunky little pulp, for a tasty tapenade. It can be converted into oil, ready for bread to be dipped, or it can be eaten straight out of a jar. Fruits may come larger or brighter or easier to display in baskets or bowls, but the olive is just about the most versatile, and chameleon-like, of all the foodstuffs found in the refrigerator crisper drawer (though we don't even really keep our olives there, alongside their fruitful kin). Sonoma County embraces all the many facets of the olive, with a flavorful fete that lasts for much of January and February.

    SONOMA VALLEY OLIVE SEASON: Choosing what to do from the array of tangy go-outs is a happy exercise in deciding how you like your olive. Toothpicked and floating in a strong libation? Be at Martini Madness at MacArthur Place Hotel on Friday, Jan. 9. Debittered? There's instruction on that at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards on Sunday, Jan. 25. In a grand and feasty setting? Ramekins Culinary School presents the Feast of the Olive Dinner on Saturday, Jan. 31. There's a host of doings built around the slippery-to-the-touch orb, and around fine dining, too. So whether you like your olives neat but sans pit, or converted to oil and flavored with citrus, or dotting a piece of fish or hunk of country bread, you're olive-y wishes will likely come to fruit-nice fruition. Again, is there a more versatile fruit? Okay, bananas, you, too. Like the olive, you're good in liquid form, in breads, plain and on your own...