by Brian Clarey

Man, the ground is frozen, the wins whips through the trees and the piles of snow are gaining a patina of soot and dirt. Must be the butt end of winter, I say, and the dearth of local culinary happenings certainly reflects the weather.

So I’ll lead off this week with the news that McDonald’s will soon begin offering real fruit smoothies. The fast-food chain is already serving them up at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and will transition the product to stores stateside by summertime.

Hopefully this week’s culinary offerings will tide you over until then.

Wednesday sees the monthly meeting of Green Drinks Greensboro, held on the third Wednesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. at the Green Bean. Have some drinks and talk about sustainability, local farming and such.

Beginning on Friday, all three Triad locations of Total Wine & More will be tasting Affordable Aussie Wines all weekend long. Selections include Gumdale Pinot Grigio, Jip Jip Rocks Chardonnay, Milton Park Shiraz and Gumdale Shiraz Cabernet. Aussie wines have funny names.

Saturday sees the Crisis Control Ministry’s Pancake Breakfast and Wee Care beginning at 7:30 a.m. at Kernersville Wesleyan Church, located at 930 N. Main St. Five bucks gets all the pancakes you can eat and a viewing of the Wee Care Art Show, featuring artwork by Kernersville preschool and elementary school students. Also keep a lookout for the Chik-fil-A cow.

Also on Saturday, the Grove Winery releases its award-winning Estate Grown Nebbiolo. Nebbiolo grapes are known in Italy’s Barolo and Barbaresco regions to make big, tannic reds. The Grove’s 2008 Nebbiolo will be available for tasting at the winery on Sunday, but a special sneak preview happens in Burlington today, at For All Occasions on Church Street.

Sunday sees GTCC’s Chef’s Charity Ball at 6:30 p.m. at Greensboro’s Embassy Suites. The ball, which is open to the public, features great food, good people and a great cause: the Chef and Child Foundation, which fights childhood hunger. E-mail ROBurchette@gtcc. edu for more information.

And then on Tuesday, Green Drinks Winston-Salem meets, as it does on the third Tuesday of every month, at Krankie’s at 5:30 p.m.