by Brian Clarey

In the US, we thank McDonald’s for giving away toys with Happy Meals. In Brazil, the government fines the fast-food company. McDonald’s must cough up $1.8 million after being sued by a consumer advocacy group claiming that the toys “distort values” and encourage unhealthy eating habits,” according to Ad Age.

In other fast-food news, Taco Bell introduces a new taco with a shell made from Doritos. Burger King is banking on Coca- Cola Freestyle soda machines to bring in more business in 2012. Krispy Kreme has launched three new holiday doughnuts — the best of the crop seems to be the red velvet doughnut, with cream-cheese icing. And in a late report from the field, the Chicago-style hot dog at Sonic is actually pretty damn good.

And if all this gives you a little heartburn, the Red Mango in High Point’s Palladium is now dishing out live bacteria cultures with your choice of fresh toppings.

Lucky Blue opened this week in Winston-Salem, promising “local meats, seasonal ingredients, artisanal imports” in a casual, sit-down atmosphere at 271 W. 4th St.

On Wednesday, Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro in Winston-Salem holds a five-course wine dinner featuring Chef Jeff Bacon of Second Harvest Food Bank’s Triad Community Kitchen. The $75 tab includes food, wine and a signed copy of his Tested by Fire cookbook. Call 336.703.5400 for a reservation.

On Thursday, the Camel City’s revamped Encore Bistro holds an International Holiday Mixer, with food, music and good cheer. Call 336.377.7030 for more information.

On Saturday, Winston-Salem’s Fresh Market holds a cooking demo featuring holiday hors d’oeuvres beginning at 1 p.m. There will also be wine samples. And Total Wine & More is pouring tastes of gift wines at all three Triad locations.

Got room for more? Alyssa Bloomer of Costner Elementary School in Dallas, NC grew a cabbage as big as a baby elephant, chosen by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler as the state winner in the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program. Not sure what it’s all about, but that’s the biggest damn cabbage I’ve ever seen.