FOOD: THE OLIVE GARDEN

You can buy kalamata olives from Greece, Arbequinas from Spain and Picholines from France. But we grow table olives in America, too--about 14 million cases a year in California. To celebrate this season's finest, Sonoma County is hosting an Olive Festival next month (sonomavalley.com) with olive- grove tours and a "Martini Madness" party. Can't attend? Jazz up these domestic offerings with a little olive oil, garlic and parsley. Graber Olives: Its salt-cured, green Manzanillas are tree-ripened, giving them a soft, fleshy feel and a rich, buttery taste with excellent acidity. Mail-order at Graberolives.com ($17.95 for two tins of big olives, including shipping).

Armstrong Olives: Specializes in green Queen Sevillano olives cured in vinegar, salt and water and then hand-stuffed with garlic or jalapenos. Available only at supermarkets; Armstrongolives.net for locations ($4 to $7 a jar).

Black Pearls: The black Manzanilla (small) and Sevillano (jumbo) pitted olives are crisp and toothsome in consistency with a nutty flavor. Look for them in supermarkets. Olives.com for varieties (99 cents to $1.89 for a can).

FOOD: THE OLIVE GARDEN | News