Food Stuff 

A Detroit holiday food bazaar, beer tastings, cheesesteaks and more

Eater's bazaar — The inaugural Detroit Holiday Food Bazaar promises to be an unmatched agglomeration of local culinary expertise, helping connect holiday shoppers with cottage vendors in a festive environment. With no shortage of local sources for locally made gifts of the inedible variety, thanks to new cottage food laws, the last year has seen an explosion of vendors selling slow, local, small food, often gourmet. The event will have wine, hot cocoa and light appetizers, music from DJ Michael Geiger, and tasty prints from talented photographer and MT contributor Marvin Shaouni. Shoppers will have the opportunity to stroll through the rooms of the Whitdel Gallery, enjoying a drink or a snack, feasting their eyes on a wide variety of vendors. Expect hand-made chocolates, candies, jams, vinegars and locally roasted coffees. There will be perishable edibles for sale, such as freezer-ready specialty wontons, tamales and empanadas. Vendors will include Beau Bien Fine Foods, Porktown Sausage, Pete's Chocolates, McClure's Pickles, Corridor Sausage Co., the Detroit Zymology Guild, Neighborhood Noodle, Detroit Spice Company, Suddenly Sauer, Detroit Evolution Laboratory, Great Lakes Roasting Company, and El Azteco. There's no admission fee, but all vendors will be selling on a cash-only basis. All are welcome. It takes place 7 p.m.-midnight Friday, Dec. 10, at Whitdel Arts Center, 1250 Hubbard (entrance on Porter at garden level), Detroit.

Whole beers — Whole Foods in Rochester continues its series on holiday spirits with a program called "Winter Brews and Bites," a sampling of local and winter-themed microbrews guaranteed to go down well on a chilly night. It happens 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12; $5 flights available for tasting; 21 and older only; at 2918 Walton Blvd., Rochester Hills; 248-971-1400.

Say cheese! — As long as we're talking about meat sandwiches (see this week's Short Order column on the following pages), we should single out Giuseppe Abbulone of Joey's Famous Philly Cheesesteaks in Southgate for a little praise. A few years ago, we covered the fledgling restaurant as it was taking off. We hear now that this little slice of hoagie heaven runs three spots in metro Detroit, with additional locations in Woodhaven (14625 Northline Rd.; 734-281-4444) and Garden City (5926 Middlebelt Rd.; 734-692-1111). Our compliments to a local mini-chain that's spreading faster than Cheez Whiz. Learn more at joeysfamousphilly.com.

High spirits —While we're patting folks on the back, kudos to Rifino Valentine, and his Ferndale-based Valentine Vodka. We hear they won a gold medal ranking at the Beverage Tasting Institute competition this year, his vodka getting a rating of 90 in the "unflavored vodka" category, which places it among the top vodkas in the country. Congrats, guys.

Food/Thought — Baking cookies is a holiday tradition for many of us who enjoy sharing homemade treats with good friends and family. The recipes in Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies (Artisan, $25.95) by Alice Medrich will make you a welcome guest when you pop in with a batch of irresistible crispy ultrathin chocolate chunk cookies. How about chewy black bottom pecan praline bars? And who can resist a melt-in-your-mouth basic butter cookie? So get out the butter, sugar, eggs and chocolate — and get cookin'.

Bottoms Up — Since we discovered a stock of Fentimans Curiosity Cola at Western Market in Ferndale, we have been pounding bottle after bottle in both cocktails and simply straight-up with ice as a treat. The base is made by brewing and fermenting herbs and milled roots over seven days. After cola flavoring is added, the soft drink has a depth of flavor that blows every other mass-produced cola off the shelf. It's not cheap, but it makes one hell of a Cuba Libre cocktail.

The Works — It's definitely entertaining to watch sushi chefs deftly knock out your favorite rice-and-nori-bound morsels. They make it look easy, but it's intimidating to many. Fear not. The Sushi Chef sushi kit includes everything you'll need to make it in your own kitchen: a cookbook, rice, nori, pickled ginger and wasabi, the proper rice and vinegars — even the bamboo mat that makes rolling simple. It's akin to rolling a smoke with a roller of your youth. It's surprisingly easy after a few attempts. We found this at cooking.com for $37.95.

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