Get toasted — You may already know Novi's brand-new Toasted Oak Grill & Market for its locally oriented, American brasserie cuisine — or the fresh market and wine shop adjacent to its dining room. Here's one more reason to take note: Toasted Oak will have afternoon happy hours starting Thursday, July 15, and running 2-6 p.m. four days a week, Tuesday-Friday. During happy hours, all featured food and drink items will be just $4 each, including crafted cocktails, wines, draft beers, tastings of such delicacies as pork rillette, sourdough onion rings with tomatillo ketchup, dry-rubbed cherry barbecue riblets and more. It's inside the Baronette Renaissance Detroit-Novi Hotel, 27790 Novi Rd., Novi; 248-277-6000; toastedoak.com.
Extra ribs — The Lazybones Smokehouse BBQ empire continues to expand. Not only is its Clinton Township location open, they have a special promotion there: Dine in and get a slab of St. Louis spare ribs for only $12. Fill up at 43203 Garfield Rd., Clinton Twp.; 586-247-7427.
In addition to her skills as a chef and writer, Valerie Aikman-Smith is a food stylist, which explains the eye-catching photo on the cover of Salt: Cooking With the World's Favorite Seasoning (Ryland Peters and Small, $15.95). Despite the attacks on salt consumption and the availability of numerous so-called substitutes, it remains the seasoning of choice for most of us, as evidenced by the shaker on every table. In addition to recipes, this volume describes the many varieties of salt available.
Minutes after Michigan summer was invented, the liter bottle of dry white wine came along. We've been pounding glass after glass of affordable and organic Hofer Grüner Veltliner. Despite every clever wine blogger and their six readers calling it the annoying "Gru Vee" for short, this Austrian wine is ideal for warm weather porch drinking. Aromatic tart green fruit easily flows across the throat leaving a streak of minerality usually found in pricier wine. The extra drinks in the larger-than-usual bottle promote bliss.
Bottle water is costly and disastrous to the environment. Beginning with the cost of container production, water processing, packaging and shipping, to the space some 60 million discarded plastic bottles take up in landfills, it's a wonder that the stuff hasn't been banned. Convenience, you say? Well, there is a viable solution that is affordable and that will save you money in the long run while reducing your carbon footprint: The American-made Hydros Bottle reduces contaminants and results in great-tasting water. See hydrosbottle.com.
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