Markets are up The first week of August is National Farmer's Market Week. While we think a lot of these "commemorative designations" are silly (International Cat Day?), we must admit that early August is a prime time to hit the farmers' markets that abound in metro Detroit. Not only are the summer crops up and producing at their peak, the bounty practically ensures the prices will be reasonable. If you haven't been to a farmers' market yet — if you've forgotten what a fleshy, ripe, locally grown tomato tastes like — this week is the prime time to experience it.
Lager and munch Thanks to P.J. of P.J.'s Lager House, who reminded us that his rock 'n' roll watering hole is taking its culinary offerings to new levels. Not only can you get food every day, from when they open at 11 a.m. until midnight, he says the Saturday brunch is especially interesting. Their cook has devised "vegan biscuits and gravy," which was so popular that they ran out of it that day. Drop in for a taste at 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668.
Pie in the sky The "Naples Sampler," a variety of pizza at Farmington Hills' Tomatoes Apizza, was recently honored by Food Network Magazine as Michigan's best pizza. It's called an "East Coast-style" pie, with a thin crust, topped with red sauce, mozz, garlic and spinach, available at 24369 Halsted Rd. (248-888-4888) and 29275 W. 14 Mile Rd. (248-855-3555). For more info, see tomatoesapizza.com.
More outdoor Livonia's Claddagh Irish Pub has a newly revamped beer garden-style patio. Shading out the harsh sunlight, decorated with flowers and greenery, and with a decorative fire pit for cool nights. And they've also altered their menu to feature lighter fare than your usual Irish cooking. (Think mushroom ravioli and seafood pie.) And the drinks don't stop at porter beers, as they are also offering chilled sangria. The Claddagh Irish Pub is at 17800 Haggerty Rd.; 734-542-8141; claddaghirishpubs.com.
Get schooled As back-to-school season approaches, parents of college-bound students have reason to be concerned about their diet. Will they subsist on a combination of fast food, ramen noodles and various saturated fats? Or will they get enough fresh fruits and vegetables? Andrea Lynn, author of the I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook, wants to help. The volume offers recipes for quick, easy, nutritious dishes that require only a hot plate or a good nuking — even for picky eaters. Available at amazon.com.
Know of any upcoming events geared toward food, wine, beer, gardening or the like? Let us know! Send an e-mail to [email protected] or call 313-202-8043.
Sometimes folks forget that Guy Fieri, the zany star of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives can cook too. A glance through Guy Fieri Food: Cookin' It, Livin' It, Lovin' It (William Morrow, $29.99) will confirm that, despite his spiky hair and sunglasses worn backwards, he's a serious chef and restaurant owner. The book is a good read, and the stories reflect his sense of humor. The recipes are original, laden with his "extreme" personality, and full of bold flavors. (Think penne with Cajun hot links and chipotle shrimp.)
bottoms up A tea company in Trenton? Chartreuse Organic Tea has been providing high-quality herbal teas (tisanes) since 2004. We recently brewed a pot of their Moroccan Spice, a blend of wild-harvested organic hibiscus, lemon balm, orange peel, cinnamon, wood bethony and rosehips, threw it into a blender with some honey, half-and-half and ice cubes, and drank the cold, sweet and spicy concoction in a matter of minutes. You can find their broad range of more than a dozen tisanes at numerous metro Detroit locations. See chartreuseltd.com.
the works "The Beast," aka the "Guy Fieri Knuckle Sandwich Cleaver" deserves a spot in any kitchen, even if you don't cook. It looks that cool. The ergonomic handle looks like the graphics on a hot rod. The criss-cross crusher on the end of the handle makes quick work of crushing garlic, making it an aromatic cleaver. The 1-pound heft combined with a thick carbon-steel blade will easily cut through most foods, even chicken bones. It comes with a flamed edge guard. If a cleaver is too intimidating, try the 8-inch "Big Stick" chef's knife.