The Day After — If you have family and friends in town and want to show them something different the day after Christmas, consider the Dakota Inn. They'll be open at 5 p.m. on Dec. 26 for the last sing-along of 2009. It will be a sold-out night, so call for reservations. At 17324 John R St., Detroit; 313-867-9722.
French Toast — Toast Birmingham is celebrating its first anniversary with an elegant dinner and wine pairings for a "Parisian New Year's Eve 2009." Expect live gypsy jazz, a midnight Champagne toast and a menu crafted by new Executive Chef Jeff Rose, formerly of Roast and Tribute. Reception at 8 p.m., dinner at 8:45 p.m., Dec. 31, at 203 Pierce St., Birmingham; 248-258-6278; toastbirmingham.com; $95 per person plus tax and tip.
Cork poppers — Ann Arbor's Vinology is offering a special dinner menu with seatings from 4-10 p.m. on New Year's Eve, with 16 dishes to choose from, as well as specially paired flights of wine. Entrées include house-made hot smoked salmon, organic Amish chicken, grilled petite filet mignon and New Zealand lamb. At 110 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-222-9841; vinowinebars.net; $50 per person plus tax and tip; reservations recommended.
David Chang is the hottest chef in New York today, opening one restaurant after another, taking advantage of the low lease rates that the economy hath wrought. It's the food, though, that's the main attraction. In Momofuku (Clarkson Potter, $40), Chang reveals the secret recipes and techniques behind his rave reviews. The instructions are detailed and user-friendly, and include his recipe for ginger scallion noodles, a popular dish at his Great New York Noodletown — or now at your kitchen table.
Conjure the spirit of Charles Dickens this holiday season by serving glasses of mulled wine. Known elsewhere as glühwein or glögg, it is simply red wine heated, sweetened and spiced. There are hundreds of recipes for mulled wine, but all of them generally contain some proportion of cinnamon, clove and orange peel. Search for a recipe that incorporates whole spices and other quality ingredients, such as honey as the sweetener, and you just might have a new holiday tradition.
Celebrate the holidays with the Clintons. (You know you've always wanted to party with them.) Hillary will crack your nuts and Bill will screw your cork. Are these mere metaphors or functional tools? Who cares if they work? For $35, you can provide a lotta yuks at any gathering, especially from your Republican friends (if any). As for Democrats, well — most have a sense of humor. Both Bill and Hillary stand upright at 9 inches tall. Yes, they do work. See hillarynutcracker.com.