Food Stuff

If you want to know more about the wines of Australia, often very affordable and steadily increasing in quality for the past few years, George Gize, owner of Assaggi, the fine Mediterranean bistro in Ferndale, has put together something for you. On Tuesday, Feb. 21, he'll host a wine tasting dinner led by David Forziati, of the Epicurean Wines group. $85. 248-584-3499.

Magnolia Restaurant and Key Club, one of the only windows still lit in downtown Detroit's old warehouse district, is expanding its soul food and Cajun menu, and adding a string of weekly events, including Blue Mondays, featuring such blues doggies as Luther "Badman" Keith and Milton "The Hammer" Davis; In-Tune Tuesdays, a karaoke night; Open Mic Poetry on Thursdays; and Saturday jazz. 313-393-0018 for more on all.

A Dearborn mainstay hosted a grand opening this month of its renovated self, the new Peacock Restaurant Bar & Grill, with a general spiff-up, expanded menu and drinks selections, a monster plasma TV and a rededication to its long-reliable hospitality. For details, call 313-582-2344.

Insomnia, a recent addition to the Macomb club scene, has expanded its menu of bar-grub to feed your face while live acts fill your ears. 16780 21 Mile Rd., at Garfield, Macomb Twp.; 586-226-8008.

Keep an eye peeled for OSO sweet onions in your produce section now through March, the end of the season for one of your best choices of thick-sliced burger toppings and rings that, when lightly fried, keep their grip on the coating and a little crunch.


Eat the page

Although countless other baking books have lots more pretty pictures, Regan Daly's In the Sweet Kitchen (Artisan, $35) should be the first choice for pastries, pies, tarts, cookies, puddings, mousses and other desserts, and bread in many of its forms. Split between a definitive text on the ingredients, equipment, hows and whys of baking, and 150 recipes for trying them out, the nearly 700-page tome serves well as a baker's bible. It was the International Association of Culinary Professionals' 2001 Cookbook of the Year.

A Tasty Beverage

Fine eau da vie, a fruit brandy called "water of life" by the French, is a long, worthwhile way from the cloying, flavored booze that lines so many metro Detroit back bars. It captures the essence and aroma of fresh fruit in a crisp, clear, 80-proof spirit that can both whet the appetite and finish feeding it, served with something sweet, or fruit and cheese. Not long ago, the highly regarded Leelanau winery Black Star Farms got into distilling, and its remarkable Spirit of Pear is one result.

It Works

The ancient molcajete and tejolete (mortar and pestle) is a workhorse of the Mexican kitchen, used to grind, smash and mix anything from hard spices to avocados for the chunky guacamole served south of the border. Though available in granite, the traditional choice is best – coarse-grained lava rock. It needs to be seasoned, to shed any loose bits and smooth the surfaces a tad. Throw in a handful of uncooked rice and grind away, working all surfaces of the molcajete, for about 20 minutes. Rinse, and keep it handy. Look for them in Mexicantown.

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