Food Stuff

How to muddle a Mint Julep, special dinners and more

Muddling through — With the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby coming up, we'd like to bring up a point of cocktail etiquette. On May 7, people who never touched a sprig of mint all year will want mint juleps — and will begin furiously pummeling and mashing this fragile herb into a jelly at the bottom of an old-fashioned glass. Perhaps with the rise of the mojito, Americans have forgotten that mint hardly needs such rough treatment. A light bruising of leaves to bring out the oils is all that's necessary for a good mint julep. In fact, a julep gets most of its mint aroma from the generous sprigs you heap atop the drink. No need to muddle those sprigs, either; just a little slap will leave them fragrant enough to delight drinkers. Prepare your simple syrup in advance. And never start drinking a fresh julep through a straw; the real julep experience means being tickled on the nose with an ambrosial bouquet. See you at post time ...

Wine, women and golf? — Speaking of sport, are you a woman who likes to golf? Are you a woman curious about the health, business and social rewards of hitting the links? The group Women on Course is hosting a happy hour where all skill levels can hit the 19th hole for networking and golf wisdom, with food, wine, prizes and gift bags. It all happens 5:30-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 11, at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 17400 Haggerty Rd., Livonia; 734-542-9463; $25 per guest, $15 per member; register at or call 703-268-5078.

We like beer — Big Rock Chophouse is hosting a strolling beer tasting event down the street at its sister restaurant, the Reserve. There will be four different beer stations, and thoughtful food pairings with popular craft brews from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company, Shorts Brewing Company and Merchants Fine Wine. The tasting is from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at 325 S. Eton St.; $45 per person, including drink tickets, tax, tip and valet; for information or tickets, call 248-647-7774.

Burgundy and beyond — Champane's Wine Cellars is hosting a second annual pinot noir tasting, featuring more than 50 different pinots from California to Oregon to New Zealand. The hard-to-cultivate grape can produce some of the finest wines; here's a chance to sample among many regions for true terroir. Tasting is from 6 to 7:45 p.m., Thursday, May 5, 7007 Chicago Rd., Warren; $20 per person; 21 or older only; reservations at 586-978-9463.

Food/ThoughtWhatever your personal notion of comfort food, Saveur: The New Comfort Food — Home Cooking from Around the World (Chronicle Books, $35) will offer ideas to satisfy it. Saveur mag editor-in-chief James Oseland has gathered 100 recipes from world cuisine, each with luscious photographs of the ingredients or the finished dishes or the people of the regions represented. From ricotta and roasted red pepper frittata to huevos rancheros, from chicken tikka masala to chicken-fried steak, from creamy grilled cheese sandwiches to the pan-fried patty melt, this book will not disappoint.

Bottoms UpThere are scores of inexpensive wines made with the popular grape variety Chardonnay that are acceptable to drink while folding laundry or watching reality television. But, once in a while, Chardonnay enthusiasts should treat themselves to a bottle of Domaine de Roally Viré-Clessé from a newer appellation within the Macon region in southern Burgundy. For a little more than $20 you'll get a mouthful of tart, green fruits and a hint of toast with a deep and lingering mineral finish that balances everything out. We've yet to meet anyone that didn't want several glasses once they had a taste.

The Works — If you love fries, you need this industrial-strength cutter. Strong enough for restaurant use, this durable device should last forever for home use. Use the four suctions cups to secure it to your work surface, insert a potato, pull the handle and you've got a handful of ready-to-fry uniform 3/8-inch strips. Perhaps you've seen this tool used at carnivals and fairs by the folks who sell fries as fast as they can cook them. No, you don't need an expensive deep-fryer to make them at home. A cast iron skillet or a heavy pot will work just fine. We found this at

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