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Food Stuff 

Pairing up — At Ann Arbor's Vinology Wine Bar & Restaurant, March will be "Food and Wine Pairing Month." The two-part series will welcome all questions, and features such unusual sample questions as "Is salt good or bad?" and "Which wines match barbecue sauce?" They promise to illustrate what works and what doesn't. The tasting includes more than a half-dozen wines and a bottle to take home! $40 per person plus tax and gratuity; $10 discount if both parts are reserved at once; reservations required. Tuesday, March 11 (Part I) and Tuesday, April 1 (Part II). At Vinology, 110 S. Main St., Ann Arbor, 734-222-9841.

Class acts — Aunt Olive's Good Food 2 Go has hired holistic health counselor and nutrition coach Cheryl Heppard to help them make healthy changes to their menu. Plus, Heppard and Aunt Olive's have teamed up to hold monthly cooking classes on how to prepare fast and healthy meals, including classes in gluten-free (March 27), Greek (April 3), vegan (May 1) and barbecue (June 5). All classes 6:30-8:30 p.m.; pre-registry required; call 248-592-0869 or register at Aunt Olive's, 525 N. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; classes are $50.

Sad mugs — Did the fire that destroyed Amsterdam Espresso a few weeks ago burn a hole in your coffee-stained, cigarette-scarred little heart? Just a gentle reminder that there are other places to get your java fix and catch up on your light reading. For university-area folks, it won't be that same neighborhood vibe, but at Café 1923 (2287 Holbrook, Hamtramck), Trixie's Coffeehouse (25925 Gratiot Ave., Roseville; 586-776-9002), Café De Marqui (204 W. Fifth St., Royal Oak; 248-398-4169) and Café Luna (23415 Greater Mack Dr., St. Clair Shores; 586-774-5000), you might find a little bit of what you're looking for.


Rick and Deann Bayless, in their books and their Chicago restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, have shown that Mexican food is more than just tacos. Authentic Mexican 20th Anniversary Edition: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico (William Morrow Cookbooks, $30) explores rich moles, fish and shellfish, meat and poultry, light and hearty soups and other masa treats. The recipes are complex, but not difficult to follow. Try the Budin de Tortillas, a layered tortilla casserole that's easy and delicioso.


Like many classic drinks, root beer was born an herbal elixir used to treat everything from mild cough to syphilis. Reaching its peak popularity during Prohibition, when local breweries made just about anything they could to stay solvent, root beer today holds only 3 percent of the U.S. soda market. Award-winning Virgil's is our favorite. It's brewed with natural, whole ingredients including anise, licorice, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, wintergreen, sweet birch, molasses, nutmeg and more. Sweetened with unbleached cane sugar, it's a complex and delicious creation.


In 1938, the Wheel of Death was created: a beautiful and brave woman strapped to a spinning target, allowing a knife-throwing dude to cast his blades between her outstretched body parts, every toss making audiences cringe at the thought of a deadly mistake. Throwzini's Knife Block will grace your kitchen with that frightening image while housing the five stainless steel knives that are securely held by magnets. The handcrafted wooden block is part of a $99.95 set. Give it a spin. Available at

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