Food Stuff

Berry-growing classes, wine dinners, gardening times and more

Berry interesting — The Detroit urban garden education series is offering another class for the city's gardeners this weekend. It's called "Berry Beautiful: Growing Grapes and other Small Fruits," and it takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 19, at the Catherine Ferguson Academy, 2750 Selden; for more information, see or call 313-285-1249.

Pour relations — Vinology, Ann Arbor's prime spot to enjoy wine and learn more about it, will host a wine dinner with Charlene and Randall Lange of Lange Twins Winery. Michigan-born Charlene returns to the state with estate-grown and certified sustainable wine from the family's vineyards in Lodi, Calif., all for a special wine maker dinner party. It happens from 7 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22; call 734-222-9841 for reservations; Vinology is at 110 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-222-9841;

Belgian shamrocks — Normally you wouldn't associate Belgium with St. Patrick's Day, but the good folks at Bastone Brewery are in the midst of "Irishfest," featuring a special Irish-themed menu — including shepherd's pie with braised ground beef, carrots, onions and rutabaga topped with baked-until-golden duchess potatoes for $14. Purchase a limited-edition Irishfest pint glass while they last for $4. Keep the glass and purchase refills for just $3 through March 20. Specials run until March 31, at Bastone Brewery, 419 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-544-6250.

Fuel your garden — When gas prices rise, the cost gets added to the prices we pay for everything, including food. It's all the more reason to start home gardening. George Ball, chairman of W. Atlee Burpee & Co., recently pointed out that a pack of red pepper seeds produces about 20 pepper plants, with about 15 peppers per plant. "Would you rather pay $2 for one red pepper, or is it more sensible to grow $600 worth of red peppers in your own backyard for an investment of $4.95 in seeds?" It's a good point.

Radio dinner — Downtown Detroit's Cliff Bell's, well-known for its art deco ambience, classic cocktails and live jazz, is presenting an unprecedented evening of live entertainment, the premiere of "WTYN Detroit Radio Dinner Theater." Set in the 1930s, WTYN stars a ragtag ensemble of radio actors who must try to keep their station successful, even as secrets threaten to tear their world apart. Doors at 8 p.m. for the premiere, Monday, March 21; $10 cover charge; limited dinner menu; Valentine Vodka cocktails will be featured during the show.

Oven mittens — For the die-hard fan of all things Michigan comes a cookbook that should be an instant favorite. Pure Michigan: Eating Fresh and Local in the Great Lakes State (Sheridan Books, $30, 150 pp.), published by Midwest Living, offers more than 150 pages of recipes and features about Michigan's culinary offerings, from small towns (Michigan cherry pie) to the U.P. (the pasty) to the big city (including a recipe from Detroit's Rattlesnake Club). Available at the Pure Michigan online store at

Food/Thought Protein is back. Steak houses are proliferating everywhere, and new barbecue joints are opening every year. Meat: A Kitchen Education (Ten Speed Press, $35), by James Peterson, covers everything you need to know about beef, fowl, pork, lamb and goat, even rabbit. Invaluable for novices, but the breadth of recipes will help knowledgeable cooks expand their repertoires, and perhaps even try their hand at new things, such as sausage. Color photographs throughout illustrate finished dishes and the steps along the way.

Bottoms Up With the resurgence of rye whiskey and serious bartenders comes a model drink for the 21st century. Deemed by Imbibe magazine to be one of the most influential cocktails of all time, the Red Hook is the newest of all classic cocktails. Combine 2 ounces rye whiskey, 1/2-ounce Punt e Mes (a sweet, Italian vermouth notable for its bitter finish) and 1/4-ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur. Shake with cracked ice and serve straight up in a cocktail glass or enjoy on the rocks and let the ice dilution gradually change the character of the drink.

The Works Any serious cook will put functionality ahead of style when buying kitchen tools. However, finding them both at once makes the choice easy. Part of the Joseph Joseph Collection, this Catcher Citrus Seed Reamer and Pulp Catcher has it all. This baby looks so good it would be fun to have even if it didn't work as well as it does. It couldn't be easier to use. It strains the seeds and pulp too. And it's dishwasher-safe. And it's only eight bucks at Sur La Table.

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