Start your innards! — Competitive eaters, it's time to get in shape. Downtown Detroit's American Coney Island has announced it will host a coney dog-eating challenge less than a month from now. There will be two classes of competition, for individuals and teams of six. Winners will consume the most coney dogs — that means frank, bun, chili, mustard and onions — in 10 minutes. Winners will get trophies and prizes from local retailers, restaurants and more, including a year of free meals at American Coney Island. Proceeds will help the culinary program at Golightly Vocational and Technical Center in the Detroit Public Schools. Celebrity judges, including Detroit City Councilmember Ken Cockrel Jr. will add to the fun. Individual registration fee is $10 ($15 on the day of the event); registration for teams is $300 ($350 on the day of the event). It is scheduled for 5-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 at American Coney Island, 114 W. Lafayette, Detroit; potential participants can call 586-219-0995 or visit americanconeyisland.com to register.
Kosher is Inn — The folks at Inn Season Café have long been known for tweaking dishes to guests' dietary restrictions. As Royal Oak's signature organic, vegetarian and vegan restaurant marks 30 years in business, they are proud to announce they are now a kosher-certified establishment. Owner Nick Raftis says he recognized that the restaurant's vegan-vegetarian offerings were a good fit for the kosher certification, received on Aug. 2. Curious kosher-keepers can drop in at 500 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-547-7916; theinnseasoncafe.com.
Berry exciting — The Greening of Detroit, as part of its Tour de Farm series, has announced an outing to the Dexter Blueberry Farm. The U-pick farm, which has operated for more than a half-century, is among the state's best places to enjoy ripe blueberries this time of year. You get to buy what you pick, and also learn about the cultivation from the farm's experienced growers. The trip takes place 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20; reservations required c/o Kido Pielack at 313-285-1256.
Steak-holders — Northern Lakes Seafood Company is hosting an event called "The Great Steak Out," which will include a steak-and-chicken dinner, dessert, a four-hour open well bar, classic cars, music, a silent auction and a raffle. The fund-raiser will benefit the Oakland Schools Education Foundation, and will take place 6-10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at Northern Lakes Seafood Company, inside the Raddison Kingsley, 39495 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills; tickets are $120 each ($60 tax-deductible); must be 21 or older; for reservations, call 248-209-2123 or 248-209-2567.
food/thought Claudia Roden's numerous cookbooks attest to her authority on the foods of the Mediterranean, including North African and even Jewish cooking. Her latest, The Food of Spain (Ecco, $39.99), begins with lengthy discussions of historical influences, exploring the country's regions and their roles in the development of Spanish cuisine. Andalusian gazpacho, tortilla de patatas, the famous potato omelet and, of course, paella in many forms are among the plethora of dishes. Recipes run the gamut from tapas to seafood to savory pies to bean and chickpea stews. The elegant images make the book all the more a must-have for a cook's library.
bottoms up Kölsch is an ale that is cold-conditioned like a lager. Though you may have seen an American-brewed version (Dragonmead Kaiser's Kölsch comes to mind), this historical beer style is a specialty of Cologne, Germany, where it is brewed under strict guidelines. Comparable to German pilsener in its clear, straw-yellow hue and gentle but apparent bitterness, Kölsch strays from that model by having a soft, fruity essence to go along with its cereal malt flavor. Reissdorf Kölsch is the most available brand in Detroit. Buy it in a 5-liter mini-keg, as the packaging states, "für partys.
the works The Dipr, a cool tool with a fascinating story, is a simple, inexpensive device that is used to dip cookies — Oreos come to mind — in milk or any other beverage, thus keeping your hands out of the liquid. The Dipr looks weird but stylish. Interestingly, it was funded by Kickstarter, an Internet funding platform (kickstarter.com) that enlists investors to provide typically small amounts of capital to turn creative ideas into reality. Thanks to the project's success, you can pick up a Dipr or two at dipr.com for $3.