Food stuff

Dog days — In celebration of "National Hot Dog Month" — and who knew there was such a thing? — the meat mavens at Koegel are offering one lucky winner the opportunity to receive a variety pack of Koegel Meats. The pile of protein should be enough to serve as many as 25. Enter Koegel's "Fire Up Your Grill" contest by writing an essay of 250 words or less answering the question, "What is so special about my next cookout?" E-mail responses to [email protected] by Aug. 8. The winner will be announced on Aug. 10, and will get a gift pack of the company's popular meat products, including viennas, beef frankfurters, bratwurst, smoked sausages and more. Participants must be Michigan residents to enter.

Chicago style — Chef Tony Mantuano develops the bill of fare for Spiaggia, a four-star Chicago restaurant serving "refined Italian cuisine." In other words: This'll be more than meatballs and mostaccioli. In fact, diners can expect such upper-crust dishes as seared foie gras with white corn polenta, a golden scallop salad, poached Mediterranean sea bass with braised fennel and grilled Colorado lamb chops and braised lamb shoulder with potato puree and, for a dulcet finish, mascarpone torte with espresso sauce. At 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at Shiraz, 30100 Telegraph Rd., Bingham Farms; for reservations, call 248-645-5289; $59.95 prix fixe, not including tax or tip.


Eat the Page

Though Middle Eastern food is popular in the Detroit area, our experience has mostly been with solid Lebanese cuisine, with its emphasis on lentil soup, hummus, taboulleh, baba ghanouj, shawarma and kebabs. But Claudia Roden has been writing about Middle Eastern and North African food for decades. In Arabesque (Knopf, $35), she offers recipes, and some gorgeous photos, for many less familiar and more exotic dishes — not just from Lebanon, but Turkey and Morocco as well — describing the ingredients and methods used to prepare them.

A Tasty Beverage

We don't often run across a drink that is both delicious and clears our sinus cavities effectively. Once intended as a digestive tonic in the late 1890s, ginger enthusiasts now covet Blenheim's ginger ale as the tastiest soda ever created with the spicy root. The fact that "hot" and "not as hot" are two flavor choices should indicate how vigorously infused this head-wilting ginger beverage is. Though it's rare in Michigan, Blenheim has been spotted at Zingerman's Deli and Canton's Holiday Market. After tasting and wiping the tears from their eyes, we suspect your local gourmet retailer will want to carry it too.

It Works

The best way to clean a grill is with a stiff brush right after cooking while it is still hot. Grate Chef Grill Wipes offer additional solution to a clean well-oiled grate; a non-toxic, biodegradable, disposable cloth that is moistened with a natural oil. Simply cover a brush – we use a plain wire brush, less expensive than a "grill brush" – to apply the non-stick coating while scraping the bits of food that are stuck to the grate. Not only are they safer than highly flammable spray-on aerosols, but they create a clean sanitary cooking surface.

Know of any new restaurants, special dinners or food-related events? Let us know. Send materials two weeks in advance to [email protected].

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