MARDI HARDY — If you'd prefer a taste of the New Orleans version of Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, the Culinary Studies Institute of Oakland Community College is hosting a Mardi Gras Masquerade. They'll have wines, a five-course dinner and mouthwatering Southern desserts. Dance to live music, and dress in costume to compete for a prize. Starts at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 19, at the campus in Farmington Hills; reservations required; 248-522-3700; $55 per
PACZKI PIE? — Want the sugary goodness of a paczki, without the drive to Hamtramck? Now you can enjoy the taste of Paczki Day in a pie, baked special by the Achatz Handmade Pie Company. The six-location suburban baking chain is unveiling the new confection, which has a crispy, sugar-glazed pastry shell and is filled with vanilla cream and topped with Achatz's "signature four-berry pie filling." At 2.5 pounds, there should be enough sweetness to fortify anybody before the onset of Lent. Stop by an Achatz location in Chesterfield, Oxford, Troy, Sterling Heights, Armada or Shelby Township or see achatzpies.com.
EAT THE PAGE
In his book Bottega Favorita: A Southern Chef's Love Affair with Italian Food (Artisan, $40), Frank Stitt shares the recipes and philosophy that distinguish his Bottega Restaurant and Café in Birmingham, Ala. His fusion cuisine combines ingredients from Italy and the American South (think fresh peach Bellinis and lamb shanks with peas and mint). He often substitutes local seafood, cured pork and greens for their Italian equivalents, never compromising freshness, reflecting his love of the foods of the Mediterranean.
A TASTY BEVERAGE
Clynelish distillery's 14-year-old Scotch whisky is a gorgeous single malt from the northern coastal highland harbor town of Brora. Dilute with a touch of water for a subtle nose of cedar spice, tree fruits and a hint of peat smoke rising into a cold, gray sky. A sip begins with faint citric acid notes and blooms honey-warm into a long, complex finish of intermingled salt and spice. Experts who know more than we do praise this bottling as having the essence of an Islay Scotch. We just think it's damn good.
Fresh herbs have replaced the dried variety in every serious chef's repertoire, enhancing the taste of food. Growing them in summer is easy and inexpensive, but absent warm sunny days, the cost can be daunting, especially if they aren't being used regularly. Said to keep herbs fresh for up to three weeks, the Prepara Herb Savor is a simple solution. The water-filled base allows moisture to enter the stems, prolonging the freshness of the herbs. Easily disassembled, the device can be filled effortlessly, and cleanup is a breeze.