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Way to go, Faygo — This September, the culinary commissars at Bon Appetit have named Faygo's root beer the No. 1 root beer in the country. According to the magazine, Faygo won because of its "dry and crisp taste, frothy head, good bite and long finish." Better still, it's available using 100 percent cane sugar sweetening.

Life after college — Featured in last week's College Guide, cookbook authors Max and Eli Sussman are putting on a dinner at Eve in Ann Arbor. Eli says the dinner will be "really sick" with "lots of good food with some tasty local beers thrown into the mix." At 415 N. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor; at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9; $55 per person plus tax and tip; full vegetarian menu; reservations recommended at 734-222-0711.

Cuban flavor — The cutting-edge Cuban trio, Tres de la Habana, will give an evening performance, its first-ever in Detroit, at Vicente's Cuban Cuisine. The sounds of congas, pailas and congas will be accompanied by a special Cuban dinner. Two nights only, at 9 p.m. Sept. 4-5; tickets $45 per person, including dinner, or $15 for performance only; reservations at 313-962-8800.


Tired of searching for the numerous ingredients needed to make the gourmet meals you saw on Top Chef? Barbara Greenman, editor of Back of the Box Cooking: 500 Delicious, Easy-to-Prepare Recipes from America's Best-Loved Brands  (Black Dog and Levanthal Publishers, $19.95) has compiled customer favorites from the websites and packages of 50 well-known brands in this, um, "brand-new" book. Make simple and inexpensive meals that use shortcut products on most supermarket shelves and in home pantries.


So few fermented drinks capture the essence of their ingredients that finding one is cause for celebration, doubly so when those ingredients are local. Born of honey and cherries from Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula, Psenkova Cherry Mead bursts with aromas of flowers and earth and time. Far from cloying, a sip starts mildly sweet with a hint of cherry tartness to turn pleasantly dusty toward the end. Or try the Peach Apricot Mead. Both are handcrafted in small batches at 45 North Vineyards & Winery.


The profusion of hot sauces makes choosing the right one difficult. One of our long-standing favorites is the original Tabasco sauce, one of Louisiana's better-known exports and one that has been around forever. Another that we somehow overlooked until recently is Texas Pete Hot Sauce, a tasty blend of three peppers that produce more flavor than heat, though not mild by any means. Despite the name, it actually comes from North Carolina. Learn more at

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