Caring con carne — Using the slogan "10 tastes for one good cause," Ypsilanti's Depot Town Chili Challenge will take to the streets of Ypsi. Participating businesses include Dennis's Music, Queen of Hearts, Aubree's, Cady's, the Sidetrack, the Corner Brewery, the Ypsilanti Food Co-op and Cafe Luwak. For a $5 donation, you can sample 10 chili samples from local businesses, receive discount coupons to Depot Town stores, and even get "free breath mints." Judging or voting on the grub is optional. And if all the chili doesn't heat you up, you'll get a warm feeling knowing that the event's proceeds benefit SOS Community Services, "a local nonprofit that helps homeless families and others in need in Washtenaw County." At 3-6 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 27, in Ypsilanti's historic Depot Town, at East Cross Street and North River Street, Ypsilanti. For more information, call 734-961-1204.

Auto service — To mark the annual auto show, Dunkin' Donuts, America's No. 1 retailer of coffee-by-the-cup, would like to thank unionized autoworkers by giving them a free cup of joe. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17, all autoworkers affiliated with a union can receive a free, large, freshly brewed cup of java at any participating Dunkin' Donuts in Michigan, simply by showing their work badges.


Eat the Page

University of Michigan grad and sustainable food activist Rick Bayless has educated more than a few of us on the particulars of Mexican cuisine. In fact, without Mexico — One Plate at a Time ($35, Scribner) we might have never attempted an authentic red mole — a red chile sauce thickened and flavored with nuts, seeds, spices and chocolate. This enthusiastic and simply written companion book to the PBS series includes traditional benchmarks and advice for American cooks. Easy access to all the ingredients at our Mexicantown markets means these classic and contemporary dishes just about make themselves.


A Tasty Beverage

When winter's chill winds overwhelm, find shelter in your favorite reading chair with a Faulkner novel and a glowing amber glass of Henry McKenna Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. A reasonable $35 price tag and soothing aromas of toffee, cinnamon and a hint of mint makes pairing with a fine hand-rolled cigar near vital. Henry McKenna is aged for 40 Kentucky seasons (that's 10 years to us Northerners) in a single barrel, which can sometimes make for slight variations between bottles filled from different barrels. Ask for it at your favorite quality liquor stop.


It Works

Behind those sexy microplane graters and milk frothers that enjoy prominent display in our kitchens is the workhorse of comfort-food fans everywhere: the wire vegetable masher. Sure, electric mixers can make quick work of potatoes, yams and squash. But for those of us who like to feel our way through the mashing, without all the bells and whistles, this is essential equipment. If you're the type who likes to leave some texture in your mashed roots, this is the way to go. Plus, it doubles as a nifty branding iron when we're feeling a little sadistic.

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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