Take it outside — Last week, the concrete was barely dry and a pile of patio furniture was all ready to go. Now, the patio at Zeke's Rock and Roll BBQ should be ready to go, weather permitting. It's all screened off by hip-high wooden fencing, a little nook of tables under red and white umbrellas, the aroma of the smoker wafting over diners and drinkers. It's exactly the kind of thing that should extend their bar crowd late into the night. It's at 240 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-206-7130; zekesrnrbbq.com.
The spirit of summer — Michael Forsyth from Detroit City Distillery tells us they're turning the bar into a gin joint this summer. No, not like those depressing dives of old: It merely means the stylish "gastrodive" will be turning the focus on six small batch gins it's releasing this summer, a "Summer of Gin," in which every new gin at the distillery gets its own party. The gins sound more sophisticated than the usual juniper-scented spirit, including barrel-aged gins, a plum gin, what Forsyth calls a "hardcore Michigan gin with white pine and blue spruce," and gin aged with pecan wood. There will also be cocktail contests for each release, with recipes submitted by the public, and six big parties with judges and first prizes of $500. At the end of the season, the prize for the best cocktail of the summer will be $1,000. (See the website for details on how to enter.) It all kicks off at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 13, which is "World Gin Day," at 2462 Riopelle St., Detroit; 313-338-3760; detroitcitydistillery.com. Events continue June 22, 29, July 20, Aug. 3, 10, 17, and 31.
Get fresh — It's mid-June, and that means that all of metro Detroit's farmers markets are keeping regular hours. If you haven't sampled any of the terrific garden-fresh produce and lovingly made cottage foods available at these markets, you've been missing out. Chances are there's one in your neighborhood.
Last week saw the opening of the Northwest Detroit Farmers Market, which is sorely needed; its organizers point out that "residents of northwest Detroit have some of the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity in the state." The market even provides free shuttle transportation for senior citizens, one-on-one health advice, cooking demonstrations, food preservation workshops, and more. It takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. every Thursday until Oct. 1, at the North Rosedale Park Community House, 18445 Scarsdale St., Detroit.
Other farmers markets are climbing aboard the "Double-Up Food Bucks Program," which allows low-income families to stretch their food budgets, thanks to a one-to-one match on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at the market. The latest to introduce the program is the Downtown Rochester Farmers Market: Through Oct. 31, customers will receive free Double Up Food Bucks silver tokens when they swipe their SNAP Bridge Card at the market's central point of sale. Double Up Food Bucks matches every $1 of SNAP funds spent up to a maximum of $20 per market visit. The market takes place 8 a.m.-1 p.m. every Saturday through October, at
the corner of East Third and Water streets, Rochester; for more information, see downtownrochestermi.com or call 248-656-0060.
Nice yams — Members of the Detroit Agricultural Network can attend a class on growing sweet potatoes, and even take a few plants home to dig them in. It takes place 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 16, at the Plum Street Market Garden, 2202 Third St., Detroit. See bit.ly/1JDfK30 for more information.
Where there's smoke — If you love the lip-smacking, stick-to-the-ribs barbecue of Detroit BBQ Co., you'll be able to find them right out on Clay Street, on June 12-13, outside the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit.
A time for jerky — Did you know June 12 is National Jerky Day? Normally, we dismiss these honorary designations, because, really, what does it matter that it's National Red Rose Day, National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, or National Loving Day — which also fall on June 12. No, there are practical considerations in play on Jerky Day: The Beef Jerky Outlet in Sterling Heights will offer a 10 percent discount to walk-in customers making a purchase of more than $25. Owner Jeff Gurzick says he usually doesn't like to offer discounts on his already-low prices right before a holiday — especially one like Father's Day, for which jerky makes such a good gift — but he will. And he can, because jerky is much more popular than it was when he opened the store 20 years ago. Drop in June 12, at 5831 17 Mile Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-977-3986; americasbeefjerkyoutlet.com.
A meal and a show — Those toiling away in Southfield's office towers can look forward to four free shows in the upcoming months. The series of performances is called "Eat to the Beat," and it features music ranging from electronica to swing to funk and beyond. It starts with a set by virtuoso jazz ensemble Straight Ahead, running from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, June 11, in the parking lot of Arbor Lofts at the corner of Central Park Boulevard and Civic Center Drive, at 20300 Civic Dr., Southfield; for more information, see bit.ly/1G7i7st or call 248-796-4620.
Soup's on — There's a new soup scene on the east side, a potluck dinner in which diners pay a $5 donation to get in, eat while they view presentations from upstarts with bright ideas, and get to vote on who takes home a pot of money to help fund their idea at the end of the dinner. The event runs from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, June 14, at Coffee & (_____), 14409 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 703-717-1514; for more info or to submit a proposal of your own, see bit.ly/1AXWw6Z
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