Car talk — The Auto Show is on again, which puts downtown Detroit's restaurants in the global spotlight for a week. (See our generous listings in our Short Order section.) Though it's not really located downtown, the Whitney wants you to motor by. They'll have a special event on the night of the Auto Show Charity Preview, before or after, for cocktails, dinner or both. It's a bit of a drive to Cobo Hall, so they are offering shuttle service to and from the conference center for your convenience. Want to learn more? Call their sales office at 313-832-5700, ext. 208 or 209. Or drop in at the Whitney, 4421 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
Booked — Author and Waterford resident Darla P. Jaros will host a book-signing and cooking workshop at John F. Kennedy Library, 24602 Van Born Rd., Dearborn Heights. She'll discuss and cook from her book Cookbook, The Kitchen Assistant: Time and Money Saving Tips in the Kitchen. It all happens 6:30-7:30 p.m., Jan.19.
Fresh news — The Raw Café, located adjacent to the Majestic entertainment complex, is building plenty of buzz. Last week, they were featured on FOX2's Saturday morning cooking segment, and they recently announced their seasonal menu for the month of January (see it at therawcafe.com/menu). If you love raw, natural food, or are simply curious to learn more, drop in. They're always ready to extol the benefits of eating living food, which comes in the form of various entrées, raw juices, pasta dishes, wraps, pizza and even burgers. They are at 4160 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-778-9774.
Detroit roasted — A couple new local roasters have come to our attention this winter. Most notably, A.J. O'Neil, of A.J.'s Music Café fame, has announced a line of coffee — A.J.'s Assembly Line Industrial Strength Coffee. The coffee comes in two flavors, Detroit Bold, a Colombian espresso blend, and Fisher Body, a gourmet Vienna-style roast. Get a taste at A.J.'s, 240 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-399-3946. Another startup, known as Henrietta Haus, based in Wyandotte, has made a few appearances around town, including Burton Theatre and Hamtramck's Hoard House, marketing beans and unusual stickers, even offering personal delivery; learn more at henriettahauscoffee.com or at their Facebook page.
Sweet! — There's no rule against opening an ice cream joint in winter. In fact, it's kind of cool. Ferndale's Treat Dreams tried the gambit, and we've heard rave reviews of their wares, even these last few chilly weeks. Offering such inventive flavors as avocado, salty caramel and Sunday breakfast, they sound like they're worth a taste. At 22965 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3440; treatdreams.com/index.html.
Food/Thought — Creole and Cajun food define the heritage of New Orleans. Dale Curry's New Orleans Home Cooking (Pelican Publishing, $19.95) contains the author's mostly uncomplicated renditions of NOLA classics, giving home cooks the chance to duplicate them. Most savory dishes begin with the "holy trinity" — celery, onions and peppers, their flavors transformed by the other ingredients, allowing distinct tastes to bloom. If you or a friend are adept at shucking oysters, the char-grilled oysters are a must. The butter that drips onto the fire creates flames that give the dish its smoky flavor. Do not pass up the mirlitons stuffed with shrimp, smoked ham and Italian seasonings.
Bottoms Up — If you're even casually interested in understanding wine, Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson's The World Atlas of Wine is an essential component in your library. It covers everything from grape varieties to history to explanations of climate and geology in specific vineyard plots. French wine labels can be especially confusing because many are based on geographic locations. The World Atlas of Wine is filled with maps to help you identify the precise region where a particular wine is produced, and sipping wine while studying its locale is the next best thing to being there.
The Works — In winter, what better way to warm the body and the soul than a bowl of hot soup? One of the most popular potages that everyone enjoys is French onion soup with a cheesy crust. A few minutes in the oven first melts the cheese, then browns it, giving it a bit of a crunch on the outside with a gooey cover over the broth and onions beneath. These glazed stoneware bowls can be used in the oven or microwave, and can be popped in the dishwasher to ease cleanup. They come with lids that keep the soup warm, and handles that make it easy to move the container from oven to table. See chefscatalog.com.