Suds on the walls There's a new look at Royal Oak's Bastone Brewery. Though the Belgian faves are still on the menu, the walls are now adorned with crisp, professional photography from Ferndale photog Carrie Acosta, showcasing the ingredients, process and culture of craft beer. All over the restaurant, guests will be treated to views of locally grown barley hops, pure salt crystals and more. Feast your eyes, at 419 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-544-6250; bastone.net.
Hot receivers The delis of Matt Prentice Restaurant Group have a special package for football tailgaters. Serving eight or more, the deal includes a pound of corned beef and turkey, a quart of potato salad and cole slaw, sliced rye and challah, a half-pint of Russian dressing and eight jumbo chocolate chunk cookies. Instead of paying the regular price of $65 or more, pre-ordering makes you a tailgate hero for just $45.95. Call Plaza Deli (248-356-2310), Deli Novi (248-319-0222), Deli Unique Bloomfield (248-646-7923) or Deli Unique West Bloomfield at (248-737-3890) at least 24 hours in advance; no substitutions;
Fresh slice Yes, it's true: Royal Oak's Pizza Paesano is a thing of the past, but a new pizzeria is opening up right in its former location. It's called Fellini Pizza — named for the notable Italian director, of course. The space has been completely remodeled, and pizzaphiles can expect a revamped menu and a brand-new European-style oven for crispier pies. It's in Paesano's old spot at 415 S. Washington Ave.; 248-547-2751.
Good medicine The Greening of Detroit's ongoing Urban Garden Education Series is hosting an upcoming class on the healing power of plants. It's called "Heavenly Herbs: Making Herbal Teas, Tinctures and Salves." Learn how to make herbal teas, tinctures and salves, or simply learn how to harness the herbs and other flora for medicinal, cosmetic or nutritional purposes, getting the most out of your herb garden. John Biernbaum of Michigan State University will lead the course. It takes place 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, at American Indian Health and Family Services, 4880 Lawndale St., Detroit. Course is $3 for Detroit Garden Resource Program members, $5 for nonmembers; call 313-285-1256 for more info.
Top chef MGM Grand Casino in Detroit has Michael Urbin as executive chef. He'll be overseeing operations at MGM Grand's five restaurants, including Wolfgang Puck Grille, Saltwater, Bourbon Steak and Palette Dining Studio. Congratulations to the Ann Arbor-based chef, who worked his way up through the ranks with MGM.
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food/thought At harvest time, we get a bumper crop of cheap, plentiful vegetables. For ideas on how to use this bounty, check out Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi (Chronicle Books, $35). You don't have to be a vegetarian to appreciate the ingenious recipes, many of which are served in the author's four restaurants, and the mouthwatering photos of them. For instance, consider chickpea sauté with Greek yogurt, which combines Swiss chard, carrots and freshly cooked chickpeas with fresh herbs, simply topped with yogurt and olive oil, served warm or at room temperature. Yum!
bottoms up Though dry vermouth is still prized as an aperitif in Europe, the modern American is generally uninformed about this classic aromatized wine. This is largely due to bartenders that allow opened bottles to languish on a warm shelf and quickly oxidize. Many a drinker's first and only experience with dry vermouth comes in the form of a classic martini that tastes like an alpine bunny took a dump in it. You can't go wrong with a $9 bottle of Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth redolent of minerals, cinnamon and citrus pith. Keep it refrigerated.
the works We dig gadgets like this whimsical and practical Breville personal pie maker, a countertop appliance that cooks four mini-pies at once. Sweet or savory pies cook in about 10 minutes. Use your favorite recipes or use your imagination to make original creations. A locking latch crimps the edges, keeping the filling in. The non-stick surface makes removal and cleanup easy. Greek spinach pie made with layers of phyllo should work too. For tips and recipes, consider Mini Pies: Adorable and Delicious Recipes for Your Favorite Treats, scheduled for release in early October.