Let's go crazy — If there's one place it's almost impossible to go to and not have a good time, it's the Dakota Inn, the German-style beer hall that hangs on stubbornly along a fading stretch of John R in Detroit. And the next month is going to be a barn-burnin' good time for all. It's Karneval, which means five weekends of oom-pah bands, painted faces, chicken hats, beads and costumes. Similar to New Orlean's Mardi Gras, Germany's Karneval is a wild time to dress up and drink down. The fund starts this weekend, Feb. 4-5, and continues through the first week of March. Come on down and let your spirits soar. At 17324 John R St., Detroit; 313-867-9722; dakota-inn.com; music starts at 8 p.m.; $3 admission; reservations accepted.
Taste, fest — The Motown Winter Blast is coming, and they've put together their best-yet lineup of local restaurants to help us brave the cold with the GM Foundation Taste of Detroit. Eateries on the bill include downtown's Detroit Seafood Market, New Center's Cuisine, the suburban La Marsa mini-chain, Royal Oak's Lockhart's BBQ, as well as Detroit Beer Co., Greektown Taverna and several others. Have a bite or two. It all happens Friday-Sunday, Feb. 11-13, around Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit.
Reseeded — It's seed catalog time, and that means spending time planning next year's garden. We mentioned a few of them last month, and, since then, a few seed companies were kind enough to remind us of what they offer. The Cook's Garden Catalogue (cooksgarden.com) is 112 pages of full-color photos of the vegetables, flowers and other plants they sell seed for, as well as certified organic plants. From Heronswood (heronswood.com) comes a handsome 56-page catalog of flowers, ferns, grasses, shrubs and trees. And from seed giant Burpee (burpee.com), we received a massive 147-page catalog with seeds, plants, supplies and much more. We feel warmer already.
Taking flight — We only recently noticed that five-month-old chicken joint, City Wings, on West Grand Boulevard by the Lodge Expressway. They make everything from scratch, even down to their spice rubs, and offer a surprising selection of flavors, including not just mild, medium and hot, but barbecue, spicy barbecue, hickory smoked barbecue, and even teriyaki, teri-cue, lemon pepper, Parmesan and garlic, Cajun, honey-mustard and even curry chicken. Spread your wings, at 2896 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; 313-871-2489; citywingsinc.com.
Food/Thought — We find comfort synonymous with soothing. So does Rick Rodgers, author of Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food: Warm and Homey, Rich and Hearty (Oxmoor House, $34.95). French toast with caramelized bananas or corned beef hash together would be a splurge for breakfast; PB-and-banana sandwiches — an Elvis favorite — for lunch; Mom's home-style pot roast with plenty of mashed potatoes to soak up the gravy or smothered pork chops with scalloped potatoes will take the chill off a blustery winter's day. You won't be able to resist once you see the photos. Leave room for the chocolate chip cookies.
Bottoms Up — Native to northwest Italy and southern France, dry vermouth is produced using herbs and other botanicals and then lightly fortified with unaged brandy. Versatile enough to use in cocktails, for cooking, and as an occasional aperitif, one of our favorite brands is Boissiere from Italy. It's light, citrusy and floral, with hints of rose petal and orange flower water. Though it has a mildly effervescent mouth-feel, it is not carbonated and finishes with just a hint of roasted nuts. As with all vermouth, refrigerate the bottle after opening to keep it as fresh as possible.
The Works — A spinning rotisserie produces a moist, evenly cooked roast, be it meat or fowl. The Deni Vertical Roaster will cook as much as 8 pounds of meat — a couple of chickens or a roast — on a counter top. There are heating elements in the center and on the outside, allowing it to brown on the exterior while remaining juicy in the center. A glass lid and a side window let you monitor the progress. There is a built-in timer and a 90-minute automatic shutoff to prevent overcooking. It comes with six skewers and a tower for cooking kebobs. See chefscatalog.com.
Know of any upcoming food events? Please let us know! Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or just call 313-202-8043.