Get roped in — The Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College is hosting its first-ever Western barbecue and hand-crafted beer tasting. Executive chef Doug Ganhs will pair a five-course meal of authentic Western 'cue with the artisanal suds of Ballew's Basement Brew. Live entertainment will include a calf-roping demonstration, an old-time Western saloon, and a few action-packed surprises. Tickets are limited, so act quickly. The fun starts at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 14, at Oakland Community College, Orchard Ridge Campus, 27055 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; $55 per person; for more info call 248-522-3700 or see oaklandcc.edu/culinary.
Helping Japan — One night only, April 6, Troy's Mon Jim Lau will help raise funds for Japan, less than a month after an earthquake and tsunami left that country with thousands dead and a nuclear plant leaking radioactive water. Tonight, Mon Jin Lau's "Shanghai Wednesday" will accept a $5 donation for women and $10 donation for men at the door, with 100 percent of the donations going directly to the Red Cross to help Japan's relief efforts. Dinner reservations for this event can be made as early as 4 p.m. and will go throughout the night, with Mon Jin Lau's Sushi Bar closing at 11:30 p.m. and the kitchen at midnight. Mon Jin Lau is at 1515 E. Maple Rd., Troy; make your reservation at 248-689-2332.
Green it up — The Detroit Urban Garden Education Series continues all summer. One upcoming class is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 7th. It's called "Herbalicious!: Dividing and Propagating Perennial Herbs," and it will be held at the Plum Street Market Garden, 2202 Third St., Detroit. To learn more about these classes, see detroitagriculture.org.
Saved by Bell's — Bell's Brewery's summer seasonal beers are out now, and fans of the Kalamazoo-based brewer's Oberon Ale may now rejoice. Just like the red breast of the robin, the return of the refreshing wheat ale, fermented with Bell's signature ale yeast, signals the end of the winter. It's now available in bottle, draft, and 5-liter mini-keg. See bellsbeer.com to use Bell's "beer finder" to locate stores that stock it.
Food/Thought — Everything you'll ever want to know about a wok can be found in Grace Young and Alan Richardson's The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore (Simon & Schuster, $35). From wok selection to the important process of seasoning, a step that simplifies stir-frying, the tasks are illuminated. The recipes, many from Grace's family and chefs that she knows, are prepared using the various methods discussed in the Master Lesson. Like many of the recipes, shrimp in garlic sauce is easy enough for a neophyte. Ken Lo's chow fun with beef and broccoli is more complex, but not daunting.
Bottoms Up — With nicknames like "the Dirty Bird," "Thunder Chicken" and "Boat Gas," Wild Turkey gets a bum rap as trailer trash bourbon. The brand name was invented in 1940 after a distillery executive took a supply on a turkey hunting expedition and got wasted with some friends. They all liked it so much that the next year they were hooting for some of that Wild Turkey bourbon. You can almost hear them drawl. We like to use the 101 proof version in cocktails where a hotter and less marshmallow-flavored base whiskey is called for.
The Works — Tane Chan's Wok Shop, based in San Francisco, is a fantastic resource for all kinds of Asian cookware: ginger graters and vegetable shredders, chopsticks made of teakwood, teapots and sake sets and, of course, woks. A 14-inch flat-bottomed, enamel-coated iron wok — highly recommended for non-commercial stove tops — sells for $14.95. A video demonstrates seasoning a wok, an important step for stir-frying. There is also a video of Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Sky, cooking a simple beef and snap pea dish. Just watching it evokes the aromas of the dish. See www.wokshop.com.
Know of any upcoming food, wine or beer events? We'd love to share them with our readers. Let us know by calling 313-202-8043 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.