Carts roll again Last year, Ann Arbor businessman Mark Hodesh transformed the parking area behind his store into an open-air food court with several different food carts. Dubbed Mark's Carts, it quickly became a focal point at midday where hundreds of people gathered to eat at communal tables, talk and listen to live music. The court opens for this year at 5 p.m. on March 30, with eight food carts serving Spanish, Asian and Indian food, burgers and pizzas, vegan fare and more. Courtyard hours are still being finalized, but expect breakfast, lunch and dinner hours Monday through Saturday, with possible Sunday hours as well. And the food court keeps expanding. Last year, they had installed misters to cool the crowds on hot days, expanded the musical offerings and added a greenhouse. This year, they are in the process of building pavilions and securing permits for an evening beer garden, selling Michigan craft beer and wine, later this summer. The food cart things just keeps a-rolling, at 211 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor; markscartsannarbor.com.
Beyond nuts Germack Pistachio Company has long been a retailer of quality nuts, including pistachios, cashews, almonds, mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds and more. But in a canny brand extension, the Eastern Market retail store has begun selling — and serving — quality coffees and teas. Opened two weeks ago, the joint serves mostly takeout coffee, but the small space also seats about 10, and you can chat with their roaster if you like. Germack is across from Shed 2 in Eastern Market, at 2509 Russell St., Detroit; 313-566-0062.
Bell's for thee A friendly reminder from the folks at Champane's Wine Cellars: Bell's Brewery's summer seasonal beer is available again. It's Bell's Oberon Ale, "an American wheat ale brewed with Saaz hops, spicy and fruity, the color and scent of a sunny afternoon." And Champane's is offering it at the low, low price of $7.49 a six-pack, $13.99 a 12-pack (plus Michigan sales tax and bottle deposit). Champane's Wine Cellars is at 7007 Chicago Rd., Warren; 586-978-9463.
More Bell's There's a new, seasonal spring dinner menu at Detroit's Cliff Bell's. Light fare includes haricot vert tempura and crispy tofu tacos, and entrées run from bronzed sea scallops to Michigan leg of lamb to grilled Atlantic salmon. Drop in at 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; 313-961-2543; cliffbells.com.
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Pie It Forward: Pies, Tarts, Tortes, Galettes, and Other Pastries Reinvented
Stewart Tabori and Chang, $29.95
A list of the most popular pies would surely include apple, banana cream topped with meringue, and peach, often a cobbler with only one crust. In Pie It Forward: Pies, Tarts, Tortes, Galettes, and Other Pastries Reinvented, Gesine Bullock-Prado, one serious baker indeed, has created contemporary takes on traditional pastries and mouthwatering savories. You'll learn how to master crusts, building a foundation for a pineapple coconut macaroon tart, a velvet Elvis pie and or a Gesine confectionary cherry pie. We salivated over the image of the fried green tomato tart. The Vermonter's pizza pie with apple, cheddar and bacon sounds like the perfect snack.
What is your favorite part of a muffin? Most would say the top, the combination of those few crunchy, sweet bites and the moist crumbly interior. Chicago Metallic, the preferred bakeware of experienced chefs, created "the Original Muffin Top Pan," which bakes up these treats a half-dozen at a time in a durable, nonstick, dishwasher-safe pan. Be creative and come up with a variety of flavors: Think blueberry, cornmeal-strawberry or carrot cake topped with streusel, nuts, sugar or frosting. They should work for biscuits too. To snag one, try Bed Bath and Beyond.