Anybody into "slow food" in our region is familiar with Ann Arbor's restaurant Eve, named for chef Eve Aronoff. She has appeared on TV's Top Chef, but has earned most of her notoriety from her restaurant, which pulls together farm-fresh food, naturally raised proteins and an extensive wine list, making for memorable meals. But here's something you may not have known: She's opening up a casual restaurant serving Cuban fare — just in time for Noche Buena! The place, Frita Batidos, is scheduled to open this week, and will serve a frita — "a Cuban burger made from spicy chorizo served with shoestring fries on top in a soft egg bun" — and batidos — "tropical milkshakes made with fresh fruit, crushed ice and a drop of sweetened milk." These won't be your parents' burgers and shakes, for sure. Drop in after Dec. 3, at 117 W. Washington St., Ann Arbor.
Ferndale's Assaggi Bistro is offering a special deal. Tuesday through Thursday, and on Sundays, diners can enjoy a four-course prix fixe meal for $27 per person (plus tax, tip and drinks). The bargains last until Dec. 16, so get your reservation in early. Assaggi is at 330 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-584-3499.
Ride and dine
Want to travel back in time this Christmas? Troy's Camp Ticonderoga Bar & Grill can help. They're offering diners a chance to enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride. Here's the deal: Relax in a carriage as you take a 15-minute ramble across picturesque Sylvan Glen Golf Course, before being dropped off at Camp Ticonderoga for dinner. Sundays only; appointments required; $40 per adult plus tax, tips and alcoholic drinks, $20 for children 9 and younger; at 5725 Rochester Rd., Troy. For details, call 248-828-2825.
Back Inn Town
George Vutetakis, chef, author and founder of Royal Oak's Inn Season Café, returns to town this week for a talk and book signing as well as a cooking demonstration. The demonstration is billed as "Delicious and Healthy for the Holidays," and Vutetakis should have some helpful hints for those into the farm-fresh vegetarian cooking he has helped popularize. The presentation is at 6 p.m. Dec. 7, at Wayne County Community College District's Northwest Campus Welcome Center, 8200 W. Outer Dr., Detroit. He'll also be on hand to greet visitors at the Birmingham Winter Market in Shain Park Dec. 3-5, and will sign books at 1 p.m. Dec. 5, at Borders Books, 34300 Woodward Ave., Birmingham.
You survived another Thanksgiving. You lived through a few days of exhausting cooking. And the fam's still coming back for another holiday meal! Phyllis Pellman Good, in Fix-It and Forget-It Christmas Cookbook: 600 Slow Cooker Holiday Recipes (Good Books, $18.95), explains how to make it as easy as it gets. The recipes require little more than combining the ingredients in a slow cooker several hours before you want to serve tasty, homemade meals. The aromas tempt. No last minute hassles. No pressure. Enjoy your party.
New Holland Brewing Company claims to have a cure for your winter depression. Cabin Fever is a full-blooded, Michigan-brewed brown ale brimming with flavors of roasted grain, chocolate and dried fruits. Medium-bodied, it begins on the sweet side but finishes dry enough to keep you drinking. They insist it is excellent paired with roasts, stews, caramelized onions and snowfall. We like the warming effect of its 6 percent ABV after a day of hiking in the woods, huddled around a campfire and eating roasted, salted peanuts out of the shell.
Enstrom's almond toffee is simply the best; a perfect example of the result of combining quality ingredients, in this case, fresh California almonds, sweet cream butter and pure cane sugar, covered in a generous layer of rich, luscious chocolate — milk or dark — and sprinkled with crushed almonds. No corn syrup here, just plain butter. The Enstrom family is celebrating 50 years of making almond toffee, testifying to their ability to deliver the finest product available. When you order it as a gift, don't forget to have a box sent to you too! See enstrom.com.