Bet on black — "Black wine nights" have returned to Ann Arbor's Vinology, and it's almost all sold out. Right in time for Halloween, it's an all-black affair. You wear black, the space is dressed in black — even the wines are served in black glasses, so you may not even know if you are tasting red or white wine. Spots available for Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 110 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-222-9841; $50; call for reservations.
Wages of Zin — Modern Food & Spirits is hosting a special Wednesday wine party next week, and at the center of it is one of California's most misunderstood and underrated grapes: Zinfandel. Though most people think of it as a sweet, pink wine, it's actually much more complex, and can range from off-dry rosés to rich, powerful wines, with fruity and spicy tones. Here's a chance to educate your palate and try more than a half-dozen Zins with a buffet that includes slow-roasted barbecue pork shoulder, wild mushroom pasta and butternut squash purée. It all happens Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 1535 Cass Lake Rd., Keego Harbor; 248-681-4231; call for reservations; $25 by Oct. 25, $35 after.
Rojo redux — Rojo Mexican Bistro, the popular Novi restaurant, now has another location in Rochester, at the former location of Andiamo Rochester, which closed last month. Rojo's fresh, contemporary approach to Mexican food and drink — especially more than 100 tequila pours and margaritas made with fresh-squeezed juices and agave nectar — should draw crowds at the new location. Chef Luis Garza will offer a menu that includes some of the seldom-seen specialties he's helped popularize in Novi, including huitlacoche. Plus, expect live entertainment Tuesday through Saturday nights. Drop in for a taste of Mexico, at 401 N. Main, Rochester; 248-601-9300.
Women who farm — Monthly free movie night at Eastern Market continues this month with a screening tonight of Ladies of the Land. The award-winning, feature-length 2007 documentary explores the lives of four women farmers. It happens 7-9 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, Oct. 20 in Eastern Market's Shed 5.
Big burger — We note with interest that last season's Detroit episode of the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food visited Mallie's Sports Bar & Grill in Southgate. In that episode, a crew of metro Detroiters (including the wrestlers of Revolucha, the Bump-N-Uglies and the Detroit Derby Girls) tried eating a 200-pound burger. It has been posted to YouTube. See the online version of this tidbit for a link to the fun.
Love classic recipes but want to give them a tweak? Dana Colwin's Reinventing the Classics (Food & Wine Books, $29.95) compiles classic recipes from Food & Wine magazine's archives, but they've been updated and simplified. Use ground pretzels to put a new spin on crab cakes. Start your meal with guacamole-charred jalapeños to add a smoky flavor. Italian-sausage burgers with garlicky spinach served on ciabatta rolls put a new twist on America's favorite meal. The ganache-stuffed chocolate chip cookies are a chocolate-lovers treat.
Italian Lambrusco wine is beginning to emerge from the dark ages of the 1980s where it was consumed in mass quantities by the wine cooler crowd. Labrusca is the grape's ancient name, and is believed to have grown naturally around the edges of fields cultivated by Italy's ancient people, the Etruscans. The Lini Family has been making Lambrusco since 1910. Their traditional rosso is bright, fruity, gently sparkling, low in alcohol and dry. It is the ideal pairing for cured meats. The rosé is even fruitier. And though we've yet to taste the bianco version, there's no doubt it's just as good.
Pan pizza is fine, but brick oven pizza is better. The key to a crisp crust is cooking the pie on a hot surface that draws the moisture out of the dough, creating the crunch. The Emile Henry pizza stone will help bring out the pizzaioli in you. It will withstand high oven temperatures and can even be used on the grill — gas or charcoal. Cutting pizza right on the stone means one less item to clean — and it won't damage it. Wash it with soap and water or pop it in the dishwasher.