Go vegan — Or, so say the folks at Detroit Evolution Laboratory. What's more, they say it with cooking classes that offer chances to meet like-minded people, share great food and enjoy a meal you've made. The cost is $50 per class. Upcoming courses include "Vegan Brunch" (11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 2), a special Sunday class focusing on a meal that offers ample opportunity to pick up a few new vegan cooking skills, including egg and cheese substitutes and mock breakfast meats. Or take a flier on "Vegan Holiday" (3-7 p.m., Dec. 8), offering one last chance to pick up some new dishes to share this holiday season, including an appetizer, a side dish, a meat alternative entrée and a dessert. To register please call 313-316-1411 and leave a message. At 1434 Gratiot Ave., #1, Detroit; enter in rear off the cobblestone drive, and observe Gratiot Avenue's restrictive and obsessively enforced parking rules if you street-park.
Get small —Downtown's Detroit's Small Plates has been such a success that it has expanded to a location in Royal Oak. Founder and managing partner Todd Stern tells us that a portion of the sales from the grand opening night will be donated to prostate cancer research and the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Michigan. Drop by to inaugurate the new spot with an evening of good food and good causes. At 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at 310 S. Main St. (between Third and Fourth streets), Royal Oak.
Groove here — Birmingham's enduring romantic restaurant Forte will ease into the holidays with live entertainment on Wednesday nights until Dec. 19. Fusion jazzheads Hidden Agenda will play 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. At 201 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham; 248-594-7300; no cover.
EAT THE PAGE
So you're glad to have a week or two off work for the holidays but need something to do other than sleep. A new cookbook, 1,080 Recipes (Phaidon Press, $39.95), can help fill that void and turn you into an authoritative Spanish cook. Authors Simone Ortega and Inés Ortega bring us, in English, a book that has sold millions of copies in Spain in the 30 years since it was published. Considered the bible of authentic, home-cooked Spanish cuisine, it covers every course from tapas through to desserts. Some 200 illustrations and 100 photos grace the recipes.
A TASTY BEVERAGE
November is National Pomegranate Month, and what better way to celebrate than sipping a cocktail prepared with grenadine? It's used in a diverse range of drinks from tequila sunrises to monkey glands to that non-alcoholic creation for cocktail-envious youth — the Shirley Temple. We're not talking about the cheap, colored corn syrup concoction pawned off by the food industry as grenadine. Cocktail mixers' company Stirrings does it the old-fashioned way, by adding cane sugar to the juice of pomegranates. It's as simple as that, yet the quality difference is clear.
If you don't want to walk into another holiday party empty-handed, but you don't have the time or inclination to cook, here's a practical gift that's cute and inexpensive: a $10 Boston Warehouse Mouse Cheese Grater. Remove the stainless steel grater and serve the cheese in the yellow mouse. Boston Warehouse has a line of animal-shaped, brightly colored devices for all manner of kitchen tasks, including monkey peelers, octopus scrubbers and starfish jar openers among them. The "animal house piranha pizza cutter" will chomp through your favorite pizza. Available at amazon.com.