Mardi hardy — Jim Lessnau used to cook up the blues at Sully's, his legendary bar in Dearborn, before it closed in 1995. Now, on special occasions, he cooks up some killer Cajun food at Howell's Bar. On "Fat Tuesday," he'll be serving Nowlins favorites from 4 p.m. until the food's all gone. Expect jambalaya, crawdad sauce over mirlitons, "probably crawfish etouffee and some kind of game – maybe rabbit or alligator" and more. On Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 1035 Monroe, Dearborn; 313-565-6322.
Oakland bounty — Birmingham Restaurant Week is here, offering diners the chance to enjoy the dining destination's major menus for less. Get a three-course lunch for $15 and a three-course dinner for $25. To see which restaurants are participating, call 248-433-3550 or see enjoybirmingham.com. Promotion runs Feb. 4-8.
Your majesty — Majestic Café chef Joe Zainea has come up with a new menu. Come in Friday, Feb. 1, for a taste. At 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700, ext. 207.
Lounge around — A group called New Wave Entertainment is hosting a monthly event the first Saturday of each month. This month features Moet Rose specials ($5 until 11 p.m. or while supplies last). Soak up the downtown lounge atmosphere, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Grand Central Lounge, 311 E. Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313- 963-1300.
Venetian finds — Ferndale's Assaggi Bistro will offer a special meal featuring the flavors of Venice. Starts at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 330 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-584-3499; $85.
EAT THE PAGE
We Detroiters love our Middle Eastern food. Aromas of Aleppo: Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews, by Poopa Dweck (Ecco $49.95), offers recipes for many new dishes and unusual renditions of the standards. The food photos are exquisite, often focused in the center while slightly blurred at the edges for a striking effect. Lovers of artichokes and stuffed vegetables will rejoice. From the chapter on maza, the small plates that can start a meal, to the sweets and beverages, the recipes are reflections of the author's taste, as well as that of an historic community, the Jews of Aleppo, Syria.
A TASTY BEVERAGE
Fancy a cup of tea? Try the delightfully smooth Darjeeling "first flush" from India. Sometimes referred to as the Beaujolais Nouveau of tea, first flush is harvested in mid-March following spring rains. It brews golden-orange with delicate floral and spice aromas and a mild astringency. In 1841, experimental planting began in this district of West Bengal, and the finished product turned out so satisfying that less than a decade later Darjeeling tea would be offered commercially. Though classified as a black tea, Darjeeling can be blended with greener, less oxidized leaves.
If you see the photo on page 142 of Aromas of Aleppo, you'll surely want to try your hand at the stuffed eggplants or stuffed zucchini. The task would be nearly impossible without a ma'vdeh, or vegetable corer, which enables you to hollow out the vegetables — to be stuffed with the likes of meat and rice — while retaining their shape. Babylon Market, an excellent source for Middle Eastern products, at Maple and Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield, has them available in two sizes, each costing less than $5.