SPIRIT OF '64 — To help celebrate 45 years since its first restaurant opened in the United States, Benihana is offering a special deal: Dinner for two for $45. The deal, which continues for all of 2009, offers diners the chance to experience Japanese fare theatrically prepared by the chain's expert chefs. For more info, see benihana.com.
DINNER, SHOW — At Royal Oak's Oak City Grille, local music boosters and singer-songwriters John Holk and Carrie Shepard, aka the Porch Swingers, will pay tribute to the great musical duets of yesteryear. (Think George and Tammy or Porter and Dolly.) Expect "heart-tugging originals and time-worn country-western standards," while you dig into filet mignon or pecan-crusted trout or choose to nibble from the menu's assortment of small plate-style appetizers. It all starts at 9 p.m., Jan. 13, at 212 W. Sixth St., Royal Oak; 248-556-0947.
EAT THE PAGE
If your mantra is, "Life is short. Start with dessert," your New Year's resolution should be to eat more chocolate in 2009. Jacque Torres will help you do just that in style. Torres' A Year in Chocolate: 80 Recipes for Holidays and Special Occasions (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $35) is a primer for anyone who wants to dazzle friends with attractive, delicious chocolate delectables. Torres, a "chocolate master," celebrates holidays with the likes of "chocolate tamales" for Cinco de Mayo and other sweets geared to novices and experts alike.
A TASTY BEVERAGE
The amateur mixologist is always sniffing out new drinks and ingredients. Sometimes the finest things are found in unusual places. Hamtramck's Polish Market is a great place to buy affordable fruit syrups made only with fruit juice and sugar and priced at less than $5 a liter. Try the chokeberry syrup instead of artificially flavored and colored grenadine in a Ward Eight cocktail: That's 2 ounces bourbon, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, 1/2 ounce orange juice and one teaspoon syrup. You can't go wrong with that kind of simplicity.
Among the myriad of hot sauces that have delighted chile lovers, we've discovered three new entries into the field. JD Cowles' All Spice Café has three unique blends: Chipotle Garlic, Cayenne Habañero (Hot and triple-X) and Caribbean Spice. Cowles has captured numerous awards including Los Angeles magazine's Best of L.A. 2008. The Caribbean Spice isn't ultra-hot, but it has plenty of flavor. Have a glass of milk close at hand to squelch the flames when you sample the Cayenne Habeñero. Wow, that's spicy! See www.allspicecafe.com.