Bid for kids — Children's artwork has taken over Inn Season Café until the end of the month. Art from the students at Detroit's Waldorf School is on silent auction, and proceeds will help fund school programs. Auction concludes Monday, Feb. 1, with refreshments at 7 p.m., all bids final at 8 p.m., at 500 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248-547-7916.
Toast the troops — Some of the state's finest beers will be featured in a special tasting fundraiser. The event will feature beers brewed by more than a dozen Michigan brewers, and some proceeds will help fund a memorial to the 22 Marines from the 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment lost in Iraq. At 6 p.m., Jan. 28, at Champagne's Wine Cellars Pub, 7007 Chicago Rd., Warren; 586-879-5798; $20 per person.
Pizza faces — Astute New York Times readers may have noticed a piece on former Detroiters Nick Lessins and Lydia Esparza, who are reputed to make the best pizza in the United States (GQ Magazine) at their Chicago shop, Great Lake. Congrats, Nick and Lydia!
Some good things come in small packages, such as with Kit Wohl's New Orleans Classic Seafood (Pelican Publishing, $15.95), a compilation of recipes for signature Nawlins seafood dishes with gorgeous accompanying photographs. Gathered from some of the Big Easy's best restaurants, this is the food New Orleanians — Cajuns and Creoles — live to eat, including soft-shell crab from Mr. B's Bistro and "oyster shooters" from Uglesich's.
There's no shortage of wine made with Chardonnay grapes. The problem is finding one that's good and inexpensive among the heaps of brands lining wine shop shelves. Generally, $12 is going to buy you a funky, oak-flavored bottle of industrial swill. Not so with 2007 Domaine de la Fruitière Chardonnay. Produced in the Loire region of France near the Atlantic coast using methods similar to Muscadet, a taste is simultaneously rich and bracing, with aromas of lemon curd and a mineral finish that lasts long into the next sip.
Some gadgets just plain look good sitting on the kitchen counter. Others are can't-do-without additions to your utensil repertoire. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's Flavour Shaker, actually a spice grinder, fills the bill on both counts. Simply pop your ingredients inside, add the magic ceramic ball and give it a good shake, which replicates the function of a mortar and pestle. Toasting the whole spices for a minute before grinding them brings out the flavor. It can also be used with liquid to make dressings and marinades.
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