Buon anno — For those who enjoy dining at Wixom's Volare Ristorante, the Italian eatery is offering a New Year's Eve celebration. Though chef Dino Grossi's regular menu of Italian specialties and steaks will be pared down for the evening, expect live entertainment from the Phil May trio, which specializes in covers of Sinatra and Top 40 favorites, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. At the stroke of midnight, guests will be treated to party favors and a complimentary champagne toast. At 49115 Pontiac Trail, Wixom; 248-960-7771; seating begins at 4 p.m.; reservations required.

Eve at Eve — Ann Arbor's prime purveyors of "slow food" — Eve: The Restaurant — will mark Dec. 31 with a "dinner extravaganza." The eatery promises four- and six-course prix fixe dinners "highlighting the most special and highly prized ingredients in season from around the world!" At 734-222-0711; reservations recommended.

Eating Champagne — Ferndale's Josephine Creperie & Bistro in Ferndale continues its "Last Wednesdays" series of dinners, bringing the flavors of French-influenced regional cuisines to Nine Mile Road. These five-course prix fixe dinners include an appetizer, a soup or salad, a cheese course, a choice of four entrées (one vegetarian) and two dessert options. Fittingly, the dinner scheduled for Dec. 27 will feature cuisine of France's Champagne region, where they make the bubbly. At 241 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-399-1366; $28 per person, not including tax, tip or beverage; various seating times; reservations encouraged.


Eat the Page

The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa ($40, John Wiley and Sons) explores the dishes of Africa, presenting them in a way that is inviting to curious cooks and diners. The photographs of the food, landscapes and people are stunning. The recipes are, for the most part, straightforward and can be prepared with ingredients that are available locally. This would be a welcome gift for anyone who loves ethnic cuisines and African culture.

A Tasty Beverage

Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat is a good example of a craft brew, that is, beer that's brewed by a small brewery using traditional methods. Leinie's, as their beers are known, come from a family operation out of Chippewa Falls, Wis. Sunset Wheat is a pale brew with a slight citrus flavor, spiced with coriander, which goes especially well with poultry and seafood. Try it with a slice of orange, which heightens the flavor. It is available locally at Kroger, Meijer, Outback Steakhouse and Buffalo Wild Wings and many beer and wine stores. Visit their Web site — — for an overview of the brewery's history and a gander at their other products.

It Works

Are you upset that your rice doesn't come out of the pot looking like the grain that's served at your favorite Asian restaurant? Worry no more. Rice cookers eliminate the guesswork. Actually cooking rice isn't all that difficult, but don't take our word for it. Get yourself a rice cooker. They all come with directions to help you get the right texture — not too sticky, not too dry — with very little effort. All you do is rinse the rice, put it in the pan, add the water and turn it on. Prices vary according to size and features.

Know of any new restaurants, special dinners or food-related events? Let us know. Send materials two weeks in advance to [email protected].

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