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Perry hotter — The local cider scene is heating up, with the Second Annual Great Lakes Cider & Perry Festival north of Lansing, at Uncle John's Cider Mill. Expect pear- and apple-based quaffs from nearby states and provinces, as well as nature walks and a kids' playground. Runs 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 12-13; tastings cost $10 per person; inclusive passes cost $25 per person; see michiganvine.com; at Uncle John's Cider Mill at 8614 North U.S. 127, St. Johns.
Sweet new year — There's still time to make reservations for the Rosh Hashanah dinner at West Bloomfield's Deli Unique. The menu includes such classics as matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, raisin challah and, or course, house-made honey cake. It happens Sept. 18-19; $21.95 per person; 6724 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield; 248-737-3890.
159 years old — The folks behind that sweet, smooth bourbon, Jack Daniel's, have reminded us that all through September we can celebrate the 159th birthday of Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel, born in Lynchburg, Tenn., in September 1850. Will we check out jacktember.com and raise a glass? Sure. Now, as to September being National Mushroom Month ...
David Leite hosts Leite's Culinaria, a James Beard Award-winning website for folks who live to eat. Growing up in Massachusetts, he became curious about his family's roots. The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe's Western Coast (Clarkson Potter, $32.50) is the result of his 10-year journey. It is an extraordinary cookbook with alluring photography. Visit leitesculinaria.com.
Looking for a drinkable, well-structured red wine to pair with that end-of-summer grilled rib eye? Uncork a bottle of Les Traverses de Fontanès. Beneath aromas of cedar trees, berry bushes and generally brambly things swells a concentration of the ripe, balanced flavors of tenderly-fermented cabernet sauvignon grapes. Though produced in France's esteemed Pic St Loup region, because it's not a specific blend of grape varieties, the bottle is labeled a mere Vin de Pays d'Oc. Meaning it's cheaper.
A cataplana, like a tagine, is both a cooking tool and the name of a recipe. The cataplana — pictured at the left — is a hammered-copper, clam-shaped utensil that is typically used to cook seafood. The two-hinged "shells" make for a tight fit that contains aromas — until it's opened, allowing them to delight your olfactory sense. Is it reasonable to assume that a dish served in one of these tastes better than one from an ordinary skillet? Probably. We found this one at creativecookware.com.