Tuesday, August 31, 2010

99 Ways to Stalk Me

You know, I really shouldn't joke about that.

I'm not afraid to kill a man. Just for the record.

So I've got this blog. And I've got a fistful of publications I regularly contribute to which I typically link to here unless I forget or it's print-based only (944, edible WOW). I've got the Twitter, @diningindetroit, which you can choose to follow directly OR just view on the sidebar of this blog:

I've also just added Yelp to my repertoire: nrupersburg.yelp.com.

Now here's the kicker: on this blog I can add "widgets" which will automatically direct you to my Facebook page, my Twitter page, and I can also opt to add some Yelp bling which I may or may not do in the future. I can also set Twitter up to automatically re-post all of my Tweets as status updates on Facebook, or just use the "select Tweets" functionality and hand-pick which ones get re-posted. Now on Facebook I can use the Networked Blogs function to re-post everything I post here (which I do, but selectively), as well as just include links in my status updates to anything with its own direct link outside of this blog (such as Real Detroit articles). And with Yelp I can auto-link both Facebook AND Twitter to re-post every new review I post.

And I haven't even MENTIONED LinkedIn (which auto-links to this blog and Twitter).

So basically what I'm saying is for any given thing that I write there are potentially up to five different sources on which it may be re-posted.

Now. If you're my friend on Facebook, and you follow my Twitter, and you have this blog in your RSS feed, and we're connected on LinkedIn, and friends on Yelp, and you're a faithful reader of Real Detroit every week ... well, that's a WHOLE LOT of Nicole, and I get that. Not that there can EVER be too much Nicole, but I've heard men like a little mystery and also I really need to take care not to invite any more stalkers into my life aside from the self-professed and mostly-harmless ones I already have. So here's the deal:

Let's be friends on Facebook. Let's follow each other's Tweets (I'm lying there, I'm really probably not going to follow you on Twitter because that shit annoys me and MAN I thought some of your Facebook updates were tedious, you twit-wits took tedium to a whole new level with that). Let's connect on LinkedIn, Yelp, and whatever other social networking tool may come into vogue in the coming months and years. The following is the pledge I will make to you. Ready?

Dining in Detroit: I will continue re-posting excerpts from published pieces whenever possible, as well as contribute lengthy original material that is not held to the same level of professional expectation as everything else I write (which means I get to swear a lot). This is about as edgy as I can be without getting lawsuit threats -- and let's leave those with the old blog, shall we?

@diningindetroit on Twitter: This will now be used to automatically link to all Yelp posts, and I will continue to use this as I always have for small tidbits of pertinent restaurant information (great specials, events, openings, closings, random thoughts about beer, etc.). You will still be able to see this on the sidebar of this blog (and on LinkedIn! and on Yahoo Mail!), but I will continue to refrain from re-posting every Tweet on Facebook.

Facebook: Oooh, the biggie. Yes I will continue linking all published articles (including those NOT food-related) as well as posts on this blog to my Facebook feed. I will also continue re-posting delightful news tidbits (such as the recent "Alcoholics live longer" piece you all enjoyed) and sharing the occasional random thought. Most of you will be shielded from my profanity-strewn rage-filled updates unless you are filtered under my "Actual Friends" list ... and if you're not, please don't take it personally, as all you are really missing is me saying "fuck" a lot more than what you currently see. You ALSO have access to the almighty Food Pr0n album -- which, if live-action role playing real time conversations are any indication, you guys LOVE that shit. None of these photos are uploaded elsewhere. I COULD upload them to Twitter, but I don't. ARE YOU BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH THOUGHT I PUT INTO THIS YET??? ARE YOU?????

Yelp: All content on Yelp will be unique to Yelp, which means your only access to it will be via Yelp or Twitter. I will not re-post everything I post on Yelp onto Facebook, save for the occasional entry I particularly like or those that do not deal with food (and thus won't be re-Tweeted). There may occasionally be some cross-over (I may write about a place for RDW and write about it seperately for Yelp, etc.) but the content will be separate and unique. I mastered the art of writing about the same place six different times in six different ways long ago; behold my utter lack of concern here and cower at my masterful ability to use the same words and put them in different order so that it appears as though I'm saying something entirely different altogether.

Point (there's ALWAYS one eventually, you should know that by now): I try really hard to keep the content on ALL of these different sites as seperate and unique is possible so that it does not become overkill, while also trying to balance constant visibility and continuous branding. You may hate the self-indulgent rants I often devolve into here but love the more professional and succinct tone I use on Yelp, or vice versa. The bottom line is that your opportunities to read things that I write (be they 140-character bursts or 2,000-word opuses) are damn near limitless (or really, limited to what I am physically capable of cranking out in a given time period), and I make every effort to ensure that the Ruperstarski Super Fans out there don't get bored with any one outlet.

Seriously. I THINK about this shit. In painstaking and obsessive detail. You want to know what it's like inside my head? Read this post again. It's just like that, only on a continuous loop.

So now be my friend on Yelp. Thank you good night.

PS, does social networking make anyone else really sad for the future? I suppose that's a rant for another time and another media outlet.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

D-Town Farm (Sort of) and Detroit's Urban Farming Movement (Mostly) and Detroit as a Urban Prairie and Food Desert (a Lot of That Too)

Because I did not receive a passing grade on this exam, I failed the Fall semester of one of my publications. However, this does not mean that my many hours of hard work in writing and research (*cough*) can't still be shared with the world. And let this be a lesson to, well, ME: phoning it in may work 97% of the time, but that other 3% is going to get called out. I wonder if this egg on my face would make a good omelette...


With its sprawling acres of vacant, underutilized land parcels, the city of Detroit has earned the designation of “urban prairie,” a term coined to characterize an urban area’s seemingly endless acres of vacant land covered in weeds and litter often as the result of extensive demolition and urban decay. While some have viewed this as being symptomatic of the city’s blight and degradation, others see hope and opportunity in the open fields, arguing instead that the city is being reclaimed by nature and as a community we are returning to our roots. The past two years have seen an almost explosive trend of urban farms and community gardens throughout the city, tended by everything from schools to churches to restaurants to neighborhood communities. As a result, Detroit is at the forefront of a nationwide effort towards healthfulness and sustainability through urban agriculture, a significant factor in any dialogue on the subject due to our uniquely low agricultural density.

For many of the groups and organizations that tend their own farms and gardens, the concept itself means a lot more than simply growing your own produce. Another contributing factor unique to such a large city as Detroit is the lack of “food security.” The term “food security” refers to all the members of a community having easy access to adequate amounts of affordable and nutritious food. In the city of Detroit, the reality is that many city dwellers do not have a grocery store within a mile of their homes, making gas stations and convenience stores such as CVS or Rite-Aid primary food sources with fast food replacing home-cooked meals in many households. So it is our urban prairie has also become a food desert.

It was this community-wide food security deficiency that led to the development of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN) in 2006. The DBCFSN is a grassroots nonprofit organization which aims to change the way we think about food -- where it comes from, who controls it -- through several key programs designed to promote healthful eating habits and foster awareness of urban agriculture and sustainability. One of these programs is D-Town Farm.

In June 2008, the DBCFSN acquired the use of a two-acre site in the City of Detroit’s Meyers’ Tree Nursery in Rouge Park after two years of negotiations with City Council and the Planning, General Services and Recreation Departments, licensed for $1 annually for 10 years. This plot of land is D-Town Farm.

The urban farm movement is practically indigenous to Detroit. It has very strong roots in the city, with such well-respected nonprofit organizations as Urban Farming making international headlines with outposts all over the US and Caribbean Islands and headquartered, well, HERE. Especially over the last few years Detroit’s urban agriculture efforts have grown exponentially, currently totaling over 100 individual farms and gardens -- from the smallest shared community plots to larger, more industrialized operations (factor in small family gardens and that total becomes a towering 1200).

What makes this agro-socioeconomic movement so specific to Detroit is the very glut of vacant land that has otherwise been considered a representation of the city’s decline. The city’s total landmass spans a sprawling 140 square miles -- in other words, large enough to fit Manhattan, Boston AND San Francisco inside its borders with room to spare -- with much of it standing unused, whether playing overextended host to long-abandoned buildings and burnt-out houses or simply razed lots overgrown with grass and weeds. According to a block-by-block survey conducted by the Detroit Data Collaborative late last summer, there are a total of 91,488 vacant lots in the city, or roughly one-third of all residential parcels.

D-Town Farm is a model urban farm. Their operation includes organic vegetable plots, two bee hives, a hoop house for year-round food production, and a composting operation. Their produce is grown using sustainable, chemical-free practices and is sold on the farm as well as at Eastern Market and in urban growers’ markets throughout Detroit. The farm also hosts an annual Harvest Festival, which offers hands-on “learnshops,” free health screenings, children’s activities, farm tours, and of course all of their fresh produce is available for purchase.

Aside from simply practicing sustainability and providing the community with the fresh, healthful food it lacks, what makes D-Town Farm such a “model” urban farm is the way in which it engages the community. Every Saturday and Sunday from 8:00am – noon volunteers are welcomed to give a helping hand on the farm, which aids in the DBCFSN’s goal of facilitating mutual support and collective action among their members. They are also partnered with three African-centered schools in the Food Warriors Youth Development Program, which encourages young people to pursue careers in agriculture, aquaculture, animal husbandry, bee-keeping, and other food-related fields.

But what separates D-Town Farm, and more specifically the DBCFSN, from other organizations espousing similar ideals regarding health, community and sustainability is their particular focus on the African American community, which comprises the majority population of the city of Detroit and is the community most profoundly affected by this food desert (such as with diet-controllable health ailments like diabetes and obesity). Viewing the food security deficiency issue as being not only an issue of community health but a greater socioeconomic issue directly affecting the majority African American population, the DBCFSN has written public policy on food security, citing economic injustice in the food systems and identifying the shocking absence of African Americans in participation and ownership within them. They speak of food literacy, culture as dynamic, and economically vulnerable families living with a constant threat of hunger whose nearest access to inexpensive food is the heavily processed and severely unhealthy items found at gas stations, party stores, dollar stores and fast food chains. All taken together, theirs is a carefully articulated argument regarding the interdependency of food, health, access and affordability as it affects this specific population and its restricted resources.

D-Town Farm is a pinnacle example of how urban farming can directly and positively affect a community and exemplifies all that which can be achieved through community outreach and education. For the members and leaders of the DBCFSN, it is not simply enough THAT people eat the sustainably-grown, healthy produce, but also that they understand why they SHOULD, and how food security so deeply impacts the community. For all its woes, the city of Detroit is rich with people who are passionate to effect this change, and ironically it is because of its declined population and vast vacancy that they have the opportunity to do so.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Bar None

"It all started with Tom Nevells' great-grandfather and a little place called Mitch's on Cass Lake, which was THE place to be in the '70s. Since then, this Greek-American family has gone on to become a mini-restaurateur empire. It's a family business and still retains that independent family vibe, but with eight currently operating restaurants, this multi-generation family enterprise is anything but small.

'Bar None in Brighton is the most recent development for a family that became famous for their Greek salads and ribs. The building was a satellite of their signature brand E.G. Nick's, a popular rib joint with locations in Lapeer and Plymouth. After many successful years of the same formula the place was getting a little tired. In January, they closed E.G. Nick's, deciding to inject some new blood into the old boy. Reopening in May as Bar None, the Nevells have introduced a new kind of dining to this off-the-beaten-path stretch of Brighton..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Psssst: Detroit Restaurant Week Returns

The nitty-gritty tiddly-bits have yet to be finalized, but it has been officially announced that Detroit Restaurant Week will return again this fall for another 10 days of fine dining frenzy.

But wait, what's this??? A press release??? Heavens to Mergatroyd!

PS, I will be the official blogger once again, and we're going to mix it up a bit this time. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll still be able to squeeze in a long-winded ramble or two.

"The Detroit Restaurant Week dinner promotion returns Friday, September 24 through Sunday, October 3 at select fine dining restaurants located in greater Downtown Detroit.

'Detroit Restaurant Week is a great opportunity for residents from southeastern Michigan and visitors from Windsor, Ontario and beyond to enjoy outstanding three-course meals for just $28 per person (excluding tax, gratuity, and beverages).

'The 10-evening promotion has become increasingly popular among restaurant customers since it launched in the fall of 2009 when 27,454 covers (persons seated) were recorded. For the spring edition the covers increased by 5.5 percent to 28,958. The combined cover total for both campaigns was an impressive 56,412.

'Check out www.DetroitRestaurantWeek.com to get the latest information about restaurant announcements, menus, helpful tips, restaurant reviews, and a list of after dinner activities.

'Detroit Restaurant Week is presented by DigDowntownDetroit.com in collaboration with the Downtown, Midtown, Corktown, Eastern Market and New Center districts. Paxahau Promotions Group is the producer of Detroit Restaurant Week."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Another Lazy Press Release: Arts du Jour

This is where I talk about how I love being media again. No one ever gets sick of hearing that. I certainly don't get sick of saying it.


After a multi-year absence, Arts du Jour returns on Thursday August 26, 2010. As a preview event to the much-anticipated Ford Arts, Beats & Eats festival, Arts du Jour will not only give partygoers a "taste" of what's to come over Labor Day weekend, but will help raise money for nine worthy not-for-profit organizations in the metro Detroit area. It will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., with a Late Night After Glow from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, 316 E. 11 Mile Road, just east of the 11 Mile/Main intersection.

Scrumptious food from 50 local restaurants and caterers, live entertainment, local celebrities, cultural performances and art displays will make the festival kick-off a night to remember. The event will be held for the first time ever at the Royal Oak Farmers Market in Royal Oak. The evening will be a celebration of great food, culture and fun.

Many of metro Detroit's best restaurants, caterers and purveyors of fine food will be sampling selections from their menus including: bd's Mongolian Grill, Beverly Hills Grill, Black Finn, Bloomfield Canapé & Cheesecake, Bonaventure Bread Company, California Pizza Kitchen, Cold Stone Creamery, D'Amato's, Garden Fresh Gourmet, Kirk's BBQ, Lily's Seafood Grill,Melting Pot, Mezza Mediterranean Grille, Moose Preserve & Iroquois Club, Noodles & Company, Palm Palace, Party Cakes, Peking House, Phoenicia of Birmingham, Pronto, Qdoba, Rangoli Indian Cuisine, Russell Street Deli, Sanders Chocolates, Sangria, Schakolad Chocolate Factory, Sonic, Streetside Seafood, The Melting Pot, Town Tavern, Vince & Joe's, What Crepé, White House Tavern, and Zumba.

During Arts du Jour, the Royal Oak Farmers Market will showcase celebrity chefs serving up food from participating restaurants, including members of the local media Chuck Gaidica, Guy Gordon, Jay Towers, Andrew Humphrey, Katrina Hancock, Lauren Podell and Rod Meloni, Jason Carr, Jackie Paige, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Lisa Jesswein.

"The return of Arts du Jour is a boost to the quality of life in Oakland County. It is a great opportunity to support Ford Arts, Beats & Eats and some very worthy charities," said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

Nine not-for-profit organizations will receive 75 percent of the proceeds from Arts du Jour including Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Oakland, Forgotten Harvest, Gleaners Community Food Bank, The Rainbow Connection, Rose Hill Center, Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce, South Oakland Center, Arthritis Foundation and The Children's Center

Featured performers at the event will include the Golden Rain Percussion Ensemble, whose members will perform light classics and Mexican folksongs on the marimba. The marimba has been described as "the wood that sings," and is an instrument that lends itself to the beautiful melodies and warm harmonies reminiscent of exotic lands and tropical climates.

Also performing will be Nadanta, a Indian artistic and cultural organization, who recently had the world premiere of its latest production "Rhythms of India" featuring music of Academy and Grammy award winner A.R. Rhaman. Nadanta combines the best of Indian classical, folk and creative dance forms with a contemporary multi-cultural outreach.

"We are thrilled to bring back Arts Du Jour as the official charity preview for Ford Arts, Beats, and Eats. It is a wonderful opportunity to generate excitement about the festival's new location in Royal Oak and to raise awareness and funds for our charitable partners," said Jon Witz executive producer of Ford Arts, Beats and Eats.

Entertainment at the Late Night After Glow includes Sean Blackman whose unique World Music style is influenced by Armenian folk, both South and West African music, along with Brazilian Jazz and Flamenco, Jazz, Blues, Rock and Soul.

Also performing is IMPACT 7 with its soulful assortment of blues, rock & roll, Motown, funk and jazz. IMPACT's shows are noteworthy for their tight harmonies, choreography and a lot of high energy.

Homegrown dance band Boogie Dynomite will have guests up on the dance floor and enjoying dance music from many different decades.

Making sure that After Glow guests have a great time will be emcee, Lisa Jesswein. Jesswein is a local radio personality and motivational speaker who currently hosts her own Internet radio podcast show, "Positive Now," on Empower Radio.

Guests are requested to dress in summer chic or summer upscale attire.

The schedule for Arts du Jour is:

Main event
5:30 p.m. Arrive & Register Early
6 p.m. Doors Open
6 p.m. - 7 p.m. Celebrity Chefs Serve up for a great cause.
6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Barbara Peyton & the Big Boss
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. Strolling Dinner & Cocktails, Entertainment

Late Night After Glow 9 p.m. - 12 a.m. Music & Dancing

Tickets for Arts du Jour are $75 each. This event is made possible thanks to the generosity of Arts du Jour sponsors, including Skidmore Studio, Uptown Entertainment, WWJ Newsradio 950, Little Black Dress Wines, Social Connection, The Oakland Press, C &N Party Rentals, Health Plus, Birmingham Investments, Phoeni Innovative, Pepsi, Street Smart Marketing, WDIV-TV, and Garden Fresh Gourmet.

For more information on Arts du Jour, and to purchase tickets benefitting the charity of your choice visit http://ArtsDujJourRO.org, or call (866) 234-6097.

Held over Labor Day weekend, September 3-6, in downtown Royal Oak, Ford Arts, Beats & Eats will be open from 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. on Labor Day Monday. All net proceeds will benefit local charities. For additional public information on the festival, visit www.artsbeatseats.com or call 248.334.4600.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

When I Get Lazy I Post Press Releases: Beer Mural in A2

If you can't make this then look for Discover Detroit Dining's Oktoberfest A2 Brew Tour mid-September where you can check out this as well as several other Ann Arbor breweries; complete details coming soon!


Art lovers are invited to celebrate the unveiling of one of downtown Ann Arbor’s largest murals ever painted during Reveal, an exciting event on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010. Guests will witness the “reveal” of the original mural at its location on the back wall of Grizzly Peak Brewing Company at 6 p.m., and continue the celebration of creativity and community at the Ann Arbor Art Center 7-10 p.m.

Graffiti artist Antonio “Shades” Agee will begin the mural the first week of August. The public art piece, which will span a 200-foot-wide brick wall, is being commissioned by Northern United Brewing Company, which produces and bottles beer in collaboration with Grizzly Peak Brewing Company and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Ann Arbor and North Peak Brewing Company in Traverse City.

Shades plans to depict the flavor of Ann Arbor on the massive exterior of Grizzly Peak, while also incorporating the logos of Northern United Brewing Company. Visitors to downtown Ann Arbor will be able to watch the artist hard at work using spray cans and rollers on small segments of the wall, but will not see the finished piece until the official unveiling on Aug. 26.

“The fabric will come up, and the community will get to see the piece for the first time,” said Marsha Chamberlin, President/CEO of the Ann Arbor Art Center.

After the reveal, the party will move over to the Art Center, where ticket-holders will be treated to sophisticated snacks from Grizzly Peak, exclusive craft beer from North Peak Brewery, DJ music, and a special auction including limited-edition works created by Shades especially for the event.

All proceeds from the evening will benefit the Art Center, thanks to the generosity of Northern United Brewing Company owners The Czaplickas, Lobdells and Carlsons.

“They are so committed to the arts,” Chamberlin said. “It’s a wonderful thing when a private sector business comes forth with such an imaginative way to donate to the Ann Arbor Art Center. We are incredibly grateful to have companies like this in our community.”

Tickets to Reveal are $45. To purchase tickets, visit www.annarborartcenter.org or call (734) 994-8004 x 101. The Art Center is located at 117 W. Liberty in downtown Ann Arbor.


Shades, a.k.a Antonio Agee, was born and raised in Detroit, and began his artistic career tagging buildings in the Cass Corridor. Since then, graffiti has emerged from the underground, and now Shades is commissioned to paint projects around the world. Visit www.shades313.com.

Northern United Brewing Co.
Northern United Brewing Co. has breweries in Ann Arbor, Dexter and Traverse City, and makes and bottles beers under the Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak labels. The company also makes Bonafide Wines, and is launching a line of craft-distilled spirits this winter under the brand name of Civilized.

The Ann Arbor Art Center
The Ann Arbor Art Center, located at 117 W. Liberty St., is a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging the community in the education, exhibition and exploration of the visual arts. Offering studio art classes, workshops, exhibitions, summer camps and more, the Art Center is celebrating its 100th year of being the place where creativity and community meet. www.annarborartcenter.org.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Pizzallica

"Pizzallica rules the midnight air. If you're a breadfan, they are the master of puppets pulling your strings. After you're done drinking your whiskey in the jar, don't fade to black — hit the lights and get some fuel for your engine before you go off to never never land. Why? Because nothing else matters, and if you don't, I will dub thee unforgiven.

'Pizzallica is Royal Oak's newest pizza joint, owned by the same folks as Black Lotus Brewing Company in Clawson. So after last call at Black Lotus on the weekend, make this your late night foodie fix, 'cause they're open till 3 a.m. or whenever the phone stops ringing. Pizzallica is a tiny place, carry-out or delivery only, but even without seating space they manage to inject their unique vibe into the decor. Think velvet blacklight posters of Bob Marley (the blacklight goes on after dark) and framed records from Hendrix, AC/DC and Earth Wind & Fire. This is the High Fidelity of pizza joints, where you can chat with Dave or Tom about the old rave scene, Sam Sparro, funk music and Jeezy's old mix tapes, or talk to Nick about Chicago industrial and how KMFDM sucks live. And, of course, quote Metallica lyrics..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Zazios

"Allez Cuisine!

'If you miss Chairman Kaga and his outlandish get-ups, your next best bet might be the new Chef's Table at Zazios.

'Zazios in Birmingham is the second location of this nouveau Italian concept restaurant from the Greenleaf Hospitality Group. This new venture is so elaborate, they even built their own building for it in a prime corner at Woodward and Maple Road. Draped in eye-popping fluorescent colors (fuchsia, lime green, orange and cerulean blue), bright fabrics and intricate Italian tiles, Zazios is also accented with dramatic black granite surfaces and flowing, curved lines along the walls, fixtures and seating. Zazios is sure to be the next new hot spot in Birmingham (which isn't short of them lately, thanks to the new South Bar)..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Hot Wings Feature

Yes I know Sweetwater Tavern isn't on here.

Now, in it's entirety:


Here we've got some of the hottest spots serving up the spice ... But fair warning: the pain level ratings scale was determined by someone who likes to feel the burn; adjust to your taste buds accordingly.

Gator Jake's

36863 Van Dyke, Sterling Heights • 586.983.3700

Gator Jake's in Sterling Heights is a no-frills sports bar serving up mandatory sports bar food, like classic hot wings. Spun in their house-made wing sauce made with Frank's Red Hot, dry mustard, garlic powder, black pepper and tomato juice, this is the kind of bright orange, runny hot sauce wings fans crave.

Pain level: 3 — Eat 'em by the dozen, but you'll probably poop orange.



25225 Telegraph Rd., Southfield • 248.355.4695

Nikola's in Southfield is a very unassuming place, but the food speaks for itself. They do barbecue, and they do it exceedingly well. The broasted chicken wings are a thing of bountiful beauty — one order is only $7.95 and comes with 12 huge pieces, but that's not even the best part. The breading is exceptionally crispy (seriously, it CRUNCHES) and is full of its own well-seasoned flavor. Then the wings are dipped in their homemade sauce and slow-cooked (almost caramelized) with cayenne pepper, molasses, brown sugar, Frank's Red Hot and vinegar. It is thick as honey, glossy, both sweet and tangy ... the flavors are rich and explosive with only the slightest hint of heat.

Pain level: 1 — Just a tickle; like foreplay.


Your Mother's Food & Spirits

61 North Walnut St., Mt Clemens • 586.468.4444

Named "Best Wings" by the Macomb Daily and a current nominee for WDIV's "Vote 4 the Best," Your Mother's Food & Spirits in Mt. Clemens has a rainbow of 17 different house-made sauces which include five hot sauces: Jamaican, hot garlic, hot, "Devil" and "I Dare You." These big, meaty wings are roasted and fried in oil to order, then sautéed in sauce. The Jamaican has a slightly sweet, smoky flavor with a nice kick from the jerk spice. The hot garlic is light on the heat but strong on the garlic. But the "I Dare You" is a sleeper: the sauce is thicker than marinara sauce, and bright red. Initially you feel nothing. You think to yourself, "I GOT this." Then it begins. The burn is slow, steady and severe. Mouth, meet fresh habaneros.

Pain level: Hot Garlic, 3; Jamaican, 5; "I Dare You," 8.5 — I'm not crying; it's just allergies.


Rub BBQ Pub

18 West Adams, Detroit • 313.964.0782

Detroit's newest upscale barbecue joint is Rub BBQ Pub, where they have something called "Pig Wings." It's pork on a bone (cut from the shank), and you eat them like wings — with your hands, drenched in your sauce of choice. Their six sauces are all made in-house, including the bright orange buffalo sauce with the classic Tabasco/vinegar flavor. The wing dings are deep-fried and crispy, but for something a little different try the dry rub wings which are smoked in-house (as with all their meats). Wash it all down with one of their 30 draft or 100 bottled beers, including a large selection of Michigan's best brews.

Pain level: 4 — Slather it on thick and you can get a nice sting.



4000 Cass Elizabeth Rd., Waterford • 248.683.3494

There are three restaurants in the world making a ghost pepper sauce hot sauce. One of them is O'Toole's in Waterford. Three times hotter than a habanero, the "ghost" pepper has been weaponized by India's Ministry of Defense. And THEY want you to put it in your MOUTH!! You should not eat this. NO ONE should eat this. And yet ... you're curious, aren't you? The pain is instantaneous and unmerciful. It is the (barely) edible equivalent of hydrochloric acid. Practice saying the following lines: "I can't feel the left side of my face."

Pain level: 10 — Has anyone seen my bowels? | RDW

See the original article here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Frittata: I just paid $21 for a brunch with no booze.

Frittata in Clawson is cute. It's tiny and quaint and charming and cute, like rainbows and kittens and butterfly kisses. See, look:

^Cute, right? Totally. I thought so too. I saddled into my seat and promptly ordered a mimosa, it being the Lord's day and all -- "How about a virgin mimosa?" our server joked. Yikes...I'm not down with virgin anything, so how about you just bring me a coffee instead. (My friend: "You want to go to Black Lotus after this and get a beer?" Me: "Eat quickly.") After making amends with the idea of a mimosaless brunch, I began to study the menu -- true to its name, there's a whole lot of frittatas on the menu. What is a frittata? you may find yourself wondering. Let's pretend for one second we leave in a world without Wikipedia and allow me to tell you: it's like an omelette. Or a quiche. Or a strata. There's eggs. There's some other junk mixed in with the eggs, which can be cheese or vegetables or various pork products (and who doesn't like those? [vegetarians excluded]). Cooking preparations and primary ingredients differ slightly between these various items but ultimately they're all egg-based all-inclusive breakfast dishes, the morning equivalent of a casserole.

^Check out this lounge area, TOTALLY cute. I mean, just really precious and adorable. I want to pinch its cheeks it's so freakin' cute.

^And the stamped paper on the table!!! Cute, right? I mean, really. It's total puppies, which is a term I will now use to describe all things exceptionally cute much like "titties" is used to describe things that are awesome.

So getting back to the frittata. There are lots of options and they all sounded delish; I went with the day's special, the BLT frittata -- pancetta, asiago cheese, roma tomatoes, and a garlic aioli. The frittata itself is pan-fried then baked...and it is a whole lot of grease-soaked egg-loaf, lemme tell ya. This is how I discovered I am not a super-fan of frittatas. Not the fault of the restaurant, certainly not, no...but the fact that it cost $11 was.

I am not one to bitch about prices. There are times when I will be disinclined to visit certain establishments because of one too many pricey bar tabs piled up that month (I love being a beer snob but gone are the days of $2.00 22-oz. drafts), but I would certainly never complain about prices as much as probably remark when things are LESS expensive than I expected (but the whole fine dining concept has changed drastically in this Free Bailout Market we now live in and people are now looking more towards upscale casual, which ultimately has the exact same price points as the fine dining concepts from which it was born but it's just packaged differently so people perceive it as being less expensive, but that is a whole different rant entirely and it just ends with me swearing a lot so I'll spare you this time around).

A couple of years ago I wrote a rant about this whole thing which you can read here; I would write it differently now -- first I wouldn't make jokes about Obama-head-shaped burgers because that was immediately pre-election in the height of Obamamania but the fervor and my irritation at it has since died; second I would make it a point that sometimes it IS necessary to talk about price as a foodie-slash-food writer but only in the context of value; third I probably wouldn't use quite so many variations of the word "orgasm" because really, I'm more clever than that. And I would probably be a little less high-and-mighty about the whole thing because I used to think I was a lot more funny and important than I do now, or at least I thought it was a whole lot more funny to act that way. But the "dough-faced boorish troll of a woman" part would definitely stay. Regardless, the overarching point would be the same.

That being said I am now going to bitch about prices.

That toast you see about? Cherry walnut toast served with blueberry butter and a fruit compote (I forget what kind of fruit it was, my bad; I should really start writing shit down). $3.25. For some goddamn TOAST. I could buy the whole goddamn loaf for that much and still have enough leftover for the Sunday edition of the Free Press. I could've gone to goddamn Leo's Coney Island and got the $2.99 breakfast special which comes with eggs, choice of meat, hash browns AND toast and STILL had enough leftover for a pack of gum. Was the toast good? Sure it was good, but it was also $3.25 and did not come with a happy ending so really, how good could it have been? The next time some toast costs me that much money it better be lighting my cigarette and promising to call me afterwards.

I walked out of there having paid $21 for a glorified omelette and some goddamn toast. Oh, and coffee. Not fancy coffee. Straight 'Merican brew. $21 and no booze or beejers; frankly, "cute" only carries so much weight in my book. I'd rather have a killer gutbomb breakfast in a miserably podunk dive than be overcharged for some fluffy eggs and TOAST. (PS, my friend's orange juice was probably a 5-oz. glass and put her back $5. In real-life terms, that's a pint of Founders.) Given the right situation in the right surroundings with the right kind of ingredients I may have been able to justify the expense because I would have seen the value in it (for example, shave some truffles all over that bad boy and I would have been willing to skip eating for the rest of the week). This lacked the value to justify the expense, and I left feeling weighted down, unsatisfied, and unfortunately sober. Not unlike most first dates really, but that's another story entirely.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

B. Nektar Mead Dinner at Cuisine (3D Tours)

Thursday, August 19, 6:00-9:00PM at Cuisine
670 Lothrop, Detroit 48202

What is mead, you ask? Not only is it what knights drink, it's also a fast-growing trend in these parts thanks to Ferndale's B. Nektar Meadery. Join Discover Detroit Dining as we partner with B. Nektar Meadery and one of Detroit’s finest restaurants to bring you a mead dinner in which you’ll sample and learn about a variety of different meads. Enjoy a 4-course menu prepared expressly for proper mead pairing by Chef Paul Grosz at Cuisine and learn all there is to know about mead (I'll start you off: it's made with honey).

~Diver scallop ceviche with smoked salmon / Wildflower Mead
~Roasted Halibut with oven dried tomatoes and citrus glaze / Orange Blossom Mead
~Beef Shortrib braised in honey and Shiraz with gold mashed potatoes / Wildberry Pyment
~Blueberry tart with vanilla crème brulee ice cream / Vanilla Cinnamon

Tickets to this dinner are on sale now at www.discoverdetroitdining.com/upcomingtours and are $65.00 including all tax and gratuity.

About B. Nektar Meadery:
B. Nektar Meadery began as a home-based beer and mead operation between good friends Brad Dahlhofer and Paul Zimmerman. Theirs is a story of true entrepreneurship in the face of defeat: Brad and his wife Kerri had both been laid off from their jobs, inspiring them to open their own business selling the meads that had been winning awards at home-brewing competitions and wowing their friends. The Meadery officially opened its Ferndale location on August 2, 2008 and has since been highlighted in a number of different noteworthy publications and is carried in wine shops and restaurants all over the Midwest. But the question on everyone’s lips is, “What IS mead?” This is your chance to find out!

About Cuisine:
Chef Paul Grosz trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris under some of the top French chefs in the world. He served as the Executive Chef at the Whitney for 10 years before opening Cuisine in 2001. Through his use of fresh, clean flavors focusing on simplicity, he creates dishes that are bold and daring – true culinary art.

About Discover Detroit Dining:
3D Tours exposes metro Detroiters to different restaurants and establishments that might interest the curious epicurean. We offer themed packages that explore a variety of destinations as well as unique tastings, theme dinners, and signature events.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

[Edible WOW] Russell Street Deli

Reprint from the Spring 2010 issue of Edible WOW Magazine.

Detroit’s Eastern Market, the largest historic public market district in the United States, is a place bustling with activity most Saturdays—but nowhere will you find more liveliness on any other day of the week than at Russell Street Deli. Located on Russell St. in the heart of Eastern Market, the deli is known to regularly have long lines out the door during peak hours (and people are certainly willing to wait). Russell Street Deli has become a destination for metro Detroiters seeking fresh, home-cooked, hearty food in a community-minded atmosphere, and is perhaps just as popular for its atmosphere as for its food.

“We don’t have an environment like this anywhere else in Detroit,” explains Ben Hall, co-owner of Russell Street Deli. “There are no railroad restaurants anywhere else in the city…some people are really engaged in that.”

Hall is referring to the communal-style seating arrangement of the deli—long tables that seat six are utilized to their capacity, which means multiple groups of dining partners will sit together and share their meal. Those who are uncomfortable sitting in such close quarters with others will simply leave, even after waiting 45 minutes in line; others come back 3-5 times per week for the experience. “It’s kind of the ‘vibe’ of the place,” Hall says, by means of explaining the deli’s overwhelming popularity.

Well, that, and the food. Regardless of the surroundings, Russell Street Deli offers up a full menu of made-from-scratch items which make for a dining experience that far surpasses your average family diner. It’s not that what they offer on their menu is so drastically different from other places; it’s just that much better. “Probably 97 out of 100 restaurants in Detroit serve clam chowder out of a box,” says Jason Murphy, who owns Russell Street Deli along with Hall. “Ours starts with an empty pot with vegetables in it. That difference really shows through.”

Hall and Murphy consider the Deli to be a “from-scratch house.” Hall notes, “We make our own stocks. We process and cook all the meats here. We grind, pack, and smoke our own sausage.”