Sunday, January 24, 2016

Something Good is Brewing at Cap 'N' Cork

Beer kits from Cap 'N' Cork
Michiganders know good beer and have many award-winning Michigan breweries to choose from when they want a satisfying brew. Instead of searching for the perfect beer, some craft brew enthusiasts choose to make their own at home, and Cap 'N' Cork Homebrew Supply in Macomb Township provides everything the novice and the advanced homebrewer needs.

I had the opportunity to visit Cap 'N' Cork for its Basic Brewing Class, presented by Cap 'N' Cork's owner, Andy Moore, on a Saturday afternoon in January (Cap 'N' Cork also holds wine and mead making classes). Moore began working at Cap 'N' Cork thirteen years ago and purchased the business three years ago, and he has experience brewing with Black Lotus Brewing in Clawson and Sherwood Brewing Company in Shelby Township.

Cap 'N' Cork carries a wide variety of grains
Moore says now is the best time to begin homebrewing because high-quality ingredients and equipment are readily available. Cap 'N' Cork carries Michigan-made malt and hops (unfortunately, there are no Michigan-made yeasts for brewing), as well as pre-packaged beer kits with recipes that Moore and his staff created (the store also sells kits for making wine and cheese). The kits contain all of the ingredients and instructions needed for a novice brewer to make his or her first batch of beer. Moore's recipes include "clones" of several famous brands that allow customers to re-create their favorite craft beers at home.  For customers who do not live near the store, Cap 'N' Cork has an online store.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Foods From 2015

A pizza from Mani Osteria in Ann Arbor
I did not write as much as I wanted to in 2015, probably because I was too busy eating my way around the state, especially Metro Detroit. Here are a few of my favorite restaurants and foods that I experienced for the first time in 2015.

Frita Batidos

Ann Arbor's Frita Batidos serves Cuban street food, and is a new favorite of mine in Ann Arbor. Their fritas are creative variations of the traditional burger while the batidos are tropical-flavored milkshakes. For more, read my review from January 2015. I've been back a few times since, and it is still excellent.

Kitchen Hanzo and Sharaku

Tempura from Kitchen Hanzo
One of my favorite finds this year is a couple of Japanese restaurants in an unassuming strip mall in West Bloomfield. Kitchen Hanzo and Sharaku have the same owners but deliver different food and experiences. During my first visit to Kitchen Hanzo, our waiter described the food as traditional Japanese pub food, but do not expect burgers and fries. Instead, the long menu lists a lot of smaller dishes that can be shared, as well giant hot pots filled with seafood. Everything is delicious, and the hot pots are especially appealing on a cold winter day.

Seafood hot pot
Sharaku is Hanzo's more upscale sibling. They have a menu with traditional Japanese main courses, but I only tried several rounds of sushi the one time I visited. The sushi is outstanding, and I definitely want to visit again.

Sushi from Sharaku
Saffron Indian Cuisine

Saffron Indian Cuisine in Farmington Hills is right around the corner from my work, and I often pick it up on the way home on Friday evening. I have not had a dish I did not like. Some of my favorites are the Vindaloo, Rogan Josh, Jalfrazie, and Palak Panner.