French feast — Josephine Creperie & Bistro in Ferndale has been celebrating regional cuisines with a distinct French influence with five-course prix fixe dinners on the last Wednesday of every month. Each menu includes an appetizer, soup or salad, cheese course, a choice of four entrées (one vegetarian) and one of two desserts, as well as an amuse bouche and fresh bread. The dinner on Nov. 29 will feature the cuisine of Brittany, including such choices as English cucumber with yogurt and mint, Camembert cheese mousse, roasted duck confit with calvados and cream, and chocolate mousse with coffee sauce. Wine and Champagne available. At 241 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-399-1366; reservations requested; $28 per person, not including tax, tip or beverage.

Imbibing bubbly — On Dec. 1, Shiraz will host a Champagne dinner featuring bottles imported by Terry Theise, whose "exciting portfolio of small-grower Champagnes" should arouse interest. They are selected to complement the food, which will include duck spring rolls with plum sauce and spicy mustard, pepper-seared Georges Bank scallop, seared provimi veal strip loin and red curry grilled lamb T-bone. At 30100 Telegraph Rd., Bingham Farms; 248-645-5289; reservations required; $100 per person (including Champagnes), plus tax and gratuity; 7 p.m. reception, 7:30 p.m. dinner.


Eat the Page

Patty Pinner grew up in Saginaw, making her a Detroiter if you really stretch the boundaries. She put together a book of nearly discarded recipes from her family's archives. The result, Sweets: Soul Food Desserts & Memories, ($16.95, paperback, 10 Speed Press), is a collection of sweet tastes of the American South, where many of her relatives lived and cooked. Part cookbook and part memoir, the few food photos will make you hungry, but the priceless family shots and stories really give a sense of what Pinner is about. The "Nana Pudding" on page 91 will get you into the kitchen.

A Tasty Beverage

What to do with those leftover Halloween pumpkins. Well, you could always brew your own pumpkin ale. If that sounds strange, do a quick Web search and you'll find out how doable it is. However, we recommend a more expeditious route to your pumpkin pleasure. Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale has been compared at least once to pumpkin pie in a bottle. An amber-style ale, it's brewed with fresh-roasted pumpkins, malted barley and flavored with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Rumor has it that it was originally brewed by George Washington. Could this be the father of pumpkin ales?

It Works

We don't mean to hit you with this right before Thanksgiving, but if you do not have a gravy separator yet, you need one. If you have one, you don't need reminding because you know how essential it is to make good gravy. Merely pour the strained pan drippings into the separator. Wait a few minutes for the fat to rise to the top, and then pour the gravy from the spout into a sauce pan. Stop pouring when the fat enters the spout at the bottom. If you like it thick, make a roux before adding the gravy. Add a few bay leaves to kick the flavor up some.

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