BREW, VIEW — Want to go out to the movies, but don't want to load up on kiddie-pleasing soft drinks and "butter flavoring"-laden popcorn? Want a more adult beverage? Well, have you tried the Brew & View at Ferndale's Magic Bag? Wednesdays and Thursdays, you can pay $2 to get in and sit through flicks while you sink drinks. Doors at 8 p.m., film at 9:30 p.m. The 2009 series kicks off Jan. 7 with Zack and Miri Make a Porno. At the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-544-3030.

OLD CLASSIC — People who like old-time bars can't seem to get enough of Foran's in downtown Detroit. Once a ticketing station for the Grand Trunk Railroad, now this downtown bar is a blast from the past. Drop by on Thursdays for their "Beer of the Week" specials, featuring reduced prices (9 p.m.-midnight) on your favorite local beers. At 612 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-3043.


Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa has done it again. In her latest, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients (Clarkson Potter Publishers, $35), she teaches us how to impress our guests — relatively easily — with recipes that are as delectable as they appear in the accompanying photos that grace each of them. Start with "lobster corn chowder," then "company pot roast," one of the ultimate one-pot comfort meals. And how about some chocolate-dipped strawberries for dessert?


French for "season," saison beer was traditionally low-alcohol and brewed in Belgian farmhouses to slake the farm worker's thirst at harvest. Today, you'll find most saisons are up in the 7 percent to 8 percent alcohol range and sometimes quite hoppy. The best are balanced beers, with a good bit of funk, old straw and cobwebs. They should be well-carbonated so even a gentle pour creates a thick, white head, leaving an intricate "Belgian lace" behind on the glass. Brasserie Dupont and Brasserie Fantôme make exceptional saisons.


There's never been a better time to equip your kitchen. Prices are lower than they've been in decades. For instance, prices on LeCreuset, the enameled cast-iron cookware are substantially reduced, just in time to make the Barefoot Contessa's "company pot roast" (see at far left). These pots are heavy enough to use for upper-body strengthening. They conduct heat evenly, making them perfect for slow braising. They are available in enough colors that one will surely complement your kitchen decor. See

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