MARIA'S BACK — Maria's Front Room in Ferndale is open again after a several month hiatus. Owner Dave Brown took possession of the property in June, gutting the interior, redoing the kitchen and bar, and getting rid of the drop ceilings and partitions, creating more of an airy, open Tuscan feel. Along with purchasing the name and the recipes, Brown promises to retain the classics, including the fresh comes-with bread, while adding lighter fare to the menu with fresher ingredients and less-heavy sauces. Open since Oct. 3, Brown says the eatery's full liquor license is on the way. What's more, Brown has lowered all the prices as much as 20 percent, a great incentive in tough economic times. Drop in for a taste of something old and something new, at 215 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-542-7379.
BEER HONORS — At this year's Great American Beer Festival, Royal Oak's Bastone Brewery was awarded the silver prize for its Münchner Dunkel brew. The festival, held this year in Denver, awards the most prestigious award in American brewing. Hoist one yourself, at 419 S. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-544-6250; bastonebrewery.com
EAT THE PAGE
Joanna Anne is the chef, an author and a dog lover who wrote The Healthy Dog Cookbook: 50 Nutritious and Delicious Recipes Your Dog Will Love (TFH Publications, Inc. $19.95). At a time when there have been disquieting revelations about manufactured pet foods, she offers homemade recipes for you to prepare for Fido that let you control the ingredients and provide healthy and tasty meals. The recipes include nutritional analysis and advice from veterinarians. And the recipes are good enough for Rover to get up on hind legs and bark.
A TASTY BEVERAGE
Recently faced with a dizzying array of single malt whiskies at our local we decided on the $40 ten-year-old Macallan in the "Fine Oak" series. A blend from three different casks, European and American oak seasoned with sherry and American oak seasoned with bourbon, it drinks velvety smooth with a soft perception of sweetness and hints of fruit. Based on price and accessibility, it seems to be a reasonable entry into the mid-range of single malts. Try it on ice paired with warm lights, a comfortable chair and a volume of classic literature.
The simplest way to decorate a cake is with a pastry bag and decorating tips that fit inside the bags. Most are made of a flexible durable material that is conically shaped; the larger end admits the semi-hard food that's piped through a metal tip in the narrow end to decorate pastries. Simply put the desired tip inside the bag and squeeze the contents onto the pastry. Depending on the tip, you can create professional looking decorations or use them as a writing tool. Try piping mashed potatoes into unusual shapes before baking.