Fresh pie — Downtown Armada's Achatz Handmade Pie Co. has just remodeled and will host a grand reopening party on Sunday, Jan. 17. The first 50 customers will get a free slice of pie every week for an entire year, and Achatz will also raffle off the grand prize at noon: one free pie a month for a whole year, a $180 value. At 30301 Commerce Blvd., Chesterfield; 586-243-4710; achatzpies.com.
Gala-worthy — Bacco Ristorante's annual Auto Show preview is worth a look, whether diners are going to the gala or not. It includes an antipasto, homemade tortellini, choice of Kobe beef or striped bass, and a slice of multi-layer chocolate cake. It happens Friday, Jan. 15, at 29410 Northwestern Hwy., Southfield; 248-356-6600; $100 per person, plus tax, drinks and 20 percent tip; reservations at 248-356-6600.
Seed time — A friendly reminder: Home gardeners and seed-starters will probably want to start poring over catalogs and placing those orders now.
Giuliano Hazan is the son of Marcella Hazan, the woman whose books and classes have inspired untold numbers of people to cook Italian. Giuliano's latest book, Thirty Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes (Stewart,Tabori & Chang, $27.50), exhibits the simplicity of Italian cooking, which providing flavorful, nutritious dishes often at a cost comparable to fast food. Abandon the drive-through for meals that you can prepare in less time than it takes to get there.
Brewed and bottled in Traverse City, North Peak Brewing Company's newly released ales are more than just cute, stubby bottles that feel good in your fist. Lightest of the three, Majestic wheat ale is a balanced, golden drink of beer that most everybody will welcome to the back of their throat. Siren amber ale shows a smooth, toffee malt flavor before evening out on the finish. And hopheads will get down with the dark and intense Diabolical IPA brimming with sweet caramel that swiftly twists into pine and grapefruit zest.
Few winter joys beat a crackling fire in the hearth. So why run up utilities cooking over a hot stove when you can cook over the hot embers in your fireplace? An iron pot sitting on a grate or hanging over the fire looks good and is a perfect way to cook a pot of chili or a stew. Lodge cast-iron cookware lasts forever and, compared to most other high quality pots and pans, is reasonably inexpensive. Dutch ovens can be found at lodgemfg.com or many area retailers.
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