Archive for the category “Beer”

A month of celebrations!

My birthday is right in the middle of March, but I celebrate all month long! This year, my friends and I joked that it’s also a celebration of my “divorce” from my former employer – as the separation was finalized just two days before my birthday. So… we celebrated!

My friends spoiled me quite a bit this year. I think we were all itching to get back out to restaurants after two years at home, and they were all anxious to treat me to something special since I’m often baking for them. Speaking of which, my friend (and neighbor) Kathy and I had another super fun “baking date” to make Guinness chocolate cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream icing for St. Patrick’s Day (and my birthday) – which the neighbor’s eagerly gobbled up! (I threw in a photo of Rory and one of McPaddy just because they’re cute!)

The week of eating my way through the greater Milwaukee area started off with an impromptu dinner at The Knick with my next door neighbor, Brenda. It was a gorgeous spring evening and we enjoyed dining out on the patio. A lovely evening of catching up and enjoying some outside time together.

The next evening (St. Patrick’s Day / my birthday), my friends Wayne, Yazan and Kelly had planned to take me to dinner at Milwaukee Steakhouse. I will admit that I barely ate that day, knowing that I would be enjoying a remarkable steak later that evening. ūüôā Milwaukee Steakhouse has a traditional steakhouse atmosphere – inviting, not too fancy, and a pleasant place in which to have a delicious meal. Plus, our server brought her own spunk to the experience!

Following munching on the relish tray and fried cauliflower, I delighted in a perfect 6 oz filet mignon with bleu cheese crumbles and sauteed mushrooms.

6 oz filet mignon and sauteed mushrooms

The four of us sat at the table having great conversation and lots of laughs before returning back to the city and continuing the conversation into the late hours of the evening. It was a perfect birthday!

Then, of course, I had to use the cauliflower I had at home to attempt to replicate the appetizer. I think I did a pretty good job. Remember, Milwaukee Steakhouse, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! ūüėČ

The following evening, my friends (and more neighbors) Peter, Iris and Kathy treated me to a divine dinner at Birch downtown. This is one of their regular haunts, but I had not been since well before Pandemic hit us. I allowed my neighbors, Peter and Iris to choose the food of the evening, and they did not disappoint!

We started off with the Chef’s bite, followed by grilled garlic focaccia, beef tartare, and sweet potato and braised short rib skewers. Each small plate was individually incredible! We then enjoyed duck ragu and “chicken under a brick” for the entrees – splitting everything amongst the four of us. I don’t recall having ever had such moist and tender chicken, and pairing it with homemade pasta – perfection!

We ended the meal with two desserts. Oof! Does any birthday ever go unacknowledged with a grand dessert? The goat cheese cheesecake was definitely my favorite of the two, though the chocolate tarte with sea salt and house-made whipped cream was certainly decadent!

I had to take Saturday as a day of rest!

Because… on Sunday, my friends Kelly, Wayne, Yazan, Nabeel and I went to Central Standard Craft Distillery for brunch and a drag show. I asked our server, Dory, to choose her favorite thing on the menu and to surprise me. She delivered churro French toast. My friends were a bit concerned because they know that I don’t typically like sweet dishes – at least I don’t gravitate toward them. However, I ate every bite of that French toast (after removing the small pitcher of maple syrup from the area). It was not too sweet, and the cinnamon added a bit of warmth to the overall flavor. No complaints!

Following brunch, we headed upstairs to Central Standard’s event space which was all made up for an afternoon of drag queens lip-syncing to party music for a couple of hours. What better way to spend a Sunday out with friends?!?

I couldn’t leave without purchasing the woman’s v-neck version of this t-shirt!

I honestly have not been this busy, seen so many friends, or enjoyed myself so much in a long time! I’m really grateful to have such wonderful people in my life. I wish everybody could be so fortunate!

I’ve also really been enjoying some time off for the first time in a long, long time. I’m taking Marie Kondo’s advice and evaluating what brings me joy in my professional life before making a decision on the next steps. I’m also confusing myself because I am really enjoying all of the baking and cooking that I’ve been doing, but I’m terrified of starting a business of my own – be it a side hustle, a storefront, a gig as a personal chef, etc. It’s something I talk about with friends frequently but have yet to act on. At least the ink is dry on the “divorce papers” and I am free to move in a better direction. ūüėÄ

How many people are getting back out into the world of dining out? Did you ever really take the break that I did? Are we finally coming to a phase in this COVID world where we might stabilize? I’m sure hoping so!

Now, I still have one more week in my birthday month, so I’ll be adding to this. My friend Nabeel is taking me to lunch today, and I’m meeting up with Brenda’s friend, Leslie, for some networking time next week. The fun truly does not ever end!

Cheers!

Ker

Girls’ Night Out at La Masa – Empanadas and empathy!

After weeks of planning, and waiting, my girlfriend and I finally found time to catch up over dinner.¬†Shannon, you can tell your mom I called you my girlfriend – even though it doesn’t mean what she might think it means!

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Shannon writes a blog about the “fun” of dating in Milwaukee, and I LOVE reading it! Though I can’t relate to everything (mostly because I don’t date enough), some of her stories strike a big chord with me. Most just make me laugh and / or shake my head as I picture the scenarios Shannon describes.

Naturally, our conversation turned to the latest goings on in our personal lives, which made for a funny (and at times frustrating) couple of hours of conversation.

The biggest take-away, men: we just want to be a priority some of the time! It doesn’t seem like too much to ask, but it feels like it must be. ūüė¶

Anyhow, on to the dinner portion of this post.

La Masa is an empanadas bar on Brady Street. It’s casual, cute, and full of friendly service! Plus, we each had City Tin coasters, making it a perfect chance to try out a new place.

The menu is full of options. How does one choose?

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We started off with an appetizer of aji queso dip with apple slices, sliced red pepper,  jicama stick, and toasted bread. We could have eaten that all night long, but thankfully, we were wise enough to ask that it be removed from the table before we finished the pot! So delicious!

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Shannon then asked me if I was going to use one of my blog cards¬†or if I would actually order. Um…I pulled out a card, and Alicia was more than happy to choose my meal for me. I did give her a bit of guidance: I’d go with the La Masa Trio and I’d like smokey blue cheese sauce on the side, please.

I was delivered three very cutely branded empanadas along with jicama slaw. Alicia chose the black bean and chorizo (BB), the Wisco corn (W) and the mushroom truffle parmesan (M) empanadas. They were all very tasty, and the mushroom was a very close second, but the black bean and chorizo was my favorite of the trio.

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The jicama slaw was a refreshing side (though the serving was way too big for me!), and the sauces provided nice additional flavor.

I’m glad I purchased¬†City Tin coasters¬†because I’m not sure I would have stopped into La Masa without the prompt. It just wasn’t on my radar. However, I’d certainly go back. Shannon and I agreed that we wouldn’t wait ten months for another girls’ night out. Perhaps we’ll even have more positive and inspiring stories to exchange next time! Fingers crossed!

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Cheers!

Ker

 

Tapas, mom, not topless! Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Orlando, FL

I was traveling for work last week and found myself in Florida in February¬†– there are worse places to go at that time of year! ¬†My colleagues and I were staying at¬†The Grande Vista Marriott, the world’s largest Marriott property. ¬†At least that’s what the bell man told me as he drove me from the lobby to my hotel room!

After our fist full day at the ICE Convention in the Orange County Convention Center, nine of us went for a late dinner at Cafe Tu Tu Tango.  One of my colleagues, Lianne, had been there before and really enjoyed the tapas menu, the energetic vibe, and the local artistry on display in the cafe.

The wall behind our table...Campbell's soup artwork.

The wall behind our table…Campbell’s soup artwork.

Even the the silverware was a little work of art…

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Now, the reason for the name of this post is that my mom thought I said we went to a topless place for dinner when I told her it was tapas. ¬†Ahhh, Pamcakes…

Back to the evening… In addition to a bevy of cocktail, beer and wine options, we enjoyed a slew of small plates. ¬†Each of us ordered a couple of plates to share with the table. ¬†Here’s the list of delicious orders…

Guacamame (Edamame, chickpeas, avocado, salsa roja, chips) and Tuna Sashimi (Yuzu vinaigrette, cucumber salad, avocado, sesame seeds, jalape√Īo, micro cilantro):¬†

Guacamame and Ahi Tuna

Guacamame and Sashimi Tuna

Spiced Alligator Bites (Local florida wild gator, key lime mustard):

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Goat Cheese Timbale (Whipped goat cheese, arugula, nuts, parmesan baguettes, balsamic glaze):

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Dynamite Shrimp (Crispy shrimp, sweet chili aioli):

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Hazelnut Lemongrass Mahi Mahi: (I failed to take a photo of this beautifully plated dish!)

Blackened Fish Tacos (Citrus and cilantro marinated white fish, avocado coleslaw, fresno peppers, microgreens)

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Picadillo Empanadas (Chipotle spiced ground beef, manchego, cilantro sour cream):

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Southwest Chicken Flatbread (Chipotle spiced ground beef, manchego, cilantro sour cream):

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Cajun Chicken Egg Rolls (Blackened chicken, roasted corn, red onions, cheddar, goat cheese, creole mustard sauce):

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Mediterranean Flatbread Pizza (Ricotta, eggplant, tomatoes and basil):

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Pork Belly Reuben (Roasted pork belly, house-made sauerkraut, thousand island, pretzel bun ):

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Argentinian Chimichurri Steak (Tostones, marinated steak, garlic mojo):

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Jalapeno Mac & Cheese (Oven-charred tomatoes, crispy pancetta, caramelized onions,¬†jalape√Īo-horseradish mornay sauce):

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And…saving my favorite for last… the Short Rib Wraps (Kimchi, scallions, cilantro,¬†bibb lettuce wrap):¬†
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Such a light dish, but rich with flavor. ¬†Tender meat, the right amount of heat (I’ve loved Kimchi since I dated man of Korean descent in high school), and perfect flavors surrounding the dish.

While I enjoyed most of the dishes, my three¬†favorite would be: 1) the short rib wraps, 2) goat cheese timbale (I’m a cheese fanatic, so please take that into account), and 3) the Cajun chicken egg rolls.

I was not a huge fan of the pork belly reuben, and I found the spiced alligator bites to be a bit lackluster.  The other dishes were great, IMO.  I loved the guacamame as an appetizer, and the dynamite shrimp was another worthy plate!

Have you been to Cafe Tu Tu Tango? ¬†Do you have a favorite dish? ¬†Have you ever purchased artwork there (I had my eye on a Michael Jackson, circa “Beat it” days painting)?

In general, do you have a favorite tapas plate?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Cheers!

Ker

Ringing in the New Year – Out & About in Milwaukee with Good Friends!

Upon returning from Ohio in time to watch my Clemson Tigers beat Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl (yes, my priorities are a bit odd!), I found myself preparing for a visit from my dear friend Dana. Dana has been mentioned here (actually, she wrote that post!), here, and here. ¬†She was driving in from Michigan the morning after I arrived back home, and planned to spend a few days in Milwaukee over the New Year’s week.

Dana is a wonderful and curious traveler, so she suggested several local things to try. ¬†Before I get into how Dana and I ate our way through New Year’s week, I’ll share a few pictures of the other things we saw and did.

First, Dana needed her Bloody Mary from AJ Bombers!

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I’ve mentioned AJ’s before…

Then, on to the¬†Pabst Brewing Company…Not a traditional brewing process tour, but rich in history and quite interesting, in my opinion.

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IMG_1127[1]Though the tour doesn’t focus on the process of brewing beer, you still get to enjoy beer during the tour. ¬†Plus, this facility has a wonderful and intimate space in which to host weddings, parties and other celebrations.

Lakefront Brewery… My neighbor, and friend, Andrew also joined us for LFB and dinner later.

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(pro tip: The fried cheese curds are fantastic! The Beer Hall Wheat Ale batter is light and crispy…this is the only way I’ll eat cheese curds, and I’m not generally a big fan of fried foods!)

The Old German Beer Hall… Dana’s pick for dinner on the evening of her arrival.

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After all we had munched on at Lakefront Brewery, we were not as hungry as we thought we might be. Total bummer, because the German menu seemed to have real promise!

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We did polish off the Hofbräuhaus Brotzeitteller, which consisted of classic beer hall style bread, meat & cheese board, a 10oz pretzel, Rye bread & Obatzter with (local) Usinger deli meats, Swiss cheese, beer radish, and pickles. A great appetizer to pick at Рa lot of variety, and very good food!

We may have polished off a few beers as well. ¬†My choice… the¬†Hofbr√§u Delikator – ‚ÄúDopplebock‚ÄĚ – actually, that was our server’s choice, and it was quite tasty!

Now…on to the main culinary events!

New Year’s Eve at Kanpai Izakaya… I made reservations for the five course dinner special. ¬†$59 / person, for fresh sushi, sashimi, and wine/Saki pairing? ¬†Yes, please!

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Courses one and two: Lobster Miso Soup and House Salad. ¬†The addition of lobster meat to the soup…brilliant!

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Hamachi Ponzu appetizer (course three).

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Course 4: The “OMG” roll as it cooks. The roll has shrimp tempura, avocado, eel, shrimp, spicy and wasabi aiolis, and is served flaming under the fire of burning rum. ¬†The resulting taste is of a delicious grilled sushi roll.

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Everyone at the table enjoyed this roll immensely, as do I!

The Chef’s Choice sashimi plate was the final delivery. ¬†Please allow me to say that, OMG, this was amazing!!

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If I had a proper camera, this plate would have looked even better. ¬†However, even with a phone camera, I hope you see just how beautiful all of the seafood looks! ¬†This lovely plates hosts a party of Crab, White Tuna, Yellow Finned Tuna, Salmon, and Talapia (the chefs were advised that Scallops were off-limits for this gal). ¬†I’m not even kidding when I say that the fish melted in my mouth – and, the Yellow Finned¬†Tuna was my favorite, by far!

I’ve always enjoyed the food and service at Kanpai, but I think they managed to (somehow!) step up their game on NYE! And, Mary, thanks for wonderful service – always with a smile!

Kanpai was a great start to our NYE outing!  We then walked over to Cafe Benelux for a drink, and ultimately cabbed back to East Town to enjoy acoustic music (very good acoustic music!) at The County Clare.

The County Clare was busy, but not overly crowded.  Dana, Andrew and I had a great time just chatting, listening to the music, and watching folks (overly) enjoy their evenings.  We also thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary bottle of champagne The County Clare provided just prior to midnight! What a wonderful way to ring in 2015!

It was difficult to get a good photo with the lighting, but you see the "a hundred thousand welcomes" (céad míle fáilte)!

It was difficult to get a good photo with the lighting, but you see the “a hundred thousand welcomes” (c√©ad m√≠le f√°ilte)!

And…then came the After, After Party at GoodKind.

After having heard about GoodKind¬†from a colleague, and reading about it being one of the top 21 new restaurants in the US, I decided we should make reservations for the After, After Party Brunch on New Year’s Day. We had a lazy morning and then headed over to GoodKind¬†in Bay View with my friend Katie in tow as well. ¬† We walked into an inviting atmosphere, busy with other brunchers!

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This was the inaugural brunch at GoodKind, so nobody, including the staff, knew exactly what to expect!

After reviewing the day’s menu, I knew I couldn’t decide (except to eliminate the Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly served with a Maple Buttermilk Cake. ¬†I LOVE pork belly, but there is no way anyone will get me to eat anything maple-flavored!) ¬†Everything else was fair game.

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Our server, Caitlin, advised us that most tables had been ordering tapas style and sharing dishes, so we decided to do the same.  We took a few recommendations from Caitlin, and I asked her to choose an additional dish to surprise us.

We started by sharing a bottle of wine.  This Ramon Bilbao Rioja was rich in flavor and definitely improved as it sat.

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We then ordered:

Polenta Madame with hometown ham, goat cheese curds and fried egg.  What an extraordinary and savory delight!!

Polenta Madame

Polenta Madame

The Pork Cheek Donut – it’s just like it sounds…a sugary donut filled with tender pork cheek and served over a chocolate raspberry sauce. ¬†I LOVED the concept here, but I think the sweet overpowered the savory a bit. ¬†I would have loved to have a bit more pork in each bite. ¬†However, if you have a sweet tooth, this dish may be the one for you!

IMG_1144[1]The aforementioned Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake was highly recommended by our server, so we did order that dish,  After being assured by my friends that the pork did not have a maple flavor, I gave it a try.  As it should be, the meat was very tender, if a bit high in fat content.

Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake

Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake

And, Caitlin’s choice for us was the Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding with frisee, tarragon and lemon vinaigrette. ¬†I thoroughly enjoyed¬†this dish too! ¬†The crab meat was not overpowering, but what a rich flavor! ¬†I loved having a serving of savory bread pudding for brunch! ¬†And, the frisee with lemon vinaigrette…so light and fresh!

Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding

Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding

As if my friends and I hadn’t tasted enough goodness at GoodKind, Dana made the executive decision to order each of the two desserts that were being offered that day! ¬†I don’t recall what GoodKind¬†named these desserts, but one was Door County¬†cherry tart with whipped cream and anise sprinkles, and the other was chocolate cake, topped with chocolate mousse and brittle bites.

Door County cherry tart

Door County cherry tart

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Chocolate mousse cake

We enjoyed both desserts, although the chocolate cake was deemed a bit too rich for my rookie friends!  (I, on the other hand, thought it was super tasty!).

I think the menu at GoodKind, being so unique, may seem a bit intimidating to some people. ¬†I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take the leap of faith and to dine at GoodKind, knowing you’ll have great flavors served up!

GoodKind¬†will begin regular Sunday brunches this month, and I hope locals and visitors give it a try! ¬†If you’re into sushi, sashimi and the like, I really suggest Kanpai¬†in the Third Ward. ¬†Neither my guests nor I have ever been disappointed there. ¬†And, for¬† local fare that is not fancy, but is just good, AJ Bombers, the Old German Beer Hall, and Lakefront Brewery¬†are great local options.

I hope you enjoyed our tour of Milwaukee over the past few days!

Happy new year!

Cheers!

Ker

Tailgating Together: Welcome, Louisville. The ACC, and Clemson in particular, welcomes you!

While not a true “She Ordered What?” experience, I did have some terrific tailgate food on my trip to Clemson last weekend! But, let’s face it, I just want to take a little time to boast on my weekend in Clemson and show my pride for my Alma Mater!

For my first Clemson game of the season, my friends and I decided to join up for “family weekend” when the Louisville Cardinals visited Death Valley for the first time as ACC foes.

I want to commend the Cards fans for showing up in spades for the game.  There were a lot of red jerseys, shirts, etc, and a lot of Cardinals pride on campus last weekend.  We had some Cards fans in the lot in which we tailgated, and they were as lovely as Clemson fans are notoriously known to be!  Gracious and polite folks.

Speaking of gracious and polite, here is a photo of my friend and game weekend hostess, Cindy.

Pink Twins!

Pink Twins!

 

I took this shot on Friday night at my friends’ Cindy and Alan’s house. ¬†We were preparing some of the fixin’s for the next day.

 

BBQ and bourbon!  It's how tailgating is done in the south.

BBQ and bourbon! It’s how tailgating is done in the south.

 

I had offered up over Twitter to cook while Cindy led her “Gypsy Life” (commuting between Hilton Head (the job) and Spartanburg (the house and hubby)) and Alan recovered from preparing a home to sell. ¬†Our friend Dennis offered to pick up steaks to grill – and, a plan was hatched! ¬†Until, I bailed on my end. ¬†(sort of)

After Alan graciously picked me up at the airport, he and I stopped¬†at the market on the way back to the house.¬†I bought some pre-made salad (weak!), green beans (which we forgot to make!), Golden Delicious apples for my “favorite snack recipe“, baked potatoes, and a couple of other treats for the weekend (hello – jalapeno artichoke dip!!!).

Dennis had already arrived at the house by the time Alan and I were heading back.  When we got back, it was quickly decided that more booze just might be required Рnamely bourbon. Dennis is a bourbon aficionado (aka: polite snob), so I was happy to send the men to the liquor store while I took a nap!  And, they did well!  Woodford Reserve found its way back to the counter.

Our steak dinner on Friday night was fantastic! ¬†I was so wrapped up in enjoying time with my friends that I didn’t take any pictures – but, trust me, it was delicious!

And, on Saturday, we had a great time, beginning at ~8AM (may or may not have been a bit later than planned (read: was later than planned, but I will not publicly disclose why)). ¬†Our tailgate spot consisted of a tent, some chairs, a couple of tables, loads of food, and one really relaxed “Southern Gent”…

Alan is looking quite relaxed!

Alan is looking quite relaxed!

As evidenced above, Cindy had ensured we had Southern style pulled pork, brisket and Calabash chicken, which we shared with our tailgate neighbors.  SO GOOD!!  We also had a plethora of side dishes and snacks (again, I was remiss in taking photographs).

Then, came game time… My favorite college roommate, Bill, came by our tailgate area and offered up tickets to the West End Zone Club (catered suites with a private bar (which, after that game, I OWE HIM!!)).

 

This gives a perspective as to our vantage point during the game.

This gives a perspective as to our vantage point during the game.

West Zone Club

West Zone Club

 

In response to comments from Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino, Clemson fans were “#ClemsonLOUD” from start to finish. ¬†The atmosphere was incredible, as Clemson always is!

Pregame festivities.

Pregame festivities.

Though there were certainly some negatives to the day (losing our QB1 for several weeks, botched plays, etc), the positives far outweighed those negatives, and ultimately, the Tigers pulled off the win!  And, I would find myself without a voice for two days following that game!

Fans headed for the Gathering at the Paw - a Clemson post-game ritual.

Fans headed for the Gathering at the Paw – a Clemson post-game ritual.

Win or lose, Clemson fans have a tradition of “Gathering at the Paw” to sing the Alma Mater and show our Clemson pride!

Another wonderful weekend of fun, friends, and football in the books! ¬†And, to those friends with whom I wasn’t able to meet up, hopefully in November!

Cheers!

Ker

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