Archive for the category “Breakfast”

Lunching and Brunching in Milwaukee

This past weekend was a bit decadent for me. No real “working”, and lots of quality time with neighborhood friends.

On Saturday, my neighbor Andrew and I decided to head to The Historic Third Ward for a late lunch (mostly due to the fact that I indulged in a late morning nap!). Andrew suggested trying Swig after reading about it on Urbanspoon. I had heard of Swig and had passed by the place, but hadn’t stopped in yet, so I was game!

Natural light by way of a garage doorfront.  Mixed media decor. A nice, comfortable vibe (IMO).

Natural light by way of a garage doorfront. Mixed media decor. A nice, comfortable vibe (IMO).

Swig has a rustic modern casual vibe and because we were lunching at 2:30PM on a Saturday, the place was fairly empty. Andrew and I were seated at a table near the fireplace (the thing I miss most about my last apartment!) and greeted warmly by Kate, our server for the afternoon. I immediately liked Kate because she had spunk! As Andrew contemplated having a drink, Kate quickly called him out about enjoying the weekend – and soon after he was enjoying a Ginger Old Fashioned. Kate: 1, Andrew: won!

Ginger Old Fashioned

Ginger Old Fashioned

I was impressed, and overwhelmed with the menu.  I knew that I wanted a house salad – I needed my veggies!  Beyond that, I could have chosen almost anything!  The two items that bubbled to the top of the list for me were the Brie Grilled Cheese (I LOVE Brie, and I haven’t had it in quite some time) and the Crab Cake appetizer.  If I’m *really* honest with y’all, the baked Brie appetizer was appealing as well!

Long story short, I asked Kate to surprise me by choosing between the two and by choosing a flight of wine for me to enjoy along with the chosen meal.  She was on board from the get-go.

*side note: At Swig, you may choose your own flight of wine (three 2oz glasses – of your choosing) and then a 5 oz glass – all for $15. 

There was no way that I was going to be able to choose a wine flight with so many options from which to choose!

Borgo Pinot Grigio, Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc, and Crème de Lys Chardonnay.

Borgo Pinot Grigio, Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc, and Crème de Lys Chardonnay.

An incredibly tasty house salad (and only $4.50).

An incredibly tasty house salad (and only $4.50).

The house salad was loaded up with veggies and topped with parmesan cheese.  And, the dressing was AMAZING!

An amazing sweet and spicy apricot vinaigrette dressing!

An delicious sweet and spicy apricot vinaigrette dressing!

Kate gave me an idea of how to make this apricot vinaigrette, and after lunch Andrew and I promptly walked to Oro di Oliva in the Public Market to buy the appropriate vinegar!

Andrew decided to go “Ahi all the way”, with the seared tuna, arugula, and avocado salad with chimichurri sauce.

Seared Tuna salad with lots of avocado!

Seared Tuna salad with lots of avocado!

I was envious of all of the avocado that accompanied the beautiful seared tuna!  We both thoroughly enjoyed our salads, and probably could have stopped there, as they were generous portions.  But, we didn’t!

Kate brought me the crab cakes small plate.  These meaty crab cakes were covered in panko crumbs, sat on avocado puree, and were covered with roasted corn relish (another fave!).

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Like I mentioned, these were meaty (real) crab cakes.  The flavors were mild, but really tasty, and the wine paired beautifully with the dish.  For my 5 oz pour, I decided on the Crème de Lys Chardonnay.

Andrew stuck with the ginger Old Fashioned and had the Ahi tuna sandwich which had spring mix, red onion, wasabi aioli, and tomato cucumber salsa on it.  It was a big, and beautiful sandwich! Andrew said he liked that it had the teryaki flavor to it, making it a different experience from the salad he had just enjoyed.  The tomato-basil soup looked pretty thick and tasty as well!

IMG_1477[1]We ended up enjoying a few adult beverages and just hanging out on a Saturday afternoon.  After hitting up the Public Market, we stopped in at Hudson’s Business Lounge – simply because Andrew had never been in there.  It’s a cool shared space office building that my work team had used last year for an off-site working session.  There is a full bar attached, so we spent a few minutes there before calling it a night.  Nothing like a five-hour lunch!  🙂

Then, in a blink of an eye, it was Sunday!

I had previously made plans to have brunch with my friend Katie on Sunday morning.  The original plan was to head to the Hotel Metro because I love their breakfast and Katie had yet to experience it.  However, after talking with a colleague about Black Sheep, we decided to head down to Walker’s Point and hit it up.

We arrived just as the doors opened and found a small high-top table for two – which was a good thing since the place filled up pretty quickly!

After day-drinking with Andrew the afternoon before, I wasn’t sure I wanted to have a drink with brunch, but the list was intriguing.  After tasting the Wolf’s Spiked Tea, and having our server Corrine hint that there may be maple in it, I decided to head in a different direction and ordered the 2nd Street Cup (Canton, cranberry, lemonade and champagne), and after striking out twice with her orders (due to missing ingredients), Katie ended up choosing the Perfectly Peared (Belle de Brillet Cognac, pear nectar, and champagne).  Both were refreshing and light – and didn’t taste too heavy on the alcohol!  And, through the tea-tasting, Corrine learned of my disdain for maple (and she shares it due to a bad experience in the past!  I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE!!)

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The 2nd Street Cup in the foreground and the Perfectly Peared in the background.

As I perused the brunch menu, I couldn’t find any item that was off-limits, and so many things looked yummy.  Corinne was on board for choosing just as Kate had been the day before.  And, she made a great choice for me!  Lobster Benedict, which consisted of poached eggs, lobster meat, arugula, hardwood smoked bacon, tomato confit and hollendaise sauce all atop brioche toast.  Did I mention it was a decadent weekend?  😉

Lobster Benedict

Lobster Benedict

Katie chose what I learned is a Wisconsin staple:  Hot Ham & Rolls – which is a Parker House roll with shaved smoked Berkshire ham, maple butter (ick!) and two eggs. Though Katie mentioned this was a simple dish, she also said it had really good flavor.  We also agreed that Black Sheep’s fries were excellent – crispy and flavorful.

Hot ham & rolls.

Hot ham & rolls.

Both Swig and Black Sheep are local spots that I plan to revisit, especially since we didn’t try any of the wines on tap at Black Sheep!

Do you have a favorite daytime destination?  Please feel free to share 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 – a lot of variety, and very good food!

We may have polished off a few beers as well.  My choice… the Hofbräu Delikator – “Dopplebock” – 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” (céad míle fáilte)!

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

Breakfast for dinner at lunchtime at Siebelt’s, Bocholt, Germany

On Sunday afternoon, three colleagues and I left Milwaukee and flew out to Düsseldorf, Germany to attend manufacturing trials with a European customer.  We arrived into Germany on Monday morning at ~7:30AM (local) and drove almost 90 km directly north to the facility in which we’d be working all day in the charming city of Bocholt.

Map

Side note: I was quite excited to drive a rented Volkswagen with manual transmission, and on the Autobahn!  My first several cars were manual transmission, but recently, I’ve been “stuck” with SUVs with automatic transmission (vehicles which I really love(d), but I do miss the manual transmission). It was fun to be engaged with the vehicle and to drive along the highway at rather fast speeds (at times)!

We were at the facility until approximately 4PM and then headed over to our hotel, the Hotel Residenz Bocholt, for a quick nap and then dinner.  All four of us Americans were in dire need of a bit of rest prior to having dinner with our European colleagues, vendor representatives and our customer contacts.  We were also in need of showers after having been on the road/working for 24 hours or so.  🙂

Feeling refreshed, we met as a group of 14 on the garden patio for pre-dinner drinks.  I was glad that I chose to start with water (although I was teased a bit for not having had a beer).  Our patio time lasted well beyond the time at which we were supposed to have dinner at Siebelt’s inside.  The four hungry Americans were the first folks to leave the patio and head to the dinner table (subtle hint to our European friends).

The American contingent...

The American contingent…

The hotel is a charming space, filled with fresh flowers and pleasant staff members.  Part of the charm was demonstrated as the gentleman who checked us into the hotel also served as our bartender as well as our maître d’ / head server and photographer.

After we sat down, we were presented with a limited / fixed menu:

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After reviewing the options, I decided that all of the dishes looked quite nice.  I advised Ralph, aforementioned “Mr. Everything”, that I was quite hungry, but that I would like him to choose his favorite dish for me. After double-checking that I wanted him to choose and surprise me, Ralph broke into a big smile and said he would be happy to do so.

We were first served a “small taste” plate which consisted of melon and prosciutto.

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And, of course, we ordered German (and French) wine.  Nicolas, whom I have mentioned once or twice before, always takes the lead when it comes to ordering wine.  He’s never done us wrong!

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The first dish Ralph had ordered for me was the Tomaten Consommée mit Basiliken-Ricotta-Nocken (tomato broth with basil and ricotta gnocchi).  I’ve never had a broth-based tomato soup, so I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but it had excellent flavor, and the few gnocchi added to the broth gave it just enough substance for an appetizer.

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For my entrée, Ralph chose the Westfälisches Krüstchen mit Schmorzwiebeln und Bratkartoffein (pork cutlet with braised onion and fried potatoes).  He made sure to mention to me that he chose this dish because it is a very traditional regional dish and he wanted me to experience that (love that!).

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There is pork under those eggs!

The pork itself didn’t have much flavor – a traditional pan-fried crust, but with fried egg, braised onions, and a few dashes of black pepper, I found pork to be really nice.  And, the potatoes…those potatoes were excellent!  Very full of flavor and nice and crispy.  I was laughing with my colleague about the fact that we were essentially having breakfast for dinner, during lunchtime (in the US).

It was a lot of food, so I declined to order dessert when asked.  I had, however, forgotten that I had turned my meal decisions over to Ralph!  When everyone else at the table was served their desserts, I was served the Siebelt’s Dessertvariation (a medley of desserts).

Strawberry rhubarb tart, rum pudding, raspberry sorbet, strawberry cup, fresh fruit, and Tiramisu (clockwise from top)

Strawberry rhubarb tart, rum pudding, raspberry sorbet, strawberry cup, fresh fruit, and Tiramisu (clockwise from top)

Wow!  Every bite was so good.  I simply couldn’t take more than a bite or two of each.  My belly was full!

The entire evening was enjoyable.  We were a multicultural group, consisting of folks from Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the US, and we had a great time interacting (“talking shop”, talking World Cup, talking food and wine, and talking about this blog!).

I was really pleased with how open Ralph was to taking control of my dining experience, and I think he chose very nicely.  I felt as though I had experienced the food of the region and had nice variety of flavors and textures.

If you’ve dined in this region of Germany, or in Germany in general, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Stay tuned for a post about my next adventure in France…

Cheers!

Ker

#MKEFoodCrawl in Walker’s Point, Milwaukee, WI

This past weekend, friends and I (mostly) enjoyed a walking food tour of Walker’s Point (sometimes AKA “The Fifth Ward”), an up and coming neighborhood in Milwaukee.

photo c/o of MKEFoodies

photo courtesy of MKEFoodies

I learned about the food crawl through social media – shocking, I know!

After consulting with a friend who was supposed to still be in town visiting, I bought both a “gold” (12 small plates) and “silver” (7 small plates) ticket. The tickets weren’t necessarily inexpensive at $75 and $50, respectively, but I was excited to experience dishes from a variety of restaurants I hadn’t tried before – and one that I had. Here’s the map/menu…

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My friend’s plans changed, so as Stairwell Guy says, I turned to “Plan B”.  He’s very good company, and not really a “Plan B”, but I did originally buy the ticket for a visitor, so I guess he is partially correct there.  I thank him for being an enthusiastic and fun fill-in.  Several weeks earlier, I had also invited my friend Phi and her husband to join us, which they happily did!

We met at the Blue Jacket on National Avenue, which served both as the kick-off point as well as host to Bloody Marys. I was especially happy to be there to see Phi experience her first Bloody Mary – EVER!  First sip…good stuff, then…the tomato kicked in a little too far for dear Phi.  In my opinion, the Bloodys were a bit heavy on the seasoning, but were tasty enough (disclaimer: I don’t typically drink liquor drinks, so I am NOT an authority).

Bloody Mary at The Blue Jacket.

Bloody Mary at The Blue Jacket.

From The Blue Jacket, we headed on to Chez Jacques for crepes.  From the almost hour-long wait we had, I have to assume that we were not alone with the plan to start with breakfast. This was both a frustrating, and surprising start to the #MKEFoodCrawl.

Note: Throughout the day I spoke with folks on the food crawl, and to a T, every person expected a casual walk through Walker’s Point with tents or tables stocked with small plates for us to try, converse, and then move on.  Instead, we were seated at each restaurant and served the small plates – sometimes in a timely manner, and often not.

Chez Jacques staff addressed every table in the room before they even greeted our four-top, and we were the second group in the room.  It was so frustrating that we were just getting ready to leave when someone asked us if we had been attended to.  So, we placed orders and waited, and waited, and waited. When we finally were served our crepes (four choices, folks…shouldn’t the kitchen be prepared for that?), three of the four were met with positive reviews.  The chicken curry, the spinach Roquefort, and the vanilla berries crepes hit the spot.  The banana Nutella (read: Hershey’s syrup) was, sadly, a bust.

Here is my spinach Roquefort crepe:

Crepe

The dense filling of spinach and cheese along with the pine nuts were a delicious combination.  It’s just too bad the restaurant seemed more than ill-prepared to deal with the #MKEFoodCrawl crowd.

But, we were on to our next stop (finally!) by noon.  We tried to visit Circa 1880, but the line was out the door and starting to wrap around the corner!  So, we went on to Braise.

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I have written about Braise before (my first meeting with Phi!), and although Stairwell Guy was a newbie, we were all looking forward to checking out the yellow curry dal with ramp yogurt and the Grilled chorizo sope with ramp chimichurri & garlic chive crema.

We were in and out of Braise in 20 minutes, and we had really exceptional dishes in that time. There were two servings of the curry, and two of the chorizo…both dishes were met with rave reviews.  Phi and I also viewed the rooftop garden and dining area in the time we waited for our meals.  Very efficient!

Then, onto Wayward Kitchen for Pork Belly Tostada with Watermelon Rind Salsa, Queso Fresco, and Refried Black Eyed Peas w/ Jalapeno. I liked the casual atmosphere of this “off the beaten path” place.

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Again, by all accounts, service was not expedient, but the experience was a good one.

I struggled with my tostado because of its brittle nature – or because of user error!  Nobody else seemed to struggle like I did. So, I’ll take the blame on that one!

Pork Belly Tostada

Pork Belly Tostada

The Wayward Kitchen is also where I met up with a friend of the friend who left town early.  We had met up with Jon Thursday evening, so it was nice to see him and meet his friends out in a different part of town!  This is the friendly Midwest after all!

We then headed up to Clock Shadow Creamery for pretzels and cheese.  Well, cheese.

@SweetPhi !!

@SweetPhi !!

The first thing we heard when we walked in the door is that Clock Shadow had just run out of pretzels.  Since I’m not a fan of cheese curds (aka: squeakies), I opted to try the Basket Ricotta with lemon jam from The National Café and Take-away – another local fave! The Ricotta was quite tasty and the jam was a perfectly sour complement, but it was simply too much for any of us to finish. We were a bit bummed about not trying the pretzels, because they looked really good!

From Clock Shadow, we headed toward Ginger, with a quick stop to check out a restaurant that will be opening very soon, Morel.  It was cool to see the space in its final stages of construction and to meet the owner, sous chef and general manager.  A very friendly bunch, and very excited to be opening a new space in Walker’s Point!

Once we got to Ginger, we finally sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather of the day. Ginger has a lovely back patio. Again, the service was a bit slow, and our server forget to bring three of the plates we ordered. She apologized, quickly brought the remainder and comped the glass of wine I enjoyed with my Vietnamese Rice Noodles (chilled napa cabbage, carrot, peanuts and cilantro, soy chili dressing) and Hoison Braised Pork Shoulder on wonton chi (served with ginger carrot jicama slaw).

Vietnamese Rice Noodles

Vietnamese Rice Noodles

Hoison Pork

Hoison Pork

Everyone else tried the Passion Fruit Ceviche: scallops and shrimp in a passion fruit citrus base with plantain chips and sweet potato and enjoyed the dishes as well.

By this time, it was 2:45PM and the food crawl was to end at 3PM. We had only managed to visit half of the restaurants on the tour, and we had several tickets left. Phi and Nick needed to head home, so Stairwell Guy and I planned a quick stop at Zak’s Café for the stuffed French Toast he had been craving.

Stuffed French Toast

Stuffed French Toast

He was not disappointed, although he was served the wrong dish – are you seeing a trend here with respect to the service that day?

We hustled down the street with mere moments to spare in an attempt to finish with dessert. Jeff and I decided to divide and conquer, with him standing in the long line at Purple Door for ice cream (his favorite!) and me waiting in an equally long line at Indulgence Chocolatier (featured here).

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It was past 3PM at this point, but the local businesses were not going to turn away participants. We were able to hit the two spots at which we had planned all day to finish! Score!

Five mini-scoops of ice cream and 3 truffles to take home (for each of us!)

Five mini scoops of ice cream and 3 truffles to take home (for each of us!)

I have to give Stairwell Guy props – he knew my only criteria was “no maple!”, and he chose really well.  He ordered me mini scoops of: Lime sorbet, chocolate cinnamon, Bailey’s Irish Cream, chocolate banana and butter pecan.  A delicious sampling!

For him, I ordered orange cardamom, Thai peanut butter and milk chocolate truffles.  He ate them on the way home, and told me just how much he enjoyed them.

Indulgence Truffles

Indulgence Truffles

So, while the #MKEFoodCrawl was not exactly what we thought it would be, and the service in many venues did not seem prepared for our crowd, we really did enjoy the food, uncovering new restaurants and, of course, a lovely day with friends!

One final note: Next year, I will not order the “gold” ticket package for 12 tickets, because the schedule just does not allow for sampling at enough venues to make it worth the $75.  The “silver” package at $50 for seven small plates is absolutely sufficient.

I’d love to hear comments from others on the #MKEFoodCrawl tour of Walker’s Point, as well as those of you who live in other cities and have participated in local food crawls.  Please leave a comment below!

Cheers!

Ker

Odd Duck – An odd’s on favorite in Milwaukee

Last week, my parents were in town to help me with “elderly dog care” while I was booked from day til night with business meetings.  They spent the days in my apartment downtown, only venturing out a couple blocks or two (due to weather and because they were uber-productive at home!).  Mom cleaned my place from top to bottom (including all of the dogs’ toys) and finished all of my laundry for me.  I didn’t ask her to do so, but I was appreciative of her help.  And, dad took care of early morning dog duties as well as running errands.  Oh, and bankrolling our few meals out!  🙂

It wasn’t until later in the week that I would be able to spend quality time with my parents, and on Thursday evening I relied on Yelp! for a recommendation on Mexican food.  Let’s just say, it was a bust.  Not that the food was terrible, but it certainly wasn’t 4 or 5 star rating worthy.  So, when mom informed me that they wanted to take me out for an early birthday dinner (I gracefully age another year on March 17) on Friday, I wanted to make sure to have a good dinner.  I researched a bit that Thursday evening, but ultimately didn’t decide on a locale until Friday afternoon.

Way to go, Ker.  Not good for reservations!

I called Odd Duck, which has been an ongoing recommendation from a coworker and friend for months, and they had one 5PM reservation available.  Mom and dad were totally cool with that. It was 6PM their time, and they had been on a breakfast and dinner only schedule, so eating early was perfect.  Since I was quite under the weather, getting home early was actually appealing to me too!

So, off we went to see what Odd Duck was all about…Nestled in the lovely neighborhood known as Bay View, Odd Duck is a small restaurant overloaded with character.The menu was diverse and reasonably priced.

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Odd Duck Kitchen

Odd Duck Kitchen

Our server, India, came over to greet us and to ask about our drink order. At this point, I told my parents “screw this cold, I’m having wine tonight!”.  When I advised India that I’d have her choose my meal and asked her to bring a glass of wine to complement it, she gave an affirmative nod of her head and simply asked if anything was off-limits.  Just the scallops (and later, i would determine that the maple vinaigrette would not have made my cut).  So, off India went.

India returned with a glass of Portuguese red wine for me, it was so new it isn’t even on the drink menu online.  She suggested that it is a very versatile wine and she thought it would complement her (still secret) entrée choice for me.  Then, wisely, India asked if we’d like to try one of Odd Duck‘s awesome cheese plates.  She and my dad collaborated on choosing five cheeses, including: Hook’s 5 Year Cheddar, Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue Affinee, and Izar-Gazta Raw Milk Idiazaba amongst a couple of others that escape me now but were delicious.  This was the perfect savory start to our meal – not too much food, but a variety of things to nibble on as we enjoyed the atmosphere.

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As we finished up the cheese plate, my dad’s mushroom salad arrived.  It looked wonderful, and he devoured it so I think it’s safe to say it was a very good, earthy-flavored salad!

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My parents were in awe of the crustini as well.  So thin and delicate!

Mom and I ordered another glass of wine (come on, that’s what we Kilbourne women do!) to be delivered with our entrées, which would be coming momentarily.

Mom had ordered a Korean BBQ style pork dish – which was a departure for her, for sure. Let me just tell you how that egg yolk perplexed her!  She finally gave in and broke the yolk to give the rice a better texture.  Aside from the bite of the Kimchi and the pickled pears, she thoroughly enjoyed it!  (mom doesn’t like spicy food) It had great flavor – we all shared bites of our dishes with each other.

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Dad ordered the braised short rib beef stroganoff, which also looked and tasted exceptional!  And, the portions were not overwhelming.

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And, India had chosen the “Duck times two” as I dubbed it.  In fact, it’s much more sophisticated than that by the restaurant’s description: seared duck breast over bread pudding with a cranberry gastrique and handmade (duck) sausage over confit. It was a simple dish, but expertly prepared and very flavorful, yet not “gamey”.  The seared duck and bread pudding were my favorite components of this dish.

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Again, the portions were just right, allowing us entertain the idea of having dessert.  As soon as India mentioned sorbet, I knew what my dad would be ordering.  Odd Duck was featuring Concord Grape sorbet – something I had never heard of before!  I opted for the lemon-ginger creme brûlée.  Mom insisted that she didn’t want dessert.

Funny, because that third spoon India brought “for sharing” sure was put to good use by Pamcakes!  She enjoyed the sorbet, but she could not get enough of the creme brûlée!  Both desserts hit the spot – for all of us.

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From beginning to end, my family enjoyed our first experience at Odd Duck.  And, I’m pretty sure the wine mom and I had comprised half the bill!  It’s an affordable place with exquisite food that is not pretentious or intimidating.

As I gazed at the crowd as we were leaving, I saw a young demographic swaying more toward the hipsters’ scene than anything else.  Casual and comfortable sums up my experience.

To India, thank you for making my early birthday dinner delightful.  You know your stuff, and you are a really pleasant server.  Hope to see you and the Odd Duck gang again soon.

Cheers!

Ker

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