Archive for the category “Comfort Food”

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

A Super Supper at Sara’s Place, Gates Mills, OH

I’m back in Ohio for the holidays, and for the past several years, we have taken the opportunity to have a nice family dinner at Sara’s Place in Gates Mills – a cute spot in a quaint area.

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One of the many nice things about Sara’s Place is that they offer a wide variety of gluten-free entrees.  My brother has Celiac’s disease, and my uncle has a gluten intolerance, so Sara’s Place offers more options than most restaurants do these days.  

This year, we dined at Sara’s Place the evening after Christmas. A lovely Friday night out.

The atmosphere at Sara’s Place is casual, yet elegant.

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One of the unique features I love is that the kitchen is separated from the restaurant by handmade stained glass windows which reflect the local area.

The view to the kitchen

The view to the kitchen

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On Friday evening, I was HUNGRY, as I had been running around all day, including playing school with my god-daughters!

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I *may* be an overachieving student!

At one point, during the “school day”, I was asked to do 30 full push-ups for phys ed class!  And, I did them – straight through – after a morning workout, no less!  I was working up an appetite.  🙂 My Purium apple-berry shake was my only meal of the day at that point as well.

So, when we got to Sara’s Place, everything looked good to me!  The Ahi Tuna, the (healthy option) Stir Fry,  the homemade Chicken Pot Pie, the Pasta Bolognese, the Filet…

Our server, Cindy, first took our drink orders (thank you, mom, for making that a comical series of events!), and then advised of us the evening’s side dish options (mashed potatoes or brown rice, and broccolini).  When Cindy went to take our dinner orders, I advised her that I couldn’t make up my mind.  I handed her my SOW card, and asked her to surprise me.  I also told her that all of the side dishes were fair game. Cindy was a good sport, asked a couple of questions , and then moved on to place our order. She had a big smile as she walked away from the table (a sure sign she knew what she wanted to serve me!)

My dad, my uncle and I started with the Stuffed  Banana Peppers (stuffed with Italian Sausage, mozzarella and parmesan cheese and served in the homemade marinara sauce (the DELICIOUS house marinara sauce!)).  The appetizer is not overly spicy, but it does have great flavor!

Stuffed Banana Peppers

Stuffed Banana Peppers

 

When Cindy brought the entrées out, she delivered me a perfectly cooked filet mignon over mashed potatoes and served with broccolini.  As I mentioned, the filet was expertly prepared, and the entrée was delicious!

Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon

I’m not usually one to dive into dessert, and if I do,when I go to a Gavi’s property, I generally will only order Tiramisu for dessert.  (It’s a fantastic recipe!)  On Friday night, however, I was mesmerized by the lemon-raspberry mousse bomb.  It sounded so light and refreshing.  I tend to love citrus flavored desserts anyhow!

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Lemon-raspberry mousse bomb

 

While we were a bit surprised by the (raspberry-filled) cake inside the mousse bomb, I have to say that the dessert was wonderful!  Light and refreshing – just as I had suspected.

Inside the bomb!

Inside the bomb!

My family enjoyed various desserts and coffee / after-dinner drinks.  It was a great dinner, from start to finish!

Thank you to Cindy and the staff at Sara’s Place for always treating our family to a lovely evening out and a delicious meal!

If you’re in the NE OH area, I suggest visiting Sara’s Place for dinner sometime.  You may be inclined to see a show at the Gates Mills Community Players Theater across the street, or to shop at the boutique next door.  This little Gates Mills area is so quaint and cute that it’s worth the visit!

Cheers!

Ker

99 yummy posts on the blog, 99 yummy posts…

In case you missed the goofy reference, I was channeling “99 bottles of beer on the wall”.  I’m kind of excited to approach a couple of milestones: 100 posts on this blog, and 25,000 views.

I know, small potatoes for many bloggers, but this is my side project, and one with a fairly narrow scope – so, I’m not looking for thousands of views per post.  I’m quite happy with the wonderful people who take time to read about my experiences.  So, thank you!

Since I won’t be eating anything very interesting in the near-term – because I decided to endure my first full-body detox/cleanse, starting last week, and ending at the end of November (before Thanksgiving and my second trip to Clemson this season), I’ve asked folks if anyone would like to write a guest post for “She Ordered What?”‘s 100th post.

My friend, SweetPhi, offered up her talents.  She recently attended ChoppedCon in Kansas City, and I suspect she has a story or two to share about the experience(s).  😉

In the year or so since I met Phi, we’ve had some really fun and pretty cool experiences.  Also, her blog has TAKEN OFF!  She’s really spent a lot of time and effort growing SweetPhi to become a food blog that partners with some great companies, and reaches the masses. Kudos to you, girl!

Phi and I originally met through a small Facebook group she started to bring together Milwaukee food bloggers.  That’s probably one of the traits about Phi that immediately drew me to her.  We both reach out to people and we hang on to those we really enjoy.  We also support each other – whether it be in terms of daily life, special events, or on our blogs.  I appreciate Phi!

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That brings me to the latest fun event in our friendship.  On her blog, and through one of her awesome partnerships with Pig of the Month, Phi was planning an epic BBQ giveaway.  Of course, being a Southern educated woman, I HAD to comment!  I mean, BBQ is a “Southern thang”.

Fast-forward approximately three weeks, and I get this text: “Girl! Omg!!!!!!!!!!!!! You were randomly selected as the winner of the bbq giveaway!”

What?!?!

SCORE!!!!

Fast-forward another week or so, and I had a huge box marked “perishable” at my front door.

Folks, these were the contents of that beloved box!

Pig of the Month Prize Pack

Pig of the Month Prize Pack

Oh, dear gosh…can I tell y’all how extremely excited I was first to hear that I won this prize, and secondly, to SEE the prize?? My box *slightly* deviated from the description in the link above, but not much!  I received six racks of ribs (2x Memphis style, 2x BBQ ribs w/ sauce, 1x dry rub, and 1x Key West style), 2 lbs of pulled pork in BBQ sauce, 1lb of pulled chicken in sauce, and brisket! Holy pig!!!

Sadly, I had to pull these beautiful packages out from the dry ice-packed cooler that was sent to my door and put them directly into my freezer.  I kid you not…this incredible prize pack came on the first night I started aforementioned cleanse/detox.  But, rest assured, I plan to host a great party at which my friends and I will ENJOY this Pig of the Month package.  I’m confident that this will make for a wonderful meal (or two+).

So, many thanks to Phi, not only for her friendship, but also for the wonderful BBQ prize pack, and for offering to guest post the 100th post on “She Ordered What?”.  Please stay tuned for her post here, and check out her awesome blog – GREAT recipes and occasional giveaways that you don’t want to miss!

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.

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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

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