Archive for the tag “pork”

Joe’s Texas BBQ – A Little Slice of Hog Heaven!

Last week, a colleague and I drove up to Green Bay, WI for a business trip. I think that trip takes the cake for the furthest I’ve gone in Wisconsin since I moved to Milwaukee almost three years ago! Admittedly, I’m woefully bad at getting in the car and just driving to see all this state has to offer. It’s just so easy to stay downtown (walking distance) when you live in the heart of such a great city! However, I’m really glad we made the trip – not just for business, but also for the delicious lunch we had!

Now, it certainly would have been more fun if the trip were to see the Green Bay Packers play, but I did get to see Lambeau Field (that’s where the expo was being held).

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Once we finished the expo, rather than eat less-than-exciting catered food after the event, we decided to use Yelp! to find a local joint for lunch before making the two hour drive home. After a bit of back & forth, we settled on Joe’s Texas BBQ.

Please let it be known that having been educated in the south, I can be a bit particular about my barbecue. Okay, I can be a snob!

The minute we drove up to the small shack and walked in the door, we knew we were likely in for a real treat! The smell was heavenly! Like, stop in your tracks and just take in the aroma of barbecued meet and sauce!

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This is a no-frills place. A whiteboard menu hangs on a wall across from the door and items are erased when out of stock for the day .

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A pleasant woman stands behind the counter waiting to take your order and then checks with the chef to ensure your items are still available. Tables with mismatched chairs adorn the dining room, and a table full of silverware, napkins and various sauces sits in the corner.

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After perusing the menu and considering brisket versus pork, I decided I couldn’t pass up the pulled pork plate and the jalapeno cornbread!

Instantly, the lovely woman walked to the whiteboard and erased “pulled pork” – I had ordered the last of it! Thank goodness nobody had snuck in line in front of me!

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My road trip partner, Tyler, ordered the brisket and our other colleague, Mark (who met us in GB) tried the rib tips. Both thoroughly enjoyed their meals, although according to my colleague Mark, the tips were a bit of work to avoid the bone! He said that the flavor was worth it though!

From my perspective, the meat was so tender and tasty! I tried both the mild and spicy sauces, and neither disappointed. Although the jalapeno cornbread was dense, it was also full of flavor and delicious! I cleaned that huge plate of food! No problem.

It’s no wonder Joe’s Texas BBQ makes this claim:

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And they have several awards to back up that claim!

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If I ever find myself back in Green Bay, Joe’s Texas BBQ is a stop I’d gladly make. I know for certain I will leave with a full belly!

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, jalapeño, 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, jalapeño-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

MKE Chili Bowl 2015, Potawatomi Casino & Hotel – My winner has been declared!

Just a quick post about how I spent my gloomy Midwest Sunday afternoon…

It didn’t take long for my friend and neighbor, Andrew and I to decide we wanted to go to “The 2015 Chili Bowl”, so he purchased tickets and off we went to the Potawatomi Casino and Hotel.  When he handed me my ticket, ticket number 1770, I cracked a joke about whether there would really be almost 1,800 people at the event.  Well… rest assured that there were several thousand people at the Chili Bowl!

People waiting to get registered for the Chili Bowl. The actual registration is beyond those doors in the background!

People waiting to get registered for the Chili Bowl. The actual registration is beyond those doors in the background!

Tickets were only $13 in advance ($16 at the door), and that allowed for eight 3 oz tasting from a list of 33 vendors.  It was also a fundraiser for the Hunger Task Force (2 cans of food allowed folks two additional tastings).

Please note: Handling cups of chili, a cold beverage, while trying to take pictures just didn’t work, so please forgive the lack of photos.

I mapped out our first four adventures (4A, 15A, 20A, and 4B), Andrew picked our fifth location (7A), then Andrew’s friend Max picked vendor number six (7B), and we all agreed on vendor number seven (9B) – at which point we quit – bellies just full enough!  Don’t you just love our high-tech method (tearing out notches on the printed page!)?

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In the first ballroom, we all liked “4A” best – Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub’s effort.  A traditional chili described as “…filet, ground chuck & andoullie sausage.  Topped with onions, our famous cheese curds, sour cream and garnished with sour dough toast”.

The overall consensus winner was in ballroom B though…”4B” – Superior Culinary Center with Lisa Keefer from Puddle Jumpers, described as “Smokey Green Chili topped with Cheese & Sweet Corn Bread”.

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Superior Culinary Center submission – smokey green chili topped with cheese and sweet corn bread.

It had really good consistency, tremendous flavor, and was just different enough to be special without being too much of a departure from “chili” as I grew up knowing it.

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The very close second place vote (again, consensus) was “9B” from Braise.  We all agreed to try the chili tagged with “most unique” title in past competition.  This year the submission was “white bean & pork chili with rainbow cornmeal croutons”.  We tasted a hint of curry to the chili – which also had great consistency and was full-flavored.  It might have been difficult to consume an entire bowl of this flavorful fun, but 3 oz was a perfect taste.

Other honorable mentions go to: “15A” – The Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill, mainly for the Fry Bread Bowl in which it was served.  “7A” (Red Rock Saloon) was another well-received submission – bourbon, beer, bacon and beef…need I say more?

All in all, we had a fun time navigating the dense crowds and figuring out which chili recipes we wanted to taste. It was a perfect event for an overcast Milwaukee Sunday afternoon.

I’m looking forward to seeing who wins the coveted “Golden Ladle”!

I’m off to Orlando for business tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll have more good eats to write about soon.  If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment!

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

This little piggy… was DELICIOUS! Paris, France

On Thursday afternoon, my coworker dropped me off at the Brussels train station, and I boarded the high speed train from Brussels to Paris.  I was in the first class cabin, so I had a very comfy seat and wi-fi (to do some work).  I also had plenty of time to enjoy the Belgian and French countrysides.  Here’s a short Instagram video.

Once I got to Paris, I was met by another coworker, Nicolas.  He was to escort me to my hotel, and would serve as my driver the following day when we went to Ribecourt to visit the technical center.  I anticipated being on my own for the two evenings I was in Paris, but Nicolas informed me that he had been “given a pass” to stay out and take me to dinner.  I really appreciate his family for being so generous, as Nicolas was out of town earlier in the week – at the same trade show as I had attended.

Nicolas and I ended up heading up “the steepest slopes” toward Montmartre – a darling former village now inside the Paris city limits. After walking around, enjoying the views, and the street lamp performer (wow! that dude was seriously good!) – can you spot him and his ball in the picture?

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We ended up at Chez la Mere Catherine for dinner and sat at a small table outside.  Believe me, I’m cherishing every opportunity to eat outside, since I know winter is not too far away!

Nicolas, being familiar with my blog, wasn’t surprised when I advised the waiter that I wanted him to bring me his favorite dish.  He chose Cochon de Lait au Miel, otherwise known as Roast Suckling Pig with Honey.  Nicolas also decided to have that dish.

We were quickly served our meals, along with a side of potatoes and cheese.

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And, friends, this was some of the most tender meat I’ve had (kind of like the last French food post I wrote – there may be a theme here!).  It basically melted in my mouth!  The sauce was slightly sweet and not too heavy.  It was fantastic!  And, although the potatoes were broiled with cheese, they too were light and tasty.

I was glad that Nicolas and I walked to and from the restaurant (only 15-20 min each way) – just to get a bit of exercise that evening!  It was a lovely night out with a coworker and in a part of Paris that I found to be very charming – especially since I found myself staying in this neighborhood! (see top and rightmost pictures – the others are of the village and countryside)  😉

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On Friday, following a very good day in Ribecourt with the European technical team, Nicolas delivered me back to my hotel and set off to spend well-deserved time with his family.  And, I decided to hit up the local Crepe & Panini stand for dinner!  My friend, Jess, made a joke that I should have a crepe and a macaroon for her, so I dedicated this crepe to her!

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I chose the Poulet & fromage crepe (chicken and cheese) because I tend to lean more toward savory than sweet.  Plus, it was dinnertime!  It hit the spot perfectly!  There was a nice onion and herb mixture in the chicken, and the chef added a bit of Tabasco at my request – just a small “kick” of flavor!  The crepe was so huge that it definitely filled me up!  I love having “street food” every now and then.  Who needs fancy schmancy all the time?!?

And, that, friends, wraps up my short visit to Paris last week.  I headed out at 7AM to catch my early flight to the states on Saturday morning.

I do need to make a special mention of my friend, Dennis, who met me in the Atlanta airport during my ~5 hour layover.  We watched the Clemson game and caught up on life in general.  It was a wonderful afternoon with a friend I don’t see often enough.

On Saturday evening, I was SO HAPPY to be home with Seamus and Riley, though I can’t really say the sentiment was returned!

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Actually, they were very happy to see me, but their dog-sitters were so terrific that they were wiped out!  We went for a walk when I got home, had a bit of snuggle time, and then they crashed!  Such is life…

I’m really glad to have had the chance to visit Europe again; it had been far too long!  But, I’m also glad to be home, with my “kids” and back to a routine that includes more sleep than “trade show life” does!

Hope y’all enjoyed reading about my latest adventures in dining, and in enjoying Belgium and France.

Cheers!

Ker

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