Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Burp! Goes Gluten Free: Guest Post on Celiac in the City

This weekend, Peef and I did something we’ve never done before. We eliminated wheat and gluten from our diets. 

Why did we do it?
We took part in the Gluten Free Challenge because we were curious about what it would take to adhere to a more strict set of dietary guidelines.  We’ve been reading Sarah’s Celiac in the City blog now for the better part of year.  And we’ve also connected with other GF bloggers like Melissa from Gluten Free for Good and  Jenn and her gluten-free husband from Jenn Cuisine. We know that gluten free foods are popping up everywhere — great news for the one in 133 people suffering from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes a severe allergy to wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats.  But, we are also aware that avoiding gluten can still pose quite the challenge in our wheat-heavy world.

So, for two days (May 22-23) we decided to stand tall and proud, along with all of our GF blogger friends, and raise awareness about gluten intolerance. And it’s a little crazy how much we learned.  And we ate a ton of great food, including the gluten free burger you see in the photo!

And we wrote a guest post for Celiac in the City to tell you all about it!
Click on over, read our post, and give Sarah some good old fashioned blogger love!

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cowboy Stew Redux: Stellar Tamale Pie

Some people aren't really into leftovers.  But, I can hardly imagine a life without them.  Even though there are only two of us, I always cook for at least 4 people. Most of the time, we take the leftovers to work for lunch. On the rare occasion when I've cooked up more than four servings (or we don't need lunch the next day), I often throw the remainders into the freezer.

Even for those of us who take great joy from cooking, there are nights when we just don't feel like going through the effort.  These are the nights when most people order take-out (and trust me, we do that too).  But, it's such a joy to know that a delicious dinner is only a few steps away when you've got some leftovers on hand.

In this case, it was a tub of Pork Cheek and Black Eyed Pea Chili.  This stew-like concoction has big chunks of pork shoulder (or pork cheeks, if you can find them) and black-eyed peas that have been cooked in a combination of chicken broth and porter, and seasoned with plenty of Spanish smoked paprika.  This is the sort of chili that takes some time, but is well worth the effort -- especially since it makes plenty!  Its flavor also improves over time, like many other well-seasoned stews.

Since this particular chili is pretty meaty, and we tend toward the Veg-Head side of things, I decided to saute some kale & onions to add to the chili.  I cooked them right in my cast iron skillet so that I only had to dirty one pan.  When the onions were cooked and the kale was barely tender, I stirred in the chili and allowed it to reheat.
While the chili was reheating, I stirred together a quick cornbread topping -- whole wheat flour, cornmeal, some ancho chile powder, cumin...  I grabbed some shredded cheese to stir into the cornbread & scatter over the chili.  And then I spooned the topping onto the warm chili mixture.
Just 45 minutes in a 400 degree oven, and dinner was served! 
The pork was tender, the sauce rich and smoky. And the cornbread topping helped to sop up some of the juice from the stew and greens.

Even better than that, Peef declared it "one of the best dinners ever!"  Makes me wonder why we don't cook with leftovers more often.

Easy Tamale Pie

What are your favorite leftovers for repurposing?

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Daring Cooks May: Goat Cheese Enchiladas with Homemade Red Mole

Wow, how time flies! It's time again for the May edition of the Daring Cooks Challenge.  Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce, was found on www.finecooking.com and written by Robb Walsh. 
We thank Barbara and Anna for coming up with an exceedingly DELICIOUS challenge -- but also for allowing us the chance to stretch our culinary muscles a bit.  They gave us lots of freedom with this one, and I'm pleased to say that we really took the opportunity to run with it.  While we didn't make our own tortillas (which would have been great, if we'd had the time), and we didn't make the green chile sauce (since we've already had a lot of practice making our own roasted tomatillo sauce, that would have been akin to cheating), we did manage to come up with our very own recipe for mole -- an accomplishment, I dare say, that we wouldn't have tackled had it not been for the inspiration the challenge provided.

I'll admit that we approached this month's project with a bit of trepidation.  It wasn't so much that we were frightened by the thought of making our own enchilada sauce.  But, we were pretty sure that we wouldn't have the TIME.  Usually we set aside an entire weekend to devote to our DC challenges.  But, this month, we didn't have that luxury.  We'd have to complete the challenge on a weeknight. After work. And I was planning to make homemade mole -- that Mexican sauce infamous for being... well, a bit time consuming.

But, we're not the sort of people who give up easily.  No sirree. So, we decided we were gonna tackle this thing. Inspired by the approach taken by my good friend, Rebecca, over at Cakewalk, we decided to tackle the challenge in parts. We'd divide up the work over multiple evenings. We'd set aside all else to make the challenge happen. And we'd make a grand attempt at taking half-decent photos at 8:00pm.  We'd persist, and that was all there was to it.

Well, we managed.  And we're here to tell about it.
So, sit right down and we'll attempt to serve you up a little bit of mole...

It all started with our mise en place.  I decided to improvise on the ingredient list -- putting everything I knew about mole together in one place.  I collected my ancho chiles, tomatillos, a few cherry tomatoes (not pictured), garlic, sweet onion, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), raisins, and a bit of Ibarra Mexican chocolate.  I also gathered together an arsenal of wonderful spices -- cracked anise seeds, cinnamon, ground cloves, black pepper, Mexican oregano, and smoky chipotle powder.

There were quite a few ingredients. But, that didn't stop us.  We got right to business --  sauteeing and roasting.  I decided to roast the tomatillos and cherry tomatoes to mellow out their acids and give them a slighly smoky flavor.  They would then be pureed with sauteed onions, garlic, and spices, and seared in a hot pan full of oil to bring out the best in their flavors.
Just get a load of that delicious looking chocolate. Mexican chocolate is made from dark, bitter chocolate mixed with sugar, cinnamon, and sometimes nuts. The end result is a "grainy" and less smooth product than the chocolate to which we're accustomed in the States. But, if you ask me, it's just as delicious -- especially for mole.

We cooked the sauce for 30-40 minutes, until all the flavors were blended.   At the end, we tasted for seasonings, and packed the sauce away for another day.  The good thing about that is that it gave the flavors a chance to meld even more in the refrigerator.

The next day, we got to work on the enchilada filling.  We combined fresh soft goat cheese, sauteed onions & garlic, raisins, grilled corn, toasted pine nuts, and plenty of cilantro.
We used my favorite technique for prepping the sprouted corn tortillas for filling.  We sprayed them with a bit of coconut oil and placed them in a hot oven for 4-5 minutes, just until they were pliable.  And then we stacked them on top of one another and started filling the enchiladas.

We filled each tortilla with about a 1/4 cup of filling, rolled them in the traditional manner, and laid them in a baking dish side by side.

When all of the enchiladas were prepared, we spooned over a bit of the reheated mole sauce.
After adding a bit of chihuahua cheese, everything was ready to go into the oven.   After about 20 minutes, we were greeted by a pan filled with amazingly fragrant enchiladas.
 You may never have thought to fill an enchilada with goat cheese and corn, but you'd be surprised what a delicious filling it makes -- particularly when paired with the sweet and smoky flavor of the red mole.  We owe this idea to Deborah Madison, who features a version of this dish in her book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.   The first time we tried her recipe, we accomplished it with the help of a bit of mole paste from our local Mexican grocer.  But, this time around, the flavor was even more profound.  The fresh mole -- while turning out quite similar to other moles we've tried -- was definitively more fresh, more vibrant.  The chocolate flavor mingled with the smoky tang of the ancho chiles, and the spices muddled into a wonderfully sweet and spicy serenade of flavor -- the perfect foil for the tangy goat cheese.

Goat Cheese Enchiladas with Homemade Red Mole

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Your Private Invitation: Wine Craze Milwaukee

Are you the type who can really sit back and enjoy a glass of great wine?  Do you wish there was a more affordable way to expand your palate and sample some new things?

We might have just the suggestion for you.

This evening we had the privilege to attend a private tasting event -- a "sneak peek," if you will, into all the best of a brand new wine event at Clear in the Intercontinental Hotel, Milwaukee.  "Wine Craze", which takes place on Wednesday evenings from 5:30-8:30pm, captures the spirit of true wine appreciation by offering patrons the opportunity to sample pours of exceptional wines for only $5.

Our host, Stephan Fitz, presented us with three fantastic red wines, each one better than the last:

Brewer-Clifton, Lindsay's Pinot Noir. 2006.
Mid Tier. Pomegranate, cured pork and cayenne truffle aromas followed by cranberry and kirsch flavors. Very savory and brambly on the palate with dry, gripping tannins
La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. 2001.
High End  95+ Points - The Wine Advocate, Robert M. Parker, "It offers up smoky, sweet scents of lead pencil shavings, cedar, spice box, volcanic earth, black currants, and smoke. With excellent fruit, full-bodied power, a layered texture, and an exceptionally long finish."

"The Prisoner" by Orinswift Zinfandel Blend. Napa Valley, 2008.
Mid Tier. The front of the wine is soft and almost immediately begins evolving into the broad mid-palate. The mid has weight, length, and structure. The acids were great in 2008 and provide an essential rounding effect to the "big fruit" inherent in the wine. The finish is long and filled with ripe, soft tannins. The 2008 has much the same tannin structure of the 2004 which is a personal favorite.

We were also treated to a variety of seriously delicious tapas -- all of which made fantastic partners for the wine.  First, they brought out a bowl of blistered shishito peppers, prepared in the traditional manner (fried and lightly salted).
Then we happily munched on crab boursin "tater tots" with blue crab, herbed boursin cheese, and garlic-chili ranch dipping sauce.
We were delighted by the flatbread with roasted garlic olive oil, shaved onion, vine ripened tomatoes, fresh basil and fontina.
 And there was also baked goat cheese with spicy tomato sauce, basil pesto, and grilled ciabatta bread.

All of the tapas were exceptional, though the shishito peppers were the surprising hit.  Exceedingly addicting, these not-too-spicy peppers packed a flavorful punch and made you want to continue popping them into your mouth one right after another.

And that wine... well, let's just say we're still thinking about it (and saving up our money for another bottle of that La Jota Cabernet...).

The weather this week has been cold and rainy -- desolate at its worst, and dreary at its best. Not exactly the sort of week you'd celebrate -- particularly around "hump" day.  But, as we sat around the table sipping our wine and chatting, it occurred to me that this is exactly the sort of event that could break up the mid-week monotony.  In fact, it was the perfect solution for our Wednesday Blues... and a nice bit of exercise for our ever-expanding wine palates!

So, the next time you get the urge to really savor a nice glass of wine among friends, think about stopping over to Clear for a sip of something lovely.  And, if it happens to be a Wednesday, be sure you take advantage of those "Wine Craze" specials. 

Trust us, you won't be sorry.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

A Year of Inconvenience: Fellow Foodie Project

For one year, Pam declared, I will cook all meals from scratch, shopping primarily the fresh departments of my co-op.

When Pam Mehnert declared that she was giving up on convenience foods for an entire year, some people thought she was crazy -- and maybe for good reason.  Pam's got her hands full as general manager at Outpost Natural Foods in Milwaukee. But, like so many of us, Pam is also devoted to improving her community.   Pam believes that, by changing her diet, she can take a more active role in revitalizing the local economy and lessening her dependence on processed foods.

But, how would she make it for an entire year -- baking her own bread, making her own tortillas, and giving up her reliance on pre-packaged foods?

Well, that's a good question.  So, Pam started "A Year of Inconvenience," her own personal blog and food diary where she plans to share stories, wisdom, and thoughts on her year of "from scratch" eating.

We asked Pam if she'd take a few minutes to tell her a bit more about her project, and she willingly obliged.
We hope you're as moved by her real food journey as we are!

You've written that you were inspired by both Julie Powell and Michael Pollan to begin this challenge. Although you're not cooking your way through a cookbook, as Julie Powell did, what parallels do you see between her experience and the challenge you've created for yourself?
Without question, the biggest parallel would be the time it will take to fit the challenge into an already busy day, and how easily it can become your “job” taking it on. For Julie, it also sounded like her novice cooking experience combined with taking on the French culture of the recipes became overwhelming, not to mention experimenting with cooking techniques she wasn’t familiar with. That’s different for me, because already it’s more about “hunger” – that if I don’t prepare and plan out our meals – I’ll be left with few choices and sadly a very boring diet. If Julie Powell didn’t feel like cooking from the cookbook on any particular day – she could take a break from it. I however have to focus on what meals I’ll be preparing every single day. And yet, I’m still inspired because of her, but especially Michael Pollan.
I know that you love to cook (and eat). But, how much cooking did you do, on average, prior to the challenge?  How many additional hours a week do you spend cooking now? 
Before the challenge I would cook breakfast and dinner at home on average 4-5 days per week. Now what I refer to as “cooking” wasn’t always from scratch. We would take a frozen pizza and add our own toppings, or I might start a pot of chili using canned beans and tomatoes. Often it was a protein and vegetable – simple dinners that could be put together in just 30 to 45 minutes. Lunch, on the other hand, was almost always picking up something from Outpost’s prepared foods department – usually a salad or sandwich or soup.  

A comparison of before the challenge and after, I’d say before I cooked on average 3-4 total hours/week and now it’s at least triple that amount of time. And I’m only in week two.
Do you have a strategy to help you get through the next 11 months? Have you purchased any special equipment for the challenge? 
I’ve been thinking about the challenge ever since last summer, so I actually have been preparing my kitchen with a few items. I gave away my thrift store 1980 something KitchenAid mixer and purchased a new one around the holidays. I also had been buying storage jars at flea markets and antique stores late last summer and fall. Just this past week I spent $100 at my local Ace Hardware adding important items such as a kitchen thermometer, extra baking sheets, freezer storage containers, a silicone rolling mat (for baking), and believe it or not – a dish drainer. We’ve been doing a lot of dishes!

My strategy has been – prepare a menu for the week (lunch & dinner), keep staples items in stock (granola and bread in particular), make enough dinner to have as a lunch leftover, and use the freezer. The freezer is my friend.
What's been the most painful convenience food for you to give up? The easiest?
The most painful: Seriously, and this is a bit embarrassing, but it would have to be snack foods. Hungry after work and need to snack before dinner – I used to depend on crackers, tortilla chips, or nut mixes. Baked potato chips with my sandwich, or cheese puffs while watching television at night. It’s the snacks, and fruit and vegetables don’t always do the trick!

The easiest? I guess that would be bread. I don’t mind baking bread at all. The frequency will become a strain after awhile I’m sure, but I really do enjoy making it.
Are there any official "exceptions" that you're making for yourself during the challenge? 
I’m really surprised no one has asked me this on the blog yet. Yes, actually there are a few.
First, if I get invited over to someone’s home for dinner, I will eat what they have to offer without scrutiny or judgment. That’s only polite. Second, I will eat out at restaurants but only under the condition that I’m invited by someone else (it can’t be a convenience because I don’t know what to make for dinner) AND for me it must be a locally owned restaurant (and not fast food local either). Someone else must have taken the time and care to make things from scratch. Third, at the beginning I’m not defining condiments as convenience foods. That means I will use some mustard or ketchup or mayonnaise on occasion. I do realize those things can be made from scratch, so I will eventually eliminate them from my exception list as I use up what I have. And finally, beverages to me are not convenience foods unless I use them in a convenient way. For example, I’ll brew coffee at home but I won’t stop at a coffee shop because I didn’t want to brew it at home. I’ll also drink beer, but will limit that whenever possible to local beer. I would like to try brewing beer on my own at some point.
I don’t know what I’m going to do when I travel. I travel at least four times a year for business meetings where I can’t cook and don’t have a kitchen, so I think I’ll just go with the flow on that. Vacations are also a question in my mind. I’m starting one next week going out to California, so I’ll report back on that experience.
What has the response been from your colleagues? Friends?  Most importantly -- what does your spouse/significant other think of all of this?
I gave my domestic partner the option of opting out – and was met with the response – “I live in the same house, we eat the same meals, and I’m willingly supporting you with this.” Thank goodness, as it’s really been helpful having an extra set of hands with the cooking, not to mention she’s really great with researching recipes. My colleagues and friends all think I’m a bit crazy – but applaud my efforts I think because they are grateful it’s not them.
Pam Mehnert is general manager of Outpost Natural Foods and has been working at the co-op since 1980. Her passion for local food and local business led her and seven other Milwaukee businesses to found the organization Our Milwaukee in 2007, where she currently serves as board president as well as local business advocate. In her spare time Pam fuels her daily work by serving as president of the board of directors of the National Cooperative Grocers Association. Oh, and she loves to cook, garden, work on assemblage art, and take adventurous hikes with her partner Lisa.  

Read more about Pam's Year of Inconvenience on her blog!  She just came back from vacation, so I'm sure she'll appreciate the visitors!

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Seared Scallops with Creamy Spring Ramps

For me, spring is truly marked by the arrival of certain spring vegetables -- asparagus, morel mushrooms, fiddleheads... and, of course, the ubiquitous ramp.

Ramps (Allium trioccum), often called wild leeks or wild garlic, are a member of the lily family -- which also includes garlic, leeks, and onions. Resembling scallions, ramps begin at their base as lovely white bulbs whose gorgeous reddish-purple stalks rise upward into a plume of elegantly silky green leaves.  With a mild flavor poised deliciously between that of leeks and garlic, they make a delicious addition to pasta dishes and pestos. And they marry particularly well with farm fresh spring eggs.

But, they're also fantastic when featured on their own -- which is how we decided to showcase these lovely locally grown spring vegetables for the Virtual Vegetable of the Month Club challenge, hosted by our friends over at  innBrooklyn (If you haven't taken the opportunity to check out their blog, you really must. It's positively gorgeous! And a good read, to boot!).  

Having been inspired by a gorgeous posting on The Sprouted Kitchen for Scallops on Creamy Leeks, we decided to take Sara's concept in a new direction by simplifying it a bit, and using ramps in place of the leeks.

Since the delicately flavored leaves of the wild leek cook much faster than the bulbs and stems, we chopped each separately.  First, we sauteed the bulbs and stems gently in a few tablespoons of butter.
And then, when the stems were quite tender (10-15 minutes), we added the ramp leaves, along with about 1/4 cup of heavy cream.  We turned the heat to medium low and allowed the cream to bubble gently while we prepared the scallops.
We purchased 10 gorgeous dry packed sea scallops from the lovely Colleen who was working the fish counter at our local Whole Foods (we may joke about "Whole Foods" being synonymous for "whole paycheck" in our house... but the truth is, they have some of the best and most sustainable fresh seafood for purchase in the city of Milwaukee).  Dry packed scallops are particularly good for searing, since they are free of sodium tripolyphosphate (STP), a chemical additive added to many scallops to reduce the natural loss of moisture after harvest. STP can affect the flavor of the scallop, and it also increases their moisture content -- which hinders browning.

We dredged the scallops lightly in a mixture of white whole wheat flour and salt (not necessary, but a step that adds a delicious crust to the final product), and then set them to cook in a pan of hot bacon fat.  This is the point in the story when Peef begins to swoon, and it's no wonder.  You can just imagine the sweet, smoky odor that infused our kitchen as the scallops were cooking...
By the time the scallops were cooked (about 3 minute per side did the trick nicely), the ramps were tender and the cream had reduced slightly.  So, we spooned the wilted ramps onto warmed plates, topped them with the scallops, and sprinkled everything with a bit of chopped fresh tarragon from the garden.
We ate in near silence -- paying homage to the amazingly complimentary flavors on our plates. The ramps were sweet, fragrant, and slightly earthy -- with a green, almost forest-like flavor that belies their "wild" nature. The sweet licorice flavor of the tarragon played nicely off of both the ramps and the scallops -- whose crisp browned crust gave way to succulent, briny, perfectly cooked meat.

In less than 40 minutes, dinner was served. And it was Spring Heaven. On a plate.
Or, as Peef would say, "This is the best use of tarragon. Ever."  And I'd have to agree.

Seared Sea Scallops with Creamy Spring Ramps

Inspired? Well, why not try your own hand at something equally delicious? And you have at least two more days to submit your own spring garlic recipes to the Veg of the Month Club!  We'll see you there!

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spring Eats: Asparagus Pizza with Summers Past Pesto

If I haven't made it clear that we LOVE our freezer, I want to make that clear now.  I don't know where we'd be without all the goodies we store up in our over-sized chest freezer.

I'm fairly certain some people thought we were crazy when we went out and bought a chest freezer -- primarily because this freezer wasn't the smallest one on the market. Nope -- we have 20+ cubic feet of gorgeous freezer space, complete with storage bins that we can lift in and out. We went with a chest freezer since they were more efficient than an upright, but we'd heard horror stories from others who claim to have "lost" things in the bottom of their chest freezers.  So, right off the bat, we developed an organization system.  We bought a few plastic storage bins that fit into the freezer and help us to organize the foods by "type" -- tomatoes/sauces in one, meats in another, veggies in yet another. We also created a freezer list, which lives upstairs.  It's been hit-or-miss lately, but the idea is that we keep the list up to date -- adding new items when we put them into the freezer, and crossing items off when we use them up.  Works pretty well, and it keeps us eating locally -- even in the dark days of winter.

One of the items that makes me glow when I think about our freezer is... pesto.  OH, yeah.  When summer hits, you'll find us growing plenty of basil in our garden.  Heck, we practically eat the stuff out of hand.  But, we also love to use the leaves to make plenty of pesto -- for storage.  Basil, garlic, toasted pine-nuts, and a bit of oil -- and we're set (I purposely leave the cheese out when I'm freezing pesto).  I put pre-measured quarter-cup portions into small storage containers or baggies -- and pack them all into the freezer for that dreary day in January when we could all use a bit of a pick-me-up.
I just used up the last of our stash of last summer's pesto a few nights ago. It was getting late and we both were starving.  I had a bunch of fresh spring asparagus on hand... and a freshly fed bowl of sourdough starter.  So, we decided to whip up a super simple pizza.
You don't even need a recipe for this one if you've got some pesto and a bit of dough on hand.  First, preheat your oven to 500 degrees (or higher, if your oven is capable). Slice your asparagus in half lengthwise -- and then into 1 inch pieces.  Then roll out your pizza dough onto a piece of parchment paper.  Spread it with a thin layer of pesto, and then top it with a handful of mozzarella cheese. 
Add the asparagus.  And then another layer of cheese.  Then sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of basil and oregano (fresh or dried).  Bake for 20 minutes -- or until the pizza dough is crisp and the cheese speckled with brown.
Voila! Simple weeknight pizza that tastes a suspiciously like last summer.

Sourdough pizza crust

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Field Trip: Milwaukee Food Tour - Historic Third Ward

They say that one of the best ways to really get to know a city is to explore it on foot. And even if you've lived in a city like Milwaukee as long as we have, it seems there's always something new to learn!  That's why we were truly excited when Theresa Nemetz, co-owner of Milwaukee Food Tours, invited us to join in on a dinner tour of the Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee’s Arts and Fashion District this weekend.

Home to the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), the southern portion of the Milwaukee Riverwalk, the Milwaukee Public Market, and over 450 local businesses (including countless restaurants and boutiques), the Third Ward has become one of Milwaukee's most lively destinations.

Our tour was led by one of Milwaukee Food Tour's newest guides, Ms. Hayley Landsman. Originally from Michigan, Hayley fell in love with Milwaukee while attending Marquette University to earn her degree in Communications.  Not only did Hayley do a pretty fantastic job (for her first tour), but she knows a thing or two about the city. In fact, she's taken on the challenge to accomplish all 100 items on the OnMilwaukee.com "100 Things to Do in Milwaukee" list.   In fact, she's got us thinking that we need to take a long hard look at that list and see how many more interesting things there are to do in this great city... especially after being surprised by how much we learned on our food tour.

We began at the Milwaukee Public Market, where we started off by sampling a delicious Poblano Corn Chowder from the Soup & Stock Market.  Sweet and smoky (thanks to the addition of one of Peef's favorite ingredients... bacon), the soup laid the foundation for all the other great food to come.
 Satiated by that bowl of delicious soup, we headed off on the first leg of our tour -- down the gorgeous Milwaukee River Walk.  Although I knew that the River Walk extended into the Third Ward, I'd never actually walked a significant portion of it (since I doubt sitting on the patio at Water Buffalo really counts).
 Heh. Speaking of Water Buffalo, we actually stopped there...
 ... where they plied us with more food. A puff pastry crust rolled around a  filling of seasoned chickens and onions, served with a delicious dollop of fresh guacamole...  the chicken roll amounted to far more than the sum of its parts.  We gobbled quite happily as we learned all about efforts local businesses make to maintain the integrity of the architecture of the buildings in the Third Ward -- including when planning the design of their interiors.
We ambled further down the Riverwalk, stopped for a bite of pizza and sampled a bit of locally brewed beer. Then we strolled through Catalano Square (where we learned a bit about the history of the Italian immigrants who inhabited the Ward after the great fire of 1892) before stopping in at another Milwaukee gem, Tulip.

Tour guests were given a bit of time to relax, unwind, and listen to a bit of live Turkish music while feasting on a bite of Turkish flavor -- delicious lamb shish kebabs with tomatoey couscous and fragrant dolmas.
The tour could have stopped right there, and I'd venture a guess that the lot of us would have been quite satisfied.  But, it didn't.  We strolled along Broadway and stopped for a bit of wine and chocolate along the way before heading back to the Market.

Throughout the tour, we had the opportunity to talk with most of the members of our group. It was a social affair -- filled with amusing anecdotes, historical facts, and PLENTY of delicious nibbles. In fact, much to our surprise, it was with full bellies that we bid our adieus to over a dozen of our "new friends" and wandered over to our car to head home -- our heads filled with new information about the city we call home.   In fact, we'd be remiss if we didn't recommend that you add a Food Tour to your itinerary the next time you're in the Milwaukee area. 

SO... If you'd like to find out about the spot where the first slice of pizza was served in Milwaukee... discover why many buildings in Milwaukee have gorgeous Pabst logos engraved in the Cream City brick... or learn the secret behind the name of the Hoan Bridge (I'll give you a hint, it has everything to do with the Blues Brothers), we'd invite you to take a tour and find out.

And be sure to let us know... we might just tag along!

Milwaukee Food Tours
Full Disclosure:  Although we received our tour free of charge (many thanks to Theresa Nemetz!), we were not paid to advertise for Milwaukee Food Tours or any businesses mentioned in this article.  All opinions expressed in this blog entry are our own and are reflective of our experience.

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