Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Wrap-Up

It's been a while since I wrote so I need to recap the past few days. Yesterday was Christmas. Mike and I exchanged our gifts in the morning (which I will talk about later) and then went to Chris and Jeremy's for a family get-together. This was the first year that we didn't go up to Green Bay to spend the holiday with Mike's mom. Kind of a change in tradition if you want to call it that. With a new little baby in the family, it makes it a bit more difficult to travel and spend time in a small apartment with 6 adults, 1 newborn and 3 dogs. Plus Mike had to work today - sucks to travel on a holiday. We'll spend time with Mike's mom on our way up to my family's Christmas later this week. Mosley is all decked out in his Christmas wear in the pictures here. Even brought his Santa belly!
On Christmas eve, Mike and I went to see a movie - Enchanted - a nice, light-hearted Disney flick about a fairytale princess who ends up in New York City. It was such a nice change over the blood and guts dark movies we've been seeing lately. After the movie, we had our Christmas Eve dinner at Hui's Chinese Restaurant in Wauwatosa. We weren't expecting them to be very busy - which was wrong. There were quite a few people and their families having dinner. We were probably the only people there that didn't have close ties with the owners. Everyone knew them and there was alot of hugging, good wishes and gifts. Was really nice to see. I am always amazed at Chinese restaurants how a single family can make the whole thing work. Coming from a restaurant background where waitresses used to bitch if more than one table was sat at the same time and how they were always "in the weeds", I take my hat off to Hui's and their ability to have one person handle the whole restaurant as well as bartending needs. Their son was acting as host as well as take-out orders and bussing tables. I am guessing there was just one or two people handling the kitchen. And they never show any stress. Sure they were a bit hurried, but they still managed to get everything to us without any problem or delay and did it with a smile. And the food was great. I ordered the Kung Pao Chicken a little hotter than I should have - knocked out my tastebuds! But still really good.
Earlier in the day we went to the Milwaukee Art Museum. We are now members so look forward to shorter visits with particular interests in mind. We were planning to check out the Dutch Masters because we just saw a story about Rembrandt and other Dutch painters on CBS Sunday Morning. The museum has an impressive collection. While at the museum, we also checked out the Modern Art exhibit area as they have made some changes recently. Absolutely stunned by David Lenz 's Sam and the Perfect World. David Lenz has the ability to paint people to a point where you think it is a photograph - it is truly amazing. We have been awed by his work for quite a few years now.
The weekend had gone by pretty quickly. Friday night we saw the movie, I Am Legend, at The Times Cinema - we really like this little theater. They have been doing a nice job of having first run movies along with the classics. And you can have a beer or wine in the theater - bonus! We had a couple of beers before and after the movie across the street at Meritage. Nice place. We'll have to check out the dining soon as everything coming out of the kitchen looked great. Mike ate at the bar one night when they first opened and it looked really good + he said it was!
Other than that we did some Christmas shopping and just hanging out - very relaxed.
Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Little Cry Baby

I visited with little Mosley and his mom today. It's not fair that I put this picture up as he was a good boy up to this point. He is five weeks old and wieghs in at 12 pounds. A real cutie!

White Truffle Dinner

Last night Mike and I went to Ristorante Bartolotta in Wauwatosa for dinner. On Monday and Tuesday nights they offer half-price wines. This is a great opportunity to try a wine that we would not normally order due to the price. Not a bad idea for them because people will probably do what we did and order a $90 bottle of wine (good deal at $45). They were also offering white truffle dinner specials. We opted to go for the White Truffle 4-course prix-fixe menu. Luckily for us, our waitress, Michele, was kind enough to let us know that it could easily be shared as the portion sizes were fairly large. As the price was $120.00, that was a fantastic suggestion. We started with beef tenderloin tartar with shaved celery root and white truffle, followed by ravioli stuffed with spinach and Paul Bartolotta's trademark egg yolk baked inside. It was outstanding. Our next course was Veal Cheeks (I know, it is kind of sad) and Sweetbreads with wild mushrooms - unbelievably rich. This was the point where we knew sharing the meal was a good idea. Our dessert was a nice Panna Cotta with strawberries. Beautiful. Excellent meal. Service was outstanding, as usual. And we love the atmosphere of the restaurant - a real gem.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Santa is a biker?

We ran into Santa bikers on Saturday afternoon in The Third Ward. Not sure where they were or where they were going, but it was a funny sight to see. Another snowy day in Milwaukee. I have become a superb shoveler. We did a little bit of shopping (lots of looking) and had lunch at the Milwaukee Public Market - love the gumbo at St Paul Fish Market -before heading out into the snowy, slushy world. And we finally got our tree!
It's getting down to crunch time for xmas shopping. I've been picking up a few things here and there and so far am happy with my choices. I always prefer the "giving" to the "receiving" at xmas time.
Yesterday Brett Favre broke Dan Marino's record for career passing yards - he's thrown an equivalent to like 35 miles! Packers are 12-2 and have played well enough to get a bye in the playoffs. Very exciting times for Packer Nation. Earlier in the day, we checked out the movie, No Country for Old Men. As usual, I bought into the incredible hype to be somewhat disappointed. I think I am going to stop reading movie reviews and go with my own gut feeling. I thought it was good, but not "unbelievably incredible, best movie ever" like some of the reviews.
I decorated the tree last night and now need to start the wrapping!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Catching Up

I need to catch up on what's happening here in my world.
My little Brewers snowman is sitting on my window ledge. He is melting just a little bit, but is hanging in there.
The beautiful house is on the eastside of Milwaukee, known as "The Lion House" - currently home of The Bradley Foundation. You can't tell very well because of the snow, but the lions are decked out in Santa caps and scarves. This house is on Franklin & Prospect.

Friday, I took a ride down to Racine with a business associate to drop off a Christmas present at SC Johnson (Johnson Wax). I've seen alot of pictures of the SC Johnson headquarters designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but it as been a while since I was looking right at it. Very funky considering it was built in 1939. Racine is an interesting place - it is home to some major industry players, SC Johnson and Case as well as home to some incredible Danish bakeries and their specialty pastry called kringle. The architecture in downtown Racine is really remarkable - lots of Federal style buildings. Its harborfront is really nice and the beaches are noted as some of the cleanest beaches in the US year after year. I was looking for a certain restaurant downtown, but got turned around a bit and ended up going to The Ivanhoe - a nice pub/restaurant in a historic building. The building was built in 1891 as a tavern serving beer from The Bohemian Brewery in Chicago. It eventually became a Pabst Tavern and made several changes throughout the years. I am glad to see it is still a pub and has lots of character. Many of the original fixtures, etc. are still intact. And the burger was good too!

Thursday night Mike and I went to the Milwaukee Art Museum to see the Martin Ramirez exhibit. We had seen this exhibit highlighted on CBS Sunday Morning and just had to check it out while it is still in Milwaukee. Martin Ramirez came to the US from Mexico in 1925 during hard times to try to make some money to support his wife & children. He was found homeless on the streets in 1931 and diagnosed as a catatonic schizophrenic. He spent the rest of his life in mental institutions where he drew amazing pieces of art on paper with crayon that he made himself from paper bags, newspapers, cups, etc. that he glued together with his own saliva, flour and bread dough. Remarkable stuff - makes you think... The exhibit goes on through mid-January.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snowy Tuesday

It's a snow day! All of the schools are closed today. The kids across the street got busy right away and built a snowman. I shoveled early this morning before Mike went to work - it was probably 2-3 inches. Now it just keeps coming down - a mix of big flakes of snow and icy hail as we're right at 32 degrees. I'll most likely have 2-3 more inches to shovel this afternoon. It's pretty and I don't have to go anywhere so I really don't mind.
I had a photo shoot this morning for my headshot photo. Sarah from I Do Photography came to the house. She did a really nice job. Even took a few shots of Bailey. She was very professional and made me feel comfortable. Would certainly recommend her to others.
Last night we went to Bacchus for a wine tasting. There were several wine purveyors from around town who each selected five wines and champagnes to sample. For the most part we were underwhelmed with the selections but there were a couple of shining stars. It was a nice experience and good for the Bartolotta Group to put on an event like this. After the wine tasting we went to Buckley's Kiskeam Inn- a new owner has taken over the quaint little cafe on the corner of Cass and Wells that used to be Benjamin's Inn. We used to go here quite a bit when we lived downtown. We had a holiday party here when I was with the GMCVB. And I liked to go here for lunch when you needed a nice quiet spot. I think they will do okay as they have put a large bar in what used to be the dining room. It looks like they are going more towards an Irish Inn feel. There used to be around 3 or 4 rooms upstairs that Diane used to rent out for the night. I don't think the new owners will use this as an inn.
This past weekend was kind of a loss due to Mike waking up with the flu on Friday. He slept all day Friday and Saturday. I had a city tour on Saturday from 1:30pm-5:30pm which included a stop at Miller Brewing for a tour. The group I toured were in town for a board meeting and looking at the city for hosting their 2010 convention. It's been a while since I did the brewery tour so it was nice to get myself reacquainted with it again. I met the group at the Hotel Intercontinental which used to be the Wyndham Milwaukee City Center. Since the Marcus Corporation bought the hotel, the changes have been fantastic. The lobby is now a nice place to sit and enjoy a cocktail or coffee and some conversation. It used to be such a boring ill-used lobby. Also, to note - the Christmas tree in the Milwaukee Center lobby area is awesome! One of the best dressed real trees I've seen in a long time. Very pretty!!
Sunday, we enjoyed another Packer win. We took the Raiders down!
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Holiday Shindig

Last night we went to Visit Milwaukee's Holiday Mixer at the Mitchell Park Horticultural Domes. I was happy to see that they have hired someone who is going to bring the Domes back to a high quality attraction as well as a great place for special events. I felt that Milwaukee County really did a disservice to the Domes a couple of years ago with their budget cuts in the Parks Dept. - i.e. the fountains had not been fixed, the floor wasn't properly cleaned and waxed, etc. It seemed like they were only doing enough to keep the doors open. It sounds like with a bit of work and good leadership that we'll have something to be proud of again very soon. It is such a unique attraction. There are three domes each with a different climate - Arid, Tropical and Seasonal. I just booked a tour which will be going to the Domes in July yesterday. And my cab driver from Nigeria who dropped me off last night said he'd like to go there with some friends and a camera. Nice fella.

After the Domes, we went with some friends to Fourth Base. I love this place. It is one of the first places I checked out when I moved to Milwaukee. (My firsts: Water Street Brewery, Saz's and Fourth Base) Fourth Base is a great sports bar with fantastic food. They don't have a menu, basically the menu changes daily. You just look in the glass case to find out what's fresh and what you might want to order - shrimp, scallops, lobster, steak....yum! The bar became locally famous in the movie, Major League. The memorabilia throughout the bar is really interesting - lots of old football helmets, great old photos, newspapers, uniforms, etc. We found out that some people from Chicago tried to steal the big pig that used to be in the front window. Somehow they got it out on a crowded Brewer game day, however it broke. They haven't been able to find someone to fix it yet. Our waitress was very nice - she told us the story of the "hog heist" - still can't figure out how they got it out the door without anyone noticing. Good times.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Holiday Spirit

We have our winter wonderland now since the snowfall on Tuesday night. We are expecting a few more inches tonight as well. It was quite the traffic mess on Wednesday morning as the plows didn't get out early enough and they hadn't done a good job of cleaning up the icy mess we had over the weekend. Basically the icy, slushy mess now turned into solid ice and was covered with a fluffy blanket of new snow - not a good combo. The freeways were really messy and had quite a few spinouts. I blame that not only on the weather, but from people not knowing how to drive in the snow. We go through it every year when the snow first comes down. Most people are cautious, but then there are the nutballs who think they are invincible and just fly down the road and don't leave enough room between cars for sudden stops, etc. Makes it ugly for everyone. Unfortunately my niece was a victim of a slippery country road in the middle of the state and ended up rolling her car. Luckily she is fine, but the car is totalled. Pretty scary stuff.
I had a meeting in the morning at Mocha's downtown and had no problem getting from Tosa to downtown Mil. Downtown looked very pretty with a nice coating of the fluffy stuff. I brought my camera to take a few shots but the batteries died. Aargh.
I had a lunch meeting at The Cheesecake Factory in Wauwatosa. I remember when I traveled alot that people used to freak out over having to eat at The Cheesecake Factory - it happened in Chicago, Kansas City, etc. They would wait so long to get in there even when there were so many other restaurant choices because "we just have to eat at The Cheesecake Factory". Well, the same thing happened here when it opened next to Mayfair Mall - people will wait over an's good, but honestly people. Mike and I went once on a Saturday afternoon around 3pm thinking "this is a good time - mid-afternoon, shouldn't be a problem" - we were sadly mistaken. I think we still waited 45 minutes+ - we cheated and left the restaurant with the "table ready buzzer" and walked over to the mall. It's not like they have a big waiting area to get relax in or get cocktails, etc because people are eating all over the bar area as well. So anyhow...I had a noon meeting and when I got there at 11:50am the place was already packed. Luckily we were seated right away, but I am sure the waitlist started soon after we got our table. The food and service is good - that's about all I'll say. I prefer to patronize our independent restaurants.
Last night I checked out a new salon in Wauwatosa - Harwood Hair Company. Jody did a nice job on my 'do. What I found most interesting was the building that houses the salon - it is the old Underwood Hotel and the salon is in what used to be the dining room. Very cool. I don't know much about Tosa history and did not know of the Underwood Hotel prior to last night. I'll have to see what I can dig up on it.
Tuesday night I took Mike to the Northern Lights Theater in Potawatomi Bingo Casino to see The Brian Setzer Orchestra Holiday Extravaganza. It was awesome. I really like the theater in the casino. I always knew there wasn't a bad seat in the house, but I think I got the worst of the pickings. We were up in the balcony so had to sit on the edge of our seats and a part of the stage was obstructed. I am still not going to complain because the show was great, the view - even though obstructed - of the band and Brian Setzer was still one of the best in the concert going world. He played some Christmas tunes, some Stray Cat stuff and some good old rockabilly. Great show!
Prior to the show we had dinner at Friday's at Miller Park. What an awesome scene - snow falling on the baseball field with the roof wide open. Makes me anxious for baseball already! Friday's always does a great job - a very unique place to enjoy a nice dinner or some cocktails.

Running Wild in the Yard

I added these pictures (taken by a neighbor) today because of a discovery we found this morning. We live in a major metropolitan area of 1.7 million people, yet the wildlife in our backyard is amazing. These pictures were taken in our backyard at the end of November. Now, of course, there is 5" of snow on the ground which brings me to today's unfortunate finding in our front yard - a severed rabbit head! Yuk - poor little bunny must have been the victim of either a fox or a coyote - as we have seen both in our yard. The rabbit must have been slowed down by the snow. I don't think it was a domestic animal attack.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Campaign Kickoff

Bailey is bundled up for the day!

Last night we went to the Campaign Kickoff for Mayor Tom Barrett. He is running for a second term and at this point it seems like there is not much opposition. The event was held at Lakefront Brewery's Palm Garden. While it is an awesome venue, they just don't have the parking space to handle a large gathering like this. It was a nice event, however I was very disappointed in the bad manners of the people who attended. They talked incessantly through the speeches, even the Mayor's. One man even had the balls to not stop yakking and he was in the front row! When everyone would applaud, all of a sudden he would...what a complete jerk.

I like the Mayor - he has a tough job, I hope with experience he gets tougher on some of the bs that goes on in City Hall.

After the shindig and a couple of good Lakefront Beers, we decided to join some friends to check out the new Irish Pub across the river. It looks very cool, however it was not open. I didn't catch the name, looks very much like the pubs we saw in Ireland. So within the Irish Pub theme, we hit the next Irish Pub that came to mind in the Third Ward - The Irish Pub. We had a couple of pints and shared some Nachos (Irish?) and Reuben Quesdilla's (Okay, somewhat Irish) Had a nice time with some old and new friends.

It's supposed to snow again today - perhaps up to 5" - but is supposed to be fluffy white stuff. We'll see. I don't mind as it will cover up the ugly slushy stuff that fell over the weekend.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

White Weekend

The snow is still on the ground however it is raining ice which makes it pretty messy outside. I don't know what we'll do today as it is a "Packer-free Sunday".

On Friday I went to check out the tour at Palermo's Pizza here in the valley. They built a new Italian Villa facility for their pizza making empire. I received a special tour as I was the only person touring and was just looking for information for further tours. It is pretty cool to see the assembly line making all kinds of pizza. Will be a good addition to some of my culinary based tours or Made in Milwaukee tours. Only drawback is the number of people who can tour at a time as they need to limit the tours to 20 people. I'll try to make it work.

After seeing all that pizza, I had a hankering for a Friday Fish Fry (???). So we went to an old favorite of ours, Water Street Brewery. They were swamped! Lots going on downtown with the Marquette vs UW-Milwaukee basketball game plus the usual theater and holiday theater crowd. Water Street Brewery was one of the first places I checked out when moving to Milwaukee. I love the decor with old photos of the big breweries in Milwaukee, a huge beer can collection and their own microbrewery. The food is always good and the beer isn't too bad either. They are celebrating 20 years in business. Good for them! Love to see businesses succeed in a difficult industry.

After dinner we decided to check out a few Water Street establishments. Some are old standbys like Rosie's, The Harp and McGillicuddy's and then there are the new "hotspots". We chose to have a few beers at a classic, Fitzgibbons Pub, a great old Irish bar with alot of character. Great old sports photos and old Milwaukee photos on the wall. We enjoyed good conversation with the bartender. We then moved on to a new bar, Sullivan's on Water, which recently took the place of Swig and at one time was home of Luke's Sports Spectacular, one of the bars that took Water Street to where it is now - a weekend night destination for people of all ages, but mostly the 21-30 year olds. Sullivan's was fairly dead when we arrived, but as the game (MU vs UWM) got to the point of a serious blow-out the college-age kids started to arrive in droves. We had a great spot for people watching. I guess I am too be considered old even though I still feel like I belong with the young crowd. However being the more mature ones (?), we left the "kids" to go on partying into the early hours.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

White Out!

Our first big snowstorm of the winter season got us on December 1. It started out as just fluffy white stuff but it is now ice. It's going to get ugly. Best bet is to just stay in and watch a movie.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Packer Loss Friday

So, like everyone in Packer nation, I was all ready to watch the Packers take on the Cowboys with hopes of a big win. Both teams were 10-1 so it was destined to be a real shoot out. I was a bit nervous as the game was in Dallas and we don't have a good track record there. I was also nervous that they were going to try to take out Brett Favre. Well, my nerves were right. We didn't quite get it done and Brett Favre got hurt. I think this quieted alot of the boastfulness and Superbowl talk and brought everyone back to reality. I still have faith, but I am not betting the farm on championship talk...

I was told recently that the difference between a Packer fan and a Bear fan is that the Bear fan will say "Who are the Bears playing this weekend?" whereas the Packer fan will say "Who are we playing this weekend?" - we take real ownership in our team. It's good to seem them back to winning ways, the rollercoaster of wins and losses is no fun.

Yesterday I had a meeting downtown - before and after the meeting we met at The Knick in The Knickerbocker Hotel. This is one of my favorite areas of the city. There is so much charm in the architecture and I love the lakefront. When I moved to Milwaukee in 1991, I lived on the corner of Kilbourn Ave and Prospect Ave right on the lakefront. (Now our "grassy knoll" is home to two huge condo skyscrapers.) At that time downtown was still pretty "lame" - not much going on, you hardly saw anyone downtown at night or on the weekends. Water Street had a few bars - Rosie's was the major hot spot. Brady Street was a bit scary. The Third Ward was dark and all Cathedral Square had Elsa's and some dark smoky bars. We used to go to Walker's Point for our kicks. It has come a LONG way since then. At that time though we used to like to go to The Knickerbocker Hotel for breakfast - they had a great little diner - I don't remember the name but it was your typical greasy spoon diner with lots of white and stainless steel. And then they kicked it up a notch with a huge renovation and turned The Knickerbocker into an awesome stylish metro restaurant. We took everyone who visited us there. And then as more and more cool places opened, our visits to The Knickerbocker were limited. Then they did another renovation and renamed the place The Knick. Still very stylish, very popular and a great place to bring people as it has really good food and is very comfortable.

Wednesday was a "networking" day - I went to a small networking get together at Brew City Tea in the morning and then another larger networking get together at The Bavarian Inn. It's always interesting to meet new people at these types of events and you typically find out about businesses that you didn't know even existed. It's been a while since I was at The Bavarian Inn - it's a fun place. Good German flavor. I used to take senior groups there for good German food and music. It has a nice dining room and probably could get a little racuous if the beer was flowing. We were thinking that it had a better feel than the Hof Brau Haus in Las Vegas. I wish more people would revel in some of the German traditions. Was nice to run into an old friend that I worked with back in the '90s when I was at The Grand Milwaukee Hotel. He happened to be with a fella that Mike worked with one summer back in his high school days who also worked for his Uncle. Small world...Milwaukee is a big city, but you sure run into alot of people you know or have some connection to.

While I was "networking", Mike went to a couple of shops on Silver Spring in Whitefish Bay. He bought a couple of cute Christmas presents for Bailey's dog cousins at Hounds Around Town. I will have to go back and check it out for myself as he got some really funny dog toys.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007's cold

Today could only be described as cold. It's gray, cold and really windy. Right now it's only 24 degrees, but with the windchill it's 18. Yow. It's the first day of the season where I just had to run and shiver in the car and say "gawd, this sucks!" I know we'll eventually get used to it and then it will be easy. We had a little bit of snow last week. Bailey likes to run around and sniff leaving a little pile of snow on the tip of her nose. It's pretty cute. It doesn't take long though for her to all of a sudden get too chilly and start heading for the door and the warm blanket on the couch. I am watching the news now and it looks like more snow is heading our way.

This morning I went to a seminar conducted by Microsoft on Small Business Solutions. It was pretty helpful. Don't think I am going to run out tomorrow and buy all the newest software, but it was good to see the opportunities that are out there. The seminar was held at the AMC Theaters in Mayfair Mall - this is a good use of the facility prior to the start of movies for the day. I have seen the option of using theaters for seminars, etc. advertised but never actually experienced it before.

Mike went to LaCrosse today for a business meeting. We really like that side of the state. I went to UW-LaCrosse for my freshman year and absolutely loved it. I always thought there were only a couple of places I would want to live in Wisconsin and LaCrosse is one of them. I hope to get back there next summer or fall and rent a houseboat on the Mississippi.

The Real post-Thanksgiving

I realize now that I made an error on my previous post - it was actually PRE-Thanksgiving at that point. Oh well, once in a while I'm not that smart... Yesterday was deemed Cyber Monday due to the number of people shopping online for Christmas. I did my part with a couple of cute gifts for our new little nephew Mosley. Other than that it was a "back to work" day and I had been catching up on some of the new things in town that I haven't checked out yet - ie Palermos Pizza - I didn't know they gave tours. I will have to go on a Friday for their public tour. They built a new facility in the Menomonee Valley. I'll report back with my findings and how good the 'za is! Also I found out about The Dancing Horses in Delavan - the website makes it look like a pretty professional show. Unfortunately due to my allergies to horses I am going to have to go on others recommendations on this one. I went to the Arabian Nights show in Orlando when I was at a convention and couldn't make it through the introductions - horses and my lungs don't mix!

Thanksgiving went well. My dinner turned out really delicious. Menu consisted of: Herbed Turkey with Roasted Shallot Gravy; Sage Dressing with 3 Sausages, Apples and Parsnips; Yukon Gold Potatoes with Black Truffle Oil; Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes; Carrot, Apple & Horseradish Salad; Mixed Greens with Orange Vinaigrette, Cranberries and Pecans; and Leek & Asparagus Tart. Dessert was provided by Mike's sisters and mom. They did a good job too on the pies. The Packers made everything sweeter with a nice win over Detroit!

Friday after Thanksgiving was fun. Mike and I did a bit of shopping (actually looking, no buying - no $ contributions for Black Friday unless you count liquor!) at Best Buy and Mayfair. It was mid-afternoon and wasn't crazy busy. I'll never understand the need to sleep outside a store for a day in order to get a good deal on a TV. I don't know if I would even do that for a free TV! We decided to relax and enjoy a couple of glasses of wine instead at Maggiano's and then planned to met Mike's mom & sis at La Merenda - but upon arrival we found it closed for a private party. We love that place and will try again some other time. So we headed to Cuvee, a great new Champagne bar in The Third Ward. They were fairly busy in the early evening - looks like they found a niche with groups of women enjoying some bubbly after a group spa treatment. I really like Cuvee and hope they do well. The adjoining room they have for special events and parties is really pretty - I want to create an event just so I can use that room. From Cuvee we went to the Milwaukee Public Market. Such a great addition to the city. I really enjoy walking through the market and picking out interesting things to try. We enjoyed sitting at the Oyster Bar at the St. Paul Fish market sampling Point Beer, Chowder, Gumbo and Smoked Salmon on a stick - mmm! It is fun to take people from outside of Milwaukee to the market. It is still a bit disappointing due to the size as I am more accustomed to Seattle and San Francisco's public markets - but I'll take it and be happy with it!
We had to check out the new sports bar in town, Fanatics. If you didn't know this place existed from seeing it on the web or being told to go there, I don't think you would ever find it on your own. It is nestled within some office buildings with a very unassuming entrance. But once you do find it - what a great place to watch sports. They have a sports pit just like Vegas. A good time was had by all. For a night cap we stopped at The Irish Pub for a Black & Tan and a bit of live Irish music. For Milwaukeeans who haven't been out in a while, this is the old M&M Club which sits on the corner of Erie and Water Street in what used to be a Pabst Tavern back in the days when the breweries paid owners of corner bars to pour only their beer. If the walls could talk in that building, we would be entertained for weeks...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Post Turkey Day Tuesday

I'm getting ready to make the shopping trip for the T-day meal. It's a foggy, gray day however this morning was really nice. Bailey and I walked to Alterra Tosa for a cup of Turkey Trot. That coffee is so strong that it makes my heart beat outside of my chest! I should know better not to drink it, but I can't help myself. The new Alterra Tosa makes me laugh - it is a great coffee cafe, but so much different than there other locations because people in Tosa have kids! And they bring them in...and they make noise. There is already a ban on strollers - they have to park outside. It's really sweet until the screaming begins. Oh well, life in the suburbs...

Yesterday was my Mother in Law's birthday. She's in town to visit the new grandbaby as well as celebrate Thanksgiving with the family. I took her to Brew City Tea yesterday afternoon. Very nice little place in the Third Ward. She had a Blue Mango Tea and Caramel Apple Cheesecake and I opted for a Nine Blend, Black Dragon Tea and a Cucumber/Tomato Sandwich. Everything was really good and it was a nice relaxing place to enjoy a cup of tea and some conversation. Much different atmosphere than our dinner choice - we took her to Buca's for some good family style Italian food. I love the chopped Di Beppo 1893 salad and the Chicken Marsala. A little disappointed in the Tiramisu this time, (ladyfinger layer seemed more like a dry pancake) but I am sure they will rebound... Nice touch on the birthday celebration with the candelabra at the table. Buca's is always a fun place.

After dinner, Mike and I stopped for a couple of beers at Karma Bar & Grill - very cool place. This was once the location of Milwaukee's oldest restaurant, John Ernst. I was so angry when they sold the restaurant and the new developers turned it into three restaurants, of which two are chain somewhat fast food - I think there is a Chipotle and a Panera. Unbelieveable that they would ruin the architectural integrity and all the history of the once very popular German restaurant. It could have been an awesome "oompah" beer hall that I believe would have been really popular. So anyhow Karma takes the place of the original main room of the restaurant. They managed to save the fireplace and the wood beams and have incorporated them into a new funky design. Karma is nice - very comfortable, great bar, lots of TVs and the lounge in the lower level is awesome. I can't wait to have a reason to use that lounge for a private party of some sort.

So now I am off to shop....the bird is already thawing in the fridge.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rainy Day Saturday

Today feels like the winter weather is looming and may be around for a while. The amount of leaves that fell in our neighborhood yesterday was amazing - our world is covered with yellow layer of leaves. It is actually kind of pretty, but now the trees are bare which means snow is not too far off. I just returned from a city tour with people in town for a conference. The tour was two hours and started at 3:30pm, so it was half in the daylight and half in the city lights. Actually Milwaukee looked pretty good even in the gray "Soviet Union 1979" weather. The holiday lights brighten it up quite a bit.

Yesterday afternoon I was at The Pfister - one of the best lobby bars you'll find. We are very lucky to have such a nice hotel in the city. People are always impressed. The lobby bar is always active and is great for people watching. Thursday night (I was also at The Pfister) I saw Andrew Bogut, our NBA Milwaukee Buck (yeah, he's tall!) and also Mark Attanasio, the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers (he's kind of short!) I didn't see anyone "famous" on Friday night - it was early though. I met Mike at Zim's Bar for a beer and then headed to Ouzo for a quick dinner. Although we were the only people at Ouzo for a bit, the food was awesome. I am sure they do well for lunch and late night dining - maybe we just hit a slow night. Mike's Athenian Chicken was faboo and I opted for the Ouzo Cafe Platter on the Appetizer Menu for my entree'. Everything was really good and alot of food.

Badgers won today! Beat Minnesota 41-34. We keep possession of Paul Bunyan's axe!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dine and Dash

Last night we looked at several restaurants in the downtown area for a corporate dine-around night in 2008. We started with the old world German restaurant, Karl Ratszch's, with it's unique atmosphere (they have been in business since 1904!) - had a German bier and went on our way across the street to Zarletti just for a quick look. I like Zarletti - very good Italian food with a clean, upscale atmosphere - big windows yet cozy. Next we went to Yanni's - I just wrote about Yanni's as I had taken the ladies on tour to lunch there on Tuesday this week. As usual, they were incredibly cordial and provided a sampler tray of oysters rockefeller, bbq ribs with truffle mashed potatoes, crab stuffed shrimp and Steak Diane - everything was really tasty and I look forward to going back for dinner. Then we moved on to Coquette Cafe just for a look. They were pretty busy and a quick look was all that was needed. This is one of my favorite restaurants in the Mil. Next we visited Coast and had a few entrees to taste. The salmon was a hands-down favorite - we also tasted stuffed Chicken and Tenderloin. Mmmm..on all. The popovers, which I normally devour, were a bit overcooked. Bummer. To end the evening, we had an outrageous display of chocolate desserts provided by Bacchus. Unbelievable - every one was absolutely dee-lish! Our guests were pleasantly surprised and impressed with each of the restaurants and of course, "who knew Milwaukee could be so cool?"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Touring Milwaukee

I had the opportunity to take 10 ladies on a Milwaukee Tour on Tuesday. They were all in the city for a convention with their spouses. We toured downtown, the original Juneau settlement, and then watched the Brise Soleil on the Milwaukee Art Museum open at 10am. Beautiful morning! We continued through the city along Wisconsin Avenue and saw the sights up to Miller Brewing/Miller Park. From here we went to The Basilica of St Josaphat. The Basilica is absolutely breathtaking. I had called ahead hoping they would turn the lights on for us, but to no avail they did not get the message. Luckily the sun was shining so the stained glass was brilliant enough. I am hoping that I have better communication with them for future groups. For our lunch stop we went to Yanni's - they did an incredible job. Service was outstanding and the food was wonderful, plus it is a very impressive looking restaurant. I have no problem in recommending them. Our tour continued through the city to Brady Street and along Lake Drive up to Silver Spring. Had to stop at Kopp's for a custard treat! On our way back along the lake, I stopped at the Art Museum so the ladies could go inside to see the Quadracci Pavilion. All in all a great day.
Tuesday evening I helped out at an event held at House of Harley. What a great idea to use the dealership for an event! Food was catered in and music was provided by a DJ. The attendees all received a discount for shopping and they were able to pictures on bikes with the "Harley Angels". They even did a couple of burn-outs. Good time. I was there to serve beer. It's been a while since I was on that side of the bar!!
I think overall it was a positive Milwaukee experience.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Busy Weekend

It's Monday again and I am back at it. It's a beautiful day in the 60's with nice blue skies and puffy white clouds - not your typical November. Had a pretty busy and fun weekend. Friday afternoon I had a meeting at The Wicked Hop and Mike met me after he got off of work, so we moved into the Jackalope Lounj, had a few beers and a bite to eat while watching the Yi vs. Yao matchup (Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets). The Wicked Hop is a fun place and the metal work throughout the bar and lounj is really amazing. From here we went home and then on to our neighborhood TGIF party. We get together once a month on a Friday at a different person's house for drinks, snacks and good conversation. This is a great way to meet your neighbors and catch up with all that is happening in the neighborhood.

On Saturday, we were awoken with the news of Mosley's arrival. Our little nephew was born at 6:39am. The labor was long, so we held off to the afternoon to give mom and dad some time to rest. In the meantime, I watched the Badgers beat Michigan! Gotta love anytime we beat the bad boys from Ann Arbor as they dominated Wisconsin for so many years. We then went to Columbia/St Mary's Hospital to visit our new little buddy and his parents. Cute kid! And I don't normally think babies are all that attractive when they are newborns - he's an exception. Had to celebrate just a bit at Hooligan's and then walked around Whole Foods for a bit - that place is actually mindblowing for a grocery store. The selection of prepared foods, the meat and seafood case, wines, beer, etc. is fabulous. I think everytime I am in there I walk out empty handed just because I am not sure what it is that I want.

Sunday was a day of work for me. I toured some people from Bermuda and Canada attending a convention here in Milwaukee. It was kind of a gray day, but the temperature was nice. I think they enjoyed it - I know they really had a nice brunch at Coast and liked the tour of The Pabst Mansion. I also showed a couple of girls from Holland a couple of the neighborhoods in Milwaukee for shopping, dining and cocktails. Today would have been a nicer day to see the city as the weather is so nice, but we can't win them all. Tomorrow I have another group from the convention, so I hoping this sunshine stays with us.

And best of all, the Packers beat the Vikings!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Auntie Kay

The population of Milwaukee/Bay View has increased by one. Mosley Cash born on 11/10/07. Welcome to the world little buddy!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Wow - what a house!

This house is on Kilbourn Avenue near Marquette U and is one of the most ornate homes I have seen in Milwaukee - built in 1898, it is the Joseph B. Kalvelage house designed by Otto Strack who also designed The Pabst Theater. The style is German Baroque Revival. The carvings on the portico are fantastic! The house is currently under some type of renovation. I would love to see the interior.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Tuesday night I was at the MMAC Business After Hours and got into a conversation about some classic Milwaukee things and Reynold's Pasty Shop came up. So, of course, I got the hankering for a pasty. Growing up in northern Wisconsin we used to get our pasties from "across the bridge" in Menomonee, Michigan - the U.P. - I think pasties are the signature food of the yoopers. Reynold's has been making pasties on 35th and Burleigh since 1959. The neighborhood has changed remarkably, however they are busy as ever. I took home three par-baked pasties - there is only one flavor. You gotta love the ingredients as it is about as simple as you can get. Pastry: Flour, Vegetable Shortening, Water, Non-Fat Dry Milk and Salt Filling: Potatoes, Beef, Beef Fat, Onions, Carrots, Corn Starch, Salt and Pepper. No long listing of four syllable "what the heck is that" ingredients.

I couldn't eat the whole thing - however it was delicious as always. We found this sauce a while back - Toivo and Eino's Really Secret Pasty Sauce - made in the UP - and it makes a nice complement. Spicy ketchup to kick it up a bit.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Out and about

I have been reading 'Built in Milwaukee -
An Architectural View of the City' and it has made me very curious to check out some of the neighborhoods and buildings around Milwaukee. Bailey and I took a drive through Brewer's Hill and checked out some of the old Schlitz Brewing Co buildings. They are very impressive -huge, cream city brick buildings with alot of detail and ornamentation. It is nice to see them being used for other businesses, restaurants, etc. but at the same time it is sad that "The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous" is no longer here. I wish I could go back in time and see what it looked like when this brewing giant was in full force.

My favorite building is the stables. Again, the detail on the building is awesome. Gotta love the horse heads. It is very sad that one of the most impressive buildings has recently been been hidden behind a big ugly parking structure. I am happy to see new development and the corporate headquarters of Manpower moving downtown was huge for the city, but dang! - that parking ramp sucks.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Lazy Day

It's another chilly day here in the Mil. Don't feel much like getting out to explore. I'm doing alot of info mining online and sending emails to "old friends" as I need to get back into the tourism swing of things in the Milwaukee area and need to re-establish my contacts. Bailey is playing her favorite character of Osama bin Bailey hiding in her Afghani cave, only coming out when there is a possibility of a treat! I am off tonight to the MMAC Business After Hours shindig at Crate & Barrel for some good old networking. This is a great way to meet people in the city and make some valuable business connections.
I have been doing alot of research on Milwaukee architecture for my tours. Milwaukee really has some incredible architecture from the late 1800's, early 1900's and just recently the city has been in a building renaissance. I was really happy to read in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Federal Building is going through a major window renovation - this magnificent building is 108 years old, designed by the supervising architect of the US Dept of Treasury, Willoughby J. Edbrooke - he also designed the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Ave in DC - they look very similar. It is a giant grey granite castle built in the Richardson Romanesque style - absolutely powerful. There are 650 windows that are getting some love - like scraping off 18 layers of paint! Check out the slideshow on jsonline.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Chilly Monday

The weather has taken a change and the cold air is on its way. It has dropped down into the forties and there is a chance of flurries for tonight. The wind really kicked up starting mid-morning and looking at the lawn, it seems like a mini tornado hit the big maple tree next door - lots of branches, sticks, etc. A car downtown was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time and a big decorative light pole was blown over on to it. I think it was a Saturn so perhaps it will just bounce back into shape. (Photo courtesy of With this type of weather it is just better to hang in and try to stay warm. Just worked on my website today - had a physical therapy appointment for my finger - and now am watching Prison Break. Oh the drama that show contains....

Still riding high from the Packers win yesterday!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Autumn Days

We are hunkered down now ready to watch the Packers vs Chiefs. The morning was beautiful and we gained an extra hour due to daylight savings, so we went golfing (9-holes) at New Berlin Hills. Didn't golf the greatest - this was only the second time I've golfed since August and my hand surgery. We went last weekend and my hand really hurt after the first nine holes - I had to give up after 11 holes as it was really messing up my game.

Yesterday we did the first big rake of the season. Although there are still plenty of leaves to fall yet, it was good to get a start on clearing the lawn. Our trees didn't really change color this year, they just got a little light green or yellowish and then the leaves dried up and fell. Must have been the warm, dry summer/fall. Mike mowed the lawn. Bailey hates the lawn mower - I've attached the proof!

We went to see the movie 'Dan in Real Life' - really enjoyed it. Love the soundtrack - Sondre Lerche is really an interesting composer and I like his music. The movie was light and funny and was perfect for the afternoon. Friday night we went out to dinner at Tulip - a Turkish restaurant in the Third Ward. Very impressed! The atmosphere was fantastic - they did a great job on the decor in the large space that they occupy. The food was really good as well - enjoyed the stuffed grape leaves and meatball appetizers. Mike had lamb chops and I ordered Iskender, a lamb and beef dish with tomato and butter sauce served over pita bread served with a side of yogurt - both were really tasty - mine was incredibly rich but I wouldn't hestitate to order it again and perhaps share it. We shared a dessert that I can't remember the name of - sweet cheese with shredded wheat and crushed pistachios - very interesting and again, very rich. Mike didn't think too much of the Turkish coffee (should have had better warning on the grounds) but we both liked the Turkish beer! We stopped at Moct prior to going home. Much different atmosphere then normal as some company was having a party there and the real music and pretty people hadn't arrived yet.

Friday, November 2, 2007

My first tour!

I conducted my first city tour yesterday. Four ladies from the east coast in town for a convention. Saw alot in just 2 1/2 hours, including stops at the Milwaukee Art Museum and Kopp's for custard. Gotta love the custard! It was an absolutely beautiful day in the Mil.

Last night I met a friend at Il Mito Enoteca in Wauwatosa. It was great to get caught up. I need to be better at staying in touch with good friends - it is amazing how many things can happen within a year. I am feeling the effects of too much wine today though!

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I went to Ten Chimneys in Genessee Depot which is the estate of theater legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. They were quite the duo in the 1930's thru 50's. The tour is 2 1/2 hours and is quite interesting as they had many idiosyncracies. Many famous people visited the estate such as Noel Coward, Katherine Hepburn, Carol Channing and Helen Hayes. I would certainly recommend checking it out.

We had trick or treating in our neighborhood last night. Lots of cute kids in great costumes. I have way too much extra candy which is not good for the waistline and teeth! Bailey donned her princess costume which she despises, but everyone thinks she is absolutely adorable. The price of fashion!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Beer Baron

So I ended up going to Calvary Cemetery this afternoon and found Frederick Miller's tombstone - founder of Miller Brewing and my vice - Miller Lite! I don't think Fred was involved in the making of Lite, but I appreciate all of his efforts prior to it.

Interesting that Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, is in the background and to the left of that (not pictured) is Miller Brewing Co.

Here I am!

This is my first blog. I have wanted to do it for a while and now I am ready to get it going. I have started my own business - KBC Tour Company - and this will give me an opportunity to record my daily discoveries. My company specializes in inbound tours to the Milwaukee area with tour planning services, sightseeing and step-on guide service. I am very excited about my new venture and look forward to showing off the Milwaukee area.

Everyday is a learning experience for me. This morning I walked to the new Alterra Coffee in my neighborhood. It's an absolutely beautiful fall day - 60+ degrees, sunshine and pretty fall colors. I was reading the MKE paper while enjoying a cup of coffee and found that the priest who inspired 'The Exorcist' - William Halloran - is buried in Calvary Cemetery. This is good trivia info for my tours. Alot of people are intrigued by cemetaries. My parents used to take us to cemetaries when we were kids just to look at the different tombstones and wonder who the people were who were buried there and what their stories were. I might take a quick trip over to Calvary Cemetery today.

Bailey is enjoying the warm weather. I just took her picture.