Tag Archives: 2013

Reflections on Ralphie’s First Year

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“Animals should fit into your schedule,” I matter-of-factly told Michelle in the first week after we brought home Ralphie.

We were discussing whether she should walk him in the morning–if that would increase his comfort and tire him out for the 10 hours we’d be gone.

“When you love something, you make sacrifices,” Michelle retorted.

I’m not Michelle, so I had a lot to learn. Continue reading

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U is for Union House

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Go west from Milwaukee on I-94. Use Exit 285 in Delafied and head south on 83. Pass the crappy chain restaurants and large box retailers and then six miles of subdivisions, forest and farms until a sign appears–Genesee Depot. The Union House is impossible to miss, a massive, two-story supper club with a wrap-around porch in the center of town.

Arriving at the Union House is arriving in the past.

And we arrived there on a weeknight early in December. Our reservation was unnecessary, but there were several diners in each of the dining rooms, as well as a small number of people at the bar.

As the first person to arrive, I pulled up a stool and ordered a beer … sadly, it turned out to be a flat Guiness. About half of us had been there before, including Cindi, whose submission was picked (Michelle and Adam also selected Union House). A number of us were excited about Union Houses wild game specials. Continue reading

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An Arizona Getaway: Escaping Winter with Family

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My parents always knew any hotel they took my brother and I to stay in needed to have a pool. It is still one of the first things I look for when I am traveling for work or for pleasure.

As kids, Nate and I would arrive in the pool area and dive in as quickly as possible. We’d alternate swiftly between the warmth of the hot tub and the cool depth of the pool, not stopping to contemplate the slight discomfort of that drastic temperature change. We were kids.

Last month, I sat in another hot tub perched just above a pristine pool beneath an American Southwest-sky full of stars. That week, in Wisconsin, the first snowfall of the season arrived. Continue reading

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T is for Tenuta’s Italian Restaurant

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Sometimes, in certain neighborhoods, in the right places–the beautiful ones that seem unchanged by time, frozen several generations ago–if I squint hard enough, I can picture my grandparents, enjoying a meal with friends, smiling and laughing.

It is a comforting thought, these spaces shared with those who came before; home to conversation, fun and revelry, food and beer.

Bay View’s Tenuta’s (TJ’s pick, Shannon also submitted two entries) is one of those places. Cindi said:

How lucky are we to have such an idealistic Italian pizza place in our neighborhood? There is a certain charm to this cozy nook; you can tell that everyone around you feels it. There are few places I’d rather eat at on a chilly, Wisconsin night.

We were there on a Friday, and our reservations came in handy. The place was packed. Many of us had been there before, but this was my first time inside. Continue reading

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S is for Seoul Korean Restaurant

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I’ve driven past Seoul dozens of times without even realizing it. You probably have too. It is on Prospect Avenue on the eastside–across from Urban Outfitters.

Adam selected it because he had enjoyed the lunch buffet when he worked in the area. He said:

I try to pick places that other people in the group would never try on their own. I feel like that is part of the fun of doing this–to step outside your comfort zone and experience what people from all walks of life call “food.”

The rest of us never had never tried Korean food before, so we’d be out of our comfort zone. Continue reading

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A Sudsy Milwaukee Saturday: Visiting Sprecher and Big Bay Brewing Co.

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On a lazy October Saturday, Michelle and I joined our friends Ross and Bekaah to check out two nearby breweries–one old (Sprecher) and one new (Big Bay).

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Sprecher

Despite being the oldest operating microbrewery in Milwaukee, Sprecher is often forgotten when it comes to beers that aren’t preceded by the word “root.”

Sprecher is a skipped rock off I-43 in Glendale, Wis. The stately, Germanic brick brewery is bordered by a neighborhood of grand brick homes.

Visitors enter and exit through the gift shop, and as far as gift shops goes, this one is pretty impressive—housing apparel, beer and a plethora of odds and ends…Michelle purchased soda-flavored lip gloss.

Michelle and I had been on the tour several years ago and were eager to see if anything had changed, while Ross and Bekaah were there for their first time. 30 others joined us, including children; this is a soda tour, as well.

Continue reading

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Q is for Quivey’s Grove

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Two moments of musical clairvoyance bookended our visit to Quivey’s Grove in Verona, Wis. (near Madison). This was fitting since our group of friends came together around our similar taste in music.

The first moment happened on the car ride to Quivey’s Grove. Since there were no restaurants in the Milwaukee-area that met our criteria, we expanded our range to include Madison and Chicago and all picked Quivey’s Grove (Shannon’s submission was selected).

I told my car-mates TJ, Shannon, Cindi and Michelle that I didn’t know the song “Blurred Lines.” No one believed me, but I was honest. TJ, who was driving, was incredulous, and said it was the song of the summer and it was probably playing on the radio at that moment.

A turn of the dial and there it was … Robin Thicke’s hit.

This was just before we pulled into the palatial plot of land that accommodates Quivey’s Grove–two century-and-a-half-old buildings housing two distinct dining options–the Stone House and the Stable Grill (both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places). Shannon chose the Stable Grill because it had a larger menu and was the more casual dining option. Continue reading

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R is for Rumpus Room

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At the beginning of July, the seven of us–plus our friend Ryan–enjoyed six sun-soaked days at an all-inclusive resort in Playa Del Carmen.

All-inclusive resorts are amazing, but after about 3 or 4 days of eating food prepared in the same kitchen and drinking every drink you can think of, you start to long for food from a different kitchen, flavors from home.

So it was ironic that our ABCs of Milwaukee Dining choice for “R” about two weeks after returning from the sandy shores of Mexico was Rumpus Room–a gastropub owned by the Bartolotta Restaurant Group which, according to TJ, has a “Wisconsin” menu (I would concur). He and Shannon were the only two in our party who had been there, and this was Shannon’s selection (and Cindi’s). Continue reading

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SPECIAL EDITION: Wisconsin State Fair Dining

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“In my opinion, the more indulgent the fair food, the better.” -Michelle

On an overcast Sunday, the last day of the Wisconsin State Fair, nine of us gathered to indulge in decadent fried goodness and other foodstuffs. It was Shannon’s idea to do a special edition of the ABCs of Milwaukee Dining at the Wisconsin State Fair. The usual crew was there–including Marilyn and Mike–and we were joined by Brendan and Clare, two friends who have relocated to Chicago and who’d come home to partake in this Wisconsin tradition.

All nine of us ordered an item and then, after the Fair, we ranked the items in the order we would eat them. Since there were nine of us (and Marilyn, who wouldn’t share her Cheerios for the contest), we were all full by the end of this quest. Continue reading

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Remembering the Alamo: Dispatches from San Antonio

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A convention brought me and a group from my work to San Antonio at the beginning of July. We spent our days working hard and our nights exploring our nation’s 7th most populous city.

What follows is not a travel diary, per se.

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The Alamo

On a blisteringly hot Texas afternoon, hundreds amassed outside a mission-turned-fortress. They wanted blood.

Unlike a three-week stretch in 1836, these individuals would not get their wish. They were boxing fans and they were outside The Alamo hoping to catch a glimpse of Floyd Mayweather, arguably the most-famous, most-talented boxer in the world. He would be there for a press conference with his opponent in an upcoming fight.

Dan, Megan and I were just there to lay our eyes on a piece of American history. Continue reading

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