“In cooking, as in all arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection"

-Curnonsky

PASTICHE BISTRO & WINE BAR
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Pastiche at the Metro
411 East Mason Street

Pastiche Brown Deer
4313 West River Lane

Musings from Years Past

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2011

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2009

 

Musings of a Chef

 

Why a wine shop?
November 1, 2011

Why expand in this economy, indeed, why open a risky business like a restaurant or a wine shop in the first place?

I heard a statistic on the radio the other day touting small businesses as America's #1 employer. I don't know if that's true or not, but looking around me, I see new ones popping up all the time. The economy has forced a lot of people out of their jobs; some are sitting around waiting for things to get better, looking for work in the fields they are experienced in, some are taking advantage of government programs to go back to school and get trained in another career, and others are starting their own businesses.

In the early summer of 2009, when I sensed myself slowly but surely being maneuvered into position for "downsizing" at my last job, I made an appointment with SCORE and began working on the business plan that would eventually become Pastiche. It was a lot of hard work, and still is, but the rewards are so much greater than I ever imagined. As I work through month to month, and year to year, I sense a reshuffling of how business is being done, and I find it to be very encouraging.

People (including Mario, who owns our building and now his own facilities management company) who used to work for large companies are on their own now, providing great service at a fraction of the price of their previous employers. Like me, they have much less overhead, do much of the work themselves, and hustle every day to make sure their customers are happy and tell their friends. They are responsive, answer their phones and emails, and in almost every case, support each other's businesses.

Times may be tough, but there are great opportunities out there if you're looking with the right set of eyes. Money is there, too, if you're persistent and know where to look. You can lease space for less than you are probably thinking, and people- good quality, honest, trained, educated and experienced people, will be beating down your door, wanting to work with you and help you succeed.

If you have an idea for a business, get it together and see if you can make it happen. It's hard work, for sure, but it's also an amazing, liberating feeling, and it helps others get back on their feet, too...

Anyway, the wine shop is an extension of the restaurant; in my mind, the most logical way to complement it without compromising it. I think it's going to be pretty cool, and will allow us to do things we couldn't do before. We'll be creating three or four new jobs, and providing a service to people who enjoy interesting and affordable wines. It's another investment in our little corner of Bay View, and in my mind at least, another way I can express my gratitude to the customers and people who have been instrumental in making Pastiche a success.

At the moment, we're waiting on some final pieces of equipment and furniture to arrive and be installed, then we'll assemble the shelving, stock it, and be ready to roll. I hope it's soon, because I've pre-ordered a lot of nice '09 Burgundies and Rhones and they'll be coming in the next couple of weeks!

On a last and unrelated note, I'd like to wish a very happy 23rd birthday to my son Andrew. If you come to the restaurant for lunch, chances are pretty good that he's cooking it. I've watched him grow as a person and as a cook, and couldn't be prouder. He puts up with my constant "encouragement" and is learning well. It remains one of my greatest joys to see him there on the line every day, and I only hope he finds as much happiness in this cook's life as I have. -m.

In a few weeks... 
October 14, 2011

...with a little luck, a lot of sweat, and a few gallons of paint, Pastiche Wines should be opening on the second floor, directly above the restaurant.

Almost from the time we opened Pastiche, people have been asking me when we were going to expand. In fact, next to opening another location, it's been the most-asked question by our customers. I've never really wanted to make the restaurant any bigger because I like it the way it is, but in talking with them, it became clear to me that they really connected with the wines in a way that I hadn't fully anticipated. That got me to thinking that it might be nice to open a small shop to bring the wines to a retail setting so people can enjoy them at home, too.

We'll begin with the restaurant list, and expand on the selections from the best producers. What we don't have in the shop, we'll either have online in our catalog or will special order on request. As in the restaurant, our markups will be minimal, and we'll eventually have a wine club, classes, and tastings. We plan to sell artisanal cheeses and local charcuterie, Riedel glassware, and other things as well.

Signs will begin appearing in a few weeks, and we plan on having a small open-house when it's all ready to go. We'll announce it in the restaurant, and I'll keep you posted here on the website as things progress and get closer.

Otherwise, it's been business as usual at the restaurant. A little slow because of the baseball playoffs, and even though I'm not a huge baseball fan, I'd love to see the Brewers go all the way this year. If they could just hurry up and be done with it, I think all of us in the restaurants would be that much happier!

In the mean time, we'll just keep plugging away. Another busy weekend coming up, and a box full of fresh fish on the way for me to clean and cut. The Fall menu is in full swing, and if you've been hungry for osso bucco, lamb shanks or short ribs, we have them all tonight... -m.

 

The call came a little after 10:00pm... 
September 17, 2011

...last Tuesday night. I was in the basement calling in my orders, when Valerie came down and said that someone from the Journal was on the phone and wanted to confirm our entree prices because we were going to be included in this year's "Top 30" restaurants feature.

To be honest, I was skeptical because of the timing of the call, and because I guess I just tend to see what we need to get better on more than what we do well, and therefore never really give any thought to things like this.

I really didn't believe it until I read it in the paper Friday.

It's nice to be recognized, for sure, and a reflection of the hard work everyone at the restaurant puts in each day. It feels good to have someone put you in the company of other restaurants that also care that much and work that hard to make good food and serve it well.

So a heartfelt thank you to Carol Deptolla and the folks at the Journal, to our customers who have been very loyal and kind, and most of all to the people I work with, who are there every day doing their best to make everybody happy. -m.

 

Yes, it's hot in the kitchen... 
August 6, 2011

...but this isn't the hottest kitchen I've ever worked in. Years ago, when I worked for Quad Graphics, the train kitchen was hotter.

Harry Quadracci was a gentleman who took both his entertaining and his transportation seriously, so he bought a train and, sparing no expense, refurbished it and called it the Silver Zephyr. That train was used to wine and dine clients who were in town (ingeniously free of distractions- many deals were closed there over cocktails and a nice dinner) and occasionally run friends back and forth to places like Lambeau Field to see a Packer game. If memory serves, there were four cars. One was set up like a lounge, with a bar and casual furniture, one was a dining car with a small but functional kitchen, another was a sleeper car and the last was, really, a disco car, complete with hanging mirror ball. Most of the time, the train was parked outside the plants in Sussex, and used as kind of a small private restaurant/hotel.

Aside from working at the Quadracci residence in Chenequa, cooking on that train was probably the thing I enjoyed most about my job there.

On a typical day, I'd start work at about 5:30AM in the Sussex Plant cafeteria. If the Quad Air jet was going anywhere, I'd prepare whatever food was needed, then run it out to the hangar at the Waukesha Airport and load it up. Returning to the plant, I'd often have one or two small luncheons to cater either for executives or for clients, which I'd work on, all the while making sure everything was running smoothly in the cafeteria (we served roughly 2000 people each day at that time and were open 24/7). At 3:00PM sharp, the cafeteria staff would empty out and I'd usually wrap things up in the office, waiting for a page or call to let me know if I was going to be preparing dinner for someone at one of the area's four other plants, one of the several houses the company owned, or on the train.

When I worked on the train, I'd go over there about 4:00PM and let myself in. I'd usually make myself a little vodka and tonic or maybe a mojito (limes help me to relax- maybe it's the vitamin C), and for the next two or three hours while I prepped, I'd have the whole place to myself; it was so calm and peaceful... a small island of perfect civility on the tracks behind the printing plant. The galley (that's the kitchen on a train or boat, I learned) consisted of a dish sink, reach-in cooler and freezer, electric stove, and cabinets, and heated up fast as soon as you turned the equipment on. With only a small home-style exhaust fan on the back wall, in the summer months it could easily top 100 degrees. Two people couldn't work in it at the same time, and you had to stand to the side when opening the oven door because the aisle was too narrow to be in front of it. With a waiter or waitress, I'd kick out a nice little four-course dinner for maybe 10-20 people, then pack up, do the dishes, say goodnight and return to the cafeteria to touch base with the 3rd shift cooks and make sure they didn't need anything before I left around 11:00PM to drive home and get some sleep so I could do it all over again the next day.

I worked at that job for a year almost to the day, and it remains an utterly unique experience with many wonderful (and a few sad) memories that I'll always hold near and dear...

...all of which I suppose is really neither here nor there, but anyway, that little galley in the Silver Zephyr was the hottest kitchen I've ever worked in.

 

You never see it coming... 
June 2, 2011

...just a piece of ice that somebody dropped, melting on the kitchen floor. Not an unusual occurrence. There are always slippery spots, whether they're oil, water, or an orange peel, on the floor in a working kitchen, and you learn to walk carefully very early on in your career. I stepped funny on that little piece of melting ice Tuesday morning, and felt a little pop in my knee. I didn't think too much of it because it's not the first time that's happened and it didn't really hurt at the time.

I cooked lunch, and during the course of the rest of the day it kept getting worse instead of better, until finally, around 7:30 I had to take myself off the line and, for the first time since 1977, not finish my shift. I hopped out to the car and Angela took me home, suggesting that we stop at a hospital on the way.

I am one of the millions of people in this country who don't have health insurance for these things.

At my age (49), I'm in pretty good health and even though I'm on several prescription meds for routine things like high blood pressure and cholesterol control, it's cheaper by far to pay for these visits, tests and pills out of pocket than it is to pay, I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $450.00 per month (not including deductibles and copays), for the cheapest health insurance I could find.

Maybe it'd be more accurate to say that in my case it's at least possible to pay for those things individually and on an as-needed basis, where it's not possible to pay that much for insurance.

So Tuesday night I found myself sitting at home, with my leg iced up, trying to knock out the pain with a stiff glass of bourbon, anguishing over my situation. I knew I was hurt badly enough to need to see a doctor, and Angela was practically insisting on it, but I was truly scared that Emergency Room bills might add up to a number that would put the business, and the livelihoods of all the people who work there, at risk. I was, (and have been for a while now), also struggling with my ego; with the fact that I'm approaching or have arrived at the point in my life where my body just will not do the things my mind thinks it should be capable of. That's a difficult realization for someone who spent years parachuting out of planes and rappelling from helicopters in the 82nd Airborne, and decades working in a very physically demanding career as a cook and chef, without ever getting hurt. To be brought down by a little water on the floor is a very bitter pill to have to swallow.

Of course, that didn't change the fact that I was sitting there with my leg up, in a lot of pain, and needing to make a difficult decision. I told Angela that I was going to sleep on it and if my leg didn't look and feel better in the morning we'd talk more about going to see a doctor. I didn't sleep, the swelling didn't go down, and the pain didn't go away, so, ego suitably checked, I let Angela help me into the car and we drove to the hospital.

The VA seemed to be my best option; even though I'd been turned down for health benefits last year because I made more than $40,000 at my last job in 2009. I was told I should reapply this year because my income (if I even had any income) was sure to be much lower than last year and I would have a better chance of qualifying now. I have to say it was a strange experience for me because it brought back a lot of memories of a life I lived a very long time ago. There were veterans of all ages, shapes and sizes there, and I felt oddly out of place because I'm from that generation of military who served without a war, and most of the men and women there were quite a bit older or younger than me.

I was in a wheelchair by this time, and Angela very patiently accompanied me through the registration process (very glad I brought my discharge document, the infamous DD Form 214, along), and everything that followed once I was "in the system".

Now I've heard lots of things about the VA Hospitals and not all of them have been very complimentary, but I'll say right here and now that I have no complaints at all. Virtually everyone I dealt with was totally professional, considerate, respectful and caring. After all was said and done, I was very efficiently x-rayed, iced down, taped up, issued my drugs and crutches, scheduled for a follow-up visit at the "Blue Clinic" (whatever that is- I guess I'm going to find out), and out the door in about two hours. The verdict is that I've sprained my knee; but if I can keep weight off of it, and have a little luck and no complications, I should be able to get back in the game in a couple of weeks.

I don't really think I can just not work for two weeks, but I've changed this week's schedule so that I only have to put in one cooking shift on Sunday, and if I'm up to that I might get back on the stove next week. I just can't sit around because it drives me crazy. If I could drive I'd go to the gym and try to swim or at least sit in my beloved whirlpool for a while, but for now I'll just wrap this up, maybe look for some new music for the restaurant, hang out with Nick and my dog, and watch some shows I've DVR'd but haven't seen yet.

Anyway, in case you come to the restaurant in the next week or so and either see me on crutches or not at all, that's the story of my brush with a little piece of ice on the floor, and subsequent adventure in health care. I still don't know if I'm going to be approved for veteran's benefits this time, or if I'm going to get billed or for how much. I know at least that I didn't make too much money last year- thank goodness for that. It seems like a weird thing to say, but I guess that's just where we're at in 2011.

 

I was seduced... 
March 7, 2011

...by the bacon cheeseburger pizza next door at Blackbird. Our bartender Steven (who is known to have a very discriminating palate for frozen bar foods) told me that he'd had one and thought it was one of the best frozen pizzas he'd ever had; it piqued my curiosity, professionally as well as personally. As a guy who has eaten frozen pizzas if not daily then at least three or four times a week for most of his life, I have my favorites, though I'm always on the lookout for something new and good. The idea that there was this great pizza that I'd never tried, just next door, was causing me to become distracted and hungry, so Angela and I went over and tried one after work. Steven was right; it was really tasty- hot and crisp, not too much of anything and just enough of everything.

Angela and I have been trying to get out a little bit, kind of spontaneous mini-dates I guess you'd call them, because the winter is getting long and we've both been working at the restaurant so much there's been very little time to spend together.

It's been a long year.

The physical and mental cost has been high; the ninety-plus hour, eleven line-shift weeks and almost constant pressure finally got to the point where I got a cold about three weeks ago and it hit me so hard I could barely function. I still haven't gotten my voice back, even though I feel fine. I realized, though, that I've been burning the candle at both ends for too long, and that there just isn't anything left... I'm not myself- just tired and grumpy. The four walls of the kitchen are closing in on me. I don't feel creative or positive. I'm not a good chef right now... I don't even like being around me these days. I knew it would happen eventually- it's all part of the gig and I've dealt with it many times in previous jobs; I just need to change a few things and get back on track.

I'm relinquishing a couple of the weekly lunch shifts to people who have fresher legs than I do, and I'm going to go back to the gym after a year off and work on getting in shape again. My knees are shot from running, so I'm trying hard to do the elliptical machine instead of the treadmill I've been used to. I lack the basic coordination to do it well but maybe with some time I'll be able to get it. I like to swim, so I do that too, but most of all I enjoy the whirlpool. After that, I can come to work and deal with the daily grind and not have it bother me too much. It took a year to get like this; I know it's going to take a while to get back, but it's better than being burned out.

So, this morning I did my usual routine, then ran errands. We needed tea so I went to Rishi, fives and tens so I went to the bank, coffee so I went to Anodyne, and then to the restaurant. Just as I was pulling into a parking space, I got a call from Angela telling me that the cold station guy had just told her that we were out of goat cheese for the salads, and if I could go and pick some up it'd be nice. So I drove all the way back to Marchese (I'd just returned from Rishi, just a mile or so away from Marchese) to pick it up, and by the time I got back Rachel had discovered that the oven wasn't lighting.

After taking it apart and determining that it wasn't anything that I could fix, I called ASC to send a repair man out, and went to get the mail. There were three letters and a bill. Each of the letters was from a different organization asking for a donation. As I walked through the dining room not even half filled with people having lunch, I thought that it really didn't matter where I was this morning because all the weirdness just waits for me to get there anyway.

The good news was that the oven problem was just a thermocouple and therefore only $167.00 to fix.

Tonight we don't have much on the book, so it'll be more of a project night and that's a good thing. We'll get ready for the rest of the week and everything should go a little smoother.

Maybe I'll go next door and get a bacon cheeseburger pizza. I can work it off at the gym tomorrow morning.

C'est la vie.

 

Ok, so I'm not always a good example... 
January 19, 2011

I'm not always the person I wish I was or try to be... The vast majority of the time I see people who are happy and enjoying themselves over a good dinner and a bottle of wine. They are warm and complimentary and it's really easy to be nice and let them know how much their business means to us. Sometimes its not as easy. Some days are better than others- in any business dealing with people, they are the best and/or most challenging part of the job. So, I had a bad day today...

Working in a restaurant, club or hotel is fun, for sure, but you also have things to deal with that can make it difficult. Just for giggles, here are a few things that I've seen or experienced over the years that are one or the other, depending on how you look at them...

People steal things. Everything from exercise equipment and electronics to glassware. If it's not screwed down or locked up, it seems to be fair game. Menus, salt and pepper shakers, silverware, toilet paper, display bottles of wine; you name it and I'm sure it's on the list.

They damage your property. I've worked at country clubs where several times we had guests break into the storage shed, steal golf carts and go joyriding around the course, causing thousands of dollars of damage to the course and in two cases they drove the carts into a pond before abandoning them. In a restaurant, it's not so dramatic; an occasional broken chair or table is about the most I've had to deal with so far.

People behave badly. Loud, obnoxious, and pushy are common, as is arriving a half hour late for a reservation then having kittens because the table has been given to another group. They sneak cigarettes in the rest rooms, or complain about dinner in order to get it free. They take pictures off the walls to show the other people at their table, and feel, move or open the curtains. They blow their noses in the linen napkins. I've seen one group bring in their own appetizers and spread them out on the table like it was nothing. Guests occasionally say inappropriate things to and/or grope, jostle or fondle the staff. Those are just some of the more commonplace things...

Something less common? At one place I worked several years ago we had a semi-regular couple that used to, well,couple at the table between courses.

Some people don't pay their bill. "I forgot my wallet" is more common than you'd think; so is "I thought he/she was going to pay so I didn't bring any money". "All I have is (the one or two credit cards you don't take)". Every once in a while someone does it the old fashioned way and just gets up and leaves. One reason many restaurants don't have rest rooms located near the entrance or exit...

Of course, there are so many other things, but you get the picture, right? How can people who deal with this kind of stuff in what is, even on a good day, one of the most notoriously difficult businesses to succeed in because of the hours, stress and pressure, not blow a circuit once in a while? How can someone spend his or her entire life in a career that would turn Pollyanna into R. Lee Ermey? I don't have the answer because I struggle with it like everyone else. The best I can do is to take the bad things one at a time, just for what they are, and try to keep them all in perspective so as not to let them dominate my thinking.

It all gets back to the nice people. The ones who come to the restaurant to enjoy each other's company over a nice dinner and a bottle of good wine.

Every once in a while, I run across someone who is so kind, or so gracious, that it's almost overwhelming to me. Several months ago I met a woman named Char, who gave me an old and favorite book of French Chefs, for inspiration and because she felt I would appreciate it, given my age and the nature of the restaurant. I was having a very busy and difficult day, and when I walked out into the dining room, sat down and talked with her for a few minutes, I felt so much better and honored that this lady who'd never even met me before would be so kind and generous. She returns to the restaurant frequently, letting me know when she enjoys her dinner, and gently scolding me when she doesn't. Either way, it always makes my day when I see her.

Last week, I happened to be standing in back of the bar when an elderly gentleman walked in the front door. Jenny was behind the bar, filling water glasses with ice, saw him and after greeting him, asked if he was joining us for lunch. He replied that he intended to have a glass of wine and would look at the menu. When asked if he was expecting anyone else he said no, and when he was asked if he'd like to sit at the bar or at a table, he wanted a table. He looked at a menu and decided on a glass of chablis and a shrimp and scallop tagliatelle. Later, when she returned to the table to check in on him, he paid her a nice compliment on the preparation of his meal, which she passed on to me. I was busy cooking other lunches, but I acknowledged it with a "thanks" and continued on until the board was cleared. Having a few moments, I returned to my preparations for that evening's dinner service. I needed a glassful of Ketel One Citroen for a sauce I was making, so I went out to the bar. As I walked behind the bar, the gentleman, who was standing just a few feet away, caught my attention, so I walked over and introduced myself. I thanked him for coming to the restaurant, and asked if he'd enjoyed his lunch. He told me the same thing he'd told Jenny, but added that he and his wife had traveled extensively and had enjoyed many great meals together in famous and not-so-famous restaurants over the years. This particular day was the fifth anniversary of her passing, and he was remembering her as he was enjoying his lunch. The only thing that would've made it better, he said, was if she'd been there to enjoy it with him.

What do you say when someone tells you something like that? I'll admit that, even being the crusty, sometimes cynical chef I've become over the years, I got a little choked up, but I thanked him once again for the compliment and for sharing the reason for his visit. He had dessert, a cup of coffee, and went on his way. I'll always be grateful for those few moments of interaction, and for his willingness to say something nice to me, a stranger, on a difficult day.

So, after all's said and done, even though I might have a bad day every once in a while, it always amazes me how little it takes to turn it around. One person saying one nice thing.

Food connects us all, and I can never say it enough times; I think the thing that is best about being a chef is that I get to do something that makes people happy, reminds them of people and places they've enjoyed, and helps them celebrate special occasions in their lives. It's a privilege.

The bad things are only with us for a moment, but the good things stay with us long after the guests have gone home, the dishes have been done, and the lights are turned off for the night.

That's why we do it.

 

Just when things were beginning to settle down a little... 
January 2, 2011

...we once again found ourselves in the Journal-Sentinel; this time in a "Best New Restaurants of 2010" feature last Friday. Of course, it's really great to be among the restaurants chosen, and we are all honored to be in such great company. Thank you very much, not only to Carol Deptolla, but to everyone who continues to come out to visit us and tells someone else. I can only express my gratitude by continuing to work hard to try to deserve the support you give us

2010 was a good year, and it went out with a bang. New Year's Eve capped off our busiest week to date. In truth, we were too busy for me to feel comfortable or on top of my game. Every business has a "sweet spot" to operate most efficiently and to provide the best experience, and we were beyond that point last week. I mean, the restaurant is usually busy, but we were scrambling like crazy people all week to keep up on the long-cooking items like navarin, osso bucco, and short ribs. Jockeying big braising pots around the stove and in the ovens while trying to put out fifty to sixty lunch covers every day is tough, and when you only have, realistically, an hour to get ready to turn it over for a hundred or so more for dinner service, it's pretty intense. By Friday night, when it was just us and the last few customers lingering over Champagne and coffee, I felt about as beat up and tired as I can remember.

It's been said by better chefs than me that line cooking is a job best suited to young people. It's hard work, physically and mentally, and certainly not for everyone. In fact, most cooks work really hard to get off the hot line and into the front of the kitchen to advance their careers as chefs. I've kind of regressed, returning to line cooking because I love working with the food, and I love the adrenalin and rhythm of a busy night. There's a price to be paid, though. I just turned 49 last week, and I've got a lot of mileage with not a lot of regular maintenance. What keeps me going is how much I enjoy seeing the dining room full of people enjoying themselves, and when I walk through and talk to people who like our food and appreciate what we're doing, it gives me back everything I've put into it and then some.

That's not to say that everyone has been happy with us all the time. If you look on some of the customer rating web sites you'll see plenty of gripes about one thing or another; most are legitimate, some are not, and a couple are just mean. It's a subjective business, and everyone's entitled to their opinion.

As restaurants, all we can say (and we say it over and over again...) is that if you're unhappy with something, tell us right away and we'll do our best to fix it. When you sit there and tell us everything's great, and then go home and get on your computer and say it wasn't, you are taking away our chance to make it right. You're also cheating yourself, because chances are pretty good that, had you said anything at the time, we could've done something to recover, made your experience that much better, and you'd have left happy.

We as restaurants don't really get a forum to rate our customers, even though believe me, sometimes we'd like to. The best we can do is to appreciate our good ones and get over the few that aren't.

The way I see it, some people get who we are; some don't.

Those who do will spread the word to like-minded friends, as will those who don't. Eventually, those who don't get it will go elsewhere. We'll be busy taking care of those who do, and everyone will be that much happier. My bet is that we can still keep our little restaurant going just fine with that. I'm pretty happy with what we are.

Having said that, though, there is still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of improvements to be made.

Angela ordered a buffet lamp for the bar last week, because it's really too dim and having penlights to hand out to guests isn't the best answer to the problem; but the shade they sent us was the wrong one so it needs to go back and be exchanged.

In the kitchen, I've been working on tweaking some of the dishes both to improve the flavors and to minimize or in some cases eliminate things like wheat gluten, which is a concern to many of our customers. I've replaced the flour in both the French onion soup (minus the crouton, of course) and lamb navarin recipes with caramelized tomato paste, which not only gives the finished product a richer color and deeper flavor, but also the thicker texture and mouthfeel normally associated with the traditional thickener called roux- a mixture of cooked flour and butter. We've played around with the desserts and, with a new recipe courtesy of my good friend and former pastry chef Mary Lou, traded our dense and rich walnut cake for a much lighter and more complex-flavored walnut roulade.

Angela is on a mission to find a small table or cabinet for the ladies rest room, and we've had the front door repaired and repainted since a sudden gust of wind blew it off on a Sunday night a couple of weeks ago.

To sit here today and look back, I'd say it was a pretty good year indeed. This year will be so much better. New locally-owned, independent restaurants are opening, and that's an exciting thing for all of us. They have so much to offer, and deserve our support. Please think of that when you go out to eat. I hear it from customers who come in from places like New York and Chicago all the time- that the small, neighborhood places like Crazy Water, Meritage, La Merenda, Maxie's, Bosley, and Cubanita's, not to mention any of the other great small restaurants we have here to enjoy, are really what defines the food culture of the city and they think it's great to find so many here. That's very cool, I think.

Milwaukee's the best place I know of to be able to find so much diversity with so little driving. I only wish we had a little more free time to go out and enjoy it a bit more often then we do.

So here's to a great 2011...

 

 

Musings from Years Past

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