Things I am not doing right now

I am not...

Making Christmas cookies, as I planned to. But we still have two tins full of the last round of them - how many cookies do we need?! I might still do some more tomorrow. Or in ten minutes.

Wrapping gifts. But I only have a pile of three or four left. I'm sure at some point a Christmas movie will be on, and then I'll feel up to it.

Writing my chapter. I have a long list of my advisor's suggestions, and I'm sure I'll get to them. But just at the moment I'm terribly busy looking back and forth between the twinkly lights on the tree and the unsteady sunlight through the fir tree outside that's hitting the quilt on the couch.

There are about ten to twenty books that I should or at least could be reading, but instead I am writing this.

Eating avocado toast. Why am I not doing that? Actually, I'm going to go do that now.

Happy Sunday!


Things that are (mostly) not food in Milwaukee

Yesterday, I shared my favorite places to eat in Milwaukee, but I suppose I can recognize that eating isn't all there is to life, so here I'm also sharing some of my best-loved places & spaces to visit in Milwaukee. These are my favorites, and I'm sure I leave out a great deal, but this is my Milwaukee, if you want to see it.

Milwaukee Art Museum

This is the big one. If you do nothing else in Milwaukee, do this. You don't even have to go inside (though I recommend going inside): every day at 10, the wings on the brise soleil open, and every day at noon, people gather on the footbridge to the museum at the end of Wisconsin Avenue to watch them open and close.

The museum is home to a wonderful collection of O'Keefes, and a new exhibit of Italian painting is visiting this October. I can also recommend Cafe Calatrava, which has a lovely view of the lake, or coffee in the gorgeous lobby - it's nice just to have a good reason to hang around in that space.

The Pabst Mansion

A long-time Chiuminatto family favorite, the Pabst mansion is the former home of Captain Pabst (yep, that Pabst) and the only surviving member of the mansions of Grand Avenue (now Wisconsin Avenue). The restoration of the house after its stint as the home to the Archbishop of Milwaukee has been a long and painstaking process undertaken by a very passionate team of volunteers. Now a trip to the mansion really takes you back to the late nineteenth century, the era of the beer barons in Milwaukee. If you take a tour they're sure to point this out, but be sure to look for the hops buds in place of pineapples on the banisters!

Lake Park

As my mother loved to point out, Milwaukee's Lake Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the famous designer of Central Park in New York. His preference for preserving natural landscapes over imposing geometric plantings makes this a wonderful space for enjoying the lakefront area, with many wonderful overlooks and bridges to be discovered. If you're looking for a natural break from downtown, this is a wonderful place to explore. If you really want to get up close in personal with the lake though, then you'll want to pop down & across Lake Drive to Veteran's Park. 


Brewery Tours

I need a whole section of these, since this is just so Milwaukee, and you have your pick! Here's the spread:

Lakefront Brewery

Relative to the others on this list, Lakefront is the new kid on the block, but they're quite established at this point, and a little poking around their website tells me that their tours have become quite well systematized. You can get tickets for your tour online, and on Saturdays, the tour is offered in two versions for different attention spans, which sounds great if you just want to take a look-see and get down to the serious business of tasting some delicious beer. 

I also highly recommend the friday fish fry - this Wisconsin tradition long ago spilled out of Lent, and fried fish is The thing to eat on Friday night in Wisconsin. (I think we all knew I wouldn't really be able to keep food out of this post!)

Sprecher Brewery

Lakefront beers are delicious, but Sprecher is undoubtedly the holder of the crown for Milwaukee beers. Their beers are wonderful, their sodas are the best, and their tour is welcoming and fun. If you can get yourself into a Reserve Tasting tour, you will enjoy beer and cheese combinations like nothing you've ever had, with the expert guidance of the Sprecher Beermasters. 


You might not want to order a Budweiser in Milwaukee. Craft beers are available everywhere you go, but when it comes to large domestics, this is Miller country. If you want to see the whole operation, Miller runs tours all day on the half hour. The tour is fun for kids, too, though their tasting is of root beer (actually I haven't taken this tour since I was a teenager, so I can't even speak first-hand to the adult experience). 


So there it is: six things you can do in Milwaukee, with only incidental mention of food. Have fun!

Hungry in Milwaukee?

We interrupt our irregularly scheduled programming to bring you: stuff to do, eat & see in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee, which is apparently either Chicago's little sister or the new Portland, is known for: beer (not just the big boys anymore: Milwaukee nowadays is home to a thriving craft beer scene), sausage, and the best bloody marys period. But you can do more in Milwaukee than just eat. And I'll get to that. But first, you're going to want to eat:


The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar

Cozy european-style bistro, homemade pasta and a fantastic wine selection. Reservation strongly recommended. Not ideal for large groups or anyone looking for a quick, cheap meal. Only open for dinner and not open on Monday. Bonus: their complementary bread is always warm, fresh and homemade! 

George Watt’s Tea Shop

Just a block away from the Pfister, a unique Milwaukee favorite for breakfast, lunch or tea. Menu items range from pastries and tea sandwiches to full entrees over breakfast (9am - 11am) and lunch (11am - 2pm). They can easily accommodate groups with a reservation and will take reservations for smaller parties as well. Calling ahead is recommended - just in case of a private party. Open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, closed on Sunday. Don’t forget to try their famous sunshine cake! 

Comet Cafe

A half an hour walk or a quick drive from the Pfister, Comet is the heart of East Side Milwaukee dining. Their “slow food” style is homemade, comfort food that appeals to a wide crowd, carnivore to vegan. A few fan favorites, all of which can be made vegetarian if not vegan - chili mac, BBQ pork sandwich, the Big Luck burger and their bacon wrapped meatloaf. This one gets extra busy over weekend brunch and after 6:00 PM. They don’t take reservations and they can only accommodate groups of six or fewer. But its well worth the hype! 

The Milwaukee Public Market

Less than a ten minute walk into Milwaukee’s Third Ward, the Public Market can be a quick stop for lunch or a full-day activity. Ok, maybe not the full day, but there is plenty to buy, eat and drink. A quick list of some things you will find here: seafood, Wisconsin cheese, wine, deli food, sandwiches, ethnic food, chocolate, bakery, fresh produce, a spice shop and coffee. The Green Kitchen is a Chiuminatto family favorite - freshly made sandwiches, salads and ginger shots! There is upstairs seating at the market for you to enjoy all the goodies. Also: if you don’t get the coffee in the market, you can walk across the street to a Milwaukee favorite -  Colectivo (formerly known as Alterra). 

Pizza Man

An East Side institution, this is the second go for Pizza Man after the original burned down in 2010. Back with all the original recipes and extra seating, this is a great stop for lunch or dinner. About 2.5 miles from the Pfister, this is the perfect place to get dinner before a movie at Milwaukee’s Landmark Downer Theatre next door. The Artichoke à la Mode pizza is their top-seller with good reason. Not to mention, the wine selection is quite extensive and there are plenty of things besides pizza on the menu. This one is good for groups but does get busy when the weather is nice enough for rooftop patio dining.


Perhaps not the most "Milwaukee" option, Cubanitas does offer a solid Cuban menu that does not overreach, and has the distinct advantage of being located just around the corner from the Pfister. Good for lunch, dinner, or cocktails with a small to medium group.

Credit goes to my sister Chloe for writing most of these blurbs.

Coming tomorrow: Milwaukee sights & sounds!