As autumn transitions from knocking on the calendar's door to making itself at home, and produce variety starts to taper off, it’s easy to think that things might cool down on Milwaukee's dining front. Far from it.
Richness abounds, and our great restaurants, craft brewers and cocktail-mixing folks are kicking into high gear as they switch menus and embrace the season. There is still, in fact, plenty coming from farmers’ fields at this time of year, and the cooler weather’s bounty is making its way into many of Milwaukee's culinary offerings.
One could happily wear themselves out, working their way across Milwaukee, sampling the exquisite cocktails made with Great Lakes Distillery's silver medal-winning Pumpkin Spirit. Hi-Hat, Black Sheep, and Café Lulu are some of my favorite imbibing spots around the city, whose cocktails do justice to Great Lakes’ seasonal spirit.
If your penchant leans toward beer, order a cheekily named Sasquatch from Milwaukee Brewing Co., easily found on tap handles across the city. What began as a home brew by one of Milwaukee Brewing Co.'s team now takes shape by way of700 pounds of pumpkins and 400 pounds of sweet potatoes, plus a variety of specialty malts. Flavor notes of pumpkin and cinnamon make it a great fall brew.
Should you wish to stay on the beer bent, swing into Benelux Café or any of the other Lowland's cafés or restaurants. Take a moment to raise a glass to the owners, both of whom have been knighted (yes, knighted) by the Belgian Knighthood of the Brewers’ Mashstaff and just recently returned from their trip to Amsterdam. The knighthood is an honor bestowed by one of the oldest professional organizations in history, and something akin to a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize for brewers.
As any good Belgian knows, another of the world’s favorite indulgences is chocolate. Milwaukee hosts two renowned master pastry chefs in October. Le Rêve Patisserie and Café in downtown Wauwatosa hosts a seven-course Pour l'amour du chocolat dinner on Oct 21. Visiting chef Jerome Landrieu, director of the Chocolate Academy in Chicago and listed as one of the top 10 pastry chefs in America, will be partnering chocolate, course by course, with Le Rêve's superlative French cuisine.
Not to be outdone at the hands of chocolate, Shorewood's North Shore Boulangerie has a vanilla event planned a few days earlier, on Oct 19, with World Pastry Championship-winner Patrice Caillot and Dr. Ken Cameron, author of Vanilla Orchids. An engaging discussion between the professor and master chef on the history of the world’s most popular fragrance and flavor will be moderated by yours truly, followed by a cooking demonstration and samples.
If October is a precursor to the culinary escapades of the winter holiday season, I would estimate that—as a city—Milwaukee is gearing up for greatness.