|| Friday, July 22, 2011
By Zack Zupke
Creative Services Manager
TGIF quiz question number one. If you used the terms “jumbo shrimp,” “cutty,” “knuckle pokey” and “cobra” in a sentence, would you be referring to:
A.) Common nicknames for inmates
B.) Bizarre foreign dance crazes
C.) The lineup of new shows on Animal Planet
D.) Extreme dining
E.) Pro Beach Volleyball techniques
If you guessed A.), you’re probably right. If you guessed E.), you’re definitely correct. Our web marketing specialist Bill and I were put to the test in all things pro beach volleyball this morning by pros Christal Engle and Jess Gysin, who are in town for the Milwaukee Shootout at Bradford Beach. The Shootout is the kickoff of the Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series - a four-city tour with future stops in Florida and California.
Yeah, I know, I know. You’re thinking, “What kind of employer makes you start your work day by playing volleyball at the beach with two 6-foot blondes?” Truthfully, it’s a grind, but Bill and I are committed to keeping our visitors apprised of Milwaukee happenings. So much so, we showed up in the rain and the first lesson we learned from Christal and Jess was: be ready rain or shine – it’s game on!
So, rain or shine, it’s gonna be a blast Friday through Sunday at Bradford Beach with rockin professional volleyball (four men’s and four women’s tandems competing for over $60,000 in prize money), including a huge center court with tons of FREE seating, live music, plenty of Jose Cuervo, margaritas and all your favorite beers. Mmmmm, beers at the beach. And, some interactive playstuff like a mechanical rodeo lime. Yes, a rodeo lime. Now THAT’S what I call a wedgie.
“We’re bringing the party to Bradford Beach,” said Engle. “It’s awesome to kickoff this series in Milwaukee because it’s got such great volleyball players and fans.”
In the end, Bill and I learned we’re better fans than players – at least when we’re playing against professionals. We lost 15-4, but learned a “jumbo shrimp” is not just an hors d’oeuvre, it’s an arching corner shot; a cutty is NOT a cutesy name for a cut, it’s a sharp, angled hit to the opposite side of the court; a cobra isn’t just a Stallone character, it’s a technique used when you need a couple extra inches of reach and your fingers are extended straight and stiff to poke the ball. And, finally, the knuckle pokey is not a digit-centric variation of the hokey pokey, it’s when you clench your fist and knuckle the ball over a defender.
Now, let’s see how you grade out with one, last TGIF question. What are you going to do this weekend at Bradford Beach in Milwaukee?
A.) Watch some awesome volleyball
B.) Have a magarita or six
C.) Go lime riding
D.) Root for Christal and Jess
E.) All of the above
I’m definitely in for D.) even though I’m still spitting their sand out of my mouth. I know, I know, someone has to do it.
Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series - Milwaukee Shootout
|| Tuesday, July 19, 2011
By Bill Prange
Web Marketing Specialist
I love to eat.
I also love exploring our city and hearing stories about the people and places that make Milwaukee amazing.
I combined these passions on a recent Historic Third Ward tour led by Milwaukee Food Tours. Milwaukee Food Tours offer the perfect pairing – a chance to explore several of Milwaukee’s historic neighborhoods while sampling the flavors of some of Milwaukee’s best restaurants along the way.
The Soup & Stock Market at the popular Milwaukee Public Market made for a delicious beginning. Their made-from-scratch soups did not disappoint. My chicken and dumpling had plenty of hearty chunks of chicken, celery and carrots. My tour partner, Zack, opted for the perfectly-seasoned minestrone that “almost tasted like pizza.”
Liquid ‘za? Oh yeah!
As we ate, our guide told us stories about the Market vendors - what brought them to Milwaukee and to the Market. This theme continued throughout the tour – not only did we taste great food, we learned the inside story about the people behind the food.
Milwaukee’s Riverwalk led us to our second stop – Rustico Pizzeria.
Rustico is a mix of old-world Italian and modern art and style. The walls are lined with photos taken by the owner during his travels to Italy. You’ll also find a vintage press that once belonged to his grandfather. Italians and family go together like….tomato and mozzarella.
Speaking of, we totally enjoyed Rustico’s Margherita pizza – made of tomato, mozzarella and basil, representing Italy’s three national colors. It was named in Naples, Italy after Queen Margherita of Savoy – lunch and learn, what a concept! Rustico makes its crust using flour imported from Italy and the mozzarella is stretched on site. Abbondanza!
Next up we visited a former sewing and knitting factory, now known as SPiN Milwaukee. It’s a great example of how the Historic Third Ward’s turn-of-the-century buildings have been repurposed for 21st century lifestyles!
SPiN Milwaukee is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Great food, a bar area AND a dozen-plus table tennis tables inside that you can rent by the hour. Score!
We started with some awesome, fresh sweet potato chips - light and fresh with chipotle brown sugar seasoning. I could have grazed on those all day.
An out-of-the-ordinary grilled cheese sandwich took my mind off the empty bowl of chips. Pepperjack and smoked gouda, roasted red peppers and avocado, with some sriracha mayo on a French bolo roll. Amazing!
Tulip, our fourth restaurant of the day, specializes in Turkish food. I’m game for anything and that turned out to be chicken shish kebabs and grape leaves. The grape leaves were different for me but I’m glad I tried them. It’s the kind of place that made me curious to come back and try some other things on the menu.
It wouldn’t be a meal without dessert and lucky for us ours was courtesy of the Milwaukee Cupcake Company. Looking over all the choices, I’ve gotta admit, there was a lot I wanted to try! Red velvet, vanilla salted caramel, peanut butter cup… this was decadence overload!
I finally settled on “The Riverwest,” a chocolate cupcake with chopped Oreo cookies, topped with Oreo buttercream and a chunk of cookie. Zack grabbed “The Third Ward,” a chocolate cupcake with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup chunks baked in, topped with peanut butter buttercream, chocolate drizzle and a chunk of a Reese’s Cup on top.
I finished the tour a happy man with a satisfied stomach and a full-blown sugar rush.
Sweets make me thirsty. I wonder if they have room on the next Bloody Mary Brunch tour…?
Milwaukee Food Tours
|| Thursday, July 14, 2011
By Jeannine Sherman
Director of Public Relations
A people in a state of revolution is invincible.
Maximin Isnard, French Revolutionary, France, 1791
A people in a state of celebration is a party.
Jeannine Sherman, Tourism Gal, Milwaukee, 2011
The City of Beer does a pretty good imitation of the City of Love every year in July. That’s when we turn Cathedral Square Park in Milwaukee’s East Town neighborhood into Bastille Days, North America’s largest, outdoor, French-themed festival.
This year the fest turns 30 and to celebrate organizers are inviting everyone down for a French toast. Literally. They’ll be handing out 3,030 sticks of French toast to “toast” three Francophile-filled decades.
I love everything about Bastille Days, beginning with the Storm the Bastille fun run that kicks off the festival’s opening night. The run commemorates the event that became a flashpoint in the French revolution when peasants rioted and took over the infamous prison.
It’s different because it’s a night run with a 9 p.m. start. I leave my iPod at home and enjoy the rhythm of thousands of pairs of running shoes hitting the streets. The run takes you through several of downtown’s historic neighborhoods, past sidewalk cafes and local watering holes. Don’t be surprised by the loud and frequent cheers of support along the way – it’s crowd participation at its best!
The icon of Bastille Days is a 43-foot-tall Eiffel Tower replica. It serves as a meeting spot, a photo opportunity and the perfect place to steal a kiss or two. Hey, when in France……
When you’re not busy munching on beignets or sipping Chardonnay, you can enjoy the exploits of roaming street performers, shop the marketplace and listen to local, regional and national bands on four stages. 2011 headliners include Grammy-award-winning Cajun band Beausoleil with Michael Doucet.
What else is fun to do at Bastille Days? Last year I took advantage of the mini French lessons offered at the fest and 15 minutes later I parlayed my newfound knowledge into a clever and slightly risqué comment – in Francais, mais oui! - during the French Can Can performance.
I had my picture taken in front of a French back drop so I could fool all my Facebook friends. “Thinking of you….from Provence.” I checked out the Chef’s Wine and Cheese demos for the perfect pairings of some of my favorite French imports. I cheered on the participants in the Waiter/Waitress Race while they ran through a crazy obstacle course carrying full glasses of wine! Quelle horreur!
Did I mention the cute beret I bought at the marketplace? C’est si bon!
I stuffed myself with Steak Frites and toasted Solomon Juneau, a French Canadian fur trader who helped found Milwaukee and became our first Mayor (with champagne, not toast – a girl’s gotta watch her carbs). Moved by the spirit of equality embodied in the Democratic ideals of the French Revolution, I also toasted the Jesuit missionary and explorer Pere Marquette, who left his mark here as well.
He deserved it. And quite frankly, I needed an excuse to sample the Pinot Noir.
I’m going to confess something. I couldn’t leave without sticking my tongue out at a mime. It’s okay. He wasn’t able to chase me because he was really busy trying to get out of the imaginary box he had drawn himself into. I knew I could atone by attending the authentic French Mass held in St. John the Evangelist Cathedral.
Or by convincing Mr. “I Want to be Marcel Marceau” to join me in a raucous Can Can that would put the ladies of the Moulin Rouge to shame.
Which did I choose?
C’est un secret, mais oui.
Details: Bastille Days 2011, July 14 – 17, Cathedral Square in Milwaukee’s East Town. Free admission, street parking.