I don’t recall ever being a foodie (I’m from Wisconsin, after all), but since moving to the East Coast, not only have I become a foodie; I’ve turned into a bit of a food snob (and I mean that in the most positive, self-proclaiming way). Between being in Wisconsin two weeks ago and New York City last weekend, the plethora of food offerings to choose from was enough to make your head spin. And, let me tell you, I had quite the interesting array of eclectic meals! Here’s my top five:
1. Mac N’Cheese Pizza
Yes, you read that correctly. Mac n’cheese pizza. I was in Madison, WI for a wedding and went out for drinks (Spotted Cow, woo hoo!) with some friends and we found ourselves at Ian’s Pizza on State Street at 2AM (that was after Daylight Saving…so it was technically 3AM…but I was still on East Coast time, so really it was 4AM…but I digress). I was skeptical at first, and then fell into the ever-so-common-and-completely-unavoidable trap of “I’ll get it if you do” with my friend. Well, it was worth it. This pizza was amazing! No tomato sauce, which I love (I’m not a saucy person…er, wait…), just mac and cheese on pizza dough; so simple. And utterly delicious. The next time you happen to find yourself on State Street in Madison, WI at 2AM, I highly recommend it!
2. Dim Sum
Of all the times I’ve gone into NYC, I’ve only skirted Chinatown…until a few days ago. A friend and I decided on dim sum for dinner and, at 4PM after being told by one restaurant “No dim sum until 5,” we wandered through Chinatown to find Dim Sum Go Go on E. Broadway. With a little faith, trust, and pixie dust, I left the ordering to my friend as I was a complete dim sum novice. We had steamed duck dumplings, chicken and sticky rice in a lotus leaf, steamed shrimp rice rolls, and sesame balls. Holy deliciousness, Batman. At the end of the meal, I had only one thought: how had I not discovered dim sum before now?
3. Eggs Norwegian
Way before the dim sum, we channeled our inner New Yorker and left hustle and bustle of Midtown for the West Village. On the way to our intended place o’ brunch, we stumbled upon Doma, a little cafe/wine bar (with jazz on Tuesdays!) on the corner of Perry St. and Seventh Ave. What a find this was! As I’m sure anyone who knows me/has read this blog knows, I have a wicked sweet tooth and tend to gravitate heavily toward the non-savory items on brunch menus. Well, dear friends and readers, brace yourselves. I got something savory (hey, you only live once!). Both my friend and I had Eggs Norwegian, toast topped with smoked salmon, a poached egg, and their special Hollandaise. Let’s just say our moms would be proud: we were members of the clean plate club. The smoked salmon was almost filet-like and had such good flavor. Not only was the food enjoyable, but the coffee was top-notch. And, being the coffee snob that I am, I always judge a restaurant by its coffee.
4. Duckling Breast with Chorizo and Orange
Back to Milwaukee now…my folks are good at keeping restaurants a secret from me. Since I don’t get to come home that often, they frequently surprise me by taking me to new restaurants. Milwaukee has a fairly eclectic and diverse palate when it comes to eateries—particularly if you include the suburbs—and, almost out of character for us, we ventured beyond downtown over to Bay View to try Pastiche Bistro and Wine Bar. It’s a tiny, corner establishment with a mere 10 tables (reservations highly recommended!), but these guys definitely have a good thing going. And whenever duck breast is on a menu, I’m sold; I don’t even have to look at the other options. Citrus or berry is my favorite accoutrement to duck and the orange with chorizo accompanying this one (and scalloped potatoes and haricot vert as well) was simply wonderful. It was one of those meals that, in combination with the wine, the atmosphere and the company, was just pleasant. Simply pleasant.
5. Pannekoeken (Brabant-style) I dare you to try and pronounce that. Tricky, eh? While the name is a particular challenge, the food is c’est magnifique! Pannekoeken is like a hybrid pancake crepe. It doesn’t have the thickness of a pancake, but it’s not as thin as a crepe; it hovers between the two. My mom surprised me with breakfast at Cafe Benelux in Milwaukee’s Third Ward right across from the Public Market. My Pannekoeken was layered with orange marmalade, sliced apples, and some boozy whipped cream. It was very filling, but quite delicious! Cafe Benelux (a three-way combo of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) also has a beer menu with 237+ beers (well, dontcha know?) and my mom and I may or may not have been brought a sample of one of the signature beers made in Belgium specially for them. As I sat there, sipping my beer at 9:30AM, I thought…only in Milwaukee.
I’m sure this is not the last of the Foodie Files, so stay tuned. Now I’m off to NYC to have, what I can only hope will be, more amazing culinary adventures!