Cool, Hip Milwaukee (it does exist!)

Though I do revel in the feeling of being right, I think one of my best qualities is that I can admit when I am wrong. You know, when I am actually wrong, not just to end an argument because if I know 100% I am right, there is no backing down, but that’s beside the point. I am going to admit publicly (the internet is considered public right? I mean I don’t have thousands or readers or anything, but this could be googled, so I’m considering it public) that I, Maggie Hanson, was wrong about Milwaukee. I have been there many times in the past and never thought much of it. In fact, I’ve kind of disliked it. I am from a small town and have never lived anywhere bigger than 15,000 people so most big cities just seem so crowded to me. I always feel a little suffocated when I see how close together all the houses are and how there is just so little open space anywhere. Usually when we go to Milwaukee we just go to someone’s house to visit with family and we never really go out and do anything or see anything so my Milwaukee experiences have been pretty monotonous in that way. Yesterday things changed. My sister-in-law has been wanting to prove to me that Milwaukee is cool for some time now and she did herself proud yesterday. We basically just ate all day, but if there’s one way to my heart it’s food (obviously).

The lead pic is of my mocha from Alterra at the Lake, which was our first stop in the Cool, Hip Milwaukee tour. I loved it! The building is very interesting because it is old and historic and even though it’s an old flushing station (yuck) it is still very beautiful. I’m sure all the coffees look like this, but I like to think I got an especially pretty one because I talked back to a guy who was rude to the baristas. There really is no call for that sir.

After a nice coffee and pastry to start our gastronomic tour, we headed up to Boswell Books on Downer St. I love independent bookstores. I know you have to pay a bit more than Amazon or whatever, but they usually always have such a nice atmosphere. I had a good chat with one of the employees about The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman and then I found this book, which I think we have to start carrying at the store. Yum!

After this we took a leisurely walk around the area. This is close to the campus so there were plenty of professor types and people who looked a lot cooler than me. Whenever I’m in a college town I always feel like my clothes are terrible. We went to Whole Foods because I can never resist going in there and bought some of the best tuna salad ever. They have this tuna salad with cranberries in it and NO CELERY that is amazing. I believe I’ve made my feelings on celery quite clear. I know it’s ridiculous to be this excited about tuna salad but it is so good on a little whole wheat bun. Yum! Then we walked around the corner to BBC and had a little afternoon cocktail. Don’t we look happy & excited to be having a fun Milwaukee day?

Then the really exciting part of the day happened because we went out for actual lunch, not to be confused with the coffee and apple turnover I had at Alterra or the Spotted Cow I had at BBC or the 1/3 of a roll with tuna salad on it that I had at Whole Foods. We went to Honeypie Cafe for the actual meal and oh, it was good. I have wanted to visit this little cafe in Bayview for awhile. They were featured in one of my falltime Food & Wine magazines (probably the only one I’ve read in a timely manner) and I made one of their pies for our Thanksgiving feast:

It’s the whipped cream covered one in the foreground with the shaved chocolate on it. It’s a black-bottom banana cream pie and you can find the recipe here. Please make it, it’s so good! So anyway, this place is really cute and the food! My god, the food! Tristan had a D.L.T. (duck confit, lettuce, & tomato sandwich) and a hot buttered rum, I had a super delicious mac & cheese which you’ll see soon enough and a few really yummy cocktails, and my sisters-in-law both had really tasty sandwiches. The french fries were also pretty amazing. Everything was. Here’s my mac & cheese, made even better by adding two of my favorite toppings: bacon & scallions!

And since “pie” is in the name, we all had some for dessert. I’m a sucker for lemon, so I got a lemon cream pie which I will be finishing tonight after I eat my leftover macaroni!

After this, we were all pretty stuffed to bursting but Margaret gamely continued on with our plans and took us to the Public Market, which is also really cool. There were a bunch of great food vendors but since we were all soooooooooooo full we didn’t get anything. Sad day. The seafood counter and the cheese case were my favorite parts for sure. I love seafood. Love it! There were 2lbs bags of mussels for only $7.99 and I was so tempted to buy them but no one else likes them in my house but me. Oh well. Then we walked around that area for awhile and took an ill-advised jaunt through Anthropologie. I love that store but it always makes me angry because everything is so expensive and impractical for my lifetstyle. Sigh. There are quite a few quirky-cool restaurants down there that I would love to patronize on my next Fun Milwaukee Day though! Then even though it felt like I had consumed all I could possible consume, we picked up a pizza at Tenuta’s and went over to the in-laws for some family time. Amazingly, I did eat some pizza and I would really recommend it! The sauce is spicy and sweet and it really made the whole pizza for me.

So yes, I ate a ton, but I also walked a bit so I think that makes it about an average day for me in terms of food and exercise. ha! Like I said, this post is basically an apology to Milwaukee for thinking it was kind of stinky and ugly all these years. I take it back Milwaukee. You’re actually pretty cool. And while my sister-in-law is like 95% responsible for this change in my attitude, I have to give credit where credit is due and say that the movie Bridesmaids is part of what made me start to believe in Milwaukee’s cool factor. Have you guys seen that?? It’s awesome and hilarious and raunchy and it makes Milwaukee look fun. So thanks Margaret and Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph for making me see Milwaukee in a whole new light. Go Wisconsin! 🙂