Good Times and Danke! Gracias! Cheers! Thanks! Ta! You Rock!

Good times were had by all at the 10th annual Food Slam this past Friday night. Thanks to all you spectacular Slammers for coming to eat, drink, bid, and support WMSE, making Friday’s fiesta the biggest, funnest, and successfullest Slam to date!

And hey, check out that sweet video up there expertly shot in a gritty, dizzying, hand-held style by yours truly, Food Slam blogger Erin Harris. I think I missed my calling, Milwaukee. Writing, schmiting. I was meant to be a cinematographer on classic films such as Saving Private Ryan, etc. JK. But do dig the tune by magnificent Milwaukee musician and musical mastermind Rick.

Oh and big, big thanks to the fine local establishments that provided the awesome auction items, and a special shout-out to the following delicious vendors for supplying the tasty vittles:

Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., Atomic Chocolate Co., Ball ‘N Biscuit Catering, Beans & Barley, Blue’s Egg, Bolzano Artisan Meats, Centro Cafe, Chubby Cheese Truck, Eat Cake!, Hector’s On Delaware, Indulgence Chocolatiers, Jake’s Deli, Jow Nai Fouquet Thai, Kasana Concierge Gourmet, Martita’s Mixers, Maxie’s Southern Comfort, McBob’s Pub & Grill, Milwaukee Ale House, Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern, The Noble, Outpost Natural Foods, Paciugo Gelato, Purple Door Ice Cream, Red Rock Saloon, Revolucion Mexican Restaurant, The Rumpus Room, Sala da Pranzo, SPiN Milwaukee, Times Square Bistro & Pizzeria, and The Wicked Hop

Nectarous! Cheers! See you next year!

–Erin Harris

Centro Cafe’s Luscious Lasagna

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Riverwest’s smackdown, dynamite Centro Cafe is bringing its A game to the WMSE Food Slam this Friday at the Grohmann Museum on the campus of MSOE. For all you vegetarians who’ve had enough talk about salami and reubens and tuna and reubens and meat and meat and meat, chow down on Centro’s luscious lasagna layered with leeks, roasted butternut squash, garlic, and rosemary. It’s got this cream sauce, see, that makes you swoon, and the leeks are heaven, and the squash melts in your mouth, and it all comes together like the way a good band comes together, when everyone’s firing on all cylinders and you can believe in harmony and unity and perfection. And then there’s Centro’s vegan Caesar salad, which is cunningly creamy (how do they do it? Tahini and silken tofu, I think), fantastically fresh, and succulently snappy. These dishes are gonna shine as stars of the show come Friday night. You won’t be able to get enough.

And, while I was at Centro, I also tried their gluten-free pasta with marinara sauce, since I usually (except in anticipation of the Slam, when I get to write this blog) roll gluten free, and had shamefully not previously made it to Centro, though I had heard great things about their GF options. The pasta is good, you know, as good as gluten-free pasta can be, but what makes that dish is the well-balanced marinara sauce–bright, fresh, garlicky, rich, and neither too sweet nor too astringent. It hit the spot, I’m tellin’ ya–it was on the mark. I felt like Goldilocks, Slammers–the porridge was just right. Fo shizzle.

And regarding tickets, I really don’t know what to tell you. No, I’m kidding . . . I think there are a few left–maybe two–so if you ain’t got yours, hit up the station down at 820 N. Milwaukee Street during business hours (9 a.m. till 6 p.m.) through Thursday for a fix.

–Erin Harris

Anodyne’s Cuppa Mo-Joe

SCIENCE! And necromancy. I stepped down to Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. with the charismatic and magnificent Buzz, illustrious host of the great WMSE show Buzz’s Garage, and got a brewing demo and coffee tasting divined by coffee conjurer Steve Kessler. As you can see in that video up there, the siphon-pot demo was like some kinda mad, cool science experiment conducted by Bill Nye or Mr. Wizard. The brewing apparatus looks like something in a lab, what with the little Bunsen-burner-like flame under the glass vessel. The vacuum action of the siphon pot swirls and whirls and spins like a cyclonic particle accelerator and forces the water up to saturate the savory grounds and produce an exquisite extraction. It’s almost like you’re watching an illicit substance being cooked up, and, I’m telling you, what comes out of that carafe is so good it might as well be against the law. We tried the Ethiopian Limu Natural brewed with this device, and the coffee’s berry notes and light, clean, creamy body knocked us over with deliciousness. Buzz weren’t jestin’, ladies and gents, when he said “Hey, that’s good coffee!” Well, OK, he kinda was, but just to make you laugh–he was serious too. When the alchemical magic gets coaxed out of a naturally processed Ethiopian heirloom bean with some kinda necromancer’s mojo, that stuff truly blows your mind.

And it’s gonna taste like a million bucks with Kasana Concierge Gourmet’s panna cotta infused with Madagascar vanilla and topped with homemade caramel with rum. This classic Italian dessert is creamy, aromatic, and knockout delicious with its sensuous, exotic, islandy twist, and knocked-off socks will be flying around the Grohmann when Slammers savor the panna cotta with my favorite Anodyne offering–Guatemalan Huehuetenango, which wins first prize for fullest body, richest flavor, and funnest name to say. Way-way-ten-ango. Way-way-ten-ango. Way-way-ten-ango.

So you’ve really got to step on it if you haven’t gotten your Food Slam tickets yet. They’re almost 90% sold out, and we know you wanna revel in the food event that’s gonna rock Milwaukee’s taste buds on October 7, so you best click here, if ya know what’s good for ya.

–Erin Harris

PS. Thanks to Milwaukee outfit Sons of Saboteurs for the use of their spectacular tune (in the video) called “It’s Just a Slide.”

Outpost’s Deliciously Diverse Dessert Bars

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Hey, check it out! Outpost Natural Foods is rollin’ out the barrel of tasty variety with a pleasing potpourri of delectable dessert bars to suit any taste and any diet. If you go-go vegan, they’ve got Chewy Granola Bars, packed with oats, raisins, peanut butter, walnuts, wheat germ, and sesame seeds. They’re crispy, nutty, sweet, ‘n good. If you roll gluten free, hit ‘em up for one of their Gluten-Free Marble Cheesecake Bars, whose chocolaty goodness and creamy divinity convey the sumptuousness of edible velvet. If you don’t do wheat or dairy but you do munch oats, dig Outpost’s Sheba Bars, which are kinda like sorta healthy Rice Krispie treats cuz they’ve got that fun, sweet, I’m-a-kid-again chew to ‘em from brown rice crisps. And if you eat what you want when you want cuz you’re your own man or lady or cuz you’re not limited by dietary restrictions, the good folks at Outpost’ll set you up with one of their Chocolate Indulgence Brownies. Just before my tasting at Outpost, I went to a brewing demo at Anodyne and sampled some fine coffees, and I wished that I had a cup of that luscious liquid heaven in my hand while I savored the succulence of that spectacular brownie, which, I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t do justice to with that blurry photo up there. But I made up for it with that tantalizing pic of the savory Sheba Bar, right? Right. And regarding perfect pairings, have no fear, Slammers, cuz the Food Slam’s gotcha covered on October 7, when you’ll be throwin’ back brownies, dippin’ ‘em into Purple Door’s magnificently melty espresso ice cream, and washing it all down with a steamy cuppa Anodyne coffee–all at once, simultaneously, at the same time, concurrently, the way Nature intended.
And hey, my crystal ball’s showing me that Food Slam tickets will be sold out within a week. Seriously, Slammers, tickets are currently well over 70% gone, daddy, gone, and there are still almost two weeks till the event, so you best scoop up some tix before they vanish like my fleeting–but accurate–powers of intuition.

–Erin Harris

The Tom Wanderer Dining Experience at McBob’s Pub and Grill

Oh, Sweet Daddy . . . A Luscious McBob's Reuben!

Hey if you’ve got the radio on on Thursdays from 3 till 6 pm, you know and love WMSE DJ Tom Wanderer, host of The Tom Wanderer Radio Experience. You know, that real gone cat who really knows how to lay a patch of sweet sonic delights. I caught up with the good TW at McBob’s Pub and Grill earlier this week, and we talked The Stones and The Stooges and Buzzcocks and The Who and The Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine and Mad Men and spaghetti Westerns and Terrence Malick and drank beer and hung out on the patio at McBob’s and chowed down on mouthwatering reubens stacked with luscious, juicy corned beef; tangier-than-elsewhere sauerkraut; snappy horseradish mustard; and buttery, toasted marble rye. Oh, the scrumptious crunch, the tender beef, the savory zip of the fixins . . . I’m salivating as I recall the deliciousness, which was so ambrosial that Tom said that it was the best corned beef he’s ever had. He said that totally off the cuff, with genuine glee, as he whet his whistle on one of them award-winning reubens. I said, “Holy awesome quotes, Batman, can you say that again on film?” So check out the 12-second video down there of Tom’s gracious reenactment of his awe at his knockout sandwich. Sorry about the brevity–I was too busy downing Guinness to have the presence of mind to keep the camera rolling. Thanks to Milwaukee artists Sons of Saboteurs for the use of their song “Eleven 11.”

And Food Slam tickets are, as you can imagine, since the Slam is thee food event that’s gonna rock your taste buds on October 7, flying like hotcakes. They’re more than half sold out, so snap up a pair while you can, cuz you know you wanna feel that wild swing of euphoria that comes with chompin’ down on the best corned beef the great Mr. Tom Wanderer has ever had.

–Erin Harris

Radio Chow Time at SPiN Milwaukee

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Tom squared, Slammers. Tom squared. I hit SPiN Milwaukee with WMSE station manager Tom Crawford one night, and McBob’s with DJ Tom Wanderer the next. TC and I saddled up to the bar at the table-tennis social club and tucked into some good stuff. We started out with the Taste of Wisconsin appetizer, comprised of Wisconsin cheddar-cheese curds, beef sticks, pretzel bites, and stone-ground mustard. You’ll notice in the pic above that one of the beef sticks has a bite taken out of it, and the pretzels look a bit scant, and there might be a pepperoncini missing. That’s cuz this platter’s so tasty that we dug in before I remembered to take pictures. This appetizer embodies traditional Wisconsin standbys in a way that can only be matched by SPiN’s house tap brewed by Sprecher, which goes so well with the pretzels and cheese that I felt like I was home in Bavaria or maybe on a mountaintop in Switzerland.

Next we continued our tradition of divvying up delicious sandwiches, and we each tucked into half a BLT and half a turkey sandwich. Jet over to SPiN with some work chums for a corporate event, or with just some regular friends for a game of ping pong, and chomp down on this BLT. It’ll strike a chord with your taste buds because the bacon ain’t just breakfast-table bacon–it’s deep, rich, crispy pancetta, and the mayo ain’t just bologna-sandwich mayo–it’s pesto aioli, rife with the heaven of garlic and the flavor and fragrance of fresh basil. The arugula gives the BLT bite and snap, and the toasted Tuscan bread . . . my God, why did I forget to ask them where they get that magnificent bread? Oh yeah–it was because I was so overwhelmed with the deliciousness of the turkey sandwich, which they’ll be featuring at the Slam. What could be better for an early-fall event than a sandwich that recalls one of the savoriest spreads of the year. The roasted turkey marries like rock and roll with the cranberry-orange chutney, and the cats in the kitchen at SPiN top it off with fresh baby spinach and creamy, pungent brie.

This is a sandwich you’re gonna wanna chow down on, so if you’re a lucky Food Slam ticket holder, you gots it goin’ on. But I admire anyone who doesn’t have their tickets yet. You’re living on the edge. You’re a thrill seeker. An adrenaline junkie. You’re gonna get your kicks, all right, as you hold back and back and back and feel the anticipation and wait for the rush. Then right at the last second you’ll shoot for the last pair of tickets as your palms sweat and your heart pounds and you can’t find your breath. But don’t drop the ball–you don’t wanna suffer Food Slam withdrawal. Be sure to score your tix and your fix.

And please stay tuned to this here blog for tomorrow’s news of The Tom Wanderer Dining Experience.

–Erin Harris

An Ocean of Deliciousness at Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern

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I stopped down at Old World Third Street fish-slingin’ Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern and tried the tastiness they’ll be showcasing at the Slam on October 7. First up is their signature hot crab and spinach dip, which is creamy, delicious, packed with Parmesan, and served with buttery, garlicky toast points for dippin’. Next up is their tuna tartare–diced raw tuna stacked up all tasty and fresh on homemade wonton chips with wasabi, soy sauce, and sesame oil. When the rich, deep, and salty flavor of soy sauce melds with the peppy kick of wasabi and saturates your tongue as the wasabi clears your sinuses and seems to go so far as to even clean your brain, it combines with the silky texture of tuna like nobody’s business. These tartare wontons got it goin’ on up in here, so I’m probably gonna eat about fifty of ‘em on the night we all come together to eat to the beat of WMSE.

Food Slam tickets are just about 50% sold out, so if you plan to be one of 500 lucky attendees eatin’ and drinkin’ and havin’ a real good time on October 7, you gotta get your tickets before someone beats ya to the punch. So the gloves are off, Milwaukee–gird your loins, swing over here, and give ‘em the old one-two.

–Erin Harris

Martita’s Magnificent Margaritas

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I was feelin’ down about the demise of summer till I tried Martita’s Guiltless Margaritas. One sip and I sailed away to a tropical paradise where the sun was shining, the waves were calm, and the tequila was flowin’. Throw back one of these good, good, good, good libations and get transported to a land of palm trees, sandy beaches, and a peaceful, easy feelin’. And whether you’re counting calories or just wanting to avoid a sugar-spun spike in your blood sugar, the agave nectar in these mixers is the perfect sweetener since it comes from the same blue agave plant as tequila. Martita’s mixers are made with stevia as well, which, like agave, has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar. So one serving of Martita’s Guiltless Strawberry Margarita Mix has just 25 calories, and one serving of the regular Guiltless Margarita Mix has just 5 calories. And you’re gonna wanna go easy on the liquid thermal units cuz Hector’s on Delaware’ll be throwin’ down their tasty tacos, which are the perfect pairing to these magnificent margaritas.

The sun’ll be shining at 6 pm on October 7, Milwaukee, but only at the Grohmann, where the Slam’ll be rockin’ till 10 pm. So get two tickets to paradise right here.

And instead of posting that Eddie Money song, I’ll share with you my favorite feel-good song ’bout booze ‘n sunshine–His Name Is Alive’s “Lemon Ocean.” It ain’t local, but it sure is lovely.

–Erin Harris

Classic Hand-Cut Goodness at Jake’s Deli

Jake's Scrumptious Chow. Clockwise From Left: Pastrami Dog, Assorted Meats, Reuben Sandwich

I stopped at Jake’s Deli today and dug into some mouthwatering grub. First up is the classic reuben sandwich, which, if you were lucky enough to hit the Slam last October, you’ll recall that we’ve got a kinda tradition of savoring at the food event that rocks your taste buds every fall. Crispy toasted rye bread, tangy mustard and sauerkraut, creamy thousand-island dressing, and juicy, hand-carved corned beef make up this time-honored work of genius. I also tried a pastrami dog, a killer new addition to Jake’s menu, comprised of luscious pastrami, a grilled hot dog, and Swiss cheese on a pretzel roll. And I sampled some lone meats–pastrami, corned beef, turkey pastrami, and salami. These meats are magnificently moist and savory on their own, and when you get ‘em nestled in a Jake’s sandwich with all the fixins and the juice runs down your arm, you know you’ve tucked into something good. The latest word is that Food Slam tickets are 40% sold out, so if you love corned beef…if you revel in pastrami…if you relish deli goodness and old-school tradition, scoot over to Brown Paper Tickets and get yourself a pass to paradise while you can.

And check out this video of me, Food Slam blogger Erin Harris, giving up my anonymity and telling you just how sumptuous Jake’s reubens are. Thanks to Red Stuff for the use of their tune “Surf/Drag.”

–Erin Harris

Purple Door’s Perfect Four

Purple Door Ice Cream's Espresso, Chocolate, and Salted Caramel Ice Creams

Ice cream for lunch. You scream for lunch. We all scream for lunch. I stopped down at Purple Door Ice Cream’s production facility yesterday and had ice cream for lunch, and O, Sweet Succulence, let me tell you how good it is. The espresso flavor, made with beans roasted fresh at Anodyne, pops with a superbly balanced kick ‘a coffee. The chocolate’s perfectly sweet, and the expert confectioners down at Purple Door ain’t afraid ‘a no cocoa. And the salted caramel, well, in the words of one of Purple Door’s retailers, the salted caramel is “make-out good.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’m guessing it refers to the luscious sensuousness you feel when that sweet stuff lingers on your tongue. And the fourth thing that’s cool about Purple Door–if you’re wondering about the discrepancy between the number of flavors in the photo and the number of things in this post’s title–is Purple Door’s Milk for Milwaukee program. The good folks at Purple Door designate a portion of their proceeds to providing milk to local homeless shelters including The Guest House, The Cathedral Center, and Pathfinders. These cats are dedicated to both crafting deliciousness and helping people in need. So come to the Slam to get a taste of their nectarous goodness alongside, say, a knockout slice-a cake from Eat Cake. But you know the drill–you gosta get your tickets ASAP cuz there won’t be none left PDQ.

And here’s a video of Purple Door co-owner Steve Schultz talkin’ ’bout makin’ the sweet stuff. You’ll notice that the dude totally rocks.

–Erin Harris

Local Craftsmanship and Succulent Salamis

Bolzano Artisan Meats Owner and Charcutier Scott Buer Talkin' Handcrafted Salami

Hey you know when you write the official Food Slam blog, you get to jet around Milwaukee and meet cool people who are passionate about creating spectacular food–and my visit to Bolzano Artisan Meats today just might take the cake. I attended charcuterie school and learned about owner and charcutier Scott Buer’s process of handcrafting delectable dry-cured salamis. I tasted the Old School salami–rich, aromatic, vibrant with garlic and cracked black pepper; the Pamplona Runner salami–smoky, sweet, delicate, and melt-in-your-mouth spectacular; and the Fumetti salami–a smoked salami rife with extraordinary flavor. The enzymes created by the fermentation process turn the fats in the meat into jewels as soft and rich as butter, and the delicate seasonings swim with a succulence that lingers on your tongue while your palate begs for a luscious swig of wine or beer. So by all means, get down to the Food Slam on October 7th to taste these magnificent meats that are lovingly crafted with locally sourced ingredients.

Word of caution: Get tickets while you can cuz the Slam’s already over 30% sold out, and you don’t wanna be disappointed!

And check out this video of Scott talking about Wisconsin’s revival of its history of handcrafting great beer, cheese, and other artisan products. And speaking of local craftsmanship, feel the good vibes in the background tune by Milwaukee outfit Black Eagle Child. The song, from the Lobelia album, is called “Families Get Together.”

–Erin Harris

Go Wisconsin Artisan Cheese!

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Food Slam tickets are sold out and I feel real bad for everyone who’s gonna miss out on cheese enthusiast Laura Bucher’s cheese tasting tomorrow night. I met with Laura today and tasted four of the fabulous artisan cheeses she’ll be showcasing at the Slam. Les Freres, a European-style cheese produced by Crave Brothers of Waterloo, is a sweet and earthy cheese that won first place in its category at the 2009 American Cheese Society competition in awesome Austin, TX. Another nectarous cheese, Roelli’s Dunbarton Blue, which Laura terms a “beginner’s blue,” is in the cheddar blue vein family. It’s rich, creamy, deep, and delicious, and its natural rind is so marbled and beautiful that I couldn’t stop eating and photographing its magnificence. The third cheese, Burning Nettle Melange crafted by Holland’s Family Farm in Thorp, WI, is a lusty gouda layered with the flavors of celery, chive, and onion. It’s no wonder that it was a top contender at the 2010 World Cheese Championship. Fresh milk is pumped directly from the dairy to the cheese vat, enabling the cheesemakers to produce the good gouda without preheating, pasteurizing, or bastardizing the milk in any way. My favorite cheese is Marisa made by Carr Valley in La Valle, WI. It’s a sheep’s milk cheese, aged for up to six months, and infused with a subtle toothy crunch, which is the result of tyrosine, an amino acid that’s reputed to spark happiness in the brain. So there’s your science lesson for the day, provided by a writer who had to take Biology twice in high school in order to pass. Laura says that some of these cheeses are pretty weird, but, as we all know, we WMSE supporters are pretty freakin’ weird ourselves, so the cheeses are in good company. I myself will be camped out all night next to these spectacular delights, washing them down with glass after glass of fine Trapiche wine.

–Erin Harris

Check Out Chili Lili’s Chili Bar’s Chili!

Chili Lili's Vegetarian Chili

Chili Lili's Chili Bar Owner Jay Schiek Proudly Talkin' Chili!

I  stopped by Chili Lili’s Chili Bar tonight and sampled the two styles of chili the tasty new Third Ward spice slingers are dishing out at the Food Slam this Friday. The Cincinnati chili with beef and a secret blend of spices including (but by no means limited to) cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate is layered with sweet and savory flavors that you’re really gonna wanna tuck into. The vegetarian chili with soy beans, eggplant, portobello mushrooms, and sweet and smoky mulato peppers is a knock-out, flavorful stew that’s packed with plenty of punch. I had Cincinnati over spaghetti and veg atop some tasty mac ‘n cheese, but down at the Slam this weekend, both’ll be served as miniature sloppy lilies–succulent sloppy-joe-sorta sandwiches on toasted lobster rolls–you know, those outstanding open-top rolls they serve lobstah in on the hahbah in that stunning state of Maine. Chili Lili’s is really rollin’ out the barrel of deliciousness, especially when you consider their slew of house-made salsas with chipotles, habaneros, and jalapenos. Spicy, limey, sweet, salty, and deep in flavor, made right on site and stacked with everything you want in a pack of fine salsas, this trio of tempting tastiness bears (as of tonight) Big Sam Spurhog’s seal of approval. Sloppy lilies and their salsa partners are gonna get big real quick, so get to the Slam on Friday so you can say you knew ‘em before they were famous. Dee-lish!

–Erin Harris

Chili Lili's Cincinnati Chili

Food Slam Q & A

Local Yokel Outlaw Big Sam Spurhog

I sat down with Local Yokel outlaw Big Sam Spurhog and asked him a few questions about the upcoming WMSE Food Slam. A man of few words, he was a reluctant subject at first. Once I rolled him a cigarette and poured two shots of whiskey, he started talkin’ like a house on fire. The following is a transcript of the conversation we had in an undisclosed barroom through the wee hours of this too-bright morning.

EH: What is the WMSE Food Slam, Big Sam?

BSS: That’s where me and the boys cook up some possum beans ‘n the man who holds down the most wins the prize mule.

EH: I think the Food Slam is actually an event held by WMSE where twenty-seven Milwaukee restaurants throw down some of the best food in town. WMSE DJs spin tunes, local establishments provide auction items, and Slammers eat and drink and bid and it’s a real good time. You know what I’m talkin’ about? [Big Sam strums on his guitar and doesn't respond. His eyes are covered by his twenty-gallon hat, but I catch glimpses of their haze every time he throws back a shot of whiskey.]  Where’s this year’s Slam taking place, Big Sam?

BSS: Down at Ma Shepherd’s saloon this year, I think.

EH: I heard it was taking place at the Grohmann Museum on the campus of MSOE. They’ve got art and stuff and that’s the new home of the Food Slam, I think.

BSS: [Blowing smoke in my face.] Could be.

EH: Which restaurants are being featured at the Slam?

BSS: That one I know. Mamasita’s bringin’ tamales, Hector’s is doin’ their puerco en adobo, the Ale House’s got that tasty stout pot roast they do, ‘n I even heard somethin’ ’bout Martita’s margaritas. All that grub ‘n drink makes me thinka that time I was down in old Mexico . . .

EH: I think I heard something about Ball’N Biscuit’s empanadas too.

BSS: Whoo-wee! Them’s the best empanadas I’ve had this side-a anywheres.

EH: What time does the Food Slam start? When does it end?

BSS: That shindig starts when the sun goes down and don’t stop till it comes back up the followin’ week.

EH: This moonshine might be going to my head, Big Sam, but I think the Slam actually goes from 6 till 10 pm. I think the bidding stops at 9 so there’s time to tally everything up and announce the winners, but I think the food and beverages keep flowin’ till about 10. Roll me another one of those smokes, Big Sam, and tell me what night the Slam’s goin’ down.

BSS: When the moon’s full and them mules get us to that town where they got them pretty ladies . . .

EH: You mean October 1?

BSS: Sure, that’s what I mean.

EH: This Friday?

BSS: Uh-huh.

EH: Would you say that the Food Slam is a family-friendly event?

BSS: If yer in a family way, I don’t think that’s gonna stop ya from havin’ a good time.

EH: Well said. Where do you get tickets?

BSS: I think they got ‘em on that there inner-net thing they got now.

EH: I think you’re right. Say, this seems like a pretty sweet gig for you, Big Sam. How did you become this year’s WMSE Food Slam mascot?

BSS: Some cartoon hombre found me in a heap in old Westerton’s barn. I stank like a hog ‘n I was covered in dirt ‘n whiskey. He picked me up, set me on that pig, tied a lasso to the pig’s neck ‘n dragged me over to Belle Whitley’s place. She cleaned me up ‘n got me on the wagon. Now you done got me back offa the wagon and I curse you, you lowdown dirty writerly temptress.

EH: Sorry, Big Sam. But you have to admit, we’re havin’ a pretty good time. Think we’ll have this much fun at the Slam?

BSS: Whoo-doggie! Folks’ll haveta tow me away with the strength ‘a sixteen horses. It’s gonna be a slammin’ good time!

EH: Thanks for your time, Big Sam.

BSS: Anytime. Now throw that empty whiskey bottle out them swingin’ doors. I’ll get us a fresh ‘un.

–Erin Harris

Handcrafted Heaven at Times Square Bistro & Pizzeria

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I stopped by Times Square Bistro & Pizzeria, that oasis of deliciousness that glows like a beacon in the cultural desert that is that strip mall on the corner of First and Bruce. There I sampled heaven in a baking dish in the form of penne al forno. The pasta baked with provolone and tomato sauce would be outstanding on its own, but the savory homemade meatballs really bring it home. Like most of the delights at Times Square, they’re lovingly crafted by owner, chef, chocolatier, and all around Renaissance man Sean Henninger. I also sampled four of Sean’s artisan chocolates, which made me swoon with delight. Two were caramels–one covered with dark chocolate and sprinkled with fleur de sel–and one covered with white chocolate and lightly finished with black sea salt. The caramel and the chocolate coatings are made from scratch and bear the perfect degree of sweetness, which is drawn out with subtlety and an edge of mystery by the deep, mineraly flavors of the sea salts. The blue chocolate in the bottom left corner of the photo–the one that’s making you feel faint with longing–is a whiskey-and-macadamia chocolate that’s like pudding inside. The fourth chocolate is so succulent that it’s a portal to a different universe. Come to the Slam on October 1 and taste what scrumptious majesty that universe is made of!

–Erin Harris

Get Your Veg On With Soup’s On!

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We all know that WMSE presents a sonic fusion of diverse tunes, so naturally the deliciousness at WMSE’s annual Food Slam fundraiser embodies that same passion for diversity. Meat, meat, meat, you might think if you’ve perused the posts below, but fear not, Milwaukee vegetarians, cuz Soup’s On’s got you covered. I visited the Water Street institution today and tasted the stupendous soups they’re rockin’ at the Food Slam a week from tonight. The vegan herbed pea is packed with potatoes, carrots, and celery and beautifully garnished with fresh rosemary, green onions, barley, and lemon. The vegetarian pumpkin chili is rife with black beans, chickpeas, pumpkin, and nopales cactus. Garnishes include queso fresco, cilantro, shredded cabbage, and lime. The soups themselves are extraordinary on their own, but then the fine folks at Soup’s On go that extra mile by piling on all that signature raw deliciousness, which caps your whole eatin’ experience off with brightness and zest. In addition to these savory and fragrant comfort soups, Soup’s On is serving up an outstanding Waldorf salad at the Slam. You know you wanna fill your belly with all this freshness, so get your tickets here while you still can!

–Erin Harris

Spook Them Grits!

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Them good ol’ boys down at Maxie’s Southern Comfort set me up tonight with some of their famous Southern hospitality and a sweet spread of the three delicious dishes they’ll be servin’ up at the WMSE Food Slam next Friday, October 1 at the Grohmann Museum on the campus of MSOE. First up is the shrimp & grits, an outstanding fusion of buttery grits; deep, rich Cajun tasso sauce; and Gulf shrimp. I could say that the grits are what rock this dish–the way their creamy-smooth texture melts in your mouth–or I could say that the perfectly tender shrimp are what make this concoction taste like a million bucks–or I could say that the tasso sauce, that rich reduction of spices and cream and slow-cooked ham, is what makes you wanna yell yee-haw. But it’s the combination of all of the above that compels you to kick your heels. Next up is jambalaya, that classic medley of shrimp, andouille, chicken, and rice. The holy-trinity base of onions, bell peppers, and celery, together with a barrel o’ Creole seasonings such as cayenne and thyme, gives this dish its depth. And last but not least is the vegetarian jambalaya with red beans and tofu, which ain’t no slim pickin’ cuz the smoked tofu is dynamite. Yes, sir, there’s a lot to be said for smokin’. Whoo-wee, smoked food’s got flavor, and Maxie’s brings it way down home. So hey ya’ll, all you Earls ‘n Billy Bobs ‘n Wendy Sues ‘n Emmelines out there, get on down to the Food Slam and fill your plate with Maxie’s bevy of Southern delights!

–Erin Harris

McBob’s Award-Winning Reubens

McBob's Mini Ruebens

I stopped into McBob’s tonight and sampled the mini Reubens they’re throwin’ down at the WMSE Food Slam next Friday, October 1. It’s no surprise that Milwaukee Magazine repeatedly commends McBob’s with its Critics Choice award. The lean, moist, delicious corned beef on buttery toasted marbled rye is slathered to perfection with sauerkraut and horseradish mustard. The rye is crisp and crunchy. The corned beef is juicy and well seasoned. The sauerkraut is bright and pungent. The horseradish mustard kicks like a mule. Together these ingredients tell your taste buds why McBob’s has a national reputation for outstanding grub. Hands down the good folks at McBob’s bring their A game to the creation of this magnificent sandwich. So get your Food Slam tickets here and wash a couple of these bad boys down with some fine Milwaukee Brewing Co. suds!

–Erin Harris

Click here for tickets!


Shuck It All, These Oysters Rock!

Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell

Hey, Casanova, strut into the Food Slam at MSOE’s Grohmann Museum on Friday, October 1 and set your senses ablaze with Molly Cool’s fresh oysters on the half shell. The Old World Third Street tavern’ll be settin’ Slammers up with two varieties of luscious oysters from Maryland and Dabob Bay. Drenched with fresh lemon, the magnificent mollusks ooze a briny sensuality that’ll light your fire as surely as a couple glasses of Trapiche’s wines’ll give you fever all through the night. Not only are the cats at Molly Cool’s gonna shuck oysters on site, they’re also dishin’ out their signature hot crab and spinach dip, which ain’t no slouch itself. Rich, creamy, salty, and succulent, it’s a pretty perfect pairing to the classic aphrodisiac known as the oyster.

Word on the street is that Food Slam tickets are just about half sold out, so if you’re not yet a proud ticket holder, you’re gonna wanna shoot over here and grab a pass to the food event that’s gonna rock your taste buds and maybe your whole night. Yeah, you can indulge in Molly Cool’s delights any night of the week–and hells yeah you should!–but if you bring two nonperishable food items to the Slam to support the Hunger Task Force, you can start the night off right with a free drink!

–Erin Harris

Heavenly Hot Crab and Spinach Dip

Chin Drippin’ Flavor Down at Milwaukee Landmark Jake’s Deli

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All right Milwaukee . . . Slap on the cuffs and throw me in the clink cuz I’d never been to Jake’s Deli till today. The local landmark’s corned beef is so tender, so juicy, and so flavorful that any carnivorous Milwaukeean who hasn’t had the pleasure of making its acquaintance should be tried for crimes against deliciousness. The corned beef melts in your mouth. The seeded rye, locally made at Miller Baking Co., explodes with flavor. The Jake’s-made pickles finish each bite with a zest that sparkles like a lip smackin’ gem. The place itself, with its original fixtures down to built-in bells you used-ta could press to call for service, has gone pretty much unchanged for over sixty years. It’s almost a shame that Jake’s old-school atmosphere can’t be transported to the Grohmann for the food event of the year on October 1, but the Grohmann itself is pretty groovy, and the soul of Jake’s is infused in its hand-cut slices of juicy succulence. So put your fedora on, jet over here to tap the time machine, and shoot back to an era where fast food was good food!

–Erin Harris

Food Slam 2010!!!

Yee haw, Milwaukee! There’s just two weeks till the ninth annual WMSE Food Slam! Yes, sir, in just two weeks, the same folks who air the most di-verse and doggone damn fine tunes in Milwaukee–those very same folks–they’re once again bringin’ together twenty-five of the city’s tastiest restaurants to serve up the best dang grub in town. If you dig WMSE’s smorgasbord of blues, reggae, hip hop, classic rock, classical, free jazz, electro beats, garage rock, and on and on and on–not to mention the deep cuts, the B-sides, and the three-hour programs of, say, obscure German post-punk–if you dig that kind of variety–then your senses are going to explode when you step into the Grohmann Museum on October 1 and you see the spread and you smell the wafts of heavenly goodness. An ocean of food and adult beverages will spread before your eyes, and you will glide from table to table, diving in to Ball’N Biscuit’s empanadas, McBob’s mini reubens, Times Square’s pizza, and Nanakusa’s sushi–all while doin’ good for the community, supportin’ the station with your $30 contribution, and soakin’ up the tunes spun by WMSE favorites Wax Addicts and that beach-baby beat-cat Mr. Tom Wanderer–you know, that far-out daddy-o who really knows how to lay a patch of sweet sonic delights.

In the meantime, fasten your seat belt and hold onto your hat as local writer Erin Harris whisks you off on a lightning-quick, Indy-500-style whirlwind preview of the awesome vittles and delectable libations to be had at this year’s Slam. Keep your eyes peeled to this here blog to check out reviews and photos of all the chocolates, cakes, puerco en adobo, soup, tamales, and brisket that’ve got your name on ‘em.

And until that delicious evening two weeks from now, sate your hunger with the burger that that cat down there under this text is advertising for. If that badass dude sittin’ on top of the pig down there looks to you like his wallet is the one that says bad motherfu**er on it, that’s because it is. Dude is stacked with a ridiculous amount of deliciousness from BBQ pork to beef to bacon to sausage to a fried egg. And if he looks like he’s gonna take a sledgehammer to your heart, don’t worry. He’s a real health nut. He’s got some lettuce there in between those two chunks of tasty meat.

–Erin Harris

Eat! Drink! Bid! Tonight!

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Divine Dwellephant portrait of the legendary Jim Carroll in ink, pencil, acrylic paint, and carpet tacks on beat-up wood. Awesome!

Yee haw! Tonight’s the night for Slammers to slam at the Food Slam! Come to the Eisner at 6 pm and taste the delicious dishes of twenty-five of Milwaukee’s most magnificent restaurants. In addition to the opportunity to taste fine foods and drinks, WMSE’s highly-anticipated 8th annual Food Slam offers Slammers a chance to bid on awesome auction items such as the fabulous portrait of Jim Carroll (left) by Dwellephant, local artist extraordinaire. Need tickets? Get ‘em at the door for just 30 bucks! Need a free drink? Bring three non-perishable food items, donate ‘em to the Hunger Task Force, and get a pass for the adult beverage of your choice. It’s gonna be a slammin’ good time. As both Pop and Bowie said, everything will be all right tonight. So eat! Drink! Bid! Woot!

–Erin Harris

Bid for Boerner Passes!

834Not only will a ticket to WMSE’s 8th annual Food Slam get you on the inside track to tasting a fabulous array of fine vittles from twenty-five of Milwaukee’s tastiest restaurants, it will let you fill your ears with the sublime spinnings of WMSE DJs Tom Wanderer and Shopkeeper Ken, and it will allow you to bid on fun and unique items in the silent auction! Bid on killer goods like an original Dwellephant masterpiece, a one-year pass to all shows at Mad Planet, or season passes to Brew City Bruisers games. We’re especially thrilled that Boerner Botanical Gardens is offering a one-year family membership to the Friends of Boerner Botanical Gardens, which will get you two membership admission cards for two adults and three children under 17, as well as five one-time guest passes. So come on over to the Eisner on October 2 to tune in, chow down, and do your bidding in support of your favorite community-powered radio station, 91.7 FM. Woot!

–Erin Harris

Usinger’s Savory Sausages and Cold Cuts

bg_topHungry Slammers unite! We here at WMSE are thrilled that the great Milwaukee heavyweights Usinger’s are, for the third consecutive year, providing a delicious array of sausages and cold cuts for the Food Slam on October 2. As at previous Slams, cold cuts, crackers, and hardwood-smoked summer sausages will be on hand for casual snackers. In addition, Usinger’s is going all out this year for those in search of heartier fare. Get set to dig in to Wisconsin tradition with sauerkraut and Usinger’s famous brats. Prepare to sink your teeth into the heart and soul of Old Milwaukee with some good old-fashioned beer brats. And get ready to savor the flavor of fennel- and anise-spiced Italian sausages with green peppers and onions. Usinger’s outstanding, robust, and well-seasoned beef and pork favorites are calling your name. So strap on the old feedbag and come relish these hearty, mouthwatering traditional würstchen, ja!

–Erin Harris

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