Live Auction Excitement Mounts

The heated competition of the silent auction is always a highlight of Food Slam. This year, the big man himself, Mr. Tom Crawford, will be stationed in the Grohmann Museum foyer to host a live auction while attendees line the balconies above. A Thunder Dome of charity auctions, if you will. TC will be feeding you updates on the auction throughout the Food Slam and up-to-the-minute prior to the close of bidding at 8:45 pm. Two amazing packages are on the block:

First, our good friend and internationally renowned artist, Charles Dwyer, has made the single biggest charity donation of his career to WMSE this year.  Behold; this breathtaking oil and gold and silver leaf on canvas figurative painting is 57″ X 69″. The ethereal female figure is surrounded by icons of Dwyer’s dreams floating in and out of a storm of colors.  Dwyer is a long-standing supporter of WMSE. The beauty and generosity of this donation are as grand as his belief in and support of the mission of community-powered Frontier Radio.

The ethereal brilliance of Charles Dwyer

The ethereal brilliance of Charles Dwyer

Next up, you may have heard of a little shindig known as the Milwaukee Film Festival. Well, we’ve got your pass to the whole dang thing and more.  Our gracious friends at Milwaukee Film have donated an exclusive package to the WMSE Food Slam auction featuring Dual Movie Mogul Memberships to Milwaukee Film that includes:

  • 2 all access VIP Film Festival Passes,
  • 2 invites to a Filmmaker Brunch,
  • 6 pack of festival vouchers,
  • 6 month membership to a DVD of the month club,
  • 2 Milwaukee Film t-shirts,
  • 12 members only film screenings (monthly at the Oriental)
  • the best discounts on all MFF merch/tickets

Not enough for ya? Milwaukee Film sweetened the deal with 2 invitations to the Red Carpet Experience of Opening Night including:

  • Valet Parking on Opening Night Movie & Party, and a special Red Carpet ticket holder section of Opening Night Party that includes hor d’oeuvres and an open bar in addition to the full Opening Night Party

Finally, they tossed in a messenger bag and a screen printed poster to top this whole thing off.

MFF Marketing Director, Blyth Meier, had this to say: “I can’t tell you how many times I go to a WMSE event and run into MFF volunteers or vice-versa. It just warms my heart. So when WMSE was looking for a donation for this year’s Food Slam, we said HELL YES and put together this incredible package. Thankfully, the Slam is not during the festival this year so we can be there to fortify ourselves before we enter popcorn season.” It’s nice to know we’ll all have something to look forward to after Food Slam.

The auction is open now so do not waste any time bidding on these incredible items. Just  click here to register and you’re on your way.  Here’s how the bidding works:

  1. By text – Text the 3-digit item number and amount to the welcome message you receive, e.g., 101 500, no dollar signs or decimals are needed.
  2. By smartphone – Click the link in your registration text. It will take you to a personal bidding page. Click on an item and place a bid; it’s that simple.
  3. By computer – click on an item and place a bid.
  4. By “personal shopper” on event night – Find an Auctions By Cellular (ABC) staff in a RED shirt and they will be happy to place your bids for you.

Of course, even if you cannot make it, you can still bid on these thanks to ABC, but your chances are better if you’re in the room.  Lucky for you, there are still some will-call tickets available to the event on Friday.   Click here to purchase your ticket and join the party! We can’t wait to see you!

Chef Ballet at Centro Cafe

Butternut squash lasagna

Butternut squash lasagna

See this butternut squash lasagna? Looks good, doesn’t it? Ooh, it was! Layers of noodles, cream sauce laced with rosemary and roasted butternut squash from the chef’s own garden. It’s a customer favorite at Centro Café, back on the menu this fall by popular demand. Come to Food Slam Friday night and you will get to taste this delight from yourself!

Chef Josh Unser's culinary ballet

Chef Josh Unser’s culinary ballet

Centro Café is an unassuming gem tucked into Center Street in Riverwest. Just inside the door, a counter, where my husband and I had the pleasure of dining, faces a row of burners and a grill where Chef Josh Unser does his culinary ballet. We watched him grill calamari and scallops, and choreograph pan after pan of Italian pasta dishes of seafood, fresh veg and classic sauces. In addition to the butternut squash lasagna, Josh made us a bowl of Arancia, a dish he created for the menu consisting of cavatappi, chicken, olives, capers and artichokes draped in an orange tomato sauce and topped with shaved parmesan. The brininess of the ingredients give this dish a nice tang and it may have changed my mind about capers for the better. Centro offer many gluten-free options, including the butternut squash lasagna and other pastas, making it a treat for those avoiding the wheat.

mmmm, arancia!

mmmm, arancia!

Having a front row seat for Josh’s work made us plan for several more trips back to try the other dishes. It seems you couldn’t go wrong with any of them. The room is lively and not too loud making it a great place for a meal that also lets you appreciate your company. There’s something classically romantic about it too, without being all candles-and-roses cliché.

tiramisoooo good

tiramisoooo good

You can argue with me, but I think tiramisu is the perfect dessert and Centro’s is quite perfect at that, all lightness and coffee served in a sweet little glass. Do yourself a favor and save room for it. It’s the perfect last bite of a meal… and for this year’s blog.

last bite.

last bite.

My musical pairing: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – “Cheek to Cheek”  It’s sweet and romantic as a dinner at Centro. Like the food, every note is clear and uplifting and that bit of swing reminds me of Josh tossing pans of pasta and sauce over the burners with such grace. When Ella and Louis come together at the end, you get that lovely warm feeling of the last sip of wine and last bite of tiramisu.

by Food Slam blogger Steph Kilen

Magical Beans and Barley

Matt Schoeffler, happy at Beans

Matt Schoeffler, happy at Beans

WMSE’s Underwriting Director, Matt Schoeffler, joined the staff just a week after last year’s Food Slam.  Since then, he has eaten “many, many” chicken burritos at Beans and Barley. When I asked him what he liked about them so much, the man-of-few words spoke an enthusiastic “everything.” Prodded a bit more, his face lit up as he told of the perfectly-melted-every-time cheese and the addition of olives, so often missing in most burritos. Though tempted to order his stand-by, Matt decided on one of the evening’s specials, a spinach and feta lasagna, with which he was very pleased. I took a cue from Matt and had the roast tomato and smoked provolone sandwich with spinach and pesto mayo. I ate the whole thing. I could not stop. Every bite begged to be followed by another. The melted cheese wilted the spinach perfectly, and the roasted tomatoes added a delightful sweetness. Its gooey goodness made it feel like one of the more indulgent things on the menu considering Beans and Barley is known as the go-to place for healthy, vegan and vegetarian options. Still, I felt I had done something good for myself when I was done. I always do at Beans. A nice amble through the adjoining store helps digestion. Even on a full stomach, it’s hard not to ooh-and-ahh over the desserts, baked goods, salads, deli items and cheeses in the store’s cases. I usually find a unique gift for a friend (or myself) and take advantage of their fantastic magazine and card offerings. The food, the service and the space are a breath of fresh air; everything feels so healthy and kind. Inside Beans, it’s easy to feel you don’t have a care in the world. No wonder it has been a Milwaukee staple for more than 30 years.

Smoked provolone and roast tomato sammich...mmmm

Smoked provolone and roast tomato sammich…mmmm

Matt’s musical pairing: Temper Temper – “Trust Me”

Matt says, “Eating at Beans & Barley always reminds me of driving up to Milwaukee during my college years to go to shows at such wonderful venues as The Globe East, Mad Planet, Onopa Brewing etc. No matter what, I always took the time to stop at Beans & Barley to eat before a show. The food was, and still is, top notch. This is one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands of Milwaukee’s past, Temper Temper. Their guitar player, Jim Neumeyer, is now co-owner of Beans and Barley. Things come full circle. Even though so many great Milwaukee bands have come and gone over the years, it’s great knowing that Beans is still here.”

by Food Slam blogger Steph Kilen

Maxie’s Southern Hospitality

The sign says, “Get some south in your mouth.” It’s a very good directive. Maxie’s broad menu of southern comfort foods and warm hospitality can make a person yearn for lower latitudes where everything moves a little slower and summer lasts a little longer, where you have a little more time to enjoy it all. WMSE Station Manager, Tom Crawford, and I did, indeed, enjoy it all at Maxie’s and took all the time we needed to properly savor the experience.

Deep fried pickles, y'all!

Deep fried pickles, y’all!

I’ve lived a life devoid of deep fried pickles and now, for the second time in a month, I was digging into a pile of them with Tom. The man loves his deep fried pickles, and when the waitress was about to place them in front of me, Tom redirected her to his end before the plate could hit the table. Juicy spears of lightly battered goodness were being dunked into creole sauce before you could say “fiddle-dee-dee.”  The space on my end of the table was filled by a plate of Redneck Rellenos; Anaheim peppers stuffed with pulled pork, goat cheese and grits, batter-fried and served with sour cream and salsa. They were kicky and brilliant and I was happy to have them on my side.

redneck rellenos

redneck rellenos

Tom ordered up beef ribs, hickory smoked with Kansas City style sauce, merrily joined by white cheddar mac-n-cheese and creamy fennel slaw. Tom licked his fingers and giggled over the ribs; smoky, tangy and with great bark. I snuck forkful after forkful of the mac-n-cheese, and he graciously encouraged it. The slaw rounded out the trio adding a cooling crunch to the meal.

"Goodie, goodie!" Ribs and mac-n-cheese

“Goodie, goodie!” Ribs and mac-n-cheese

I debated what to order for my entrée, but when I mentioned the frogmore stew, our waitress’s enthusiasm for the dish made the call. “I’ve been here since they opened six and a half years ago,” Tracey, our waitress, said. “This is my absolute favorite thing on the menu.” One bite and it was easy to see why. Shrimp, mussels, fish, house-smoked chicken sausage, onion and fresh corn swam in seasoned broth like happy kids in a pond. The mix of seafood, spice, smoke and sweetness common in many southern dishes is my favorite thing about southern food. Maxie’s has the balance dialed in, and each ingredient shines in its own right. My cup runneth over with thanks for the grilled bread to sop up the broth.

frogmore stew. soppin' up the goodness

frogmore stew. soppin’ up the goodness

Tracey convinced us to find room for dessert, and we were awfully glad we did. It was hard to choose from the varied offerings, but we settled on blueberry and white chocolate bread pudding with house-made vanilla bean ice cream, lemon crème anglais and the cutest cookie in the shape of Maxie’s signature fish. Refreshing and comforting at the same time, I wonder why bread pudding has not caught on up here. We couldn’t finish it all, and the next morning, the thought of it in my fridge made getting up a little easier.

blueberry and white chocolate bread pudding. A sweet, sweet ending.

blueberry and white chocolate bread pudding. A sweet, sweet ending.

Always friendly service, lively atmosphere and food that makes you moan with delight are great reasons to visit Maxie’s. Their support of public radio in Milwaukee is another one. “Dan Sidner (co-owner) openly, honestly and unselfishly supports all three radio stations,” Tom said. You can’t miss the signs for the darlings-of-the-low-end-of-the-dial at the front door. Paired with the smiling faces that greet you, you know you’re in a good place.

Tom’s musical pairing:  James Booker  – “Junco Partner” Tom says: “The meal was so good it felt illegal. I felt like we were committing a crime. Food can’t really taste this good. Like we were on the lamb and this might be the last meal  as our hustle gassed out and the cops were outside.  Down the road my junco partner!”

by Food Slam blogger Steph Kilen

Giving You the Finger

Eating all six burgers offered by Comet, Honeypie and Palomino is a reward in itself. Each one an homage to a Milwaukee band. Each one raising money for WMSE. Each one a mouth party.  But when you show real fortitude in the face of six amazing sandwiches and great commitment to the Mighty WMSE, it’s nice to have something to show for it…like a big foam finger. Eat all six, get your placemat stamped, get yourself a foam finger. What am I going to do with a foam finger? you may ask. The WMSE staff has some ideas for you:

Ask admittance to the station.

Ding-dong. Foam finger here to see you.

Ding-dong. Foam finger here to see you.

Say, “Hey! You! Tom! Yeah, you!”

Making a point of Tom Crawford.

Making a point of Tom Crawford.

Put a little extra ooph in your work day.

Ryan Schleicher, the six-finger typer.

Ryan Schleicher, the six-finger typer.

extra insulation

extra insulation

Thank goodness for autocorrect.

Thank goodness for autocorrect.

Decide what to listen to next.

The finger helps Erin Wolf select tunes for her next show.

The finger helps Erin Wolf select tunes for her next show.

Make fun of your coworkers.

Poor Matt Schoeffler. Naughty Justin Shoman.

Poor Matt Schoeffler. Naughty Justin Shoman.

Rock out.

Tom Crawford at the last Yanni concert.

Tom Crawford at the last Yanni concert.

Recreate a scene from Reservoir Dogs.

All disagreements should be settled via foam finger.

All disagreements should be settled via foam finger.

Relieve boredom.

Chris DeMay searches for the big one.

Chris DeMay searches for the big one.

Silence your artwork.

Mark Winter auction sculpture, you be quiet.

Mark Winter auction sculpture, you be quiet.

Dance like no one’s watching.

Justin Shoman knows how to shake it.

Justin Shoman shows Miley how it’s done.

And in case that’s not enough motivation to go get your burger on, some food porn from Comet:

Def Farmonic burger

Def Farmonic burger

Collections of Colonies of Beef burger

Collections of Colonies of Beef burger

Comet is killin’ its Bay View brothers in the burger smack down. As of Monday Aug. 26th burger count stands:

Comet- 497

Honeypie – 291

Palomino – 174

Step up Southsiders! Get down to Honeypie and Palomino and show those fancy-pants Eastsiders what you’re made of!

You have until day of the Food Slam, Friday, September 13th, to gobble your way to foam finger fame. (If you do, be sure to post a photo on the WMSE Facebook page.)

by Food Slam blogger Steph Kilen

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