Friday, August 21, 2015

400th Post! And a New Feature

Drum Roll Please......I have reached post number 400!!!!! Wowzers! What started out as an online diary has morphed into this blog over the past years. Attending a blogger conference in Utah in February of 2013 is really what got me focused and set my course for the posts that you are reading today. In just the past year, I have changed the look of my blog and actually had a logo developed for my "brand." And in the past two years, I create a Facebook page and have fans that follow and comment. All of this just boggles my mind, but I still enjoy this pastime and love to see where it's going.

A huge thank you to all of you that read my blog. I hope that what I share brings you some information and maybe a few smiles or laughs along the way. 

Time for a little reminiscing over the past few years. Here are a few of my favorite posts that I have shared with all of you.

The post that started it all

The addition of the bars and restaurants tab on the blog

Paninis and Potatoes Post

Working with Qdoba for some posts

The Annual Food Blogger Cookie Swap: 2014, 2013, & 2012

My year as a Foodie PenPal

And of course, all of my posts about Waukesha. This town holds a special place in my heart and I hope that my posts show that. I want everyone to see how great of a city I live in and want to come here and spend time and money!

And with that, I want to introduce a new feature that I am adding to my blog. I'm calling it.......

Wings Around Waukesha

Eight years ago if you asked me to go out and get wings with you, I probably would have said no. I didn't understand biting meat off of tiny bones smothered in hot sauce. But now....ask me to get wings with you and I'm in! I still don't like the hot sauces, but just like everything else in this crazy world, wing sauces have developed tenfold and restaurants offer more than just BBQ, Mild & Hot.

I want to share my wing experiences with you in the community. I already have a few favorites that I'm going to start with to get things rolling and once I have a few posts written up, I'll add a tab to the site that features all the wings I have tried.

If there is a specific place you think that I might want to check out, let me know. My guy and I love wings and are always open for trying new places. And he likes spicy foods so we will be able to try a variety of sauces.

I am working on a rating system and also have some specific things that I'm looking for to compare the wings from location to location. I hope you find this feature fun and useful if you are a wing fan too. Watch for the first post next week!

Again thank you to all my readers and here's to another 400 posts! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Divino Gelato


The weather has been absolutely perfect for enjoying a noon time stroll around the city. And with it being August, planters are full of gorgeous foliage and everything looks great. I did a few laps last week through downtown while deciding what I wanted for lunch.

There are quite a few options for lunch, many of which I frequent, but I forgot that a place that serves up some of Waukesha's favorite cold treats has lunch options too!
The place I am referring too is Divino Gelato Cafe - located in the Avalon building on the east end of downtown. Though most people go there for the amazing Gelato, they have pizzas and an Italian beef sandwich on the menu too. I decided I would order the sandwich, and it was extremely hard to resist the Gelato, but I did (somehow!)
It was just a few minutes for my sandwich to be made, so I took a seat and relaxed. The inside of Divino Gelato makes you feel like you are outside, the walls have buildings painted on them and the ceiling looks like a sky.
Two freezers are full of Gelato flavors just begging for you to try them. If you have never had Gelato, it is worth the slightly higher than ice cream charge - very creamy, even though it has less buttermilk than ice cream!

My sandwich was ready and I took it back to the office to enjoy-- I was not disappointed. The beef was thinly sliced and piled high, the cheese was melty, and the seasonings were spot on. The au jus soaked into the bun just enough to add flavor but not a soggy mess. I asked for the mild gardinieara (hot is available too) on the side as I'm not much of a spice person. It was good, but even that was a bit much for me. I'm glad I asked for it on the side.
I'll have to keep this place on my radar and come more frequently! They have locations in Racine and Brookfield Square Mall, but those are just Gelato. They also own Sloppy Joe's Soda Fountain in downtown Waukesha on the Five Points. **Allo! Chocolat on Main Street sells Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, headquarted in Madison. It's a premium ice cream that is very smooth and creamy. I haven't tried it yet, but I think the next time I'm downtown, I'll have to stop in and get a cone! 

So when its warm out and you looking for a frosty, delicious treat, or hungry and want a sandwich, Divino Gelato is where it's at!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Meli & Waukesha Civic Theatre

The power of social media lead me to a great night out in Waukesha earlier this month. While scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I saw that a friend posted that her daughter was going to be in Shrek the Musical Jr. at the Waukesha Civic Theatre. It looked to be a really cute show, and the tickets were extremely reasonable, so I bought a pair for my guy and I to check it out.

I also had my heart set on dinner at Meli to check the place out for a meal. Unfortunately, my guy came down with a horrible bought of pneumonia and couldn't attend. But mom came to the rescue and filled in for him. She was on board for my plan of checking out Meli.

We arrived very close to 5 pm and the place was already starting to fill up. We chose a high top table across from the bar and too a look at the menu for a few moments. I had a really hard time deciding what to get because everything sounded so amazing.

Being the person that I am, and my friends will definitely get a laugh out of this, I ordered the Grilled Flanksteak and Hummus Flatbread. My mom too went with a Flatbread - the Mediterranean Grilled Chicken.
 It didn't take long for our food to come out though the restaurant was filling up nicely. The bar was very busy. My mom's flatbread was almost like a chicken gyro with tzaziki sauce and all. A gorgeous side of fruit accompanied the flatbread. She told me it was delicious.

 My flatbread was really good too. The chimichuri sauce added another layer of great flavor to the dish. The hummus was light, the steak was cooked to perfection and so tender. I ended up eating most of it off the pita and then enjoying the pita at the end. I got a side of sweet potato fries and honey mustard dipping sauce with my flatbread. The honey mustard is the best! I won't say that I made the best choice pairing sweet potato fries with the flatbread, but both of these items would be excellent on their own!
 By the time we left at a little after 6, the restaurant was hopping. I think every table was full, the bar was full and outdoor dining too! Friday Night Live draws a nice crowd to downtown and I hope that these people continue to patronize the businesses even after the event is over in Fall.

We had a little time before the play started so we wandered through a few shops in downtown before heading over to the theatre. While waiting for the show to begin, they have a video screen with cute stats about the production.
 I also received a pamphlet in my show program about movies that the Civic Theatre is hosting once a month. In October, it's Hocus Pocus and in December it's Elf. Just $5 to see the film.
Photos were prohibited during Shrek the Musical Jr., but it was really cute. I laughed a lot and had a smile on my face for most of the show. And I will say that my friend's daughter received the most laughs of all when she debuted as Lord Farquaad.

Though this show is done for the year, the Civic Theatre has an excellent line up this season with a little of something for everyone. I even received a voucher in the mail for a buy one, get one on a future show - excellent!  I will make one suggestion if you come to a show--it's a bit chilly in the theatre so dress accordingly. The performers are wearing more layers and have hot lights on them, so I understand why it was cooler, but I was ill prepared and couldn't wait to get outside into the hot summer night after the show!

So thank you to Facebook and my friends because my mom and I had a wonderful night in Waukesha. As for my guy, he is recovering nicely and we hope to be out in downtown soon for a bite to eat!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

225 So. - Mia Famiglia

Ever since I heard that 225 South was opening in Waukesha, I wanted to check it out. Finally, last week Thursday, a few of my girlfriends and I found a night that our schedules aligned for a dinner, and we chose 225 South - Mia Famiglia for our dinner.

My parents used to frequent the Mia Famiglia in Hales Corners until the restaurant closed to focus on retail business. The food was fresh and always made to order. A friend of mine also took a cheese-making class at that location. When I heard that Mia Famiglia was coming to Waukesha, I followed the construction updates regularly. And then when it opened, I watched for reviews. From everything I read, it sounded like this was a Waukesha-favorite already!

I got to the restaurant a little earlier than my friends and took a seat at the bar. I was greeted by a friendly bartender who told me about the Happy Hour specials and the house-made sangria special. I selected a glass of the red sangria and took in the ambiance.

The garage door was open on the front of the location, allowing passersby to look in and see (and smell) the restaurant. The garage door area also serves as additional bar seating with stools so you can look out the door and check out downtown Waukesha. A few high top tables are in the front of the restaurant and then some low tables are down the middle. Against the side wall is a long booth with tables and chairs so they can accommodate groups of all sizes. 

During the ten minutes that I waited for my friends, quite a few groups came in for dinner. This is a great thing to see at a local establishment. Everyone seemed really friendly and ready for a great meal!

My friends joined me shortly and we got a table in the middle of the restaurant. Our server (Carrie, Kari, Kerry?) greeted us and because it was all of our first time here, she told us about the menu. Most items are homemade and made to order --a few are not, but most entrees are. She also said they try really hard to locally source as many products as they can, and the fresh produce they are using currently is from local farms. I love that they are being locally responsible! She gave us a few minutes to look over the menu and then came back to take our order.

We each had a hard time choosing which dish to go with as so many sounded good, but we all knew we wanted pasta. I decided on the Rigatoni, and my friends chose the Mac and Cheese and Fettuccine. My friend also ordered the Bruschetta as an appetizer for us to try.

The Bruschetta came out just a few minutes later and looked absolutely divine. The tomatoes were so red and juicy and the aroma was delightful. The bread was lightly toasted and the tomatoes were piled high across the toast. It tasted even better than it looked and I highly, highly recommend this to everyone that dines there.

Our entrees came out a little while later. Because everything is made to order, the dishes do take a bit to come out, but it's not an unbearable length of time. We had time to catch up on what we have each been up to the last few weeks. I also noticed that the restaurant was almost completely full, bar area included. This is a great sign for a new restaurant.

When the entrees arrived, we were all extremely impressed. Portions were very generous and the food smelled amazing. And then the table got extremely quiet because we all dug in and couldn't stop eating. Everything was exceptional!

About my entree -- the chicken was possibly pulled from a rotisserie chicken as it had that flavor to it. The cream sauce was delectable but not overwhelming. It did have a little pepper kick, but knowing my taste buds, it's probably a pretty typical amount of seasoning. The dish was also generous on mushrooms and everything went together so well.

I took about half of my meal home, as did my friend with her mac and cheese. My other friend's entree was so good, she finished the whole dish. I bet I would have if I was her too, the shrimp looked so appetizing! Not to mention, shrimp doesn't reheat as well as chicken or mac and cheese, so it's best to eat it fresh.

We didn't save room for dessert, but Carrie told us to definitely save room next time. And we will, because we will definitely be returning! The have a great happy hour special until 6 pm with drink, appetizer, and flatbread specials. And I read on their Facebook page that they have late night specials as well on the weekends.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Big Weekend in Waukesha

August is just a few short days away and with the start of the month comes a big weekend in Waukesha.

Friday Night Live takes over downtown on Friday night. I have only made it out to one of these so far this year, but I'm planning to change that now that my schedule is a bit more open. The music I heard the last time at a few stages was very enjoyable and the community has so many talented musicians. I really like Friday Night Live and seeing all the businesses open and busy with customers milling around and purchasing gifts.

Saturday starts off with the Waukesha Farmers' Market. Though I haven't made it to many of these this year, from what I saw at a roadside stand, this is going to be a good weekend to attend the event. The stand by Christina's on Summit Ave/Hwy 18 looked freshly stocked with gorgeous tomatoes, squash, and corn. I hope to swing by this week and get some before the weekend. But I also plan to check out the market. I love this time of year. My yard doesn't allow for me to grow any plants due to the lack of sun exposure, so I can't wait to pick up some locally grown fresh fruits and veggies to have at my house. Time to start researching some new yummy recipes to try!

I have also started training for a half marathon. I don't have a half in mind that I want to participate in, but I have had the goal that I will run a half marathon by the time I'm 35. No time like the present to begin training! Part of training involves eating right and getting proper nutrition. So the farmers markets and I will be really good friends for the next few months!

Also, this weekend is Shrek the Musical at the Waukesha Civic Theatre. The musical has a short run, July 31 - Aug 9, but is sure to be entertaining.My guy and I are attending the 7:30 show on Friday night. Maybe I can convince him to get a appetizer at Meli beforehand :)

I am getting very close to my 400th blog post. With that post I will have a great new feature that I will be sharing with my fans and I'm sure you will enjoy it. I'm finalizing a few details but I hope to share it with you in a week or so! Stay Tuned and hope to see you out in Waukesha!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Clarke Hotel Irish Restaurant

My friend and I recently went to get drinks and dinner at The Clarke Hotel. I had heard great things about the fish fry on Fridays and a few other dishes, so we decided to check it out for ourselves.

We went on a Thursday evening and decided to sit in the bar for a drink before we had our dinner. I went for a traditional Irish beer, Kilkenny that pours from a nitrogen tapper. It was very refreshing and hit the spot.
The bartender told us that the hotel was seeing great occupancy rates and the restaurant was a hit! In addition to being the bartender, he was also the hotel "front desk" that evening and checked a few guests in while we were there.
The bar definitely has an Irish flare to it with beer signs, Irish sayings and the dark paneling on the walls, traditional with other Irish pubs I have visited.
The tappers for beer were lit up and really helped make it easier to read what was all on tap.
We decided to start with an appetizer. Although I'm not a huge Reuben sandwich fan, a friend turned me onto Reuben Rolls a few years ago and I have never looked back. We decided to get those to enjoy while we figured out our dinner selections. They came out quickly and we dug in. The horseradish sauce had a bit of a kick but didn't over power the roll. I could taste each ingredient on its own and it all went together really well. These are probably the best Reuben Rolls I have had.
Then it was time for another drink and our bartender suggested that I try one of the specialty beers. I went for a Magner's Cider with a shot of Caramel Vodka in it - so it became a cool spiced cider. This was amazing! I never thought of this combination, but I'm so glad I tried it.
I wandered around the hotel lobby a bit and enjoyed looking at all the vintage pictures of downtown Waukesha. They also have a banquet hall for meetings and small parties that is available to rent.

When it was time to figure out what to have for dinner, we decided to just stay at the bar because some live music was about to start and we wanted to enjoy it. I really wanted someone to order the Guinness BBQ Sandwich because I wanted to see just how huge the sandwich would be. I mean it has mashed potatoes right on it! But alas, no one had, but I did see a variety of other entrees and pleasant reactions from the other diners. I selected the Shepherd's Pie and my friend went with the Beef Stew.

Everything came out piping hot and I had to move the potatoes on the top of mine so that I could let it cool down before I enjoyed. The Shepherd's Pie was fantastic! I enjoyed every bit of this meal and had half of it to take home because it was so huge. The vegetables were tender, the meat was perfect and the potatoes had a light crisp to the top.
My friend's beef stew was excellent as well. Her dad makes a great beef stew but she said this one comes in second to his. Everything was tender, the meat fell right apart and the flavors were outstanding.

After our meal, the bartender then treated us and other patrons at the bar to a little Irish after dinner drink. I'm not exactly sure what was all in it, but it was minty, chocolatey, and delicious.

The service was excellent - the bartender was extremely knowledgeable and could answer all of our questions and made sure we were enjoying ourselves. The music on a Thursday evening was light enough to be able to have a conversation over, but added to the ambiance of the bar. On the weekends, they also have brunch and traditional Irish music that I want to come back and check out.

I think that we will definitely be back as I want to try other dishes from their menu and hear more of the live music. I highly recommend having a drink and a meal at The Clarke Hotel!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Waukesha County Fair Time

How quickly this month seems to sneak up on me every year, but at the same time, I am always very excited to see it come. I have worked for the Waukesha County Fair for the past ten (maybe more) years and it's coming up just next week!

I could not ask to work with a better team at the Fair each year and help make this great family tradition happen. The Fair Association is an amazing group of people to work with and their fantastic Executive Director makes sure there is something for everyone at the Fair. Though I have seen it all - rain, hail, wind, heat advisories, drought conditions, cold, and perfect temps & sunshine, I wouldn't change a moment of it. You can't control the weather, so we roll with it, and have a great time. That's part of living in Wisconsin, right?

The Waukesha County Fair is the oldest fair in the state of Wisconsin and the largest even in Waukesha County, held at the Waukesha County Expo Grounds. The Fair runs July 15 - 19 for the 173rd time!

When I'm not working, my main focus at the Fair is checking out all the new foods, obviously and I have tried some really great things in the past year. The new foods list has been released and a few of the items have peaked my interest. Ruben tots from Jayme's Chopstix and the beer brisket sandwich from Sprecher top that list.

Last year I tried the Adult Root Beer Float from Sprecher that had a little whiskey kick in it and the deep fried Oreos from another vendor that were divine. I tried the nachos from the community tent and they were worth every penny (though they were extremely reasonable!) A Fair staple for me are Bubba's chicken strips from Silver Spur. That is typically my lunch on Saturday or Sunday. They are so tasty - that perfect sweet and salty combination.

And you can't forget about the desserts. The 4-H kitchen has cream puffs (a Fair tradition), ice cream sundaes, dipped cones, and many other sweet treats. Not to mention it's located in one of the Fairgrounds' air conditioned buildings, so it's a great place to cool off. I also have to get myself a funnel cake every year!

You really can't go wrong with what you eat at the Fair. I have yet to find something that I didn't like and I'm on the grounds all five days of the Fair, so I have had a lot of the food.

The Fair has great local bands on the side stages in addition to National Recording artists on their Main Stage - Rodney Atkins, REO Speedwagon, Jackyl & Quiet Riot and Three Dog Night are the evening concerts.

Hot Air Balloons, a Shark Show, rides, games, animals, exhibits, demolition derby, truck pulls, children's activities and so much more. You truly can find something for everyone at the County Fair. And you can do it inexpensively. Each day there is a way to get in for a discount and if you act now, you can save buy buying tickets in advance!

The Fair kicks off on Wednesday (7/15) at noon and it's just $1 to get in, $1 to park and $1.25 per ride. Talk about a bargain! And once you are in the gates, besides the midway rides & games and what you want to eat, everything is included in your admission - even the main stage shows.

So if you need to reach me next week, you know where you can find me - I'll be on the grounds taking in the sights and sounds of the Fair and hoping to get the Fair the best media coverage around.