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Holiday Entertaining

Tips From 5 Local Foodies

Story by Jenna Kashou
Photo courtesy of Bill Johnston

The holidays are a time of togetherness and nothing brings people together more than food. Whether you follow family traditions, or create your own, being a good host is an art. Five local foodies—pros and amateurs—dish about what they’re excited to put on their holiday table and the real makings of a get-together.

The Party Designer: Bill Johnston

Use lots of candles. Everything looks better by candlelight, and don’t forget to have extra ice on hand, always! —Bill Johnston

When you love to cook, eat and drink like Bill Johnston, you’re destined to be a good host. Johnston grew up in a large, close-knit family that was always entertaining large groups. “Everyone pitched in and brought their best to the table,” he says. A few special family recipes have remained intact over generations and graced the table at his gatherings: a creamy dip known as “Reuteman,” Grandma Alice’s caramel rolls and his great-great grandfather’s sausage. Johnston’s signature dish is a wild mushroom tart—a mixture of sauteed wild mushrooms with fresh herbs and brandy, braided into a puffed pastry strudel with cheese.

Johnston really shines when hosting … Read More

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Great Minds Think (and Drink) Alike

A Culinary-Inspired Brewing Operation

Story by Brett Kell
Photography by Joe Laedtke

Brew City is living up to its name once again. With 2016 ushering in nearly a dozen new breweries, the glory days of countless locally made beers close at hand are no longer a distant memory.

In addition to stalwarts Sprecher, Lakefront and Milwaukee Brewing Co., recently established breweries are becoming favorites in their neighborhoods and beyond: Brenner Brewing, Urban Harvest and soon-to-open Madison transplant MobCraft in Walker’s Point; Company Brewing and Black Husky in Riverwest; Big Head in Wauwatosa; Enlightened Brewing in Bay View, Good City on the East Side, Westallion in West Allis, Bavarian Bierhaus in Glendale and Biloba in Brookfield. Two more, Third Space and City Lights, will open soon in the Menomonee Valley. And Vennture Brew Co. is gearing up for Tosa.

Even famed Milwaukee cornerstone Pabst will begin brewing again, in a church on its sprawling former grounds just north of downtown. This year has also included formation of the Milwaukee Craft Brewery League, to which many of the aforementioned entities belong.

Notable among these new kids on the block is Like Minds Brewing Company, a partnership between serious beer geek John … Read More

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Fungus Among Us

A Medley of Local Mushroom Growers

Story by Brett Kell
Photography by Joe Laedtke

With spring around the corner, visions of once again chopping and sauteing a broader swath of nature’s bounty have begun to dance furtively into the daydreams of Milwaukee chefs and home cooks alike. The scramble is on to plan menus around seasonal ingredients that are so frequently the star of a dish after winter’s thaw. Few of these are as captivating as the humble mushroom. Fewer still are those who have spent the winter growing them.

A handful of local mushroom growers are committed to providing a diverse variety of mushrooms both foraged and cultivated, with a keen eye toward quality and affordability.

Mushroom Mike, LLC

Mike Jozwik’s burgeoning eight-year-old business, Mushroom Mike, LLC, is an increasingly well-known example of this commitment. An expert forager, Jozwik could forget more about mushrooms and wild plants than most will ever know. He recently began growing them in a newly renovated, customized space in the National Warehouse building in Walker’s Point he affectionately dubs “the ’Shroom Factory.”

The facility includes a lab, an incubation room and a grow room, where Jozwik produces hen-of-the-woods, king trumpet, lion’s mane, oyster … Read More

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Holiday Blitz

Area Artisans Ramp Up During the Holiday Season

By Molly Rippinger

As shoppers wait until the final hours to find the perfect presents, Wisconsin businesses have already put in time and a half to ensure there are enough locally-made gifts for everyone on the list. Check out the numbers to get a grasp of how much extra effort goes into crafting these 10 holiday specialties.

1. A Fishy Tradition

During the holidays, it’s not uncommon to see a line snaking through the door at Empire Fish as five times the normal amount of customers come in to stock up on seafood for seasonal dishes.

Although shrimp, crab, lobster, oysters and smoked fish make up the majority of sales, Kevin Conrady, Empire Fish manager, said they still get in about 200 pounds of lutefisk for holiday customers. A Scandinavian tradition, lutefisk is dried cod that is rehydrated in lye, rinsed and boiled or baked before being served with butter, salt and pepper.

11200 W. Watertown Plank Rd.
414-259-1330 •

2. Slice of the Season

The turkey may take center stage, but pies are a close second when it comes to the hierarchy of holiday eats. At Honeypie in Bay View, … Read More

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SpotHopper’s Individualized Approach

Milwaukee-Based App Eliminates the Guesswork of Going Out

Story and Photography by Molly Rippinger

Fueled by the frustration of poor-performing review apps, Aleks Ivanovic and his son, Nikola, were inspired to create an app that better catered to the tastes of users. The result was SpotHopper, a local search engine providing personalized recommendations for bars, beers, cocktails and wines.

“Most review apps recommend places based on average score and, at the end of the day, everything ends up settling around 3.5 stars,” said Ivanovic. “Sure, the typical review app might prevent you from making a mistake, but odds are you won’t love where you end up.”

SpotHopper made its Milwaukee debut in April 2014 and is free to download through Apple or Android. The app bases recommendations on users’ location and also their preferences of beers, wines and cocktails. Ambiance and price point are also taken into consideration.

Earlier this year, Ivanovic introduced bar management software that allows the SpotHopper team to automatically update a tavern’s online content, including all arms of social media.

Ivanovic explained that his subscription-based software saves bar owners precious time that might be wasted crafting messages for social media. “A post needs to be … Read More

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The Best of the Booze-Less

No More Boring Soda Water and Lime Wedges

Story and Photography by Molly Rippinger

Today’s bartenders are catering to teetotalers with concoctions that are just as complex and delicious as the real deal. “You want the drink to be refreshing,” says Joshua Wolter, beverage director and general manager at C. 1880. “Also, a nonalcoholic drink should never take away from the experience of enjoying a cocktail.”

Ask Wolter for a nonalcoholic option at C. 1880 and he’ll deliver a drink that isn’t dulled down. During late summer months, he reaches for cucumber or ripe melon, fresh herbs and a bottle of Fever-Tree ginger beer. Shaken, strained and served in a coupe, no one will know the concoction is sans spirits.

Belly up to the bar at Goodkind and enjoy the invigorating flavors of a craft soda laced with fresh ginger, Szechuan peppercorns and lime juice. The housemade ginger beer, served over ice with a lime, arrives at the table in its own individual bottle.

Tiki drinks are notoriously heavy on the alcohol, but if you ask for a booze-less option at Foundation Bar, they’ll happily oblige— umbrella and all. Try the lightly carbonated “Lei Cooler” with fresh pomegranate, … Read More

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Sinking Our Teeth Into Spain

Milwaukee’s Appetite for Iberian Cuisine

Story and Photography by Molly Rippinger

Tapas and sangria aren’t the only things worth mentioning when it comes to Spanish cuisine. Thanks to Aaron Gersonde, Andrei Mikhail and Hemad Fadaifar of Movida, and Gregory and Orry Leon of Amilinda, Milwaukeeans are quickly becoming well-versed on all things Iberian.

“In our own little way, we are educating and showing people the real food and drink of Spain,” says Mikhail. The country has a rich culinary history stretching back centuries, with an array of influences from France, Italy, Greece and ancient Muslim regions.

Movida serves small plates that span the spectrum of Spain’s specialties—from traditional paella and sliced-to-order jamon, to tender bites of Galician-style octopus or Basque sausage.

The team behind Movida has plans for another Spanish concept in Walker’s Point, called Hotel Madrid, slated to debut in late 2015. The space will include a bar, boutique hotel and restaurant emphasizing rustic, Spanish entrees.

A short distance away on Wisconsin Avenue, the Leons give Milwaukeeans a glimpse into Spanish and Portuguese cuisine at the newly-opened Amilinda. Before becoming a brick and mortar, the restaurant found its legs as a pop-up concept at The National … Read More

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Prosit! Dinner in the Beer Garden

New Book of Lore, Recipes and More

Story by Rebecca Ratterman

“On a warm summer evening, I love to watch light filter through the leaves of the dogwood and viburnum, with a beer in hand, salad on the table, listening to the conversation of friends as I refill their glasses. ‘Why is it,’ I wonder, ‘that food and beer taste so much better together when we’re in the beer garden?’” – Lucy Saunders

There is something special about the combination of summer sunshine, friends, good food and fresh beer. If you’re looking for a potential guide for bringing these four things into your life, beer guru Lucy Saunders has you covered. Her newest cookbook, Dinner in the Beer Garden, is for people who enjoy carrots and kale, but also love beer, cheese and chocolate.

Profiles of beer gardens and tips on pairing beer with fruits and vegetables appear in between recipe chapters, with lots of stories and tips on pairing. Recipes were contributed by chefs such as AJ Hurst from Vintage Brewing Co., chefs from the Kohler Festival of Beer, as well as home cooks like Lucy.

The Milwaukee-based author has written three other beer-centric cookbooks and expanded into … Read More

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Strong Coffee, Strong Bodies

New Liquid Fuel

Story and Photography by Edible Staff

What do you do when your Paleo food truck is winterized and stored for the season? You don’t hibernate—you explore a liquid supplement for the diets of Milwaukee’s ancestral eaters, Crossfitters, NatMovers and beyond. Alan Harris, co-owner of Urban Caveman food truck, wanted to work on partnerships with companies working in the same “brain space”—i.e. gyms, the places that burn the fuel his company provided in the form of food.

Strong Coffee Company, a joint project between Harris and Adam Von Rothfelder of Milwaukee’s Drench Fitness, began in November when Refuge Smoothie Cafe found their current home on Farwell and left the space at 763 N. Plankinton Ave. Transforming a bar that blended smoothies into one that made very special types of coffee drinks, wasn’t too difficult. GoGeddit, a Milwaukee company, styled the strong man logo, and the rest of the space was made from repurposed materials.

The first step, beyond updating the decor, was to find a partnering coffee roaster. Harris says, “The reality is, there are a lot of coffee companies in Milwaukee. That provided us with high-quality roaster options and a well-informed customer base. Our … Read More

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Stems Cut Flowers Grows

Puts Down Roots for New Location in Washington Heights

Story and Photography by Edible Staff

April showers bring May flowers… and, in the case of Stems Cut Flowers, a brand new brick-and-mortar location by the name of Wood Violet at 5119 W. North Ave. Named after the Wisconsin state flower, proprietess and flower child Emily Watson’s new store combines design and retail, providing elegant florals and seasonal decor to weddings and events, along with opportunities for visitors to learn through workshops and classes.

Wood Violet’s focus, an extension of Stems Cut Flowers’ mission, is to feature Wisconsin-grown flowers, supplemented by a few West Coast options.

“Four to five years ago, I had to explain what I was trying to do with local flowers,” says Watson. “Now, people who are looking for an eco-friendly, Wisconsin-based florist find me—many are from Chicago and DC—folks who grew up here and come back to get married. Over the past three to four years, the market has really developed.”

Angela Quigley, co-owner of Married in Milwaukee, agrees: “People are definitely looking to buy local gifts, food, flowers… They even have dresses made by local designers. Emily from Stems is the option we give … Read More

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