Milling around Milwaukee

With roots in Cincinnati, I relate to this old German city, with its (sometimes) interesting blend of the old and the new.

There is some funk mixed in with the traditional. We loved the historic Pfister Hotel, which featured a lovely concierge, who knew Cincinnati well, and we reminisced together. He told us of the formal dining room the Pfister used to boast, with dishes like Cadillac Steak, which went the way of the dodo in favor of a cafe where you can actually watch your meal being prepared in the kitchen. Such is progress, but at least they have preserved the lovely interior.

The food trucks we saw numbered two, so Portland has nothing to fear from Milwaukee. But for all the office buildings, there were very few folks crowding the streets at lunchtime.

We felt like we were in Chicago too at times, just a miniature version thereof. There is a river bisecting the city, with a lovely river walk – reminiscent of San Antonio, just without the people.

That’s the part we really were struck by. They are trying very hard here – they just lack people! It’s a rare intersection that requires you to wait for the crosswalk. But they are doing their best to make it attractive. Look at all the flowers and plantings –

The star of the show here is the Art Museum.  This is like a gorgeous white bird rising over Lake Michigan. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava , the structure contains a movable, wing-like “brise soleil” which opens up for a wingspan of 217 feet during the day, folding over the tall, arched structure at night or during inclement weather. The brise soleil has since become a symbol for the city of Milwaukee, and it is astonishing. The art we saw and enjoyed I’ll put in the sidebar, but the building itself is a complete work of art. Calatrava designed the lovely bridge leading to the building, and even the display cases in the gift shop. If this museum were empty, it would still be worth having in your city.

A word about food.  Cheese and sausage are the two basic food groups here, chased by local beer. We loved the Milwaukee Public Market, but dined today in a old German restaurant. Will spare you the meal – which was excellent – but will share the fried salami salad with balsamic vinaigrette.  Grab it if you ever see it on a menu! Afterwards we stopped into both the Cheese Market and the local sausage maker, Usinger’s, just to drool.

Got your taste buds salivating?  Well, just show up for Oktoberfest and dig in. And don’t forget the Harvest Polka Mass!

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