How are we all doing?? I am doing wonderific. We have been on the road for a while and I’ve been able to experience some small town girl things (like leave the small town and go to big cities). Being from the Midwest, especially a state like Iowa, I kind of put the bigger cities around us on a pedestal. Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee. These places are where the true city kids grew up. Those kids had style, knew the cool music and were light years ahead of people like me in life experience. The privilege of growing older is getting to check off your list of wants from your childhood. I went to Milwaukee and got to make a check mark on my list.
Eric and I were working in town at the House Harley Davidson for Harley’s 115th anniversary. Milwaukee is home to the origination of Harley Davidson, which makes the museum there ever so meaningful. This brought in quite the crowd. And all the bikes. Old ones, new ones, ones with lights. Even as someone who has just scratched the surface of interest in bikes, it was impressive to see. Harley Davidson has a large vein in our history as a country. They were a vital part of the Vietnam war, creating new vehicles for the type of travel needed in the war. So as a fan of history, I enjoyed learning about their part for our country and Eric loved looking at all the pretty bikes.
Eric and his parents used to live in Milwaukee. They came in town for the event and wanted to show me some of their favorite spots. The first stop was at Soon’s Sushi Cafe. This cafe has large portion sizes and quality fish. A double plus. This family owned cafe has won several awards for best sushi in Milwaukee. Soon, the owner, actually came over to our table. She offered a tip to Eric on how to eat sashimi (mix wasabi in with your soy sauce, “so much flavor’!). She said that when she first moved to America and opened the cafe pregnant women in America didn’t eat raw fish. She told them in Japan pregnant women ate sushi and it was thought to be good for the baby. Still, they wouldn’t eat it. But now she sees more and more pregnant women come in and eat her food. She just smiles. “I told them.” A sweet lady and awesome sushi for a great price.
The most important spot they wanted to take me to was the Public Market. This is their #1 favorite place in Milwaukee. Eric says the best part is cheap beer and discounted seafood. Both made me a little weary. I mean, cheap beer is Iowa’s state food but discounted seafood has negative connotations. I love going out to eat with Eric’s parents because they like to eat seafood exactly like I do: in bulk form. We ate a varied flavor of oysters. We each ate crab and lobster and fries. And we absolutely drank copious amounts of cheap beer.
Beyond St. Paul Fish Company, this place is everything I pictured as a small town girl thinking of the big city. There was a spice shop and a cheese store (I mean it’s Wisconsin so their gourmet cheese options were plentiful.) They had a kitchen were they offered cooking classes. A wine shop next to the chocolate stand. It felt like I was in the hub of the community. Such a cool place!
The cherry on the cake was BelAir Cantina a taco restaurant with the best salsa I’ve ever had. (And it was complimentary!!) One was Salsa Verda, which contained tomatillos, fresh garlic, and jalapenos. Another was Roasted Salsa, basic but delicious, made of roasted tomatoes and jalapeños. And my absolute life changing favorite was the Spicy Arbol which had arbol chiles, roasted tomatoes & garlic (I am a mega wimp when it comes to spice… but this kept me coming back for more!). That was just the salsa. I ordered two of the fried avocado and bacon tacos and one Korean beef taco. I am sucker for corn salsa, which the fried avocado had, so clearly loved it. The Korean beef had jicama in it, which I never had before but will choose to have it again. Delish!
The great part about BelAir Cantina was our server. As soon as I mentioned that I had a dairy allergy, she turned on her heel and left. I thought I wasn’t going to be able to eat there for a second. She returned with the manager who reassured me that they would take care to not have any dairy in my meal. I mean that type of focus made my experience… well just read above. It made an impact, it wasn’t just the food. (But seriously, that salsa… is what Mexican food dreams are made of.)
Milwaukee is really cool. It exceeded the small town girl hype I had built up in my head. After the Public Market we went to a couple bars on Water Street. We walked by the river and got to feel the city buzzing. That is my favorite part of visiting a city; getting to walk in their downtown and get a feel of what it is like to live there. (As I do all the tourist activities… 🙂 ) I loved that Eric showed me a part of his life before me. It was a special experience. I hope to go back and get to dig a little deeper into Milwaukee life.
Until next time, keep wandering! ❤ afk