Tag Archive | historic Milwaukee

Mom’s Girls’ Day Out

Hi everyone–Chez Cat mama here!  I wanted to tell all of you about my day in another historic part of Milwaukee.  On Saturday I met up with a friend and we did some shopping on Old World Third Street.  Our first destination was the Spice House.  I have loved this store since I was introduced to it back in 1992.  When you first walk in, you are hit with the smell of cinnamon, which is cleverly placed near the front door.  There are actually many different kinds of cinnamon, and Spice House carries seven varieties–Madagascar, Bourbon, Cassia, Saigon, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Ceylon.  The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable and the spices are blended fresh daily.

The store is located in an old German bakery (called a “konditorei”) that was built in 1858.  The original brick walls and beamed ceiling are exposed for a quaint touch.  Upstairs is a demonstration kitchen, but I haven’t been up there yet–I will as soon as I find time.  On this occasion the store was filled with holiday shoppers and it was bustling with activity.  I bought some salad seasonings and a nutmeg grater with a little bag of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and turmeric attached; on Christmas Day I like homemade egg nog with fresh nutmeg on it.

Sorry it’s blurry, my camera needs new batteries.
Our next stop was Wisconsin Cheese Mart.  This is another old brick building with small tables and chairs to snack on the cheese you just purchased.  They also carry crackers, jams, and a small selection of beverages.  We didn’t buy anything there, but were amazed at the varieties, all made here in Wisconsin.  They ranged from spicy to fruity.  Pepper cheese, chili, European styles, cranberry,  blueberry, even chocolate were all represented.  I definitely am going back again!
Also on this street is Mader’s, Milwaukee’s oldest German restaurant.  It has been serving food in the same building since 1902 and is still one of the top restaurants in the state.  I have yet to eat there (they are a little–well, a LOT–out of my price range), but I did work as a cook at a competing German restaurant, the John Ernst, before it closed so I have had the experience of authentic Deutsch fare.
The last–and best–destination on our list was the famed sausage makers Usinger’s.  Another historic German institution of food!  The inside is amazing–there is a banner along the wall that tells the story of Usinger’s, along with beamed ceilings and marble counters.  Here’s a sample.
They had this little village in one of the display windows.
I didn’t get any pictures of the meat because it was very crowded in there, but the smell was incredible–garlic, smoke, and other seasonings all emanate from this building and mingle with the Spice House across the street.  Add to that the hustle and bustle of the beer halls and pubs that also line this street, and it was a great day!  We bought garlic summer sausage, green olive loaf, and REAL bratwurst.
As you can all imagine, both me and my friend were ravenous at this point.  To round out the ethnic theme of our day, we headed to the lower east side to lunch at County Clare’s.  This is an Irish restaurant, pub, and B&B.  Some of the staff are from Ireland and so ambiance is very rustic.  You can eat and visit with fiddle music playing in the background, or have a pint or two by the fireplace.  In summer there’s outdoor places to hang out and it gets very lively.
We started with a huge platter of curry chips, thick cut french fries with a sweet curry sauce drizzled over them.  It was fabulous!
 We both went for the Kilkenny, which is a club sandwich with Irish bacon and garlic aoili.  And more french fries, but thinner batter dipped ones this time.
Yes, it was HUGE and I took half of it home for the next day.
So, stuffed, shopped out, and ready for a nap, we headed home.  Upon arriving home, I was greeted with this:
“Just ignore her–none of that food is for us.”
So it was a great day and one of most favorite places in the city.  If it had been nicer out we would have visited more places, because there’s plenty more on that street.  Possibly in warmer weather I’ll go back and share it with you all.  Thanks for coming along with me!