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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

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MOCT, 240 E. Pittsburgh Ave., launched a new menu earlier this week.
MOCT, 240 E. Pittsburgh Ave., launched a new menu earlier this week. (Photo: Whitney Teska)
MOCT hasn't regularly served food since 2005.
MOCT hasn't regularly served food since 2005. (Photo: Whitney Teska)

MOCT launches new menu

On Wednesday, MOCT rolled out its new NOVO Urban Bar Fare menu, which the restaurant will now be serving 4 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

The popular bar and club, located at 240 E. Pittsburgh Ave., initially launched in 2004 with a full-service Serbian Restaurant, Café Fabrika, has been pretty much foodless -- save for special parties and catered occasions -- since Fabrika moved out in 2005.

But in December 2009, MOCT reopened the kitchen to shuttle out light appetizers including pizza, wings, fries and one token Serbian selection with a trio of bureks. Some seven months later, MOCT was ready on this warm, sunny evening to launch its new, full service menu under the capable hands of Chef Jeremy Hoch (formerly of The Social and Juniper 61).

With the large garage style doors open and lively music playing, patrons weren't deterred by a closed eastbound Pittsburgh Avenue in coming to experience Hoch's new menu. Bars and tables were lined with mixed bar nuts ($3) served sweet and spicy with sprigs of rosemary, and cones of truffled popcorn ($3) with essence of white truffles.

A table in the back offered guacamole ($6); chunky and flavorful with ripe avocado, tomatoes, and crisp light El Rey style adobe chips, and three chafing dishes of chevap, Serbian pork and beef sausage-style skewers with roasted red pepper drizzled atop; an exceptional take on shrimp with a tomato citrus sauce, served with cilantro rice; and surprisingly sweet, but very good Jamaican Jerk style chicken wings.

On the true menu, all these dishes appear with slight variations. The shrimp is served Mofongo ($12) over fried green plantains, the chevap ($7) appears in both mini burger or skewer forms with farmer cheese, and wings can be glazed in original, Asian mango, or the aforementioned Jamaican Jerk.

Servers also dropped off plated samples of the fish tacos ($11), soft corn tortillas with a tender piece of cornmeal crusted tilapia shining through cabba…

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Flavor from the first dish doesn't belong in the second dish.
Flavor from the first dish doesn't belong in the second dish.

May I have a fork, please?

I'm increasingly noticing that restaurants no longer seem to do the silverware switch. That is, after you finish your appetizer and your knife and fork are smeared with the saucy goodness from your first course, instead of removing the utensils with your app plates and replacing them with a fresh set for your entrée, the smeary knife, fork, and/or spoon remain.

In some places, I've even noted that if I specifically place these sticky, used flatware pieces on my equally sticky, used appetizer plate, the server will go to great pains to remove the offending flatware and return it to the table before taking the plate away.

It's not a big deal, I guess, if you don't mind the balsamic glaze from whatever you ate first melding in with the beurre blanc on your main entrée, or if you don't care when your now sauce-laden spoon is lying back on the table with who knows how many germs adhering to the leftover remnants. But call me crazy, sometimes I do mind. Sometimes I think the flavor from my first dish doesn't belong in my second dish. And I'm not sure why my fork must remain.

I think there are only a few places left out there that still have an actual living, breathing dishwasher in the back who washes and dries all the dishes by hand. Most restaurants now have one of those humongous stainless steel washers where someone loads everything in one side and it comes out hot, steamy, and clean on the other side in a matter of a minute or two. So I really don't understand why switching out my fork is a big deal to the server, unless, of course, the restaurant doesn't have enough flatware to begin with.

But maybe I'll just start outright asking for a silverware switch from here on out and see how many eyerolls and frustrated sighs this incites.

 

Switching to wheat bread takes some getting used to, but is well worth it.
Switching to wheat bread takes some getting used to, but is well worth it.

Taking the leap to whole wheat

My family has gradually made the leap over the last nine months with a somewhat resistant adult, a more resistant adult and a resistant 8-year-old in tow.

Let's face it, even though we all know we're supposed to be upping our fiber and whole grain intakes and kicking out those sugary, no good white flour products, a lot of us grew up on PB&J on Wonder Bread. Those tastes are instilled in you from childhood, and it's hard to kick them to the curb until one day you suddenly realize that your sandwich tastes better on 100 percent whole wheat, and lo and behold, the bread isn't all gummy and stuck to the roof of your mouth!

Not that even switching the bread is easy -- you have to read all the labels because some of the honey whole wheat and seven grain varieties can actually be worse for you than plain old sandwich white. But no one ever said that being healthy was easy.

As if that's not enough, it's hard on your wallet, as well. The healthier breads tend to cost you at least an extra buck a loaf, not to mention that whole wheat pasta is double the price per box, and if you want to make a gluten-free leap to brown rice pasta (which I think is fantastic -- try Lundberg's brown rice penne rigata for gremolata dishes or any other cold pasta dishes), you're looking at up to four times the price of plain old Creamette spaghetti.

And texturally, if you aren't used to it, some whole wheat products are quite the tactical leap but it's mostly psychosomatic. I only make lasagna now with all whole wheat noodles because no one can "see" the difference, and the flavor is unbelievable compared to pasty old white flour noodles.

However, when we have company over and the noodles are even partially exposed, I always "cut" our whole grain or durum whole wheat spinach noodles with some of the old white staple thrown in -- it's less of a cognitive leap for people, and often, they're shocked at how good the flavor is.

Besides, what kid wouldn't love a plat…

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