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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Often, I vote early. Like today.
Often, I vote early. Like today. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Often, I vote early

It never really occurred to me to vote early in the past, but in recent years, I've done it a number of times. Mostly I've done it out of convenience.

If you've got kids and if you transport them to and from school yourself, you know that a good routine must be followed. So for elections that I know will draw a big crowd, I've taken to voting early at lunch, rather than trying to cram it into the evening, which is pretty tightly scheduled.

At first I was like some folks I know who balk at early voting, thinking they'll miss the camaraderie of voting with the hoi polloi on Election Day.

Today, when I voted at the Zeidler Municipal Building Downtown I was reminded that, well-meaning as that attitude is, it's faulty.

There were way more people today lining the corridors waiting to vote, in the act of voting or affixing an "I Voted" sticker to their jackets than there would be at my neighborhood polling place at nearly any time of day next Tuesday.

Best of all, there seemed to be a festive atmosphere. All the poll workers I encountered were cheery and friendly. One older woman even held my arm to walk me to a polling booth rather than simply pointing the way and moving on.

So, while I didn't see my immediate neighbors at the polls today – as I might on Tuesday – I saw dozens of my Milwaukee neighbors – from all corners of the city – and we voted together like good neighbors do ... with a smile.

Not only are the desserts at Le Reve stunning and unspeakably delicious, they're inexpensive, too!
Not only are the desserts at Le Reve stunning and unspeakably delicious, they're inexpensive, too!

This editor's restaurant choices

For the sixth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Concordia University. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2012."

For each of the 50 categories in the annual OnMilwaukee.com Best of Milwaukee Dining poll, we, as a team select our "editors' choice." Many of them I agree with, and some I don't. But in the spirit of democracy, I don't refute any of them.

However, in some categories, I have very real favorites and so in those, I humbly offer up my picks ...

Best Restaurant: Western Suburbs
Ristorante Bartolotta. The best Italian restaurant in town.

Best Breakfast
Ted's. Mostly for the counter seating and the vibe. Though the food's good, too.

Best Brunch
Blue's Egg. A good mix of hearty and haute.

Best Burger
Oscar's on Pierce. The burger's great and Oscar's a nice guy, to boot.

Best Patio
Cafe Hollander Tosa. Great people watching and, for the kids, trainspotting.

Best Fish Fry
Kegel's Inn. A traditional fish fry in a traditional setting. Sadly, these are becoming harder to find.

Best Pizza
Calderone Club. It's a thinner crust than I tend to love, but I find myself craving C-Club pizza pretty often.

Best Desserts
Le Reve. The most sumptuous desserts, often for about $5. That can't even cover the labor, much less the ingredients. The best and most delicious dessert bargain in town.

Best Hot Dogs/Sausages
Write-in: Usinger's. Visit the shop and you can enjoy a wiener on-site.

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant
Organ Piper Music Palace. Like Ted's, this one is all about the ambience.

Best Milwaukee Food Product
Usinger's sausage. A long, distinguished old Milwaukee tradition that is as tasty as ever.

Best Wings
Club Garibaldi. The wings are delicious, plus there's sometimes live music and always a neighborhood corner tavern feel.

Read more...
More questions than answers in the aftermath of Sunday's shooting in Brookfield.
More questions than answers in the aftermath of Sunday's shooting in Brookfield. (Photo: WISN-TV)

Brookfield tragedy leads to more questions

The news is sadly familiar. This from a report a few days ago:

"A gunman opened fire in a central Florida beauty salon Thursday, killing three women and wounding a fourth before killing himself at a nearby home, police said. The shooting appeared to be part of a domestic dispute."

Three days later, a nearly identical story played out in Brookfield and we watched. But why do we watch?

Of course, that's a rhetorical question. We watch for lots of reasons – out of fear, out of interest, drawn by drama. It is human nature to watch.

I find other questions are a little harder to answer.

Like, what's going on in the suburbs? Folks outside the city seem to believe the real danger is within Milwaukee's limits. But the temple shooting in August was in Oak Creek, last week's armed bank robbery was in Glendale and Sunday's tragedy unfolded in Brookfield. That covers the three compass points of Milwaukee suburban sprawl, and we're stuck with the unsettling reminder that terrible things can happen anywhere.

Like, why did anyone barely notice when three were shot dead in Milwaukee on Friday? Sure, that got a mention on the news. But barely.

Like, are we becoming hardened to this kind of tragedy, even when it occurs in our own backyard? Folks I know that were watching the Packers game said that the news of the Brookfield shooting didn't even warrant a ticker along the bottom of the screen during the game. Even a snowstorm gets that.

Of course, we wonder today, too, about how people didn't see this coming – though, in hindsight, we often ask that – and about the effectiveness of restraining orders in protecting threatened individuals. And, certainly there is the most fundamental of questions: what leads humans to treat other humans this way?

But that circles us right back to the realm of the rhetorical question.

Read more...
With a new exhibition at Milwaukee Art Museum comes an inspired new menu at Cafe Calatrava.
With a new exhibition at Milwaukee Art Museum comes an inspired new menu at Cafe Calatrava.

Stefanko paints a new menu inspired by Rembrandt

For the sixth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Concordia University. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2012."

Last week, Milwaukee Art Museum opened "Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London." At the same time, the museum's Cafe Calatrava launched a new menu inspired by the show, which runs through Jan. 13.

"Creating a menu to accompany the masterworks of the Kenwood exhibition has been especially exhilarating, and not just because the works were donated by the Guinness family, whose beer has been the gold standard of stouts since it was first brewed," quipped Chef Josh Stefanko in a statement.

"My imagination bustled while contemplating the cooks and servants who must have kept up the kitchens of the neoclassical Kenwood House during its heyday in Europe's Belle Epoque."

Looking at English cuisine and the food of India – inspired by the Colonial Age connection – Stefanko's menu features dishes like the Ploughman's Lunch (with ham, English cheddar, pickles, apples, pickled onions, mixed greens and crusty bread), a wild boar and sage bangers and mash, fish and chips, pasties and and English cheddar and caramelized onion sandwich, alongside samosa starters and a roasted curried vegetable and paneer batard.

On my mind for the next visit? The dilled salmon rilletes, that boar bangers and mash and some steamed mussels.