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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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From live music to rooftop dance parties, Knoxville has a bit of something for everyone. Photo: Lance Dyzak
From live music to rooftop dance parties, Knoxville has a bit of something for everyone. Photo: Lance Dyzak

5 fun things to do in Knoxville, y'all

After some good friends recently moved to Knoxville, I knew I had to head down there sooner rather than later for some good ol' Southern lovin'. And that is exactly what I got. 

I've driven the route to the Smoky Mountains more times than I can count, as my grandparents were nestled in the mountains for more than 15 years in North Carolina. For this trip, a flight was a necessity as it was a quick jaunt and not an extended trip, but I do still love a good road trip to the mountains. 

If you did decide to drive it you could be there in about 12 or so hours depending on how the fine cities of Chicago and Indianapolis treat you traffic wise. Once you get past the flats of Indiana the rolling hills of Kentucky welcome you warmly before you head into Tennessee. The second half of the drive is gorgeous as you head your way towards the "Gateway to the Smokies." 

Here are five fun things to do while there:

1) Market Square 

The rooftop scene is alive and thriving in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

The downtown area of Market Square is a hip neighborhood that holds plenty of options for you. Shops, bar and restaurants line the borders of the square, which was built in the 1850s and has been rebuilt in recent years -- it is the heart of Knoxville. You can watch Shakespeare on the Square -- or any number of live theater events they hold -- or even watch from one of the rooftop bars. I had a great time just enjoying a cocktail in the hot summer night on a full rooftop bar at Preservation Pub. 

Shakespeare on the Square is just one of many nightly theater and music acts to watch nightly. 

2) Market Square Farmers Market 

 I am not a huge milk drinker, but I had Cruz Farm milk daily while there. It is that darn good.

While there was ton of fun to be had in the night time scene at Market Square, there was also a whole day's worth during Saturday morning's Market Square Farmers Market. Blocks and blocks of vendors selling their goods, arts and produce are there for you to…

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The daily special of BBQ pulled pork left Carolynn with no regrets.
The daily special of BBQ pulled pork left Carolynn with no regrets.
Look for YellowBellies at a curb near you soon.
Look for YellowBellies at a curb near you soon.
With a menu like this, you are sure to find something to please your palate.
With a menu like this, you are sure to find something to please your palate.

Food Truck Week: YellowBellies

Wait up, summer's not over yet. You can tell because the streets are still lined with the ever-growing food truck culture in Milwaukee. It's Food Truck Week here at OnMilwaukee.com and all week long we're stopping at some of Brew City's best restaurants on wheels in search of the most interesting dishes on offer.

I'm huge fan of rotisserie -- so when I heard that YellowBellies focused on rotisserie chicken I knew that I had to try it. You can't miss the big yellow truck -- with a big wishbone on the side -- that is parked at different locations daily. 

After perusing my options I actually decided to try a Louie's Demise BBQ pulled pork sandwich -- one of the specials of the day -- which funnily enough was not a rotisserie sandwich. But, the thing with a special is you never know when they will have it again. So when in doubt, I typically order the special. 

I was more than pleased that I did order the pulled pork as it was delicious and huge! The bread is made daily in the truck and I would describe it as a sort of thicker softer pita. I loved it so much I was sopping up my BBQ sauce with it, too. The pork was a shoulder braised in Louie's Demise Beer and topped with truck made slaw and BBQ sauce. The meat itself was tender as can be and paired perfectly with the slaw and sauce.

For sides, YellowBellies has both hand cut fries (russet) and sweet potato fries to choose from. I chose the hand cut which are cut daily, fried in 100 percent vegetable oil and then tossed with fresh parsley, garlic, salt and parmesan cheese. No regrets on picking the hand cut fries on this part but I will be sure to try the sweet potato ones next time.

Michael and Siobhan Mesenbourg own and run the food truck and both have been in the food industry for the past 15 years -- that shows in both their cooking as well as the expedited service they give from the truck. They originally did not want a picture of a chicken on the side of the truck and came up with the name YellowBellies --…

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I am on the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie skillet in Milwaukee. Where should I try next?
I am on the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie skillet in Milwaukee. Where should I try next? (Photo: Shutterstock)

The perfect chocolate chip cookie skillet

I missed the memo earlier today, but trust me, I am now well aware it is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. 

Learning of it being a day of such importance made me wonder: Where, oh where, is the best chocolate chip skillet in Milwaukee? I've been on the hunt for it, but just haven't found it here. Yet. 

I've had an amazing one south of the border in that nearby city of Chicago, at 404 Wine Bar. I wish I had a photo of it, as I should have one of this dessert masterpiece, but the truth is once it is front of me, I forget everything else and neglect to get a photo. My sisters and I have enjoyed the mouthwatering dish many times, and every time we do, I am hard-pressed to think of one in Milwaukee that competes with it. 

The chocolate chip cookie skillet has to have a few things done just right to make it compete with the best of the best. It needs the perfect cookie (buttery goodness) to chocolate proportions. It must be done (brown on top) but not done. It has to be gooey goodness that is soft and almost falls off your spoon. It should have ice cream on top that is gently melting into your piping hot cookie skillet. A drizzle of melted chocolate on top is bonus points.

Thankfully, I just had a delicious chocolate chip from Pita Brothers, or I would be drooling all over my desk.

Milwaukee, I am willing to take one for the team and go out and find the best chocolate chip skillet dessert in our area. 

Have you had one that is the heaven that I described above? I want to hear about it – and then I will go try it and report back. After all, someone has to take on this issue here in Milwaukee. It may as well be me! 

After holding an executive level position for a local hospital system, Diane De La Santos stepped down and committed herself to serving City on a Hill.
After holding an executive level position for a local hospital system, Diane De La Santos stepped down and committed herself to serving City on a Hill.

#MEETMKE: Diane De La Santos

OnMilwaukee.com is proud to partner with Refuge Smoothie Cafe and Milwaukee Downtown to bring you #MEETMKE during Downtown Employee Appreciation Week on July 28. We introduce you to leaders throughout Milwaukee from all walks of life. Name tags for #MEETMKE will be distributed the week leading up to Downtown Employee Appreciation Week and we hope you will be a part of it. Say hi to your Downtown neighbor and get to know those around you. For every name tag worn on July 28, new #Meetmke tweet or mentioned on Facebook, Refuge Smoothie Cafe will donate a $1 to make-a-wish foundation (up to $5,000). Be a part of your community! 

This week: Diane De La Santos of City on a Hill, a faith-based community development program serving the central city of Milwaukee. In 2004, Diane left her position of 20 years as vice president of public affairs in the healthcare business to respond to her calling to urban ministry.

OMC: What in Milwaukee surprises you, impresses you, frustrates you or inspires you?

Diane De La Santos: What impresses me is the beautiful Downtown area, lakefront and East Side; what frustrates me is the huge gulf between rich and poor in our city; and what inspires me is the number of people working quietly day after day in countless ways to combat the injustices and reduce the disparities.

OMC: What have you read lately that changed the way you think about something?

DD: I just read "Broken Children, Grown Up Pain" by Paul Hegstrom, and it changed the way I think about the struggle involved in overcoming addiction and other life-controlling issues. Unresolved childhood traumas, including poverty and neglect, cause so much of the adult drug addiction and crime we see around us. Childhood wounds and arrested development hijack decision making and keep people in a perpetual cycle of pain that’s hard to escape.

OMC: Define success.

DD: Success to me is discovering and pouring everything you’ve got into fulfilling the purpose for which you were cre…

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