Some say the phrase "ball and biscuit" is a Southern blues term for a man and a woman. Some say it's drug slang -- and critics are still arguing over Jack White's intentions when he penned the song of the same name for the White Stripes' 2003 release "Elephant."
Here in Milwaukee it's got its own reference point: it's the name of Maria Miller and Daniel Cline's catering service. Based in Riverwest with a professional kitchen in Shorewood, Ball'n Biscuit Catering is, as the same suggests, a little bit traditional and a little rock 'n roll.
Miller created a full-service menu that runs the gamut from mussels in white wine sauce and whole smoked salmon to Milwaukee favorites like meatballs and ham and cheese sandwiches. But this list of 75-plus items, she says, is just a starting point. She's prepared to dish up any request, and what she really enjoys is a good culinary challenge.
Bay View couple Michael Seidel and Amy Severinsen used Ball'n Biscuit for their April 2008 wedding, and, much to Miller's delight, they had a kicker: They needed everything from appetizers to desserts to be 100 percent vegan.
Miller collaborated with them to create a menu that included her famous guacamole and hummus, as well as barbeque seitan and pesto penne entrees to feed a crowd of nearly 200.
"Maria and Daniel were extremely adaptable and creative in accommodating our request for an all-vegan menu," says Seidel. "They were really excited to push themselves to create vegan food that was delicious enough to appeal to even the most hard-worn carnivore -- and there were many in attendance that day! To say that they succeeded is a absolute understatement."
Miller and Cline's approach to catering is not marked by extravagance and they focus on the food rather than frills.
"I just think food is really important," says Miller. "I think it should be as clean as possible, organic and I think you should know what you're eating. We're concerned with presentation while we're setting it up and that kind of thing, but we really want to help people who are on a budget."
They'll offer money-saving suggestions -- like providing your own decorations -- and work with clients to get the most out of their orders, which are priced per pound.
"We can do more planning, if people want it. I'm just such a budget conscious person, and that's what I want to offer to people."
Ball'n Biscuit prides itself on its community connections -- Miller is a Brewcity Bruisers roller girl and all of her recipes were tested on her fellow derby girls -- and supports as many local vendors as she can. She's a regular at The Outpost, Riverwest Co-op, Growing Power, and for the Seidel / Severinsen wedding, she made a stop at Attari Supermarket, a small, family owned Middle Eastern grocery on the South Side, for fresh pita bread.
Thanks to word of mouth, Ball'n Biscuit has been cooking dishes like chicken curry, veal-stuffed shells and spinach ravioli for Milwaukeeans for close two years. Now, equipped with a Dwellephant-designed logo -- one boasting an illustrated meatball holding a glass of wine and a biscuit with a bow -- Miller and Cline await their next gastronomic quest.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”