Over our mediocre bagels this morning, Andy Tarnoff and I got talking about how while Milwaukee has things that are round and look and taste a little like bagels, we lack a really great bagel.
The other day, at the annual OnMilwaukee.com Halloween potluck, Jeff Sherman brought in his wife Stephanie's tasty stromboli. It was interesting being the East Coast-native fly on the wall as people discussed what stromboli is.
The stuffed dough got me thinking about the humble knish. It was ubiquitous in Brooklyn growing up. Hell, I even had knishes at Kings Plaza Mall as a kid. There was even the frankfurter knish, with an all-beef kosher dog wrapped in knish dough.
My sense memory then somehow carried me over to roasted chestnuts. It's a gorgeously alluring scent that immediately transports me to Manhattan and Turin in autumn and winter.
When Stone Creek began roasting coffee on 5th and St. Paul there was a smell in the air down there that made me think someone Downtown was roasting chestnuts. I wandered a bit but never found the chestnuts. I did find the roastery, however.
So, here are the five "fast" foods I miss most from my youth in New York. If anyone knows where I can get a good version of any of these here in Milwaukee – heck, any version – let me know via the Talkback feature below. Let me know, too, which regional foods you wish you could get in Milwaukee...
- Knishes and frankfurter knishes.
- Zeppole. These sweet deep fried dough balls are available at pizzerie.
- Roasted chestnuts. From the street. They've gotta be roasted on the street.
- Jamaican beef patties. We even had these for lunch at school.
- Fried clams. I wrote about some at Mason St. Grill that are are good, but it'd be nice to have quicker and easier access, a la the Coney Island boardwalk.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.