By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Aug 19, 2013 at 11:04 AM Photography: shutterstock.com

Even if you're paying close attention, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with the latest in food news here in Milwaukee. So here's a taste of what's new and notable, including Milwaukee’s first ever Cocktail Week, the return of the SURG Block Party, extended hours and a new menu at Kasana Café, and Open Mic Night at The National Cafe.

Get ready for Milwaukee Cocktail Week
Milwaukee is definitely a beer city, but we also have a burgeoning cocktail scene that’s worthy of celebration.

And that’s exactly the idea behind Milwaukee Cocktail Week, which will take place Sept. 22-28. Spearheaded by Alcoholmanac Magazine, Bittercube and a board comprising representatives from MKEfoodies and Milwaukee’s top bartenders and bar owners, Cocktail Week events will showcase and encourage the growth of Milwaukee’s cocktail culture through cocktail-focused events of exceptional quality and value.

A kick-off event, planned for Sunday, Sept. 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Horny Goat Hideaway will feature punch cocktails, house-made sausages and other tailgate-style fare from area restaurants including Wolf Peach Restaurant, Hinterland Erie Street GastropubLove Handle Food & Drink, Smoke ShackMaxie's and Bavette.

The remainder of Cocktail Week will also include a variety of pre-dinner, dinner and post-dinner cocktail events, each taking place at various establishments throughout Milwaukee. The goal behind each event is to highlight each neighborhood’s unique offerings and give Milwaukeeans a "taste" of the best and brightest. 

Cocktail Week will culminate in the ultimate educational celebration, Cocktail College, an event featuring tastings, seminars and learning experiences for everyone from cocktail novices to aficionados.

Watch for details at milwaukeecocktailweek.com and on Facebook at facebook.com/MKECW.

The return of the SURG Block Party
It’s time again for the third annual End of Summer SURG Block Party, which will take place on the 700 block of North Milwaukee Street on Sunday, Aug. 25 from 2 to 9 p.m.

The party will feature food and drink from Gouda’s Italian Deli, Graffito, Carnevor, Distil, 8*Twelve, Mi-Keys, Umami Moto and Bugsy’s Back Alley Saloon.  Attendees will also be able to enjoy wine, sushi and pasta-making demonstrations, along with live music from DJ Devast8, Road Crew and Element 13.

Kasana extends hours, introduces new menu
Kasana Café, 241 N. Broadway, has announced that it will extend its hours to accommodate a new, vibrant dinner service Wednesday through Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m. The new menu will feature myriad dishes, including many gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options, with Argentinian and Brazilian flair.

Appetizers include Bolinhos de Bacalhau, a classic dish made with wild cod and potatoes, and Argentinian empanadas featuring meat, chicken or spinach and mushrooms. Salads include a roasted vegetable mélange, spinach salad with cranberries and goat cheese, as well as a Southwestern inspired black bean salad.

The sandwich list includes the "Kasana Burger" featuring grass-fed, hormone-free ground beef, seasoned with organic dates, walnuts and parmesan cheese, and presented on homemade pita bread. Meanwhile, entrees include the Iscas de Filet, white fish embellished with a crisp coating made from mandioca and organic walnut flour.

After dinner treats include Argentinian cookies, panna cotta, champagne granita and traditional tiramisu. Organic hookah and cocktails made with "Cachaca" (sugar cane rum from Brazil) round out the restaurant’s unique offerings.

The National Café hosts summer patio party
Get over to The National Café, 839 W. National Ave., for open mic night on the patio Wednesday, Aug. 21 from 6 to 11 p.m.  The full menu will be available, along with specials, beer and wine. Entertainment will be provided by anyone and everyone who chooses to showcase his or her hidden talents at the open mic.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.