By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer Published Nov 18, 2013 at 5:30 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 the opportunity to visit with Santa at Sprecher Brewery, a pop-up dinner from new Amilinda restaurant concept, a potential new East side coffee spot, Flavors of fall at Kasana, and an anniversary dinner at Sanford.

Santa Claus is coming to town
You needn’t shout, cry or pout. Santa and his elves will be at Sprecher Brewing Company Sunday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 8, for the 7th annual Soda with Santa event.

Best of all, our friend from the North Pole is offering up hugs, smiles and great local gift ideas that will intrigue and delight children of all ages.

Brewery tours will begin on the hour between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. All tours will include the usual commemorative glass and beer or soda samples. But, on these special days, visitors will also have the opportunity to visit with Santa and have your photograph taken with Santa to create a memorable holiday gift – your picture with Santa on a bottle of Sprecher Root Beer. Guests should plan to arrive 45 minutes early to allow time for pictures and visiting with Santa.

Cost is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors and includes the tour, a commemorative glass, beer and soda samples, a visit and photo with Santa; $3 for minors, includes tour, soda samples, visit and photo with Santa. Free to U.S. Military personnel and veterans with valid ID.

Personalized Sprecher Root Beer is $2 per bottle, with a minimum order of 12 bottles. For those interested in a photo only, a keepsake 5x7 photo of your visit with Santa can be emailed directly to you for just $10.

Given Santa’s popularity, tour reservations are strongly suggested. You can make your reservations online at sprecherbrewery.com, or by calling the Sprecher Gift Shop (414) 964-2739.

First pop-up dinner for new restaurant concept, Amilinda
I met Chef Gregory Leon when he first swept into town from San Francisco in 2012. Since that time, he has appeared at a variety of local sampling events, priming the public for the opening of his very own restaurant.

Well, the time is getting closer. Chef Leon is launching a new concept, Amilinda, which he hopes will become a brick and mortar restaurant in the near future.

Amilinda will draw from the culinary traditions of Spain, Portugal, Venezuela and the Deep American South. With a seasonal rhythm dominating the menu, and simple techniques ruling the kitchen, Chef Gregory Leon plans to provide memorable, soul-satisfying meals at a fair market price.  

The first Amilinda pop-up dinner will be held on Friday Dec. 20 at 531 E. Keefe Ave. Seating is limited to 20 guests. Tickets are $65 and can be purchased online at Amilinda.com.

Leon was born in Oklahoma but grew up around the kitchen table in Venezuela. He spent the last 18 years training in San Francisco kitchens at restaurants like Hibiscus, Poesia and Tapeo, but has also worked and traveled extensively throughout Spain and France. 

East side coffeehouse to feature national coffees
If you’re tired of all the local brews from Colectivo, Stone Creek, Valentine and Anodyne, it sounds like the Flatiron Building at 1550 N. Water St. near Schlitz Park will soon be the home of a new coffeehouse. And this one won’t be serving locally roasted beans.

New Yorker Daniel Neumann, formerly of Bayside, is planning to open up a new spot with his brother David Neumann, who still lives in Bayside.

The shop will feature coffee from roasters around the U.S., including roasters in San Francisco and New York, as well as house-made syrups and non-dairy products, like soy and nut milk.

Construction is expected to take the next few months, with the shop expected to open in spring of 2014.

Kasana presents first ever Flavors of Fall event
Kasana, 241 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, will roll out the red carpet for a grand tasting event, featuring fall flavors expertly paired with delicious wines on Nov. 21 beginning at 6 p.m.

John Edwards, formerly of Ray’s Liquor in Tosa, will walk attendees through the aromas, distinctions and experience of each wine presented. John’s wines will be paired with gourmet offerings from owner Ana Docta.

The menu will include cherry tomatoes with caramelized bacon with a parmesan wafer and lavender-thyme tears with sparkling rose, a fall salad with chimichurri dressing paired with Chardonnay, a harvest soup with pumpkins, apples and sweet potatoes paired with Bonarda, duck in orange reduction paired with Pinot Noir, Argentinian stew paired with Carmenere, a sweet Malbec granite palate cleanser, and a dessert of kumquats with Gran Marnier and chocolate ganache, flan, and Yerba Mate panna cotta paired with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Only 40 seats are available for this one of a kind event. Tickets are $62.50 per person or $110 per couple for seven courses and six wines.

Sanford celebrates 24th anniversary with Game Dinner
December 3 will mark the first anniversary of Chef Justin Aprahamian’s ownership of Sanford Restaurant, 1547 N. Jackson St., as well as the 24th anniversary of the restaurant itself. To commemorate these occasions, Sanford will host a 24th anniversary game dinner.

The dinner, which is $105 per person, not including tax and gratuity, will begin at 6 p.m. and will include five expertly prepared courses created by Aprahamian, along with wine pairings.

For reservations, call (414) 276-9608. A credit card is required and reservations are non-refundable.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer

Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.

Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon. 

Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.