The warmer weather and thoughts of the first beer of Summerfest have inspired an eclectic array of recommendations this week in the editorial office. From a flavorful twist on a time-honored snack like sunflower seeds (pictured), to a book about wine, a chilling collection of photos, a tasty burger, a convenient breath-freshener and a great shoe sale and repair shop, we've got you covered.
These are a few of our favorite things this week:
BIGS flavored sunflower seeds -- Ever since I reviewed Bacon Salt (a seasoning to which I am now hopelessly addicted), I've kept in touch with co-founder Justin Esch. He sends me links, and sometimes product samples, of their latest and greatest bacon-themed food. Their latest addition is Bacon Salt flavored sunflower seeds from BIGS. The lineup also includes dill pickle, buffalo wing, zesty ranch and original, and each is pretty unique. Not surprisingly, my favorite flavor is bacon, while my least favorite is pickle (it's a little too dilly). My only problem is that I can't quite figure out how to properly eat these shelled seeds. Most of the time I just gnaw them into a pulp and spit them all over myself while attempting to separate the shell from the seed. If, however, I can figure out how to eat these the right way, look out: I've got a favorite new snack. --Andy Tarnoff
"Piemonte: Noblewoman of Wine" (Wine Appreciation Guild) -- I sometimes recommend wine in this space, so why not a completely over-the-top gem of a wine book? This weighty 12x12-inch hardcover book -- yes, the size of an old LP -- is lavishly illustrated and allows a few dozen of Piemonte, Italy's most respected and in some cases famous winemakers to share their stories and philosophies. These are the men and women behind the majestic barbarescos, the regal barolo, the fruity dolcettos and the delightfully acidic barberas. If the photos don't make you want to jet off immediately, well, then, I just don't know what to say. Cin cin. --Bobby Tanzilo
The Colgate Wisp -- The garlic in your pasta dish tasted delicious, but you left lunch worrying about your breath heading into your 1 p.m. meeting. You need the Colgate Wisp. It's a single-use mini-toothbrush that comes pre-loaded with drops of freshening liquid. The bottom serves as a plastic toothpick, so you can remove particles and give your teeth a quick brushing before moving on with your day or night. It works without water and the stuff is OK to swallow. The Wisp isn't designed to replace a regular toothbrush, but it's perfect quick fix for your briefcase, purse or backpack. The only potential problem is a pain in your forehead, which comes from smacking yourself and saying "Why didn't I think of this?" --Drew Olson
Shorewood Shoe Repair Shop -- It's usually just easier to buy a new pair, but when the soles on one of my beloved Gordon Rush shoes died, I needed a cobbler. Yes, they do sill exist. So, I went to Shorewood Shoe Repair Shop, 3815 N. Oakland Ave. The owner, Mr. Passer, came to America from what was then the Soviet Union in the 1970s. He has, according to many, talked about retiring soon but still fixes a fine shoe at this cozy place. For $45, I got new soles, heels and a full shine. It was a great deal and it took only four days. The phone number is (414) 962-6060. --Jeff Sherman
Wacko beer -- My current favorite beer is a pinkish-red brew called Wacko, made by the Vermont-based Magic Hat. Although the libation looks like a Belgian framboise or domestic raspberry beer, the color comes from actual beet juice. It's not sweet at all which is good news for those of us who don't dig candy-flavored cervezas. Instead, Wacko is a very mild, light-bodied (not low calorie), refreshing craft beer with kick-ass label art. --Molly Snyder Edler
The sharp cheddar bleu cheese burger from Northpoint Custard Stand -- Along with Drew Olson, I lay claim to being the most serious cheeseburger fan in the city. I've searched high and low and have about six places I love and visit regularly. Now, I can add one more. Joe Bartolotta's place at the Northpoint Custard Stand at 2400 Lincoln Memorial Dr. I visited the other day and had a great cheeseburger with both sharp cheddar and bleu cheese on it. The bun was (I think) the same that you get at Sobelman's. A spectacular burger, moist and not overdone. The fries were only average, but that may have been because it was a mid-afternoon visit and they may have been sitting around. The burger, consumed while sitting out on a picnic table and watching the lake, the cars and the girls at the beach -- was outstanding. Life is good. --Dave Begel
Johnny Mathis reissues (Collector's Choice) -- While I'm personally not a Mathis fan, my mom has loved his silken voice for more years than I've walked this Earth, so when I saw these, I took note. (And, you can't deny his velveteen vocal skills, whether or not they're to your taste.) That's because these five two-CD sets bring 10 vintage Mathis discs back to light. Sure, she's got 'em all on vinyl already, but mom has long since switched to CDs. Sony, apparently, wasn't interested in issuing these records -- which span the 1960s -- on CD, so Collector's Choice stepped in and put out: "I'll Buy You A Star" and "Live It Up!," "Rapture" and "Romantically," "Up, Up and Away" and "Love Is Blue," "Those Were The Days" and "Love Theme from 'Romeo & Juliet'," and "People and "The Impossible Dream." OK, it's too late for Mother's Day, but not for mom's birthday! Useless trivia: did you know that Mathis passed up a chance to be a part of the U.S. Olympic running squad for his musical career? --Bobby Tanzilo
Dyson's Airblade dryers -- Dyson does it right. Design matters and Dyson nailed it with its new hand dryer. I saw it first at the new bathrooms at Elite's Highlander in Brookfield. They rock. Just place your wet hands inside and a force of unheated, 400 mph air pushes away the moisture in less than 6 seconds. Amazing, cool and, oddly, great fun. --J.S.
The Allen Edmonds tent sale -- A man isn't really properly dressed without a great pair of shoes. Allen Edmonds makes some of the best dress shoes in the world and their tent sale -- which began June 11 and runs through Sunday at locations in Mequon, 11043 N. Port Washington Rd., Brookfield, 18900 W. Bluemound Rd., and the factory store in Port Washington, 201 E. Seven Hills Rd. -- features great shoes at up to 40 percent off the regular price. Need something for Father's Day? Go over there and grab some fresh kicks, a shine kit, a quality belt or some personalized shoe trees. --D.O.
Boston.com images from Iran's disputed election -- This link needs no explanation. The photography is amazing, but don't take my word for it. See for yourself here. --J.S.