Longtime readers know that there isn't really a pattern to the recommendations that flow from OnMilwaukee.com's editorial office. Sometimes, we focus on food. Sometimes, the recs have a music or movie-tinged theme. This week, we're all over the map. We've got gourmet fast food (pictured), a great household utensil, a kitschy Web site, a maternity top, a groovy iPhone app and some rockin' reggae-flavored music.
These are a few of our favorite things this week:
Fancyfastfood.com -- You might not think about buying gourmet food at a drive-thru window. Some talented "foodies" at this interesting Web site can turn your average $6 combo into a stunning meal. This is a version of "Extreme Meal Makeover." They buy a fast food meal, deconstruct it, throw it through a food processor (in most cases) and repurpose into something that looks beautiful. You can turn a Wendy's Baconator Combo into a fancy Napolean dish (pictured) or Fancy Popeye's Chicken into Spicy Chicken Sushi. The recipes are cool. You might not try them, but they're great to read. --Drew Olson
Two paid Apps for the iPhone -- I'm normally a free App sort of guy, considering most of what I use my iPhone for is already built into the hardware. Occasionally, I'll drop a buck on something fun, but this week, I bought my first $10 App, and I don't regret it. It's called Firemint Real Racing, and it's a legit racing game, shrunk down to size. It's pretty similar to the Gran Turismo series for the PlayStation, and while its graphics and gameplay can't compete with a PS3, it's still very, very impressive. What's better is that the game is playable on a phone that doesn't have any real buttons. It's actually worth the price, and I've been playing it non-stop all week. The other App I bought recently is called Distance Meter Pro, and while the free one is also available, the $5 version is much better. As a new runner, I'm amazed at how this App works: it uses GPS signals to measure your route and your distance, and then provides average pace and speed and allows you the ability to quickly upload your workout to TrainingPeaks.com or MapMyFitness.com. You can view your route, see how many calories you've burned -- and it's all incredibly accurate. You can also have the application running simultaneously with your iTunes. Yes, Nike has a competing product, but when it's all said and done, it costs much more than $5. --Andy Tarnoff
Modest Middles' breastfeeding tank top -- Last week, I received a Modest Middles breastfeeding tank top in the mail, and although my nursing days are long gone, I offered it to a friend with a 1-year-old nursling. The top has a U-shape design that starts under the bra and covers the mom's tummy, back and sides so she can easily cover her potentially flabby or stretch-marked middle while nursing. The tank is made of modal / spandex, costs $29.99 and comes in black, white or beige. My friend said it was very comfortable, and that it easily covered body areas that some new moms may not want to expose. Check it out at modestmiddles.com. --Molly Snyder Edler
The OnMilwaukee.com Great Summer Burger at Bella's Fat Cat -- Last summer, OnMilwaukee.com had a Summerfest stage. This summer, a burger. If you haven't had the OnMilwaukee.com Great Summer Burger at Bella's Fat Cat, what are you waiting for? It's their moist, jumbo turkey burger placed on a soft whole wheat bun and topped with guacamole, sliced red onion, tomato and lettuce with a hint of basil. It's a bargain at $4.59. Get there. --Jeff Sherman
Reggae Gold 2009 (VP Records) -- New York's VP has been dishing up annual "Reggae Gold" compilations for 16 years now, cataloging the hits that have rocked reggae communities around the world. Unsurprisingly, they usually focus on more pop- and dancehall-oriented music, with the odd roots tune making an appearance. Buy, hey, they're just reporting the hits, not deciding what the hits are! Highlights are Jazmine Sullivan's "Need U Bad," which has a great riddim track, Jah Vinci's "Watch Your Friends," which will rock the hip-hop crowd, Queen Ifrica's great "Far Away" and Elephant Man's crowd-shaker "Dance and Sweep." The 18-track CD ends with I Wayne's infectious "Leave If You Want to Leave." Buy it on iTunes and you get two extra tracks by Mavado and Wayne Wonder. The CD also comes with a DVD with five videos of tunes from the disc and some travel videos of Jamaica (you'll notice the cover is a re-creation of a classic Jamaican Tourist Board ad). --Bobby Tanzilo
Mission Mop -- Living with wood floors demands good mops. The Swiffer and Swiffer-type things work pretty well, but I've come to really like the Mission Mop. Made of microfiber yarn, this mop is easy to use and environmentally friendly. Just wet, throw the mop pad on the floor, place the holder over it and scrub away. Easy. The pads are washable and last a long time. Better yet, every mop is knitted with by employees with disabilities. Your purchase helps keeps them employed. --J.S.
AsseenonTV.com -- Every time I sit down on an airplane, you reach for the SkyMall catalog to kill time before takeoff. This is sort of the online version of that time-waster. All the cheesy products that you see on late-night television -- from the Slap Chop to the Space Bags -- are represented here. If you need a gag gift -- or something to look at before lunch -- check out this site. --D.O.
Issue 17.08 of Wired -- The latest issue of Wired is great. It features Brad Pitt on the cover and is full of "new rules for highly evolved humans." These include things like "Don't Google-stalk before a first date," "leave your Wi-Fi open," "ditch the headset," and "remember, online conversations are not all about you." Read it here. --J.S.
Soca Gold 2009 (VP Records) -- An outgrowth of VP Records' popular and long-running "Reggae Gold" series of compilations, "Soca Gold" collects 18 big hits from the Trinidadian musical year and packages them in a set with a DVD that contains seven videos of tunes from the CD. I will freely admit that it's been years since I paid much attention to soca (short for soul calypso, if you don't already know), so this disc schooled me. I shouldn't be surprised that like lots of other genres, soca has gone digital. The resulting sound is part soca (there's that whistle!) and part jungle. It's frenetic, infectious and sure to pack the dance floor. Update yourself on what Red Plastic Ba, KMC, Biggie Irish and company are up to these days with this set and you'll get a pre-fab party in a jewel case, too! --B.T.