This week's eclectic rendition of recommendations from OnMilwaukee.com features medium-bodied wines, Brussels sprouts, Bluetooth-capable beats and Bob Marley puzzles. Oh, and a bit of biology, presented in a manner a lot more fun than it was in high school.
Vina Ventisquero 2011 Grey Single Block Carmenere – There are wines that are produced with care, and there are wines that are produced with CARE. Grey's Carmenere comes from block 5 of the Trinidad Vineyard in the Maipo Valley in Chile and is vinted by winemaker Felipe Tosso, who crushes only half the grapes harvested in very specific conditions. Blah, blah, blah, right? How does it taste?
From my standpoint, it's worth the work (especially since I don't do it!). The result is a deep, scarlet red wine that is rich in dark berries, with a peppery hint that I love. A satisfying medium body is capped with a super long finish that adds a touch of elegance. I drank it young, but its maker suggests it can age up to 10 years. With a suggested retail price of $24, it feels a bit like stealing. It's not inexpensive, but it feels like a wine that should cost a whole lot more. – Bobby Tanzilo
Puzzles – I have not done a puzzle, other than a "baby puzzle" with my kids, since I was in high school. My family received a 1,000-piece Bob Marley puzzle for the holidays. I did not expect to engage in the activity but thought my kids might like it, so I brought up the card table from the basement and spread out the pieces.
Turns out, I am really enjoying the mindlessness of puzzle assembling. It's relaxing, addictive, oddly satisfying when you find the right piece and – because it's only a few different colors – challenging enough to keep my attention. I particularly enjoy listening to obscure Bob Marley music and drinking a Red Stripe while putting it together. – Molly Snyder
The Stackner – I am a plain food kind of guy. Fancy food may be wonderful, but give me something like my grandmother used to make, and I'm pretty happy. That's why I love a newly discovered gem in the Stackner Cabaret at the Milwaukee Rep. The restaurant inside is used mainly by people going to the theater and is, of course, the site of so many wonderful musical events. But they also have a pot roast to die for.
It's a zinfandel-braised pot roast, complete with horseradish mashed potatoes and glazed Brussels sprouts. Who even knew I liked Brussels sprouts? This is probably not a great choice for a mid-summer meal, but if you are looking for a wonderful time in non-summer months, this dish at the Stackner is a great treat. – Dave Begel
Bem wireless Bluetooth mobile speaker – This $70 speaker synced easily with my iPhone, and it’s nice that it gives the option to connect the device via Bluetooth or with the auxiliary cord that comes with it. The sound doesn't become distorted, even at a high volume – and compared to other Bluetooth speakers I’ve tried, like Logitech, it was louder, crisper and had deeper bass for such a small unit. In fact, its the small size makes it convenient to transport, and it fits in small spaces like a bookshelf. The range of Bluetooth connectivity could be improved upon, though. It's best to leave the device you are playing the music from close to the speaker for the best quality. – Joe Hahn
Survive! Inside the Human Body series (No Starch Press) – These three thick manhwa comic books are, at first glance, kinda gross. Originally published in Korea, they follow the adventures of a kid and a scientist on their voyages through the human body in colorful detail. Each of the three – they've sold more than 20 million copies – focuses on a specific system (the digestive tract, for example, which takes us on a winding journey from tongue to tush), and there's all manner of blood and bile and stomach acid and, well, you get the picture.
I've been reading them with my lower elementary-aged kid, and he enjoys them, most likely for the blood and bile and stomach acid and, well, you get the picture. But I can tell he's learning a bit about anatomy and biology too, so I just grin and read through the icky bits. $17.95 each for "The Digestive System," "The Circulatory System" and "The Nervous System." – Bobby Tanzilo