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Mikael Correa made his cream soda creme brulee for Randy Sprecher, who loved it.
Mikael Correa made his cream soda creme brulee for Randy Sprecher, who loved it.

Correa's Sprecher Cream Soda Creme Brulee

As the year heads toward its close, we asked Chef Maikel Correa, who recently took over the kitchen at The Iron Horse Hotel, to grace us with an unbeatable sweet treat with a Milwaukee angle.

Here is how he responded:

"For a classic French dessert with a Milwaukee twist, try my Sprecher Cream Soda Creme Brulee," says Correa.

"I learned to make creme brulee during an apprenticeship with Tuckaway Country Club and have loved it ever since. I made this specific version of creme brulee for Randy Sprecher himself at a beer dinner at Merrill Hills Country Club and he loved it.

"Although he and his team get the credit for creating a great cream soda, I do claim credit for deciding to put it in this dish! It's a fun and tasty dessert to make that's sure to please the people you serve. My one piece of advice? Cook this as slowly as possible. Don't try to rush it because you risk curdling the batter. Enjoy!"

Sprecher Cream soda Crème brûlée
(Makes 18 4-ounce portions)

  • 15 ounces Egg yolks (about 15 eggs)
  • 1 cup Granulated sugar
  • 2 cups Sprecher cream soda
  • 1.25 quarts heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean

Start by reducing the cream soda down by half then cool.

Mix sugar, egg yolks and cream soda reduction together (do not whip).

Bring 2.5 cups of the heavy cream and the roe from the vanilla beans to a simmer but do not boil and remove from heat.

Slowly add small amounts of the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture.

Add remaining cold heavy cream to the mix.

Allow to sit and relax overnight (to allow all air in the mixture to escape)

Pour mixture into desired size crème brûlée bowl and bake covered in a water bath for 1.5 hours at 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cover with a thin layer of sugar and caramelize the sugar with a blow torch.


Look at that score, baby!
Look at that score, baby!

Score! I'm a water winner

I haven't won the lottery. Hell, I rarely ever win a raffle.

But, thanks to a friend at Marquette University, I found, a site that allows homeowners to see how much water they consume and how the usage compares to similar households.

The site uses water utility data that is available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act.

As you can see from the image, ours is a top-tier Milwaukee household in terms of water usage. A mere 4% use less water than we do. Once I get the kids to learn not to flush an empty toilet and to take fewer than 15  minutes to wash their hands, we should shoot up even higher in the rankings.

According to Andy Brodzeller at Marquette, the site is the result of a class project.

"The site was started as a student project during an environmental politics class taught by (poli sci prof) McGee Young last spring. A requirement of the class was to develop a solution to a water challenge, which spawned the website."

The site currently tracks water usage data from seven Wisconsin cities – Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Madison, Green Bay, Whitefish Bay, Grafton and Whitewater – and nine northern Chicago 'burbs.

The team is hoping to add St. Paul and St. Louis Park, Minn., and Fort Worth and Houston any day now.

"There typically is a fee to obtain the records from the utilities, but some cities like Whitewater, have agreed to provide the data to the site for free," says Brodzeller.

"New electronic water meters in Whitewater actually allow the site to provide real-time data. They are still working on a sustainable business model for the site and are looking at developing apps to charge people for."

Now pardon me, I hear a faucet dripping. Gotta run.

El Greco beckons on Wednesday nights.
El Greco beckons on Wednesday nights.
It is that rare place that offers a full fish fry on a night other than Friday.
It is that rare place that offers a full fish fry on a night other than Friday.

The Wednesday night fish fry

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. But perhaps even more surprising, there's also a Wednesday fish fry on the Northwest Side.

We often pass by El Greco Family Restaurant, 9143 W. Appleton Ave., across from Timmerman Airport, and say, "hey, we oughta check this place out."

So, last week, we did just that.

When we arrived, you can see from the image above that I was greeted with the news that Wednesday, like Friday, is fish fry night, at El Greco. Don't mind if I do, thank you very much.

While everyone around me dined on evening breakfast, I had the fish.

For just under $10, I got four pieces of battered cod, two potato pancakes with applesauce, cole slaw and a dinner salad.

The fish was tasty, though the batter could have been crisper, and the potato pancakes, while not life-changing, were pretty good – flavorful but a little dense.

There was a lot of food and I doubt anyone leaves El Greco hungry.

As fish fries go, El Greco's on this night wasn't amazing, but it was pretty good and quite filling. And I remind you that this night was a Wednesday.

Though I like the basic mac 'n' cheese just fine, there's no denying these adult takes add some vim.
Though I like the basic mac 'n' cheese just fine, there's no denying these adult takes add some vim.

Noodles tinkers its top seller for adult palates

Noodles and Company is already one of those places that for me fills the wide gulf between fast food and a relaxing sit-down meal in a local eatery.

The counter service with table delivery is speedier and generally more budget-conscious than the latter but tastier and more satisfying than the former.

Now Noodles, which recently opened a new location near Downtown at 544 E. Ogden Ave. – in the former East Pointe Blockbuster location – has put what it's called an "adult" twist on its top-seller, Wisconsin Mac 'n' Cheese.

There is a bacon, mac and cheeseburger with meatballs, bacon and diced Roma tomatoes, topped with chopped scallions and breadcrumbs.

A Southwestern chili mac melds mac 'n' jack with those same meatballs and green onions, but adds a dose of spicy red chili.

The one that caught my eye is the Truffle Mac with baby bellas, shreded parmesan, parsley and a dash of truffled oil.

While you won't mistake it for the pasta course at a Ristorante Bartolotta white truffle dinner, it's pretty darn good for sit-down fast-ish food. And it costs about $8.

These dishes are available for a limited time, though I suspect if they're popular, they'll hang around longer.