Friday, July 31, 2015

Meditating in Milwaukee and Reviews

Lake Michigan from Milwaukee Art Museum
One of my great pleasures is making beaded jewelry and it’s been years since I attended the Bead and Button Show, so I got myself on a plane to Milwaukee. I knew that the town was in an area of Wisconsin that had once been home to several native American tribes. These groups, the Fox, Mascouten, Potawatomi, and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) native Americans, described the area as a ‘Good’, ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Pleasant Land’ and as a ‘Gathering place by the water’; Milwaukee is all of those things – at least in the spring and early summer. I’m not so sure that the descriptions fit in the winter when the area can be covered with several feet of snow.

French missionaries and traders showed up in this area in the 1600s and 1700s, setting up fur-trading posts and beginning thriving businesses, as well as a few churches.  Germans began arriving not long after the French and by the 1900s there were more German
L to R: Chihuly Sculpture,
Exterior of Milwaukee Art Museum
speakers than English speakers in the area. Along with the trading and trapping, new immigrants began running dairies and making a variety of cheeses. As society grew, patrons of the arts decided that Milwaukee needed a facility for art exhibitions. Shortly thereafter, Alexander Mitchell donated his collection for display in Milwaukee's first permanent art gallery. German panorama artists also donated works to the museum and yet more facilities were built. By 1957 the Milwaukee Art Institute and the Layton Art merged, and moved into what is now the Milwaukee Art Museum. Continued expansion has occurred, culminating in the Quadracci Pavilion (2001) that was designed by Santiago Calatrava. This unique structure has a movable, brise soleil which opens to a span of 217 feet during the day and folds over the roof of the pavilion at night or during bad weather. This amazing piece of architecture can be viewed from the Reiman Bridge, a pedestrian walkway, that leads to the museum and also to a park complex. Along with works by Georgia O’Keeffe are sculptures and paintings from around the world and works from the 15th through 20th century.

Although Milwaukee was one called ‘Cream City’, it wasn’t because of dairy delicacies, but
Top L to R: Gertie, Milwaukee City Happ
Bottom: Theodore Roosevelt information
because of the mud used in making bricks. These bricks were put to good use in the construction of the Milwaukee City Hall, which at 15 stories was the tallest habitable building in the world. It kept its title as the tallest seat of government until Philadelphia City Hall was constructed in 1901. I was surprised to learn that Milwaukee was the center of the socialist movement in the US, with three Socialist mayors elected between 1910 and 1940. These politicians were popular because they focused on cleaning up and adding new sanitation systems to neighborhoods and factories, employed city owned water and power systems, and improved the education system. During their tenure, Teddy Roosevelt arrived in Milwaukee on a campaign tour. As he was stepping into a car, John Schrank, an unemployed New York saloonkeeper who had been stalking Roosevelt for three weeks, shot at the president. The bullet hit an eyeglass case, slowing it down enough to avoid a fatal shot. Schrank said that he was told by President McKinley to avenge his death by killing Roosevelt. The Hyatt Hotel now stands on the site of this historical event. Just after World War II another celebrity emerged in Milwaukee: Gertie the Duck. This mallard hen spent 37 days hatching nine eggs on a wood piling under the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge. She became a symbol for hope and motherhood. 

There are wonderful places to stay and to eat in downtown Milwaukee. There are also lots of things to do within walking distance of that area.

What we did…
Four Carrots

The Spice House
While the Spice House (400 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202; 414-431-0835) is a place to buy spices, it’s also a great place just to look around. The owners have lots of information about the spices they sell and are happy to answer any question you may have. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all of their wares and talking about where they came from; I also brought a few spices that we can’t get in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Three and one-half Carrots

Bead and Button Show (Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee, WI) was the reason for our visit to
Top L to R: Three-Tier Necklace, Skull Headpiece
Bottom L to R: Four Bracelets, Beaded Bowl
Milwaukee so we spent a lot of time in the convention center beading.  The conference and the classes were quite expensive, but the teaching by Teri Lawson was outstanding. We were a bit surprised at the lack of space for the vendors and at the fact that the vendor area didn’t open until nearly the end of the conference.

Milwaukee Art Museum (700 N Art Museum Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202; 414-224-3200) exhibits were not open during out stay, but the building was available for touring. We wandered through this structure and had a peek at the views of Lake Michigan visible through the windows in the reception area. While we were there, a youth orchestra was performing; they played very well then were turned loose to romp in the park that is next to the museum. The architecture is truly amazing with the giant wings spread above the pavilion. I would like to return to this museum once the exhibits are open.

The Milwaukee Public Market (400 N. Water Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202; 414-336-1111)
Top L to R: Market, Cow Statue
Bottom: Nedo Beck and Cynthia
was not at all what we expected. It is mostly places to buy food that you can eat there or take away. There are also a few shops and a pub or two. There were a few vendors on the street who had crafts and art. My favorite was Nedo Beck with his wonderful art for children and for adults. He has been to several art markets in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but isn’t traveling as much as he once did.

Where we stayed …
Four Carrots

Our hotel this time was the Fairfield Inn (710 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203; 414-224-8400) and we were very pleased with the location. It is just a couple of blocks from
Bedroom and bathroom at the Fairfield Inn
the Wisconsin Center. The beds were quite comfortable, the bathroom roomy and the included breakfast substantial. The maids were nice enough to provide us with extra coffee and ‘fixins’, as well as cleaning the room at odd times to accommodate our schedule. The internet was free, in the room and was very fast. We were quite surprised that upon hearing that there would only be two of us in the room rather than four, the manager cut our charges in half. Had there been a restaurant, this would have been a nearly perfect place to stay.

What we ate…
Four Carrots

Bistro 333 (333 W Kilbourn Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53203; 414-270-6130; inside the Hyatt
Top: Sign, Menu
Bottom: Angus Burger
Regency) was surprisingly well priced for hotel food and it was very good. I had a wonderful hamburger that was made of excellent beef, nicely prepared and delivered by a cheerful, prompt and efficient waitress. The fried potatoes were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside; the lettuce and tomato were fresh. The staff did as good a job of taking care of a crowd as they did when there were only a few people present.

King and I (830 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203; 414-276-4181) is a Thai restaurant that is very good. The night we ate there it was packed. However, since we were
Top L to R: Drunken Noodles, Beef Jerky
Middle: Pork Fried Rice
Bottom: Pad Thai
a small party, our waiter made sure that he got our order in before the several tables of six or more. We really appreciated his efforts to make sure that we were fed in a timely manner. Our bottle of Polka-Dot Riesling was a semi-sweet counterpart to the Beef Jerky Appetizer that was spicy and a bit salty. The Pad Thai was a lovely blending of flavors with plenty of meat, as were the Drunken Noodles. The Pork Fried Rice had not only pork, but bits of vegetables that made it a pretty as well as a tasty dish. I would go back here in a flash.

Uber Tap Room and Cheese Bar (1048 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203; 414-
Top L to R: Cheese Mart, Menu
Center: Cow Cheese
Bottom L to R: Beer Sampler, Mac and Goat Cheese
755-2424) is a funky, fun pub attached to a cheese market with cow statues stationed here and there. The main offering is cheese, of course. One of our group got a grilled cheese sandwich that had several types of cheese on it and was warm and gooey. She had to take half of it to go since it was so large. I had the macaroni and goat cheese skillet; it was fabulous. Another of our group had a flight of beer that he really enjoyed. I liked the pear cider, particularly since I got the second glass for free. Afterwards we wandered through the cheese market; had I been going directly home I would have taken several types of cheese with me.

Three and one-half Carrots

Calderone Club (842 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203; 414-273-3236) is an Italian restaurant that the locals frequent for lunch. On the day that we visited they had fish
Left T to B: Fish and Chips, Pizza
Right T to B: Menu, Cannoli
and chips so we all had a serving. My two friends thought they were very good; I wasn’t as impressed, but the sauce was quite nice as were the fries. Their pizza looked good so we decided to come back for dinner. The pizza was quite good, but the noise level was deafening; the place was over crowded. It appeared that they had added extra tables to accommodate all the people at the expense of walkways for the waiters and the noise level. We did indulge in a delicious cannoli at the end of our meal.

Miller Time Pub and Grill (509 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53203; 414-271-2337;
Left T to B: Pub, Turkey, ham and cheese sandwich
Right: Menu
inside the Hilton) is a nice place to grab a bite of lunch, but you need to be really hungry. I got a ham, cheese and turkey sandwich that would have fed at least two people. The sweet potato fries were a bit gummy and definitely not worth the added price; this is not a cheap place to eat. My waitress was a bit inattentive and I had to wait quite a while for my check.

For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.

Cheese Cow

©2015 NearNormal Design and Production Studio - All rights including copyright of photographs and designs, as well as intellectual rights are reserved.