An Unexpected Milwaukee

By , Contributor

When anyone mentioned the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (since I had never visited) visions of a city filled with breweries would come to mind. An unexpected invite for a book event took me away to Milwaukee, the place that I (erroneously) thought was the land of beer and cheddar cheese. It's not all beer and cheese anymore! And while the Wisconsin cheddar cheese is worth the trip, it is a city with so much more to offer. Milwaukee is a sophisticated city, and a great place for foodies.

The Milwaukee Public Market (located downtown at St Paul Avenue) is bright and airy and just happens to be one of the hot spots for local foodies. Here you will find artisanal Wisconsin cheddar and many other cheeses. The smell of fresh bread was enough to drive me to a bakery to get some to go with that Wisconsin cheddar to make the perfect lunch.

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And in between eating you will definitely want to check out the Milwaukee Art Museum, famous for architect Santiago Caltrava's design. But you must go at noon to witness the wings atop the museum's Windover Hall fold and unfold. A must see when in town, the Burke Brise Soleil is a 90-ton sun screen that spreads 217 feet at its widest point. As a plus, the museum is located on the Milwaukee lakefront and you may just want to take an after-lunch stroll along the lakeside.

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Of course there are museums to see, where you can learn about the men who started many of the breweries there that have been sold out or closed. But the restaurants! There are so many to choose from I did not have time to visit the museums. My (food) priorities were in order and I got to savor some really fine cuisine. One of my favorites was Mimma's Cafe, located at 1307 East Brady Street, which is a destination for lovers of Italian cuisine. And they have a wide variety of dishes from Tuscan to Sicilian. They make freshly baked pizza, just the way I like it with a thinner crust, and who could forget the homemade gelato? The spaghetti con frutti di mare was a treat too.

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The other restaurant I loved was Lake Park Bistro at 3133 East Newberry Boulevard, for the food as well as the view. Sitting in the middle of a park and with a spectacular view of the shoreline, it is an intimate dining spot with interesting menu choices that happen to be mostly French cuisine. My only warning: don't eat too much of the freshly baked bread they bring to the table (it is irresistible)! You will want to savor the fresh seafood and salads and cheeses.

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Sorry Milwaukee , I owe you an apology... I will definitely be visiting again soon.

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Celebrity chef and award-winning author Maria Liberati is considered one of the foremost experts on Italian cuisine and culture in the United States. Winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for her best-selling recipe novel series The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and her blog. Maria divides her…

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