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Entries in Food & Drink (38)


The Smoke Shack Experience

The Smoke Shack - Exterior GOOD BARBECUE is hard to come by in Wisconsin, especially after being spoiled by the amazing stuff I have every year in Austin, Texas at SXSW Interactive.

I've been watching development of a new barbecue joint in Milwaukee's 3rd Ward called The Smoke Shack. The building has been under construction for several months. I couldn't wait for the space to open so I could give their barbecue a try.

Today, I happened to visit during The Smoke Shack's first public lunchtime opening and it was amazing. I chose a brisket sandwich, and enjoyed experimentingThe Smoke Shack - Brisket Sammy & Sweet Potato Fries with the various sauces at the bar — tangy Texas, smoky Kansas City, zippy North Carolina and the balanced House. All of them were great, but Smoke Shack's House sauce was my favorite.

The interior and exterior design were also superb, as the designers made use of salvaged wood and metal objects to give Smoke Shack an authentic vibe. I was brought right back to those warm spring days at Stubb's BBQ in Austin.

The Smoke Shack - Behind the BarThe Smoke Shack - From the BarThe Smoke Shack - Sauce Yourself

Ribs are only available after 5pm because they're cooked during the day and just aren't ready until dinner time. But man, their beef brisket was tender and juicy, so don't be afraid to try out a sandwich at lunch.

I'm pleased to see The Smoke Shack making a statement in the 3rd Ward, helping my city of Milwaukee to be an even cooler, tastier place to live.

If you're in Milwaukee, check out The Smoke Shack!


Jeff's French Silk Pie

Chilled and ready II

My good friend Jeff makes a delicious french silk pie around the holidays. Because it's an easy recipe, I wanted to share it here for others to try this holiday season.


1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
3 squares (3 oz) unsweetened chocolate
(melted & cooled)
1 tsp vanilla
Eggbeaters – equivalent of 3 eggs
1 ready to serve graham cracker pie crust
Approx. 4 oz of Cool Whip
Semi-sweet chocolate for garnish


In a bowl beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy (beat for at least 5 minutes).

Stir in chocolate and vanilla.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating on high speed after each addition, scraping sides of bowl frequently.

Transfer to pie shell.

Cover and chill for 5 to 24 hours or until set.

Top with Cool Whip and chocolate curls. Make chocolate curls by warming a square of semi-sweet baking chocolate in the microwave a few seconds, then use a vegetable peeler to make curls. (You only need a little bit of chocolate, not a whole square.)


Photo by Gwendolyn Richards


Chez Panisse Dinner Sketchnotes

Chez Panisse Dinner Sketchnote

Above are the sketchnotes I captured from my dinner at the Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley, CA, captured July 2010. I was on a Gomoll Research + Design business trip with Kate Gomoll and Kris Hunt, when I created these.

I brought a Moleskine sketchbook along with a 0.7mm gel pen (which is always in my pocket) so I could try capturing a dinner as a sketchnote. I've already captured events, travel and my iPhone unboxing — why not my first ever dinner at Chez Panisse?

Chez Panisse Sketchnote In-Progress

Enjoyment of the food came first, of course. I took photos of each dish with my iPhone for later reference. No sense letting wonderful food like this grow cold while sketching it (I was of course very careful not to spill my food on my Moleskine).

Later I learned that people seated at the next table were interested in my sketches, though they never came over to get a closer look. The waiter was very interested and suggested that I email him my work (which I'm about to do after posting this article).

Having this little sketchnote to refer to after the fact has provided me with a time capsule of rich memories. I can still taste the tartness of the boysenberries of the desert when I look at this sketchnote. Mmmm, good!


Tasty Taco Dip Recipe

Here's a tasty taco dip from my wife's cousin that's popular whenever she makes it. Note that it tastes best when you create the cream dip portion the night before and refrigerate to consolidate the flavors.

Taco Dip

  • Blend 3 (8 oz.) cream cheese and 1 large container of sour cream
  • 5 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • 5 teaspoons (or more to taste) of taco sauce
Mix first 3 ingredients and in the base of a 9 x 13 pan.

The cream cheese/sour cream layer tastes best when prepared and chilled in the refrigerator the day before.

Before serving, add any or all of the following: chopped onions, chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, green peppers or grated cheddar cheese. Dribble taco sauce over the cream spread and veggies and serve with plain tortilla chips.

Is it good? The design crew at Northwoods sat and consumed a plate of this stuff in the lunchroom within 30 minutes, so that would be a yes. :-)


Mike's Chocolate Espresso Chili Recipe

Chocolate Espresso Chili

By popular demand, here's my crock pot recipe for Chocolate Espresso Chili:

1 lb ground beef (ground round)
2 14-oz cans of chili beans (w/ chili seasoning optional)
2 14-oz cans of diced tomatoes
2 8-oz cans of tomato sauce
1 16-oz jar of chunky salsa
1 white onion, diced
1 milk chocolate bar (43g)
2 1.5-oz shots of espresso
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground paprika

1. Brown the ground beef and onion in large skillet and drain.

2. In a crock pot, combine the ground beef and onions, beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, chocolate bar, espresso, chili powder and paprika.

3. Cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4 hours if you need it sooner). Stir occasionally.

4. Serve. I like chili with cheddar cheese, corn chips and sour cream on top.

I've found the chocolate makes the chili a little sweet, the espresso adds a bit of smoky richness and the paprika becomes a subtly smooth taste that blends in nicely.

The crock pot makes this one easy to make and kinda forget until it's time to eat, especially handy if you need something ready to eat after work.

To reduce calories/fat, swap out the beef for chicken or veggie crumblers.

If you make this recipe, leave a comment and let me know how you like it.