I’m a Dork in Leopard Print – Milwaukee Public Market

milwaukee public market, milwaukee, wisconsin
LAX 2 ORD, no. 13

When you go to a remote South Pacific island with Tony Bourdain, you go cliff-diving and slash through the jungle with a scimitar to eat some weird but highly-prized exotic fruit. But when you go to an island with Rachael Ray, you eat macadamia nuts and free pineapples on a tour of the Dole plantation in Hawaii. When you go to the Bay area with Tony, Thomas Keller makes you a Marlboro sorbet. When you go to San Francisco with Rachael, you snort clam chowder out of a sourdough breadbowl on Fisherman’s Wharf. When you go Vegas with Tony, you eat at Bouchon and then play a sweaty, messy game of paintball. When you go to Vegas with Rachael, you wear a rayon leopard print peplum jacket and go to the prime rib buffet that’s only $4.99 because it’s off the Strip.

I try to be an adventure travelling Tony Bourdain on the outside, but secretly, on the inside, I think am a Rachael Ray tourist dork. Minus the leopard print on the jacket (leopard print is reserved for underwear). Oh God, someone please slap me. I can totally imagine Rachael going to Usinger’s like I did, sampling their sausages, and asking “How awesome is that?!” I don’t know Rachael, why don’t you tell us how awesome it is?

milwaukee public market, milwaukee, wisconsin

Hopefully, though, somewhere along the Miller Brewery Tour, after all the free samples that fit within her $40 budget, Rachael will snort-laugh so hard that she’ll spill right over and do a big fat belly flop into a vat of beer, and won’t find her way to the relatively new Milwaukee Public Market. Is that mean? I think it’s kind of funny, actually.

I love farmers’ markets. I love them so much that earlier this year, I spent a whole week fighting freeway traffic all over LA just to visit a different market every day. We are lucky in southern California because there are at least three farmers’ markets going every day of the week, somewhere around LA and OC. Even through the winter, the markets are open, just a little less crowded, and not quite as overflowing with produce. The farmers’ markets are one of the few things that make LA not just bearable for me, but pretty much awesome. I used to joke with JP about California versus Wisconsin, asking “Do they have farmers’ markets in Wisconsin?” Um, duh, Wisconsin is pretty much all flat farmland. “Oh. Well do they have avocados at the Wisconsin farmers’ markets?” No. “Aha! And do they have stuff like cheese at the farmers’ markets in Wisconsin?!? Huh? Do they?” That got me an incredulous stare. Cheese State. Right. I didn’t win that one.

milwaukee public market, milwaukee, wisconsin - brussels sprouts
brussels, the spouts with muscles
milwaukee public market, milwaukee, wisconsin - apples
i want cider doughnuts

The Milwaukee Public Market is a little different from the regular weekly farmers’ markets in LA. It’s a permanent, all enclosed fixture in the historic Third Ward area of Milwaukee. It features specialty food vendors, about half of which are actual farm/produce stands. The Public Market is more along the lines of the 3rd/Fairfax permanent “Farmers’ Market” in LA or Pike’s Place Market in Seattle rather than the collection of farmers under foldable tents that temporarily take over the streets of Santa Monica on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

I knew I was going to like this place when we found parking on the street and right away. Strange, isn’t it? How a stupid thing like parking can affect my opinion like that? LOL!

milwaukee public market, milwaukee, wisconsin - cheese
deliciously stinky cheese
milwaukee public market, milwaukee, wisconsin - chard
autumn rainbow of chard

We wanted to get coffee first, so we walked through the market fairly quickly as a first go-round, looking for a cafe. Cedarburg Coffee, a Wisconsin-based coffee roaster, was all the way on the opposite end. On the way there, I snatched a sample of havarti cheese from atop a glass case filled with rows and rows of cheese. The coffee line was long, but it moved quickly. With a steaming hot cup of Americano, I could now enjoy a leisurely stroll through the market.

milwaukee public market, milwaukee, wisconsin - cedarburg coffee roasters
need. coffee. first.
milwaukee public market, milwaukee, wisconsin - pumpkin
perfect for a pie

There aren’t too many details about the market. Around the perimater, there are a bread bakery, a cheese vendor, a butcher, a fishmonger, specialty food things like sausages and jams and vinegars. The center vendors are mostly all produce. The end stall was a Mexican produce vendor, and was selling tropical and other fruits that had been imported from Mexico and South America. I
almost burst out laughing when I overheard someone ask what the hell a pomegranate was. Really? I thought pomegranates were everywhere, thanks to Pom Wonderful. Oh, the things I take for granted. Then again, I was tickled green when I saw Brussels sprouts. I don’t see Brussels sprouts on the stem much at the markets here.

milwaukee public market, milwaukee, wisconsin - farmers market on saturdays
farmers’ farmers’ market on saturdays

I was just looking since couldn’t really buy anything. I was on vacation. I wouldn’t be able to buy baskets of apples and take it back to Pugslie’s house to bake a pie. And why the heck would I buy a bunch of handmade tortillas to take back home to LA? If I lived in Milwaukee, though, I could see myself shopping at the Milwaukee Public Market every week, especially since there is as actual farmers’ market that takes place on Saturday mornings right behind the Public Market, and they have visiting chefs, like Rick Bayless!!

Hopefully, the Milwaukee Public Market has sense enough, though, to leave Rachael Ray off their roster of visiting chefs. LOL!

Milwaukee Public Market
400 North Water Street
Milwaukee, WI


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennifer November 29, 2005 at 2:18 am

Your first few paragraphs made me laugh aloud. I’ve got to get the leopard print images out of my mind!


2 sarah November 29, 2005 at 6:38 am

hi jennifer! if you actually saw the episode of $40 a day where rachael ray is in vegas, you’d be laughing even louder. LOL! embarassingly, i have seen it (obviously) LOL!


3 djjewelz November 29, 2005 at 6:51 am

totally OT from this post, but we were walking around Chi-town tonight barhopping and ran into that GIGANTIC Mickeyfreaks. That’s one no shit joint. We walked in just to experience its magnificence. Next time you’re out here, go check out the Green Dolphin (monday night), the bestest house music!


4 Erin S. November 29, 2005 at 5:50 pm

Back when I worked for a Member of Congress from Wisconsin, the woman who was the main force behind creating the Milwaukee Public Market came to meet with me and had all the drawings/schematics of what the place would look like. She was a very passionate advocate for the community benefits of the market, and I’m so excited to see pics of her dream realized. Now I’ll have to get back there for a visit of my own!


5 Anonymous November 29, 2005 at 10:45 pm

Not to be picky, but sprouts on their stalks are pretty easy to find. They grow them north of Ojai.


6 sarah November 29, 2005 at 10:54 pm

djjewelz: thanks for the tip for the next time i’m out there…green dolphin is so funny. icant tell you why, but it is. LOL!

erin: that’s awesome! you have to go back and see if the real thing looks like the original blueprints!

anonymous: AHA! thanks for letting me know. when i was at the farmers market in late spring, i only saw them as just their little bobble heads in a basket! (and not being picky…it’s always good to have the right info :) )


7 LACheesemonger November 30, 2005 at 1:23 am

No to be picky Anon#1 ;), but the fact that sprouts on a stalk are grown N of Ojai doesn’t do any of us any good if you don’t tell us a specific place where it’s “pretty easy to find” in LA proper … don’t you think? Umm, I’d wager a guess that sprouts on a stalk are grown many other places other than N of Ojai… being the smartarse I am ;) .
Do recall that unlike me, Sarah has not lived in So. Cal all of her life, and cannot know everything about all food sources. Heck, I knew a little less than she does now if I go back more than a decade, compared to what I know now. Have I mentioned before that Angelenos don’t know sheeet (of course I say that about just about any nationalist, ethnic, religious, social-economic group you try to characterize as being somehow possessed of greater knowledge than they actually turn out to have ;) ).

FYI, sometimes they have the stalked sprouts at Marina Farms, though I doubt the freshness factor is much in their favor that way; when you can buy from the farmer’s mkts, let them throw out the wasted stalks which gives you the option of sorting through the best of the best of the sprouts themselves.

Marina Farms (near MDR, just off the 91Fwy, 2blks south of the Centinela off-ramp.) 9-7PM everyday.
Address:  5454 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Phone:(310) 827-3049

Oh sorry, Sarah this isn’t really my ‘real post’ to this entry, shall I put the DTV ladle in reserve then ;) for my next post here?


8 sarah November 30, 2005 at 1:31 am

just out of curiosity…can the Brussels sprouts stalks be used for anything?


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