Mason Street Grill Milwaukee

It’s not a secret that I am a food lover. My blog name is “Say Cheese and Wine”, which isn’t just a pun on my career; there’s a picture of cupcakes in my header. I love food, have always loved food, and will always love food. Fitness and getting healthy hasn’t changed that, thankfully, it just has enabled me to enjoy the things I love without feeling guilty because I know I either worked it off in advance that morning, or will over the next couple of days. So, when I was offered the opportunity to visit Mason Street Grill in Milwaukee for a wine and food pairing, I practically screamed “yes!” Or, maybe I did. Yep, I definitely screamed, because that’s how much I love delicious food. Then I called my mom, who is also a Milwaukee blogger, and invited her along with me.

I had never been to Mason Street Grill, but I’ve walked past it many times while downtown with friends. I am not sure why I haven’t heard more about it, considering how much I love authentic, non-chain restaurants, which is exactly what Mason Street Grill is. It is locally owned and operated, and many of the recipes used in the restaurant are straight from the chef’s family cookbooks. That was one of the first things I learned after I sat down and was brought a delicious bread basket. The cottage cheese bread is one of the chef’s mother’s recipes. I have never heard of cottage cheese bread before, but it was delicious. Speaking of sitting down and recipes and cooking, Mason Street Grill has an open concept kitchen so you can actually see your food being prepared, which also says to me “this place is CLEAN!” Check it out:

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Jessica, who took care of us that night, was awesome. She was so knowledgable. When we asked her questions about different types of wine, she never missed a beat explaining, in ways that we could understand, how they are made or what region they came from. Jessica explained to us that there’s a lot of people who believe that food and wine pairing is not limited to the old standard of “white wine with fish” and “red wine with steak”. So, each course that we were given, a non-traditional wine was paired with the entree and I have to say, it all matched beautifully! Our first course, after the bread, was a beautiful cheese plate. My mom and I both started drooling as soon as she sat it down, and sat with huge eyes the whole way through all of the cheese introductions. Along with it we had a lovely light  bubbly wine from Charles Smith Wines called Secco Italian Bubbles, 2012. It was so delicious and refreshing, which is nice because champagne-style wine can be hit or miss. The grapes are grown in the Piave Valley of the Veneto region of Italy. The wine was great but the cheese plate was to die for.

Just take a look:

cheese

Ok, the iPhone photo doesn’t really do it justice. I’d love to take some shots with the big camera to really show it’s beauty. It could be a new header image! Oh no, I am drooling again. The cheeses, ah, the cheeses. So there was (from top left going clockwise) an aged goat cheese, gouda, manchego (served along side an amazing olive tapenade!), a really creamy bleu with some fruit preserves, brie, and I believe an Italian cheese with micro greens. It was all good, butI couldn’t keep my fork away from the bleu cheese with preserves. I could have eaten a whole plate of it, I think! So yum. Cheese courses are traditionally served either at the beginning of a meal or after. Or, if you’re me, in bed after a bottle of wine. Mason Street Grill, could you deliver to Waukesha?

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Next up was an appetizer, which we were told was going to be a crab cake. Oh, my, are they up for the challenge of impressing two east coast girls who grew up on homemade crab cakes and other tasty fresh fish caught right before our eyes? True story, my grandparents just retired last year as deep sea fishermen out of Ocean City Maryland; my grandma even held the title of Top Lady Angler. I spent a lot of time on their boat and on the docks, scooping up my own crabs with nets and letting them go while I waited for Spikes Boat to return from a day of tournament fishing. Maryland was like my second home. When I say I know good crab, I mean it. Mason Street Grill’s crab cake did not disappoint. It was served alongside a sweet corn succotash and the plate was drizzled with a delicious smoked heirloom tomato sauce. Both accompaniments were delicious, but the crab cake could have been served alone, it was that good. The restaurant boasts fresh seafood delivered daily, within hours of being caught. The crab cake itself had more than 75% crab meat. I’m not talking tiny little pieces of crab meat, I am talking jumbo lump crab. YUM!

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Paired with it was a delicious Spanish rosè, Artazuri Garnacha 2011. It was around this time that Jessica really started to let her knowledge show. She explained how rosè and other colored wines are made, using the skins in the winemaking process. The rose color of this wine comes from letting the skins only be in contact with the with the juice for a short period, pressed, and then discarded before fermentation begins, rather than leaving them in contact like in the red winemaking process. The rosè was delicious, sweet, but not too sweet, and tasted a little bit like strawberries. It paired really well with the crab cake, and I really enjoyed it.

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Our third course came and I’ll admit it wasn’t my favorite dish of the night. However, it’s a very popular item on the menu and the regulars to the restaurant are super fans and can’t get enough of it. It was a chopped salad with a mustard horseradish dressing. I love chopped salads, and everything on this one are things I love – bacon, eggs, red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, and of course my favorite, those tiny pieces of lettuce. The dressing I think is what needs to grow on me, because now a few days later while I am thinking about it, I want another taste. That’s usually how I am with new food, I don’t particularly care for it the first time I have it and then I find myself craving it days after the fact. It wasn’t bad, but the bite of the dressing just wasn’t what my tongue was searching for at the moment (I think it was looking for ranch dressing!) Along with it was a white wine from Argentina, La Linda Torrontes, 2012. It was good, and it paired nicely with the salad. It was crisp and refreshing with a light floral taste, which helped take the bite off of the horseradish dressing.

Next up…the moment we’ve all been waiting for… THE STEAK. Actually, I had no idea that steak was coming so I think I shrieked when I found out!

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Yes yes YES! Steak forks! The steak forks are actually an item from the lounge menu. The forks came with Mason Street Grill’s 3 signature steak sauces; béarnaise (middle), roasted shallot bordelaise (right) and peppercorn (left). The béarnaise was my favorite, followed by the peppercorn, and finally the bordelaise came in third. This one tasted more like a traditional steak sauce (think A1) so I knew right away my husband would like it and decided then and there that we were going to Mason Street Grill for our anniversary. The steak itself was perfectly cooked and seasoned. I can’t wait to see how they do filet mignon. The steak forks were paired with a pinot noir, Migration, 2011 from California’s Russian River Valley. It was nice and crisp and tasted wonderful going down with the steak.

Finally it was time for dessert, which came as another surprise to me.

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This was a freshly made lavender lemon sorbet. The surprise was definitely the lavender. I am not used to having lavender in my food! However, it was delicate and sweet, and the perfect end to our tasting.

Here’s a photo of all of the wines that I mentioned in my post:

Diptic

So, in conclusion, I fell in love with Mason Street Grill that evening and I’ll definitely be back. My mom really enjoyed it too and has already made plans to go again. If you are looking for a Milwaukee restaurant for the perfect date night, girls’ night, or even just for drinks after work, Mason Street Grill is your place.

Support local businesses; eat local, shop local, buy local.

Disclaimer: Mason Street Grill set up this wonderful food and wine pairing for us, but I was not compensated in any way other than in delicious food. Actually, they can pay me in food any time they want; all opinions stated within this post are genuine and are my own.

Wine & Dine Wisconsin 2012 Review

If there’s one thing I love more than exercise, it’s food…and if there’s one thing I love more than food, it’s wine. So, when The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board emailed me to ask if I’d like to go to Wine & Dine Wisconsin, I almost screamed with excitement. Actually, I am pretty sure I did scream…and then I called my friend Becky who loves food and wine as much as I do to invite her along. Not only was I excited about the event, but it’s The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board who invited me…are you serious? Me? You’re sending me? I’m an obsessed fangirl when it comes to Wisconsin Cheese. I was so honored to be invited by them.

You know you’re in for a good thing when you see this label…

I love these types of food and alcohol tasting events, and thankfully there is no shortage of them in Wisconsin. We love our booze…and food. Last summer I went to one at an outdoor shopping mall and it was the best time. Food. Beer. Friends. Sunshine. Amazing. So, I was more than ready for November 11th to arrive so that we could go get our grub on.

The event was held at the Delta Center in Milwaukee. When we walked in, we were blown away by enormous the place was. And then we saw the cheese.

cheese.

There was cheese everywhere.

more cheese.

Oh, how I love cheese. I was definitely in the right place.

The thing that made this event different from others that I have attended in the past, was that along with a couple of local restaurants, the exhibitors were composed mainly of local cheese companies, wine distributors and alcohol distilleries.

North Shore Distillery

This meant that there was a lot of sampling going on, and you could even purchase some things right at the show to take home with you. Other things, like wine and alcohol, could be ordered and delivered at a later date.

Becky sampling some cheese for sale

We ended up buying some baked/grilled/fried cheese, called Brun Uusto. It’s delicious. We also bought some local chocolate and drank a lot of wine. I was also very excited to see a huge exhibit from Wisconsin favorite brewery Leinenkugel. I love beer, and they had a brand new one there to sample that day.

Leinie Snowdrift Vanilla Porter

Leinenkugel Snowdrift Vanilla Porter was very yummy! Plus, the cheese they had to pair it with went perfect. Wine and cheese or beer and cheese, who cares? As long as cheese is involved, it’s good.

We had a great time and I am so thankful to The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board for providing us with tickets to attend. I hope to attend the 2013 event, which I am sure will be even bigger!

Wine & Cheese Wednesday – Tierra Alta Reserva Carmenère & Cracked Black Pepper Cheddar

Today’s Wine and Cheese Wednesday post was made possible by the friendly sommelier at Brennan’s Market in Brookfield Wisconsin. I go there about once a week but I rarely pick up wine, usually only cheese. It’s a fantastic little market with cheese samples as far as your eyes can see. Before I made my selection I explained my blog and what I was trying to do. She asked if I had a specific type of wine in mind and I said no. So she led me to the reds and told me about this wine, saying it was her favorite. Trusting her judgement I decided to buy it, and a block of cracked black pepper cheddar to go with. I must say, wine and cheese pairing is becoming quite fun!

If you haven’t heard of carmenère before, here is some information about it from http://www.winealign.com:

The Carmenère grape is a wine grape variety originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, where it was used to produce deep red wines and occasionally used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot. Now rarely found in France, the world’s largest area planted with this variety is in Chile in South America.

Carmenère wine has a deep red color and aromas found in red fruits, spices and berries. The tannins are gentler and softer than those in Cabernet Sauvignon and it is a medium bodied wine. Although mostly used as a blending grape, wineries do bottle a pure varietal Carmenère which, when produced from grapes at optimal ripeness, imparts a cherry-like, fruity flavour with smokey, spicy and earthy notes and a deep crimson color. Its taste might also be reminiscent of dark chocolate, tobacco, and leather. The wine is best drunk young.

I must say, the cheese paired perfectly with the wine. Now, we all know I am not a wine expert so don’t laugh as I try to describe this wine. It was fruity, but not sweet. It was dry, and very smooth. It went down very easily. The subtle spice of the cracked black pepper in the cheese went great with the smooth wine. According to other reviews of this wine, there are hints of coffee, raspberry, earth, mocha, wild flowers, blackberry, and green pepper. I don’t know about all of that, because like I said, I’m not a wine expert. I just think it tasted darn good.

Tierra Alta Reserva Carmenère retails for around $12-14 per bottle.

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