Straw Talk

A step in the right direction.

It’s no question that our excessive plastic consumption and production has gotten out of hand. It can be found nearly everywhere; in our oceans, landfills and our homes.

Most sources estimate plastic to stick around for hundreds of years past our use of it before decomposing. This number is only increased when the compound is dumped in oxygen-deprived landfills, all while leaving behind a plethora of microplastics to further pollute our earth.

With all of these plastic problems mounting, it’s no wonder that businesses have been looking for more sustainable solutions when it comes to plastic. In recent headlines, one seemingly simple solution within the foodservice industry has been a hot-button topic among news and social media outlets. Plastic straws.

 Braise’s compostable paper straws

Braise’s compostable paper straws

“I’ve heard more straw talk in the last two months than the entirety of my foodservice career,” says David Swanson, owner of Braise.

This talk all came to a head when the largest coffee corporation, Starbucks, made an announcement about eliminating straw use from their products altogether, opting for a “sippy cup” lid on their drinks, deeming their actions an “environmental milestone.”

While their intent can be questioned, the overall reduction of any plastic waste is to be celebrated. It’s a step in the right direction and can help encourage more businesses and individuals to make sustainable practices more common.

Braise has been using compostable paper straws since opening in 2011 as reducing plastic use has been part of our local food mission.

straw 2.jpg

“The idea of using local food goes beyond what’s on the plate,” Swanson says. “It’s a holistic approach to water usage, packaging, and environmental issues from carbon footprint to what chemicals are rampant in our everyday lives.”

Braise applauds business that follow suit in choosing sustainable solutions, in whatever way they can.

Cheers! To spreading environmental awareness and paper straws!

Follow Braise on Instagram and like Braise on Facebook for more information on our local food initiatives. braiselocalfood.com

Garlic Fest 2018

BYOM (bring your own mints).

Garlic has many known health benefits. From its cholesterol-lowering power to its ability to regulate blood pressure, it’s known to help issues big and small.

It’s also more commonly known for its deliciously pungent smell and flavor.

1*xadjNcEWuFEXWARHt7BYCA.jpeg

To celebrate this heavenly vegetable bulb, Braise closed down several blocks in the Walker’s Point neighborhood in Milwaukee to host the 7th annual Garlic Fest on June 24th.

With support of some of Milwaukee’s finest kitchens in the local area, Garlic Fest served up quality dishes featuring the coveted ingredient. Participating restaurants included Cafe India, Transfer Pizza, The Diplomat, Clock Shadow Creamery, Morel, The Iron Grate, Cocina 1022, Snack Boys Snack Bar, Purple Door Ice Cream, Black Sheep MKE and Braise Resturant.

 Dish from Black Sheep MKE: Charred Corn with pickled onions, cotija cheese, picante sauce and a garlic crema.

Dish from Black Sheep MKE: Charred Corn with pickled onions, cotija cheese, picante sauce and a garlic crema.

In addition to the food, Garlic Fest also offered several free activities including kid friendly face painting, garlic games and animals from the Racine Zoo. For the adults, rowing contests from Orange Theory Fitness and yoga classes from Elle Studio + Wellness got their blood pumping before consuming everything in sight. Local artisan craft vendors gave the crowd something to admire between dishes.

 Mister Mellow’s Cartooning & Mustachery

Mister Mellow’s Cartooning & Mustachery

A major highlight of the day was Braise’s famous garlic eating contest. Contestants ate the bulbs raw to prove their toughness against the pungent flavor. Many of them quickly learned to regret their braveness.

1*AkvDRZ7nu4IXAvVLGNzhNg.jpeg

Miss the festivities this year? Stay connected with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to get information about next year’s Garlic Fest.

Visit our website at braiselocalfood.com for more information on future Braise events.

A look back: More than a restaurant bar

On Monday, May 14, a night Braise is typically closed, the bar was open. Braise hosted the MixTape Cocktail Competition Wisconsin Semi-Finals in partnership with Copper & Kings American Brandy Company.

1*tasS7VcTNRiQPiFA35LBkg.jpg

 

Drinks from Roger Barts, the competitions victor.

The competition, consisting of six competitors from the Midwest’s best cocktail creators, focused on the relationship between drinks and music. Competitors were given 15 minutes to set up, prepare and make 3 of their drinks. They then were asked to explain the inspiration behind the drink and how it pairs with their chosen album, artist or song.

Braise hosted the competition thanks to bar manager, Nick Duhamel, who, when approached about bringing the competition to Braise, accepted without hesitation.

 

1*75Prj3Tf-ljkMJc8VYFsKw.jpg

Duhamel (left)

“I love bringing awareness to Braise as a cocktail bar within a restaurant and this was a really fun way to do that,” Duhamel said.

In the end, Roger Barts of Heritage Tavern in Madison, WI arose the competitions victor. It was also a success in showing that Braise has more than just a typical restaurant bar. Duhamel says that being around the cocktail bar crowd was inspiring for Braise’s own drink creations.

“Doing themes is always a fun way to put out drinks,” Duhamel said. “And it’s a great way to engage people.”

1*2JzcvFXyNL9mt9BOER83fw.jpg

John Waters-inspired drinks; crybaby, pink flamingo, and divine waters.

Braise recently put out drinks themed around the films of John Waters in celebration of Milwaukee’s Pride weekend. Check out Braise’s bar during normal hours of operation. http://www.braiselocalfood.com/

A look back: Igniting a renewed passion for food

Morel Hunt 2018

On Saturday, May 19, a group of curious foragers joined Braise owner and head chef Dave Swanson in La Grange, Wisconsin for Braise’s annual morel mushroom hunt.

The group collected for coffee and pastries early in the morning before heading out to explore the Southern Kettle Moraine in search of the delicious and edible fungus. They learned from Swanson’s expertise on how to spot and harvest morels, as well as other useful foraging skills such as how to identify a “false morel.” Thankfully, the weather was nice (for Spring in Wisconsin) and the group stuck some luck. Together, they amassed around 10 pounds of morels!

 

morel.jpg

Morel mushrooms are one of the most easily identifiable mushrooms found in Wisconsin. When rainfall and sunlight strike the right balance, the fungus usually begins to emerge in the late days of March throughout May.

Not only are morel mushrooms easy to spot, they’re known to be a delicious and savory treat. After the group finished foraging, Swanson cooked the group a delightful lunch filled with their morel discoveries. Swanson believes it’s important to know that delicious ingredients, such as the morel, can be found in nature.

“People don’t always know what is okay to eat and what isn’t okay to eat in nature,” Swanson says. “There’s also a big difference between knowing what is edible and knowing what is good to eat. I think this is a perfect way to connect those two things.”

 

Swanson also notes that collecting your own ingredients is a great way to connect with the food you are eating and the natural environment around you.

“It’s all about reconnecting people with their food,” he says. “And spring is the perfect time to ignite a renewed passion for food.”

Braise’s morel hunt is an annual event. To be informed about next year’s hunt, visit our website or like us on Facebook! Support this story by visiting our Medium blog site