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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014

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The duck confit spring rolls, one of Odd Duck's small plate offerings.
The duck confit spring rolls, one of Odd Duck's small plate offerings.

Esquire tells us what a decent restaurant meal should cost

I love talking food and restaurants. I think we all do. Analyzing what works, what doesn't, the costs, the locations and -- of course -- the food is fun and captivating.  

So, I enjoyed this question from Rick Ortlip, of Milwaukee, who asked Esquire's Josh Ozersky, "How much should a decent restaurant meal cost?" He followed it up with this, "I’m not talking about a three-star dinner. Just a basic dinner for two with a glass of wine, in an average American city (like Milwaukee). I don’t think it should be more than $50 a person, for three courses including dessert (split for two), and a glass of wine or beer each. Just a get-out-of-the-house meal for my girlfriend and me. I’m not cheap -- I just want to know what you think is fair."

Who is Josh Ozersky? For what it's worth, Kyle Cherek calls him "one of the best food writers of our time, in my opinion." Ozersky's answer to Rick's question, even on the national site, used Milwaukee examples citing Maxie's, Odd Duck and AP Bar and Kitchen

Click here for the full post. In a nutshell, Esquire answered by basically saying that Milwaukee is pretty inexpensive. 

Ozersky writes, "Eating out costs money, even if you order cheaply, even if you live in the suburbs. That’s the way it is now. And don’t forget: That money doesn’t cover parking, gas, condoms, breath mints and all the other associated costs. You have it good. Odd Duck should be half again as expensive as it is; its prices are artificially depressed by its being in Milwaukee, one of the country’s cheaper places to do business."

He goes on to say that he doesn't want to be "entirely discouraging" so he offers five great tips "for getting the best meal for the least coinage."

Have at it. I'd love to know your thoughts. 

Is Milwaukee expensive place to dine out? I say no. Can it be? Of course. All in all, we're a pretty affordable city and often it takes people like Ozersky to remind us. In his words, "But the cost of running a restaurant has…

A presidential autograph?
A presidential autograph?
The author's Sir Sid autograph has personal value, for sure.
The author's Sir Sid autograph has personal value, for sure.
Is a photo with The Fonz is better than an autograph?
Is a photo with The Fonz is better than an autograph?

Has the selfie killed the autograph?

You see your favorite Bucks player, let's say Jabari or Giannis, on the street or on a trip to Los Angeles, you bump into that actor or actress that you just love. What do you do? Ask for an autograph? Nope. You whip out your phone, if it's not already in hand and take a selfie with him or her.

It's the way the world.  But, is it the best financial move?

My gut told me that a great autograph still has value. But I wondered is the autograph dying? I have a ton of great autographs. Cal Ripkin, Jr., Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, George W. Bush, Robin Yount and others. But, really, an autograph -- to me -- is more valuable if it means something and I can link it to an experience. Anyone can buy just about any signature, but really -- other than resale value -- is it that special? 

Probably, but a photo with a celebrity that you instantly share?  That's cool.  At least, that's now. Taylor Swift agreed in a recent piece, saying, "I haven't been asked for an autograph since the invention of the iPhone with a front-facing camera. The only memento 'kids these days' want is a selfie. It's part of the new currency, which seems to be 'how many followers you have on Instagram.'"

I asked Jeff Lemieux from Jeff's Sports what he thought.

"I find that the sports autograph industry is a strong as ever. All you have to do is go to the Brewers On Deck event they hold each year. There they have current and retired Milwaukee Brewer players who come to sign autographs and you will see thousands of fans young and old line up to get an autograph of their favorite player," Lemieux said.  

"I agree that taking a selfie with your favorite player is extremely popular but other than sentimental value there is no monetary value. A lot fans/collectors of autographs do so for the enjoyment of it but also because there is a value to it."

So, the next time you see your favorite celebrity. First, be respectful. Next, sure grab a selfie but if you can, grab an autograph, too. 

Hello, Fast Foodie.
Hello, Fast Foodie.

Food Truck Week: Fast Foodie

Wait up, summer's not over yet. You can tell because the streets are still lined with the ever-growing food truck culture in Milwaukee. It's Food Truck Week here at and all week long we're stopping at some of Brew City's best restaurants on wheels in search of the most interesting dishes on offer.

In 2010, The Fast Foodie introduced Milwaukee to the concept of the globaco.  Pair "global" and "taco," and you get wonderful flavors inside a traditional taco.  The Jamaican Me Crazy mixes curried beef and rice with hot sauce and broccoli slaw.

Since I haven't eaten at The Fast Foodie in a few months, I decided to reach out to owner Jackie Valent and ask her a few questions about her business, the state of the food truck business in Milwaukee and other things. 

So, here you have it. A mini Milwaukee Talks with The Fast Foodie herself. How has the food truck scene changed since you started? 

Jackie Valent: There are many more trucks on the scene since we started.  We have also seen so many trucks come and go in a few short years.  The city has realized that food trucks are here to stay and not just a passing fad and are more willing to sit down with us as business owners vs. simply viewing us as "street peddlers."

OMC: Biggest challenge, so far?

JV: The biggest challenge for us so far has been the disorganization of the licensing process and how much it costs to be a mobile restaurant.  For example, we also run an employee cafeteria (brick and mortar) for a company downtown that we got based on our food truck's reputation.  It costs us less than $800 a year to license that facility.  Due to the fact that every municipality and event has its own requirements, I can pay triple that just to operate for the season.  There is no reason we should pay triple of what a brick and mortar restaurant has to pay when we are only operating for six months out of the year.  It is as if the municipalities are more interested in their fee revenu…

Milwaukee water, MilwaukeeHome style.
Milwaukee water, MilwaukeeHome style.

#Shop Local: MilwaukeeHome Water Bottle

This post is brought to you by The Commerce Team. We operate independently of Editorial, and if you take advantage of an item or deal we recommend, we get a share of the sale. We read the comments, and we want your feedback.

How do you shop local?  We all do it, and everyday we’re asked for cool Milwaukee area gift ideas and interesting places and sites to go to to help be represent Milwaukee to a friend, business client, family member or whomever.   

At, our new ShopLocal marketplace is still growing.  And to continue its growth, I’m showcasing different products. Yes, we make money on this and yes we’re helping the local economy grow.

Have items that you want showcased?  Contact us.  Want to open a ShopLocal store or complement an existing eBay or etsy store?  Click here.  

I love the MilwaukeeHome brand, and feel a nice sense of Milwaukee pride in knowing that I wrote the first profile piece on the company when it was just beginning.  Since then, it’s truly taken off and become a part of our city’s identity.

Today, the Shop Local marketplace offers a cool summer item, the official MilwaukeeHome stainless steel water bottle.  

Just buy one, fill it up and go about the great Milwaukee summer.  Of course, it works all year round, too.   And, you'll feel good in knowing that a percent of the sale goes to Wisconsin Friends of Animals, Inc