Recipe: Baked Buttery Pretzels

Buttery PretzelsGrowing up in Milwaukee, one of my fondest memories was the constant smell of yeast from the breweries that just permeated the air.

But one of the best yeast smells from the Brew City was whenever we drove on I-94 going toward downtown Milwaukee. Just east of County Stadium, what now is Miller Park, there was a little brown brick factory nestled next to one of the off-ramps. I remember driving by with my mom, who would always have her window cracked just a bit whenever we drove (a little thing I need to do now whenever I’m in the car), but as we got to this brown building – with its towering chimney and the white plumes of smoke hovering over the Menomonee Valley, she would open all of the car windows to let in the vibrant scent of yeast. It just filled the entire car and I inhaled the effervescence with pure joy.

That brown factory building was home to Red Star Yeast company. In 2001, the company was sold to a French firm and in 2004 a joint-venture took it over. Today, while Red Star Yeast no longer is manufactured in Milwaukee, there are still factories in Alabama and Iowa. But the Red Star corporate headquarters remains on Milwaukee’s west side near Wisconsin State Fair Park.

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Review: Disney’s Restaurant Marrakesh

Restaurant Marrakesh signageNestled in the back of the Moroccan pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase, you’ll find this secluded dining spot. It’s safe to say you’ll encounter some of the most adventurous of eaters here, but I hope some of the more picky palates would venture out of their comfort zones to try the offerings at Restaurant Marrakesh.

Finding the restaurant is just the first part of the adventure that awaits you. You need to wind your way through the foreign bazaar of native Fez hats, jewels and fabrics. Take the time to experience all of the culture that you encounter. Back when the pavilion was created in 1984, King Hassan II of Morocco sent his own personal artists, or maalems, to help Disney Imagineers with construction of the project and to preserve its authenticity.

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Review: Kringla Bakeri og Kafe

Kringla Bakeri og Cafe at EpcotOne of the quick snack spots that has always been on my Disney radar is Kringla Bakeri og Kafe at the Norway pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot. However, a visit has always eluded me. So I made it a point to drop in during our last quick visit.

This bakery and small noshing destination is one of two different spots to find food in the Norway pavilion (the other being the table-service character dining experience at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, which is the perfect place for the little princesses in your life.)

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Recipe: Disney’s Twinkie Tiramisu

Lots of TwinkiesEditor’s Note: This blog post is featured on the Disney Blog Carnival No. 42. Check out more posts about all things Disney.

It has been quite a while since I cracked open my copy of “Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs.” My last adventure was this key lime pie. But, let me rewind a bit. The whole story began one morning a few weeks ago when I heard on the news that Hostess, maker of the famed Twinkie, was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

I got to thinking…I have never had a Twinkie in my 31 years. How is that possible, let alone for a so-called food blogger? Of course, I’ve had Ding Dongs and Ho-Hos, but somehow that yellow cake filled with cream had eluded me. How, with a mascot like Twinkie the Kid, could this atrocity be possible? I accessed my brain full of memories as a child, what was in my lunchbox in grade school? Fig Newtons, Oreos, the occasional Nutter Butter or the curly-cued Hostess Cupcake. But, no Twinkie. My dear hubby Brett, in disbelief, quickly went to the store and bought a 10-pack of the treats for me to try once I got home from work that evening.

My First TwinkieWith a smile on my face (and a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory” playing in the background), I scarfed down my first Twinkie with the giddiness of a toddler. Creamy frosting all over my face and hands, and a cheek-to-cheek grin.

And with that Twinkie, now deep inside my happy belly, I recalled a recipe in my Disney cookbook for Twinkie Tiramisu, a dish that’s served at the Pop Century Resort’s food court. As Hostess is fighting for its future, I trekked to the store to bulk up on more boxes of the lunchbox staple (it was buy 1 get 1 free!) and make this twist on the classic Italian dessert.

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Holiday Inn Express Pancake Machine

Pancakes in a MinuteFile this post under weird things I have eaten. What do you get when you cross a conveyor belt with one of the most beloved breakfast foods?

Holiday Inn’s express pancake machine. This counter-top appliance churns out one pancake every 18 seconds. So, how does it work? Well, thanks to a trip to Brattleboro, Vt., for Christmas, I got to see first-hand how this gadget works.

According to Hotel F&B magazine, an industry publication for hoteliers, the flapjack maker was rolled out to all of Holiday Inn Express’s 1,800 North American hotels in early 2011. Each machine comes with bags of premade mix that each make 35 pancakes. The batter drops onto a Teflon-coated belt, which lasts for about 60 bags of batter or approximately 2,100 pancakes. (Wow, that’s a lot of syrup!)

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Polcari’s Has An App For That

Brett and I went out for date night last night at Polcari’s/Pizzeria Regina on Route 1 in Saugus. At the end of our meal, our server Sheena came out with this little gadget:

iPhone at Polcari's Pizzeria Regina in SaugusAn iPhone (attached to a wooden board) with a preloaded program for guests to input their thoughts about the meal they just had. It’s a simple step-by-step process asking you about your meal, server, cleanliness and how likely you are to recommend the restaurant to friends. The program uses a slider scale from thumbs up to thumbs down for your rating.

It was very easy to understand and input my suggestions and comments. However, at the end when I wanted to submit my thoughts, there was a connection issue that couldn’t be resolved. (I had been checking into Foursquare and Facebook throughout the night in the restaurant so I know my iPhone was working properly.)

Overall, I think it’s a great idea for businesses to make that leap into the 21st Century, using technology to learn more about the people who are sitting at their tables and booths, and creating better experiences based on customer-provided information.