24 Hours: Family at the Pfister

Ok, here’s the plan. (Trumpets, please.)

24 hours. The whole family. Take on as much of the Pfister as we possibly can. Take pictures and let you share in the fun.

 

Ready…

Set…

 

Wait…not just yet!

 

OK…

 

GO!

 

 

Outside the elevator doors inside the parking garage there are cards. These cards state which floor you're on to remind you of where your car is parked. This entertained the kids to no end.

 

Checking in under the grand murals of the Pfister lobby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Una learns how to operate the keyed elevator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our chalet for the evening.

 

 

Shortly after we checked in there was a knock at our door. Everyone was excited to have dinner challenged by milk and cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bye bye milk, on to getting dressed for dinner.
But not before we learned how to lock our valuables in the safe. Toothbrush, socks, the last cookie...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is this thing on? We encouraged everyone to take pictures, even 4 year old Edmund.

 

 

 

 

Getting ready for dinner...hang on...you've got an eyelash...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All dressed up and ready to go.

 

 

While the lobby lounge and Mason Street Grill are spectacular places to eat we didn't think they'd be the most fitting place for a 4 year old. So we took a walk...

 

 

 

 

 

 

...and found ourselves at Sake Tumi. Sushi=finger food. Perfect!

 

 

 

 

Where's the mom of this brood been the whole time?! (Susan is usually behind the camera, which is her preference.)

 

 

 

 

 

Sensei and Una taking a moment to be silly between trying to figure out the ancient art of chop sticks.

 

 

 

 

 

Where to now?

 

 

 

 

"Well I have to find some excuse to wear this robe..."

 

 

 

 

What else is on the 23rd floor?

 

 

 

 

The beach!

 

 

 

 

Well, ok, maybe the beach is a mural. But there is a pool!

 

 

 

 

And the winner is...

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's a tie!

 

 

After swimming we came back to the room to write letters (more about that tomorrow) and watch the movie In Time- from our beds!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone else decided for another round of morning swimming. (while I slept in)

 

 

 

Don't worry about that snow, it sure is nice in here...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sensei and Edmund splashing about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Una penciled in a workout before breakfast.

 

 

Is this the right way?

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Ah, that’s how the camera works. I ordered Susan one of Valerie’s special Pfister Bloody Marys with breakfast, but unfortunately it was gone before we could get a picture!

 

 

 

Did you know that there is a mail chute at the Pfister? Did you know it starts at the 7th floor and you can see letters drop all the way into the box?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yes, we dropped those letters and took turns watching them arrive safe in the lockbox.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strike a fire. Then a pose. Vogue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But there was one more surprise in store...

 

I CAN'T BELIEVE WE'RE HAVING AFTERNOON TEA IN BLU!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Una concentrates on pouring steeped tea while contemplating the harp.

 

 

"See that Northwestern Mutual building to the east? It was built on a swamp called Lake Emily using wood pilings..." blah blah blah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sensei's tea was incredible, hints of orange and chocolate all at the same time.

 

"To become one with the haute chocolate one really needs to properly capture it's scent," explained Edmund after coming up for air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ordered that herbal tea just for color composition, I swear.
All this activity lead to a sleeping toddler. Which leads to...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...smiling parents! I hope you enjoyed joining us for the ride, we all had a great time. Tell us about your Pfister adventure!

Reflections of Remarkable Milwaukee

Last Monday January 28th an event was held at the historic Pabst Theater,which is just a stroll down the avenue from the Pfister and Intercontinental. The evening was titled Remarkable Milwaukee and gathered many of Milwaukee’s innovative business leaders, successful creative types, and championing envisionistas. The group relaxed on stage while seated on Victorian couches to discuss their visions for our city’s future over coffee and cocktails. The occasion was also a fundraiser for Historic Milwaukee, a non-profit whose goal is to both increase awareness of Milwaukee’s architecture and preserve our built environment.

In front of a packed house the participants discussed issues and positives within our city. Many issues which are not unique to Milwaukee. Ways to maintain our unique existing architecture while making it fit inside the box of modern use. How to attract and retain both businesses and skilled labor to the city. How do we make productive space out of industrial buildings which may no longer house the industry they were built by (This always makes me think of our enormous Cold Storagewarehouses sprinkled along the riverbanks). The urban education elephant in the room. How to rebuild any city’s areas of urban blight. The discussion was a unique gathering point for intellectuals who wanted to do more than demonize cities with a fast attack of scary soundbites. I gathered that they viewed cities were a gathering point of culture, art, work, and living and there was no need to work in an environment miles away from where one lives. That this city is a great trove of activity and history, which is and will be as fantastic as we decide to make it. Our quilt, per se. Within the hour of conversation nobody arrived at rushed conclusions, and I don’t think it was the goal.

The Pabst Theater was an entertainingly appropriate location to discuss Milwaukee’s health and future. Before existing as The Pabst the venue had been called The New German City Theater, and had been built by Frederick Pabst. However this structure burnt down in 1895. When word reached Captain Pabst he wrote back from a European vacation, “Rebuild at once!” and within a year the Pabst Theater stood.

It seemed serendipitous that exactly one week later I met a couple named The Williams’ from Philadelphia. We were sitting in the Pfister lobby lounge and a conversation struck up about beer. Talk regarding microbrews between a bartender and two fans of what made Milwaukee famous pours easy and quickly spills over into other topics.

They were well-versed in restaurants around the Downtown area, microbreweries, the East Side, Bay Vew. This lovely retired couple was already familiar with nearly all over my favorite corner establishments. I finally asked how they’d become so acquainted. “Oh we own a condo over near Brady Street. We come here several times throughout the year for a week or two at a time. Milwaukee’s our retirement city.”

I asked what drew them to Milwaukee as a retirement town. They don’t have any family ties and neither of them had spent much time working in Wisconsin. It was more simple than I might have guessed. They’re big baseball fans so they come in to watch games and like to ride their bikes to the stadium. From Brady Street they can take the Lakefront trail through Lakeshore State Park (the park between Discovery World and Summerfest grounds) and bounce around to connect with the Hank Aaron Trail just across from the Harley Davidson Museum, which heads straight by Miller Park.

Ms. Williams explained that they’d shopped around in Florida and Arizona but they found that although those states offered Baseball’s Spring Training the climate was too harsh for any daytime activity other than sitting and watching baseball. Plus, when they do have to get in the car Milwaukee is an easy and quick place to navigate.

In addition we have restaurants and night spots offering a level of quality to which they’ve grown accustomed on the East Coast. Galleries, museums, other sporting events, music festivals. Culture, I suppose, if you want to boil it down to one word.

After shaking hands and saying good night talking with the Williams’ made me chuckle. It seemed they epitomized many of the points this discussion panel had been trying to touch on the week previous.

In the early 1960’s the Pfister Hotel reached a crossroads. After years of neglect and mismanagement the landmark was scheduled for demolition. To the chuckling whispers of many Ben Marcus purchased the Pfister. He saw the value in this building and decided to not only save the structure, but invested in the future of the location. To him the Pfister Hotel was more than a stack of bricks and a number on paper. It represented a potential. Now here I am sitting in the lobby lounge. Talking with a couple of transplants who enjoy remarkable Milwaukee as their retirement playground.

All these years later it appears that if you build it they will come.

Meeting “The Captive”

The Captive by Paul Louis Narcisse Grolleron is an appropriate match for the subject of this story. Listen in to hear our guest Jessica tell about a ridiculous first date.

One morning I was having breakfast in the lobby lounge and ended up speaking with a young lady. She was enjoying a Healthy Start Frittata and I’d ordered my favorite, The Vegetable Omelet. This young woman’s name was Jessica and we spoke about many things including art, cuisine, travel, music. Most of the topics you hope a new acquaintance will be able to discuss at length. Eventually we got to the topic of relationships and Jessica told me a story about a preposterous first date she had recently gone on. One might say say her experience was uncannily similar to painting immediately to the right. Listening to her story again I return to the conclusion: “Who would take a girl to the grocery store?”

This story is a part of The Lunch Counter storytelling series which I curate on Milwaukee’s NPR station 89.7 WUWM.  The piece originally aired Thursday January 5th during the Lake Effect show. To be clear, her awful first date didn’t take place at the hotel, she merely recounted the story over breakfast in The Cafe at the Pfister.

Come to think of it, it’s been awhile since I’ve taken my lady out for dinner. The holidays have wound down and now it’s easier to get a table in most restaurants. Perhaps Mason Street Grill should be in our near future…

To listen to this comedy of modern love errors simply click the player below. If you’d like to hear past editions of The Lunch Counter storytelling series visit here.

 

The Lunch Counter goes on a really bad date by Ed Makowski

Marcus Restaurants Extends Chef Series Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

The culinary fun isn’t over yet! Marcus Restaurants has extended its popular chef series through February 2012, cure after a successful autumn session. Each Saturday, Marcus Restaurants will host a special sequence of classes called Celebrated Chefs Winter 2012 Series. Guests will get to know some of the city’s culinary leaders, enjoy perfectly paired beverages and sample each chef’s preparations, while learning great tips. With classes limited to 18 guests, they’ll enjoy a close-up look at cooking techniques in an intimate setting.

The Winter Series will feature an array of classes from ‘The Best of Italy’ to ‘Aphrodisiacs for the Day of Love’ to ‘Cooking with Shellfish’—there really is something for everyone.

Each two-hour cooking showcase will be held at the Mason Street Grill Chef’s Counter, located adjacent to The Pfister Hotel, from 10:30am – 12:30pm. Tickets are $29/person or $49/couple. All guests will receive a $20 gift card to experience even more great eats with Marcus Restaurants. Plus, guests can extend their stay with a special overnight offer! They can upgrade their reservation to include an overnight stay in a deluxe king or deluxe double guest room at The Pfister, two tickets to the Saturday demo, and parking included, starting at $179.

For reservations, guests can call (414) 935-5942. More information on specific classes can be found at MarcusChefs.com.

Details, in photographs

So much of the Pfister Hotel is about details. See if you can pick out where I took some of these photos. A cheat list is included at the end. Happy Hunting!

 

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1. Frame Detail, 2nd floor

2. Face on a planter in the lobby

3. 2nd floor chandeliers

4. Light and shadow compliments of a chandelier

5. Entrance to Mason Street Grill

6. Door frame detail of the freight elevator

7. Table setting at Mason Street Grill

8. Detail of metalwork on a table near the 1st floor ATM

9. Light and shadow detail from a light near the Mason Street entrance

10. Letter box detail across from the Cafe at the Pfister

11. Lobby mural and plaster detail

12. Rainy Reflections by current resident artist Shelby Keefe

13. Signature on painting by Henri Matisse in Mason Street Grill

14. Radiator guard in Wisconsin Avenue entrance

15. Railing

16. Looking at the front desk

17. Floor mosaic outside of 8th floor South elevators in the original Wisconsin Avenue building

18. Detail of ornamental railing between the 7th and 8th floors

19. “Down” light for the 8th floor south elevators. There is no “Up” light because you’ve hit the top!

20. Entrance to Cafe Rouge

21. Thanksgiving menu from 1899 on display in the 2nd floor mezzanine

22. Chrome polished to such a shine that one can see their own reflection

 

 

 

 


Take your grandmother out for Afternoon Tea

Tea butler Juan Rodriguez assists patrons. Outside sun sets on the Federal Building.

Last weekend my grandma and I decided to go out for afternoon tea. I don’t believe anyone’s ever taken tea with my grandmother, aside from a bag she dropped in a mug above her stove. When my mom called to remind her, my grandma asked what she should wear for such an occasion, what is appropriate attire for tea? “We didn’t go out for tea when I was a girl. Am I supposed to wear her long white gloves? I would if I had them.” Fear not, we found that beautiful silver can be placed in front of you in an environment that isn’t stuffy.

My grandmother, Phyllis, grew up in rural North Dakota. People have asked for years why her skin looks so fantastic and she attributes this to never smoking or suntanning. Like everyone in her hometown she worked on the farm before and after school and despite the fact that all the kids worked on a farm they did their best to not look like farmers. She’d work in the field wearing a long dress or slacks (her word), a long sleeved shirt, gloves, and a big floppy hat. When Hollywood started producing suntanned movie stars the population of Minot, ND decided the west was a bunch of fools.

Our tea date happened on one of the last sunny days of autumn. I decided we should take our time and drive through the Miller Valley en route to the hotel. Somewhere near Hart Park I could feel her looking at the side of my face. After a few moments she announced, “Eddie- you’ve got white hairs in your beard. How old are you anyway?” We’ve reached ages where it’s now the younger person’s job to remember details. She’s 86 now and as a mother of 7 has recently acquired the title of great-great-grandmother.

Mary Keppeler’s harp pairs perfectly with afternoon tea.

A sidebar reason behind our afternoon date was to record my grandma recounting some of the stories our family has heard many times over. When I was offered the position of Pfister Hotel Narrator I immediately purchased the professional-grade audio recorder I’d been lusting after (Instead of replacing the clutch on the Subaru. What can I say, art uber alles) and I’m still getting acquainted with my new toy. Seemed like a perfect opportunity to record Grandma’s stories for our family archive.

No need to conclude your evening with tea. This is the Wisconsin Gas Building as seen through a glass of red. The flame changes according to the weather forecast. A blue flame means unchanging skies ahead.

After parking we rode the elevator to the 23rd floor. Straight out of the elevator my grandmother wrapped her arm inside of mine. This is not something often done by ladies of my generation. It caught my attention akin to aftershave.

My grandmother wore a lovely sequined blouse and pant combination and I had on some variety of tweed poet/1920’s iron worker juxtaposition. Once inside Blu we walked past the harpist, Mary Keppeler and sat across from the ceiling to floor windows overlooking Lake Michigan. Assistant Manager Juan Rodriguez brought over the tea cart to explain our tea options for the afternoon. Juan explained the ingredients and offered scent samples of all the teas. During his explanations we’d look at one another from time to time and grin. We’re announced simpletons when it comes to tea. Juan was patient and concise in explaining the origin and nuance of every leaf and spice and how flavors interact. Grandma went for Earl Grey and I opted for the same but with mango thrown in.

Our tea arrived and shortly after our food also arrived. Crab cakes, fresh baked scones with lemon curd and strawberry preserves, curried quail eggs, smoked salmon, herb roasted turkey. Oh, and there were just as many desserts too. Chocolate dipped strawberries, pumpkin muffins, opera torte, savory crepes.

My grandmother and I sat next to one another watching as Lake Michigan whitecaps tickled the breakwater. Cars the size of ants entered and exited 794, which was once “The Bridge to Nowhere.” Grandma told me about the tiny convertible that looked like it was smiling; the one her dad drove after all the kids were grown up. From time to time we’d raise our teacups and tilt the pot until our cup filled steaming once again. There was a table of young ladies seated with their mothers and aunts near us. My grandma told me about the aunt and uncle I’d never met, the twins whose monument she visits annually. She told me about her brother Kenny, who my brother Kenny is named after. How Kenny and my grandma and my great aunt Shirley were like the Three Musketeers. The skyscrapers began reflecting the west golden sunset. She talked about the time my uncle got sprayed by a skunk. The time her uncle was accused (Falsely, darn it all to heck!) of being a horse thief. We watched the sun fade while a woman played the harp. My grandma has the stomach of a bird, I finished both of our food trays. Suddenly the Wisconsin Gas Building’s blue light brightened the Milwaukee skyline sparkle. We kept talking and enjoying our remaining Earl Grey after the sun went to bed, even after the bartenders began pouring cocktails. She told me part of the reason she married my grandfather was because his father was such a nice man. I didn’t record any of it. Why interrupt a perfectly perfect afternoon?

Baking Up Hope This Holiday Season

Marcus Restaurants donates 500 cookies to Hope House

MILWAUKEE – December 22, 2011 – For the third year in a row, chefs from Marcus
Restaurants are helping to make this holiday season a little sweeter for those in need. This
morning, they donated 500 cookies to Hope House in Milwaukee. Hope House is an
emergency and transitional living facility serving those in need of food and shelter.
Hope House is sharing the treats with its residents and patrons of its food pantry. The
recipe for the White Chocolate Chip Chewy Gingerbread Cookies was provided by Anna
Baird-Luedke, winner of Milwaukee’s Favorite Cookie Contest, which was held by Marcus
Restaurants. For winning the contest, she will receive dinner and an overnight stay at one
of Milwaukee’s Marcus Hotels.
Marcus Restaurants Chef Brian Frakes and Pastry Chef Jennifer Carlson say their staff
sampled all of the recipes and the chewy gingerbread cookies came out on top. Frakes
says his favorite part of the contest is the chance to help others. “We took time to bake
and deliver these cookies not only because it was a really great recipe, but also because
they were going to an amazing organization,” says Frakes. “Hope House is a true
community supporter and we were honored to play a small part in helping to make the
season a little brighter for its guests.”
Marcus Restaurants would like to thank Roundy’s Supermarkets and ThirdCoast Digest
for co-sponsoring the cookie donation. For more information, please contact April Dart at
262.523.3900 ex. 29.

Milwaukee’s Favorite Cookie – 2011

Congratulations to Anna Baird-Luedke, for winning the Cookie Crown!

Milwaukee’s favorite cookie is the White Chocolate Chip Chewy Gingerbread cookie.

The winning baker was chosen by culinary experts from Marcus Restaurants and received a special overnight stay and dinner for two at The Pfister, InterContinental Milwaukee or Hilton Milwaukee City Center. Plus, the winning cookie was donated to Hope House of Milwaukee.

Stop by Mason Street Grill, Kil@wat, or Milwaukee ChopHouse during the month of January to give the winning cookie a try.

Print the recipe here: White Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies.

 

12 Drinks of Christmas in Blu

Blu and the Pfister Hotel are proud to be participating in the Hunger Task Force’s 12 Drinks of Christmas this holiday season and donating a portion of our proceeds to the cause.

Stop by Blu and try one of our tasty holiday libations this season and don’t forget to vote for us online.

 

The Sparkling Season

Heather Kanter-Kowal

I am a geek for sparkling wines.  This is one of my very favorite seasons as there are so MANY occasions to elegantly sip Champagne and share toasts with my friends and family.  I cannot imagine a Christmas Eve dinner at my house without a few bottles of something bubbly chilling in my outdoor cellar (AKA-the snow drift on my patio), patient a Christmas morning without Mimosas and waffles, or a tiring but rewarding night at the restaurant on New Year’s Eve without toasting at midnight with my battle weary co-workers.  Here are a few of my favorite brut Champagnes and few other international sparklers that make me feel festive!

  • Krug Grand Cuvee Brut of Reims, ampoule Champagne.  As my pals at the American Club used to say, “No Krug? No thanks!” ( usually when being offered anything else bubbly).  If a budget is of no concern to you, this is the real deal.  This is the bottle for when you really have something fabulous to celebrate!  The Grand Cuvee is made from all three permitted grapes of the Champagne region, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but is predominately based on crazy good Chardonnay.  This is a more full bodied and bold style of Champagne that screams for osetra caviar.
  • Heidsieck & Co. Monopole “Blue Top” Brut of Epernay, Champagne.  I recently tasted this again for the first time in years at the sparkling wine event that we hosted at Mason Street Grill on Monday night.  Really impressed with the depth and quality of this wine!  Buttery, toasty, with baked bread, pear and apricot notes with hint of smokiness.  Pinot Noir is the dominant grape in this cuvee.  A dash easier to locate than Krug, and a great deal more affordable.
  • Argyle Brut of Willamette Valley, Oregon.  Made from classic Champagne region grapes using classic Champagne production methods, this is a fun number from here in the States.  Their entry level brut is bright and racy with flavors of apple, lemon, and more of that baked bread nose.  Delightful and crisp, yet again, more budget friendly.  If you want to try something really special, track down their “Extended Tirage”, and taste it side by side with your favorite vintage Champagne.  Prepare to be shocked.
  • “Naked on Roller Skates” by Some Young Punks of South Australia.  I wonder sometimes if that name were in French if it would still seem as naughty… This bubbly is made from Shiraz and Mataro grapes.  Yes, this can happen.  No, this is not a sweet wine.  It has a darker reddish/pinkish color than you may imagine, and is dry yet balanced with flavors of red berries, spices and dark fruits.   Bring this to a party as a hostess gift, I dare you.  Your bottle will be an unwitting topic of conversation ALL NIGHT.

Cheers!

Heather Kanter-Kowal