Friday, February 20, 2015
Penzeys Spices: One of My Favorite Shops in Appleton
As a foodie, I can't live without lots of spices. Some of the highest quality spices and some of the best prices can be found at Penzeys Spices
near the Fox River Mall at 710 North Casoloma Drive, close to SAP, Carmella's, and Fava Tea. Open 9:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday, 9:30 to 5:00 on Saturday and 11:00 to 5:00 on Sunday.
I recommend both their straight spices and their mixes, such as Arizona Spice and Maharajah Curry (the king of curries, but fairly expensive). If you didn't know that there are distinct differences in varieties of cinnamon, be sure to compare Ceylon Cinnamon with Vietnamese and other cinnamons. I also especially like their garlic and their basil. I usually buy in the bulk plastic bags instead of the small glass bottles because you get a much better deal that way.
Today I dropped in to Penzeys to get some essential spices. Always a pleasant experience. And a great place for gifts for other foodies.
Labels: shopping, spices, stores
Major Chinese Culture Event in the Fox Valley: Shen Yun at the PAC, March 4-5, 2015
A major Chinese cultural event is coming to the Fox Valley. Shen Yun,
a highly acclaimed dance troupe offering "5,000 years of Chinese culture in one night," will perform at Appleton's Performing Arts Center on March 3rd and 4th
. I'm disappointed that I'll be back in China soon and won't be here for that event. I've seen a lot of great Chinese cultural events in China, I'll admit, but the Shen Yun event looks really interesting with some classical Chinese elements and terrific talent.
Labels: China, Chinese, cultural, Fox Valley, multicultural, PAC, performances
Monday, December 29, 2014
Jillian Rae Performs Dec. 31 at The Source Public House in Menasha
The Source Public House
in Menasha, an establishment noted for high-quality food, will host a performance of a talented Midwest performers, Jillian Rae, on Dec. 31 at 9:30 PM. See JillianRaeMusic.com
to learn more about Jillian and hear her some of her music such as "Heartbeat." The music videos are also fun. She's also on iTunes, of course.
The Source Public House is at 890 Lake Park Road, Menasha, not far from Lake Winnebago. Phone: 920-830-2050. Jillian Rae will be performing with Dead Horses. The performance is free, but they are accepting donations to show your appreciation.
Jillian Rae is a multi-talented violinist, lead vocalist, and songwriter who adds a fun dose of creative violin to her music. Her music is positive, upbeat, and catchy, even when dealing with the disappointments and frustrations of life.
Jillian Rae grew up in Minnesota's Iron Range, said to be an environment as open to country, folk (and yes, polka) as it is to pop, rock and blues. Growing up in a music-loving household, Jillian started with the violin as a young child and has been developing her talents and music ever since. Hope you'll be there Wednesday night at The Source Public House in Menasha.
Labels: events, Menasha, music, performances
Sunday, November 23, 2014
Summer in Appleton--Wishful Thinking as the Polar Vortex Nears
With the coldness of winter coming soon (yes, I'm bracing for my December return to the Valley!), I'd like to share a few summer memories of Appleton, one of the best places on earth to be in the summer. And still pretty great even in winter.
First up is Appleton's downtown summer concerts and other public events. Lots of free entertainment comes to the streets and parks of Appleton in the warmer parts of the year. Here are two photos from a summer concert at Houdini Square.
Summer also makes me think of the Fox River, known especially for its ability to flow
in the summer, while its icy winter form is a lot more sluggish. In the summer, you can still go out on the river, but it's best to be in a boat.
Summer memories often focus on the Fox Valley's beautiful parks like Appleton's Telulah Park shown here or Plaman Park, both of which offer Frisbee golf, a popular activity in the Valley.
Among Appleton's parks, City Park with it's beautiful Ring Dance sculpture and fountain offers some of my favorite summer memories. Here is a view during an Art in the Park event.
What are your favorite summer memories in the Fox Valley? Care to share a photo or two?
Labels: Appleton, Art in the Park, concerts, Fox River, music, parks, photos, public events, summer
Saturday, August 02, 2014
Aug. 15 Book Signing Party for Lee Mothes of Kaukauna, One of Wisconsin's Leading Artists
If you were at Appleton's magnificent annual Art in the Park event a few days ago, you might have encountered Lee Mothes, one of Wisconsin's leading artists. His website is OceansAndDreams.com
, where you can see many of his works, including some from his highly acclaimed creation of New Island, an imaginary 12,000-square-mile island that has been illustrated in detail by Lee.
I'm happy to report that at Appleton's Art in the Park 2014, Lee Mothes was the winner of one of the top 3 prizes, the Best 2D Work for his paintings. You can read the news and see a photo of the happy winners at the Trout Art Museum page on the competitions at Art in the Park 2014
There's even more good news for Lee Mothes. His beautiful new book has just been printed and he's celebrating with a book signing party in Appleton. Here are the details I've received from Lee:
"An Artist's Journey to Nevermore" has arrived from the printer, and the book looks great! I'll be shipping them out in the next few days, and also hosting a book signing party -- see below!
200 copies ready to sign and number!
BOOK SIGNING PARTY: Friday evening, August 15th, 6-9 pm, at Coventry Glassworks & Gallery, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Enjoy lots of art, food, comraderie and Linda's wonderful punch, and claim your pre-ordered or Kickstarter-reward copy of An Artist's Journey to Nevermore. You may also purchase a copy at the gallery. (There should be at least 50 copies left for sale at the time of the party.
This event is during Appleton's Art on the Town Night in August.
Here is how I'll do this:
1. I will hold all WISCONSIN book recipients' copies and then hand them out at the party, signing each one over to its owner.
2. I'll work from my list, and whoever does NOT show up that evening, I'll ship your signed copy(s) on Monday the 18th.
3. If you will NOT be coming to the party, e-mail back to me and I will ship your items to you in the next few days. If you think you'll come and then don't make it, I'll still ship your book(s) to you on the 18th.
4. All other states and countries: I'll ship your books, maps and packets in the next few days.
Also, if you have NOT pre-ordered a copy and you want one now, please send a check, made out to Lee Mothes, for $55. for the book and shipping. If you live in Wisconsin, please add $2.50 sales tax. Don't forget your shipping address! Mail your check to:
425 Dixon Street
Kaukauna, WI 54130
ARTSTREET ART FAIR: See my newest original art at Artstreet in Green Bay, aI on Friday Evening, Saturday and Sunday August 22-24. I'll be in booth no. 135, with my most recent drawings and surf paintings on display.
ARTPRIZE: I've been accepted to show my new surf drawings at Artprize in Grand Rapids, MI from Sept. 24 to October 12. The whole city becomes an art show! I'll be at the Cathedral Square venue, attending the show with my work. I hope you can make it, and if you like my entry there, vote no. 56639 on your phone!
Sounds great. Congratulations, Lee! Wish I could be there, but I'm back in Shanghai for a while. On the day of Lee's book party, I'm scheduled to attend a game of the Shanghai Sharks, the Chinese professional basketball team owned by Yao Ming, as they play the US all-stars from the college PAC-12 division. Should be fun, though maybe not as interesting as what Lee paints.
Labels: Art in the Park, book, Fox Valley art, Lee Mothes, party, winner
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Recent Suggestions for Eating Out
Friends of mine wanted to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Where to eat in Appleton? I recommended Carmella's, one of my favorites. They tried it and were delighted. A great selection.
I'm also impressed with the healthy and flavorful men at the new SAP restaurant, just a few yards away from Carmella's. It also has a fun outdoor section for casual dining. Lots of great local ingredients and healthy items there. Fun place.
My biggest recent surprise was a place I had studiously avoided: Golden Corral. Now that it has been remodeled and greatly upgraded, it's a surprising wow in terms of great buffets. For $12 a person, I'm actually rather shocked at how much good food is available there. My grandkids absolutely love it, and I can see why. The thick, juicy steak I had there was perhaps the most surprising item. Wow, I've had much worse for much, much more. Actually rather tasty and more tender than I expected. Nicely. cooked. But on the other hand, it's been a while since I've had steak so I may have forgotten how good it can be. But give Golden Corral a try.
Dynamic Insights Comes to the Newly Remodeled Equtiable Reserve Association Building
On July 16, I was fortunate to be able to attend an open house for the new high-powered consulting group, Dynamic Insights
. This team of leading professionals
in marketing, business development and consumer research are among the first clients in the newly remodeled Equitable Reserve Association building, a historic building in downtown Neenah, right next to the famous City Hall clock tower on Commercial Street.
The developer of the building has a bold vision for preserving and enhancing downtown Neenah. It was a pleasure to meet him and learn of his passion for Neenah and his vision for the future. Congratulations to him and to Dynamic Insights.
Here are some photos from my visit:
Labels: consulting, downtown, insights, Neenah, photos
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Crime Down in Appleton--And It Was Already Pretty Safe
There have been a few highly publicized episodes of criminal behavior in the Fox Valley in the past year, but in spite of the media frenzy, crime statistics show that Appleton crime is down. That's great news in a community that is already quite a safe place to live. See the April 23, 2014 story at the Post-Crescent
, one of the best small-town newspapers in the country.
Some of the statistics showing possible increased criminal activity are due to changes in definitions that now add previously "neglected" crimes like spitting and pushing. From my temporary perch in Shanghai, China, I can tell you that spitting and pushing are things some very safe cities might not want to include in their crime statistics. Maybe it's a good sign that Appleton feels a need to expand the scope of its statistical lasso. But I hope it's not because there's been a wave of pushing and spitting crimes.
Appleton has some risks and some crime, but it's a wonderfully safe, peaceful, and pleasant community. Except when the Packers are losing--then things can get tense for a few hours. Sadly, at such times, Packers Traumatic Stress Disorder can escalate and lead to ugly incidents of, well, pushing and spitting. So I hear. At such times, stay off the streets and especially out of the bars, and keep the doors locked.
Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Winter in Appleton
In spite of an occasional polar vortex and bone-chilling temperatures, the Appleton area can be remarkable beautiful in the middle of winter. Just looking out into the backyard of a typical home reveals beauty in the snow. Or the snow and ice. Or the snow, ice, frost, and bitter cold, depending on your mood. To really enjoy Appleton, many people find that it helps a lot to take up winter sports like cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, hockey, the mysterious sport of ice fishing, ice skating, or even curling. Appleton abounds in winter activities for the brave and properly dressed. Of course, there's also hot chocolate.
Here are a couple of shots from an Appleton neighborhood I visited recently.
Labels: Appleton, photos, snow, sports, winter
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
The Great Grill & Sushi Buffet: Now Even More Sushi in Appleton!
One of the many changes I noticed when in Appleton in December was that the Old Country Buffer on the north side of the Fox River Mall was becoming The Great Buffet, or more specifically, The Great Grill & Sushi Buffet. Just a few days ago it officially opened, as reported by Maureen Wallenfang
in her popular column, "The Buzz" in the Post-Crescent. Haven't tried it yet, but my expectations are high.
There are now so many sushi options in Appleton. Far East, Koreana, Island Sushi, Osaka Grill, Great Buffet, Dong Po, and a few others. What is your favorite?
Labels: restaurants, sushi
Monday, January 13, 2014
Island Sushi in Appleton (Replacing Jet Sushi)
Jet Sushi is no more and has been replaced by Island Sushi, so you can still get good sushi at the same location, 62 Eisenhower Drive, Appleton, Wisconsin. Phone: (920) 993-2222. It may not be the best sushi you've tasted (according to one sushi critic I respect, but the reviews at Yelp are highly positive
), but they have one important secret advantage: they deliver. A family in east Appleton reported to me that they had an OK (good but not great) sushi meal recently that was actually delivered by Island Sushi. Delivery may not be available for all locations nor at all times, so don't have unreasonable expectations, but when there's a polar vortex or something sweeping across Appleton, it's nice to stay home and let someone else bring the sushi to you. Sweet.
Island Sushi is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Islandsushibuffet
. Keep those sushi boats sailing!
Sunday, January 05, 2014
Glass Nickel Pizza Still a Winner
Pizza places come and go, but my favorites seem to stick. Glass Nickel is one of those. I took family there recently for a pizza feast, where we ordered 4 pizzas: The Cardiac Arrest, the vegetarian, Sacre Bleu, and a Mediterranean. Cardia Arrest was my favorite, in spite of its unhealthy name. The meat level wasn't abnormally high but the flavor was terrific. Remarkably good crust and sauce, too. Sacre Bleu with the unusual zip of blue cheese was also a favorite with my group. Delightful. I was also pleased to see that Glass Nickel still uses my photos for decoration along its walls. Check them out!
I also had a Greek salad while there. Hugh - one salad served four of us. Good flavors.
Thanks. Glass Nickel, for a delicious feast!
Labels: pizza, restaurants
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
Osaka Japanese Grill
I have long been curious about a relatively recent addition to Appleton, the Osaka Japanese Grill and Steakhouse, so I took my wife there for lunch recently. We tried a mix of sushi and sashimi. Flavors and preentation were good, though the texture of the tuna was a bit off, making me fear it had been frozen. I am not sure. Service was good and prices were reasonable. The employees there at the time were speaking Mandarin Chinese. I chatted with the manager and learned she was from Hong Kong. Very friendly, like the others I met there. I am not yet sure how the steak side of things are at Osaka.
Overall, I'd give it an acceptable to good rating for the food with excellent service. The setting is pleasant and spacious, making it a good place to get away from the stress of shopping while out at the Fox River Mall.
Labels: restaurants, sushi
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Good News: One of Appleton's Most Unsavory Businesses To Close
For those of you oppose the sexual exploitation of women for profit, you might be pleased to find that one of Appleton's most unsavory establishments will be closing soon and converted to a less objectionable enterprise. According to The Post-Crescent,
the infamous Paradise Club, a strip joint at a prominent location next to the Fox River Mall, has been purchased by Bob Gregorski (kudos, Bob!), who will convert it for a different purpose, one that Bob intends to be helpful to the community.
The unsavory exploitation of women at the Paradise Club will continue until Dec. 31. A similar club may then open up elsewhere in this or a nearby community, if local citizens allow it. But unless you're the kind who welcomes new garbage dumps in your backyard, I suggest you speak out and keep this as far away as possible.
Labels: Appleton, exploitation, Paradise Club, sleaze, strip clubs
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Josh Damigo Headlines in Appleton, Sept. 13, 2013
Josh Damigo will be headlining at Copper Rock Coffee Co. on September 13, 2013. The San Diego based singer and songwriter just released his new album, “Live at Lestats” on August 30. In 2013 so far, he has played over 80 shows in listening rooms and festivals all around the country and opened for Andy Grammer, Eric Hutchinson, and Matt Nathanson, all as an independent artist. Not bad!
Josh Damigo became a household name after the HBO Film “Wartorn: 1861-2010” was released in 2010 featuring his brother, Nathan Damigo, and his struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The flim which was produced by the late James Gandolfini told the story of the military families and their struggles with loved ones coming home with PTSD. This is an important topic to me personally, as my father struggles with devastating PTSD from the Korean War, and many good men have had it even worse. The devastating effects of war need to be better understood and our vets given the support and help they need, not abandoned by bureaucrats as often happens. But I digress.
You can see a clip from the movie featuring Josh and Nathan Damigo here, with Josh’s song, “Never Gonna Let You Go”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV9WXRs9_20. Readers of this blog can download his song “How Am I Not Supposed to Fall."
Labels: entertainment, music, singers
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Wisconsin State Fair, Milwaukee, 2013: A Few Photos
Monday, August 05, 2013
Bella Vita: One of the Valley's Best Restaurants
Bella Vita is a marvelous Italian restaurant in the Copper Leaf Hotel in downtown Appleton, across from the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel (300 West College Avenue). I went there for my first time tonight in a group of four people, taking advantage of a Groupon promotion. I was not just impressed, but frequently inspired
by the food.
We started with appetizers, bruschetta and fried olives with dipping sauces. The bruschetta was genuinely the best I have tasted. Perfectly toasted bread with a thick, hearty topping with roasted cherry tomatoes, cheese, and other ingredients that made it much heartier and more interesting than the typical bruschetta of Italian restaurants. The olives were a surprise--large green olives lightly breaded and fried without being too oily, and served with a plate of several different dipping sauces. Delicious. Also the standard bread, oil, and balsamic vinegar was memorable, with a pleasantly aged, fruity vinegar and warm, fresh bread.
The entrees impressed as well. For me, the Mediterranean pasta dish with shrimp, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and other ingredients in a tart, savory sauce was one of the best pasta dishes I can remember. My wife's lobster ravioli was also surprisingly good, with a bercy sauce that left us puzzled as to how it could be so delicious and yet so light.
We also sampled some desserts and again found outstanding quality and creativity. My frozen custard with strawberries was delicious, and the chocolate mousse shared by the other couple with us was rich and nearly perfect.
Given the classy setting and high-end quality of the food, one would expect this place to be rather pricey, but it was surprisingly inexpensive. With appetizers and desserts, the four of us had a bill of $111 plus tax and tip. Not bad! This is now one of my favorite restaurants in town. Delicious. The service was also excellent.
Labels: Appleton, College Avenue, dining, Italian restaurant
Friday, July 05, 2013
The Mile of Music: Coming to Appleton, Wisconsin in Early August
From August 8 to August 11, 2013, Appleton will experience a remarkable musical event, the Mile of Music.
During this landmark event, a mile-long stretch of College Avenue will offer diverse musical experiences from numerous artists. Singers, songwriters, combos and multi-piece bands and related offerings will be available, with genres covering a broad spectrum. You'll need tickets
The event is the brainchild of the popular singer and songwriter, Cory Chisel
, who is from Appleton. Kudos, Cory! Cory discusses the event in a video story with the Post-Crescent
, where he mentions that Appleton's beautiful downtown is one of the inspiring factors behind the Mile of Music.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Uptick in Bedbugs: Beware
Appleton and Wisconsin in general has been facing an uptick in bedbug infestations. Part of this may be due to increased awareness, but increased international travel may be a bigger factor. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a report, "Bedbugs on the Rise in Wisconsin
," which is still relevant, though published in 2010. Closer to home, the Appleton City Government has a page on their website, Bedbugs in Appleton, with some useful resources for dealing with the problem.
In modern homes, exterminators can apply chemicals to fumigate a home and kill the bedbugs while people are away. But in older homes that are drafty, the chemical method may not be possible. Instead, the recommended treatment method may involve waiting until summer heat is present, and then adding electrical heaters to bring the internal temperature of the house to around 130 degrees Fahrenheit or so.
Labels: bedbugs, home care
Friday, June 14, 2013
Weekend of Paddling Explores Upper Fox
One of the greatest things about Appleton is the Fox River, a source of so much beauty and fun. Not many people have done much on the Fox River, though. Here's a chance to change that and to experience some delightful scenery that you could never see from your car. I've been asked to share the following press release about a weekend of canoeing along the upper regions of the Fox. Looks like a terrific event.
PRINCETON, Wis. -- One of the most scenic stretches of the Fox River and the convergence of the Wolf River with the Fox will be explored for the next Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Paddle, the weekend of June 22-23.
The weekend of paddling also marks the return of the 28-foot Fox of the River (www.foxoftheriver.weebly.com) voyageur canoe and the addition of the 10-person canoe Nature Current (naturecurrent.com), offering rides to those who feel uncomfortable paddling on there own or don't have a boat. Information is available by firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Saturday trip launches from the White River Dam near Princeton at 9:30 a.m. and covers the 12.5-mile route to Berlin. Sunday's 11.5-mile trip starts from Lake Winneconne Park, crosses Lake Butte des Morts and follows around the wildlife impoundment at Terrell Island, with a lunch break at the Lake Butte des Morts Landing. Paddlers may end the trip there at 6 miles or continue on to Rainbow Park in Oshkosh.
For both trips, paddlers should arrive between 8 and 9 a.m. to have time to unload and shuttle vehicles. A bus will return drivers to the launch.
Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Paddle 2013 also includes the 12th annual Park-to-Park Paddle out of Neenah July 20, an Aug. 17 paddle among the historic tall ships that will be visiting Green Bay and a tour of the four historic hand-operated locks in Appleton on Sept. 28. Schedule details and contact information are available atwww.wisconsinpaddlers.org.
The Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Paddle series is organized by North East Wisconsin Paddlers and the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway. It showcases the beauty, variety and historic and environmental importance of the river corridor that served as the route of exploration for Fr. Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet and inspiration for such notables as naturalists Aldo Leopold and John Muir and architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Labels: canoeing, Fox River, water
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Asian Food in Appleton
My long stay in China has given me whole new vistas on the wonders of Chinese food. One of the things I've learned is that my Chinese guests weren't just being polite when they raved about the custom banquet the owners of Confucius in Appleton prepared for us. These were items not off the menu but especially prepared for a group of visitors. Less Americanized, more foreign, and amazingly delicious. If you need a full-scale multi-courrse banquet of authentic Chinese dishes, they can really wow your Chinese guests and hopefully you. But they will need at least a day in advance to be prepared.
A couple weeks ago while taking family to lunch in Appleton, I was also surprised at how much I enjoyed an old favorite of mine before my recent journeys in China. That old favorite is Noodles. Yes, it's a chain, but they've got a surprisingly good Asian menu. Add extra veggies is my recommendation. Noodle and sauce quality is good. And not nearly as oily as many noodle dishes I've enjoyed in China.
Chinese food in China has increasingly been influenced by the West, so you'll see Chinese menus with lots of non-traditional ingredients from the West like broccoli, peanuts, watermelon and corn. Be grateful for that. Chinese cooking is great at adapting to use whatever ingredients are available and it's fine, in my opinion, for US Chinese restaurants to do the same with readily available US ingredients. Except cheese. That one riles me. Cheese rangoon--ugh. Who came up with that fatty monstrosity? Yes, it can taste good--but so can deep fried eyeballs, entrails, and newspaper (sports section especially, depending on the batter).
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Some "Typical" Homes in Appleton and the Fox Valley
Here are some photos of homes from around the Fox Valley that I took a couple years ago just to show people what living looks like in the Valley. Most are from Appleton. This area is a peaceful, beautiful place to live, even in winter with snow and cold untempered by hopes of global warming. Maybe someday that tempering will come. For now, chill.
Labels: Appleton, Appleton homes, Fox Valley, homes, housing, neighborhoods, photos