Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Story of Cream City Duck

Welcome to Cream City Duck! My mission here is to (happily) explore the diverse offerings of my favorite food from my hometown of Milwaukee. What better place to explore duck than in a city rich in foodie-ism and whose river is guarded by a 4-foot bronze mallard named Gertie?

To tell the story of where my obsession for duck began, I must first make a confession. My journey actually began in Chicago. Some friends and I were visiting my college buddy, Jen, who suggested her favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner that evening. Little did I know that this would be an evening of no ordinary Chinese.

This particular Chinese restaurant has a secret - a 3-course dinner based entirely on duck. A dinner so secret it is not even on the menu, one only knows by going there and witnessing the event as it happens (or a word-of-mouth recommendation as in my case). Before arriving, the party must reserve a duck along with their table. When the party arrives their duck is placed in the Duck Queue as they sit down for the evening. When the duck reaches its turn in the queue it is then cooked in a Chinese barbeque fashion and is brought out to the table.

I remember the waiters bringing out a whole, large duck and expertly slicing oblongs of the meat onto a platter. This was served with round white Chinese sticky buns and sweetened cabbage to be eaten sandwich style. The first bite was heaven. The squishy fluffy bun, the succulent tangy barbequed meat, and the clean crunch of the cabbage all came together to create a multi-texture mix of sweet and savory which blew my mind. The rest of the meal could have been disastrous and that first course would have made it worth it, but the following dishes were delicious as well.

While our party was contentedly munching on our sticky bun sandwiches, the meat that had not been sliced off for us already was becoming part of a hearty serving of duck-fried rice. The soft pebbly feeling of the rice added yet another texture to the meal and brought out the smokey deep flavor of the meat. Then, the very last bits of the bird were concocted into a clear soup. It was a unique and refreshing way to prolong the duck experience. I marveled at how many wonderful dishes were taken from one single bird.

I came home to Milwaukee the next day, my life changed forever. In the restaurant reviews of various local magazines and papers, duck entrees would highlight from the page for me like mathematical equations for Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. I saw that many of Mil-town's most interesting restaurants offered unique duck dishes and no two were alike. I started writing it all down, a tantalizing bucket list (Duck It-List?), determined to try them all!

So here I am, a Cream City girl with a blog and a desire for duck. I hope that you enjoy my adventures as much as I enjoy embarking on them.