Three Courses, Three Countries, Three Miles

You’re Invited to a Progressive Dinner

If you’re looking for a new way to have a fun night out with friends, consider a progressive dinner. During a progressive dinner successive courses of a meal are served at different locations. Commonly used as a format for neighborhood social events or fundraisers, progressive dinners engage guests to sample a different course at each different location. The concept is simple and fun; have a bite to eat at stop one and a taste of something else at stop two and keep moving until your meal is complete.Mount Mary is well positioned with multiple ethnically diverse restaurants within a three mile radius of campus, so designing a progressive meal that mixes the best of many cultures is extremely accessible. Traveling from Mount Mary to Vietnam would log you 8,352 miles. To India 7,957 and to Jamaica a mere 1,833. However you can experience a taste from each, all in the same day, without going more than three miles from campus. A progressive meal of this scale requires your guests to arrive very hungry and may necessitate scheduling a looonnggg walk on the Menomonee River Parkway in between courses to keep everyone from falling into a food coma. But consider it inspiration the next time you want to experience authentic tastes of far off lands all within easy reach of campus.

Appetizers – Pho One24

Pho One24, located at 3705 N. 124th Street in Brookfield, prides itself as a contemporary Vietnamese restaurant. If you’ve never had pho (pronounced “fuh,” rhymes with “duh”) think of a hot steaming bowl of meat or vegetable broth with your choice of protein, vegetables and rice noodles. All orders of pho come with a side plate of sprouts, a sliced lime, fresh herbs and hot peppers for you to dress your pho as you like. Pho can run the spectrum from basic imagine chicken rice-noodle soup) to exotic (rare steak, flank tendon, tripe and meatballs). On my visit my friend stayed tame with her delicious pho ga, chicken and rice noodles in chicken broth, but we did branch out with two different orders of spring rolls. We devoured the cha gio, which were four fried pork spring rolls served with a house chili sauce.

Our table at Pho One24: Pork bun heo nuong, cha gio, goi cuon tom and chicken pho ga.

They were fantastic and highly recommended. We also tried the goi cuon tom, fresh spring rolls with shrimp, cold vermicelli noodles and fresh mint. The mint surprised both myself and my friend. Our palates weren’t used to the flavor and texture combination of the sweet mint mixed with the cold noodles and bland fresh roll wrap. That aside, Pho One24 did not disappoint. Try it out the next time you are in the mood for delicious spring rolls, a hot bowl of soup with a Vietnamese twist, or really anything from their menu such as authentic sandwiches and noodle bowls that may please your palate.

Main Course – Irie Zulu

Irie Zulu, located at 7237 W. North Avenue in Wauwatosa, takes a unique approach to serving two different ethnic cuisines. Flavors of Africa are served Tuesday and Wednesday. Flavors of Jamaica are served Thursday and Friday. On Saturday and for Sunday brunch they serve the best of both. I was fortunate to visit on a Friday for the Jamaican menu. Bring on the spice! Caribbean jerk gets its kick from a blend of chilies,

Jamaican jerk fish with fried plantains on the side.

The ultimate jerk chicken with a side of red beans and rice.

thyme, cinnamon, garlic and nutmeg. Jerk brings heat and flavor to meat and vegetables. My table of friends split two entrees, the ultimate jerk chicken and the Jamaican jerk fish. One of my friends said the spicy chicken made his lips burn, in a good way. I thought the heat was balanced right with the seasoning and flavor. We also enjoyed sides of red beans and rice, fried plantains, and sautéed cabbage and carrots. All were rich and aromatic, flavorful and filling. Irie Zulu has a cozy dining room with small but sufficient bar lining the west side. As I ate, the spice evoked images of dining under the hot sun, with the Caribbean ocean in sight and sand between my toes. Stop in to see if your taste buds take you on the same kind of trip.

Dessert – India Garden

India Garden, located at 2930 N. 117th Street in Wauwatosa, has a large menu full of great curries, fantastic naan, masala chicken and vegetables … the list goes on. In addition they have a whole page dedicated to dessert. Half of the dessert menu features ice cream, but I was going for a diverse food adventure, so standard ice cream wouldn’t cut it. I ordered four different authentic Indian desserts:

India Garden’s gulab jamun, doughnuts soaked in sweet syrup.

• Gulab jamun was described on the menu as “fried balls of nonfat dry milk and cottage cheese, soaked in sugar syrup.”

They were very similar to doughnuts.

Kheer is India’s version of rice pudding.

• Kheer was described as rice cooked in sweetened milk, raisins and nuts. This was served cold. Contrary to the menu description, I did not have any raisins or nuts in the version I was served.

• Next up was gajar halwa, grated carrots cooked gently in a milk reduction. This was more savory than sweet and did not even taste like dessert. It reminded me of sweet potato casserole.

• Lastly was ras malai, fresh homemade cheese patties cooked in a special condensed milk with pistachios. This was also served cold. These desserts were definitely a change from the American and European desserts I am used to. There was no chocolate, no glazed fruit, no cookies, no cakes. Flavorings and spices were exotic and hard to identify. However, if you’re in the mood to try a sweet ending that’s a bit more unusual, India Garden is a great option.

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