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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Food From Milwaukee (With Love)

Gift boxes shine the light on artisan delights from the area

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Late in 2013, Paul Fredrich and his wife, Lori, launched a food gift box business with a unique twist. From Milwaukee With Love is all about shining a spotlight on small-batch, artisan food producers in the Milwaukee area. In addition to being Milwaukee natives, the Fredrichs know quite a bit about our local food scene. They are co-founders of MKEfoodies, a group dedicated to supporting Milwaukee’s independent food culture, as well as active Milwaukee food bloggers.

While selling regional food gift boxes online may not be a brand new idea, From Milwaukee With Love is the first to officially put together boxes based solely on Milwaukee’s independent specialty foods. “About two years ago we began to wonder why no one else had started a business like this,” says Paul Fredrich. “Then we thought—why not us?”

The soft launch just before Christmas included four custom boxes. The most popular of these was a “Milwaukee Sampler” packed with goodies like salami from Bolzano Artisan Meats, chocolate from Indulgence Chocolatiers, more chocolate from Tabal, caramels from Becky’s Blissful Bakery and spiced pecans from Treat Bake Shop.

The business has been received well, and around Valentine’s Day two more themed boxes were added. “I was especially proud of our ‘Cocktail for Two’ box,” says Fredrich. The box included Bittercube bitters and Bloody Mary fixings, plus a recipe card to make a special cocktail in the evening, and some Bloodys in the morning.

Most boxes will evolve to reflect the season just as food producers make different foods at different times of the year. For instance, “in December a box that contains Bolzano Meats may use a FiggyPuddin Salami. Later in the year that same box may have a Pamplona Runner Salami in it,” explains Fredrich. “It will still be from Bolzano, but it will reflect what’s currently available from the producer.”

Several new boxes that will be added this month could make perfect gifts for graduation, Father’s Day or weddings. Boxes themed for grilling, cocktails and brownies will be available soon. You will even be able to send some Milwaukee love to your favorite dog with the “Tail Wagger Dog Box,” which includes Alice’s Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits, Rushing Waters Trout Dog Treats and a Souvenir Bandanna from HANmade Milwaukee. Plus, $5 of each sale will benefit the Wisconsin Humane Society.

“We just want people to see some of the great stuff we have in Milwaukee,” says Fredrich. “These boxes are made up of things we like, and we hope other people will like them too.”

For more information about From Milwaukee With Love, visit frommilwaukeewithlove.com.