Family To-Go Meals, Cook at Home, Blank Park Zoo
MAY 26, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Lola's Fine Kitchen's family meal has options for both vegetarians and carnivores.


Writer: Karla Walsh

We’re more than two months into coronavirus-related closings or changes, and if you’re anything like most of the dsm staff, you are over washing dishes and cooking three meals a day. These to-go feed-a-crowd meals require zero prep time, so you can either serve your entire family or have a few meals covered for one or two.

Aposto: A cozy casserole of homemade cavatelli, Graziano’s sausage, marinara sauce and plenty of melted cheese hits just right in the middle of a stressful week. And that’s only the beginning: The Italian Family Meal pack from this Sherman Hill Italian restaurant includes garlic bread, salad and two pints of homemade dressing in portions enough to feed six to eight adults for $65. Email for curbside carryout Wednesday through Saturday between 4 and 7 p.m. (644 18th St.,

Republic on Grand: This chic East Village rooftop bar/bistro is open for dine-in, too, but a snack-a-thon in PJs at home sounds good for some (OK, most) days right now. Call 515-518-6060 and your “Grand Smorgasboard” will be ready for curbside carryout in 20 minutes at the AC Hotel lobby. For $50, choose two small plates (like a flatbread, hummus, or goat cheese terrine), a cheese or charcuterie board and one bottled cocktail for an epic physically distant double date night. Bonus menu items and drinks are available as add-ons to round out your meal. (401 E. Grand Ave.,

Lola’s Fine Kitchen: If you have special dietary needs or menu preferences, this Ankeny fast-casual Filipino-Pakistani fusion restaurant will more than fit the bill. Order online to customize your family meal for $30.99. You can choose two starches, then pick two proteins (lentils and tofu will please vegetarians, while tandoori chicken and pork sisig cover the carnivores). Tack on two veggies, one appetizer and up to four sauces to round out your fresh and filling feast. (1615 S.W. Main St., #106, Ankeny,

Because our vendors are eager to go back to work – this is the perfect opportunity for you to create the room of your dreams! Private shopping appoitments.
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Ingredients for an at-home cooking class with Alessandra Meschini.


By Wini Moranville

Alessandra Meschini, who normally teaches her Cooking with Alessandra classes out of a snug East Village workshop, has started offering cooking classes to go. The timing couldn’t be better for those of us who continue to look for gratifying, hands-on activities to do at home while we wait this thing out.

Each class focuses on one Italian specialty or technique; you can learn how to make homemade pasta, focaccia, breadsticks and pizza dough, or even go “all in” with an entree and dessert kit featuring Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti (spaghetti with pecorino and pepper) and tiramisu.

No need to chase all over town looking for the specialty ingredients (e.g., the exquisite mozzarella di bufala for the breadsticks-antipasti class): You order the classes online, then pick up the cooking-class kit at her storefront on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each kit includes just about everything you need to make the specialty, except a staple or two, like olive oil or salt.

The best part, aside from learning how to cook something new, is the link to a YouTube video that Meschini provides with each kit. Bring your device into the kitchen and, for example, watch her show you exactly how to mix the water into the dough, knead the dough, slice it thinly for the breadsticks and bake. 

You’ll learn true-to-Italy techniques and more: Watch Meschini rhapsodize about flour and you’ll gain a whole new love for the staple. “Touch the flour,” she says as she lifts a handful from the bowl and allows it to slip from her hands. “Let it cascade.”

“Flour makes me so happy,” she enthuses.

Flour will make you happy, too, as you touch it, smell it baking, and enjoy it in your homemade grissini (breadsticks) and other creations.

Learn more about Cooking with Alessandra Classes to Go on her website.

Pyramid Theatre Company, which stages productions created around African American artists and voices, has postponed its 2020 season. Photo: Pyramid Theatre Company.


Greater Des Moines arts and culture organizations have adjusted their schedules due to the pandemic. Here are a few updates from the past week.

  • Pyramid Theatre Company is postponing "Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years," which was scheduled to open June 12. However, the company is working on a short film that will be released in July, Tiffany Johnson, Pyramid's producing artistic director, told dsm last week. "We are stepping into embracing the virtual space," she said. "We have a unique opportunity to put our work on a larger platform and reach more people." The project also provides more opportunities for artists, she added.

  • Living History Farms, the Urbandale outdoor museum, is reopening next Monday, June 1, with new hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Attendance will be limited to 70 people and timed-ticketing will be implemented. Members receive free admission but will be required to reserve a timed ticket. More information is on the Living History Farms website.

  • While the Des Moines Art Center has postponed its exhibition of Justin Favela for this summer, the museum plans to showcase works from its permanent collections. “When we do open, we look forward to focusing on our own collections and community; it will be like seeing old friends and old favorites, like coming home,” Director Jeff Fleming said in a release. “We want our visitors to come back and see their museum and to celebrate who and what we are.” Updates will be posted on the Des Moines Art Center website and social media pages.

  • The 2020 Des Moines Arts Festival has been canceled, but there are still related events peppered the rest of this month and throughout June to fill the void. Starting Thursday, Olson-Larsen Galleries will host a gallery exhibition and sale of Festival juried artists curated by Chaden Halfhill, founder and CEO of Silent Rivers Design+Build.
The Jordan House is one of the West Des Moines Historical Society's most recognized structures.
Photo: West Des Moines Historical Society


We're living in a monumental moment in history, and two local historical societies are engaging residents with new projects.

The West Des Moines Historical Society is collecting stories about how COVID-19 has affected people's lives. From work closures to children home from school, from trips to the grocery store and social distancing strategies, the society is looking at how people are dealing with the pandemic as history that needs to be recorded. Your stories can take many forms, including daily journals, children’s drawings, poems, audio recordings and even songs. Fill out the form on the website, email or call 515-225-1286 to submit your tale.

The State Historical Society of Iowa has moved many of its events online, including its Iowa History 101 speaker series, which features Iowans of the past at work, home and play. At noon Thursday, state curator Leo Landis discusses Iowa’s long and proud history of farming corn. On Thursday, June 11, the topic is automobiles. You can watch them on Facebook live. The society has also moved its annual Preserve Iowa Summit online, featuring a mix of live and prerecorded sessions and virtual tours on June 4-6.

Blank Park Zoo will open this weekend with restrictions to facilitate social distancing. Photo: Blank Park Zoo


As the state begins to reopen, some arts and culture organizations are following suit. Blank Park Zoo announced that it's reopening to members Friday and to the public on Sunday, but with some restrictions. The zoo will only accept 20% of full capacity, masks are strongly encouraged, there's a one-way path around the exhibits to help social distancing, and some areas will remain closed.

Tickets are based on time, helping the zoo facilitate a smaller capacity.
Members receive tickets for free, but need to reserve their date and time in advance. Instructional videos on how to purchase tickets are available at Reserve your tickets before arriving at the zoo. Anyone having issues purchasing tickets online should call 515-285-4722.

If you're interested in what Blank Park Zoo has done these past few months during the pandemic, check out our dsm CultureCast podcast with CEO Mark Vukovich and Ryan Bickel, chief marketing officer, from early April.

Heartland Youth Choir has encouraged its members to record virtually and share with others.


G Mig's: Last week, we shared the latest dsm CultureCast in the series "What's Cooking With Iowa Restaurants" with George Migliero of G Mig's 5th Street Pub. He showed us how to make the Rachel turkey wrap.

This week we are offering a free one-year subscription to anyone who takes a picture of their own Rachel turkey wrap made at home. All you have to do is post your photo as a comment on this Facebook post, share the post and like our Facebook page by June 5 to enter.

Table 128: What has it been like behind the scenes for a restaurant during the pandemic? Lynn and Sara Pritchard, co-owners of Table 128 in Clive, took us through the past two months, a whirlwind of learning experiences. This 10-minute podcast interview is an insightful look at one of our community's hardest-hit industries.

Heartland Youth Choir: This nonprofit arts and culture organization has kept the spirit of music alive virtually. They've encouraged their singers to record their performances and share. Hear from Sandy Miller, artistic director, on how they've all managed to keep singing over the past two months.
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