New Pizza Concept, Thanksgiving Recipes, 'Love Blooms' Mural
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November 24, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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This Neapolitan-style pizza is what you can expect at Alex and Whitney Hall's newest restaurant concept, Franka Pizzeria.


Writer: Karla Walsh

Since May 2017, St. Kilda has been spinning new twists on avocado toast—and restaurant concepts—to the metro. And now they're doing it again. Yesterday, owners Alex and Whitney Hall announced they’ll be making a quick switch to transform the East Village St. Kilda Surf and Turf space into a new pizza concept. Opening Dec. 4, Franka Pizzeria will offer table service as well as online ordering for carryout or DoorDash delivery Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

We spoke with Whitney yesterday to get the dish about why pizza, and why now?

"We’ve always wanted to open a Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant since living in New York City," she told us. "It’s the right time for St. Kilda Surf & Turf to transition into something new, especially during this unprecedented time."

The Surf and Turf space will soon be decked out with a woodstone-fire deck oven to recreate the classic Neapolitan crust: about 12 inches, thin, soft and cooked quickly at a high temp to create a bubble and charred effect.

"The house-made dough will also include a gluten-free option," Whitney says. "Shared plates, salads, desserts, a full bar with a curated wine list and weekend brunch will also be available."

The menu—designed by a few of the current St. Kilda chefs and Whitney and Alex—will include appetizers like arancini with squash purée and sage. Pies will come with red or white sauce, and feature toppings ranging from sopressata piccante to meatball to traditional margherita.

St. Kilda Surf and Turf’s final day of operation will be Saturday, Nov. 28, but fans will be able to find some of the seafood menu MVPs like the lobster roll and fish tacos at other St. Kilda locations, Whitney confirmed.
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The chocolate tart is one of Tami Johnson's bestsellers as a part of her Tami's Tarts business.


Many will be staying home for Thanksgiving this year, perhaps connecting with family virtually instead of gathering to enjoy turkey and sides. If you're looking for some new ideas to serve this quarantine holiday, here are a few recipes we pulled from the dsm archive that we're confident you'll enjoy:

Fall Squash Salad: For a healthy beginner for the many (and, we repeat, many) calories that will be consumed this week, this is an appealing option. It's relatively easy to make, with a handful of ingredients, and squash is perfect for putting a cap on the fall season. Thank you to Jenny Quiner, with Dogpatch Urban Gardens, for sharing.

Chocolate Tart With Bourbon Caramel and Sea Salt: Want a dessert option that isn't pumpkin pie? This recipe, from Tami Johnson of Tami's Tarts (a popular stand at the Downtown Farmers' Market), looks as good as it tastes, and you'll learn how to make the crust from scratch (a tall task, we know). Don't forget to pick up some candied nuts to as the finishing touch.

Chicken With Rosemary-Gorgonzola Sauce and Dates: We know turkey is the dish of choice around this time, but if you want to try something different, this chicken recipe is perfect as an entree. Brandy Lueders with the Grateful Chef shared it with us.
Artist Jenna Brownlee researched the various cultural communities in Des Moines to inform the countries highlighted in her mural design.


Writer: Allaire Nuss

Liz Lidgett Gallery + Design has commissioned over 50 murals in Central Iowa since it launched in 2019. The latest installation, "Love Blooms," was completed in less than three days by local artist Jenna Brownlee. Unveiled this month in partnership with the Des Moines World Food and Music Festival, the mural is a love letter to the city’s multiculturalism.

"Part of inclusion is trying to embrace as many people in our community as possible," says gallery founder Liz Lidgett. "We really want our murals to be inclusive because we understand representation matters."

The mural was funded through an anonymous donor in conjunction with the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. A committee selected Brownlee, a Des Moines native, to design and execute her floral vision. Brownlee is among the 35 local and national artists represented by Liz Lidgett Gallery + Design, over half of whom are women.

The goal of the mural was to celebrate diversity without explicitly showing any faces. Instead, flowers are prominent in the mural’s design. Each bloomsuch as an Iowan prairie rose, a Bosnian lily and a Mexican dahliarepresents a specific cultural community within the city.  

An advocate for public art, Lidgett says murals "are accessible … you can go visit any time. When we bring art into people’s lives, the community becomes much richer. A mural is a wonderful way to do that."

You can spot "Love Blooms" on the side of RoCA on Court Avenue. Learn more about artist Jenna Brownlee here.
Amelia Grubb creatively masked up as a part of Ballet Des Moines' season promotion earlier this fall. Grubb and Executive Director Blaire Massa were guests on the latest dsm CultureCast podcast. Photo: Jami Milne.


Writer: Luke Manderfeld

If you ask Amelia Grubb, there's nothing quite like performing in front of a live audience. Because of the pandemic, the Ballet Des Moines dancer hasn't been able to feel that magic this fall season, although she's still grateful to do what she loves, even with adjustments, she said on the latest dsm CultureCast podcast. The organization has pivoted all of its shows into livestreams on Iowa PBS; the first performance will air Dec.18.

"Performing for film instead of live audiences was very different," said Grubb, who has performed for Ballet Des Moines for five years. "You really get that reciprocal audience energy when you're dancing for a whole auditorium of people. It's not the same when it's just a camera."

Blaire Massa, executive director of Ballet Des Moines, said "pretty much everything" is different about this season. But the support from the community and other arts organizations has been positive. Ballet Des Moines has partnered with the Des Moines Symphony, Noce, Belin Quartet and others to offer engaging virtual performances.

"In some ways it's been an exciting, interesting adventure," Massa said about the season so far. "It's been scary at times, and also a challenge."

She's impressed with how her team and dancers have been able to adapt, and since performances will be shared online, Massa is "really excited about how widely we can share our joy and work."

Ballet Des Moines has recorded seven ballets, which will be aired in three full-length broadcasts on Iowa PBS. They will be accessible for free digitally on the Ballet Des Moines website and channels. The first ballet is "Peter and the Wolf," which debuts on Dec. 18. Go to the Ballet Des Moines website to find more information.

You can listen to the full podcast episode, which includes conversations about Des Moines, personal ballet stories and more, here. Subscribe to the dsm CultureCast on Apple Podcast, Spotify and more.
Joseph Giunta, music director, is leading the Des Moines Symphony through a virtual 2020-21 fall season, including a new virtual New Year's Eve performance.


The Des Moines Symphony will perform virtually through the first half of 2021. The organization announced the rest of the 2020-21 season online, with livestreamed concerts taking place throughout the first half of 2021.  

Perhaps most notably, the popular New Year's Eve Pops concert is converting into a Virtual New Year's Eve Celebration event on Dec. 31. This online gala fundraiser features appearances and performances from guest artists across the country including Leslie Odom, Jr., Renee Elise Goldsberry, Christiane Noll, Spectrum and more. The performance will be free on the Symphony’s website and YouTube channel.

The symphony’s five spring Masterworks concerts, originally scheduled next year from January to May, will be converted to livestreamed concerts broadcast as part of its Live from the Temple series. These online concert broadcasts, featuring a reduced-size orchestra spaced appropriately to ensure musician safety, include special interviews and behind-the-scenes footage along with a live Q&A session with music director Joseph Giunta.

Find more information on the symphony website.
Jan Lage, a resident at Brio, a WesleyLife community in Johnston, feels alone during the pandemic, a time when many elderly people are isolated. She's featured in the story "All By Ourselves" in the newest Lifting the Veil publication.


At our final Lifting the Veil virtual event last Thursday, we were proud to unveil the newest Lifting the Veil publication, focusing on how COVID-19 has affected the mental health of Iowans, including front-line health care workers, the elderly and more. The issue also features a powerful first-person essay from Rachel Vogel Quinn, who details her lifelong struggle with anxiety, the nation's most prevalent mental illness. You can find all of the stories on our website or in the online version of the publication.

The virtual Lifting the Veil event focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. You can check out highights the event, including a full replay, here.
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