Southside Mexican Spot, Dinner Party, Sparkling Teas
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April 20, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Tamales and barbacoa soup from La Baja Cocina Mexicana, a new Baja California-inspired restaurant south of downtown.


Writer: Karla Walsh

In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, the team behind
La Baja Cocina Mexicana (1938 S.E. Sixth St.) was putting the finishing touches on its expansive menu and colorful dining room makeover, set to open in mid-December. And with a spicy, sensational lineup of seafood ceviches, saucy chilaquiles, cozy soups and more, inspired by cuisine served in the Mexican state Baja California, it feels like a gift to have this restaurant join our city.

After spotting the new neighbor while picking up takeout from the Grateful Chef, their next door neighbor, I made plans for a first taste. Once there, it was a challenge to choose from all-day breakfast, chiles rellenos and grilled meats and fish. And you can get birria any which way (tortas, pizzas, soups, tacos, taquitos and quesatacos, or tacos with a cheese-stuffed shell).

We landed on a selection of a few tamales, tacos on homemade tortillas, and the barbacoa soup, which comes with more tortillas to scoop the meat and dunk into broth. Definitely don’t skip the refried beans, which came as a welcome surprise alongside the tamales. They’re ridiculously well-seasoned and creamy and among the best beans I’ve ever scooped up.

You can taste the care and detail the kitchen team puts into every aspect of every dish—from the zippy complimentary salsa served with warm corn tortillas chips to the fresh cilantro, onion and lime paired with every taco to make the savory flavors really pop.

See La Baja Cocina Mexicana’s menu and more details on Facebook. They’re open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pro tip: Lime margaritas are $3 on Wednesdays.
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    Recently named the favorite design style in Iowa. It's a great look. See some of our favorites in this post.
    Hy-Vee will provide this spread (and more!) for our upcoming dsm Dinner Party on April 29.


    Act fast! There are fewer than 25 dinner packages left for our upcoming dsm Dinner Party on April 29 at 7 p.m. And, trust us, you won't want to miss this deal: You'll receive $110 worth of top-end food and drinks for just $40, including a charcuterie spread, chocolate and red velvet cheesecakes, and mini prosecco sparkling wine from sponsor Hy-Vee. What's more, sponsor NCMIC is providing a bottle of Seyval Blanc from Covered Bridges Winery and two Riedel wine glasses.

    Hosted by Deidre DeJear, Karla Walsh and the dsm team, the event also will include a sneak peek at the new May/June issue as well as this year's edition of Inclusion. Reserve your spot now before sales close on Thursday. Pickup is from 4 to 6 p.m. on April 29 at the West Des Moines Mills Civic Hy-Vee (555 S. 51st St.).
      Botttles of sparkling tea have no more than 5% alcohol and, as Karla Walsh reports, they are "balanced, elegant and flavorful without being overpowering."


      Writer: Karla Walsh

      When I shared these three new Copenhagen Sparkling Tea Co. flavors at an outdoor dinner gathering last Thursday, the response was a collective thumbs up from wine drinkers, beer fans and teetotalers alike. They are the Goldilocks of spring and summer beverages; they’re not too yeasty, not too sweet, not too heavy and not too boozy. They’re just right.

      Clocking in at 0 to 5% alcohol and made with a blend of up to 13 organic black, green, white and oolong teas (plus a splash of white wine in the alcoholic bottles), these sommelier-crafted sparkling teas are balanced, elegant and flavorful without being overpowering. The teas are then blended with freshly crushed grape juice like traditional wines and allowed to age and ferment for eight to 12 weeks.

      The resulting blend is bottled like a bubbly wine and sold in a 750-milliliter format for a stellar swap for—or between—glasses of Champagne. And get this: While it’s not yet available in large cities like Chicago or Austin, you can find it in Des Moines for less than $25 per bottle at
      the Cheese Shop and in limited release at Gateway Market and select WineStyles, thanks to Joshua Gingery, the director of sales at Ruby Fine Wines

      “Nobody is drinking the same anymore," Gingery says. "They’re either drinking less or drinking more or drinking something different—the pandemic changed everything. The way we interact, the way we spend money, the way we treat ourselves all have changed in the last year. These low-alcohol teas and no-alcohol teas are a healthy alternative to drinking that is still drinking something fun.”

      We sampled three styles:

      RØD (5% alcohol): Like a sparkling rosé, this semi-dry tea tastes like a mix of red berries, hibiscus, blackberries and citrus, plus a hint of bitterness Lady Grey and Earl Grey teas.

      BLÅ (0% alcohol): While this smells like jasmine, chamomile and citrus, it’s soft and round on the palate, thanks to white, green and Darjeeling teas.

      GRØN (5% alcohol): Lemongrass and citrus prevail in the aroma and the flavor. Apple and ginger join the taste bud party to deliver a crisp, mineral-forward experience.

      Find them throughout spring and summer at select local wine retailers around town, and hopefully, as supply increases, by the bottle and glass at fine dining restaurants later this year.
        Spacious new townhomes and apartments put you in the heart of Des Moines’ iconic Beaverdale neighborhood, less than a block from locally-owned shopping, dining and services... Read more »
        The first Latino film festival will take place at Des Moines' Riverside Park. Photo: Latino Center of Iowa.


        Des Moines will host the state's first Latino film festival June 19-20 at Riverview Park; virtual viewings also will be available. The Latino Center of Iowa is presenting the event in partnership with the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

        The celebration will be broken into two parts, the first a street party on June 18 off 16th Street in downtown Des Moines, with food, performers, activities and more. Then, on June 19 and 20, organizers will showcase international Latino films as well as local Latino filmmakers.

        "Our primary goal of the festival is to celebrate the rich and diverse culture as well as raise awareness of our Latino communities here in central Iowa," Luis Leon, chair of the Latino Center of Iowa, said in an announcement at the State Historical Society of Iowa last week.

        The festival is free, but organizers are accepting donations. Stay up to date on the Latino Center of Iowa's website.


          Local artist Hannah Sung has been working on making her creations "a little more raw." For Sung, that means breaking away from preconceived ideas of what her art should look like. Instead, she wants her creations to come along naturally—to go with the flow, if you will.

          "I just want to trust the process that whatever I do ... it's going to look good," Sung said on the latest dsm CultureCast podcast. "That's scary. [Because] sometimes you set your standard before you start. A lot of times that makes people fail before you've even started. I want to be more comfortable to express more freely without being tied down by my own standard."

          Sung, whose passion is illustration and cartoons, has used this mindset in new mediums, like social media (TikTok and Instagram) as well as fashion design. In fact, she just finished a new collection called Demon Children, which includes a swimsuit, skirt and shorts. You can find it on Sung's website.

          "Online is where you can change your persona," Sung said. "I've been having so much fun doing it."

          You can follow Sung's work on her website or Instagram. Listen to the full podcast episode here. (You can subscribe to find more interviews like this at Apple Podcast, Spotify and more.) Read our recent story on Sung here.
            Joe Laslo is one of 50 or so people delivering 1,500 food items per week to food insecure people.


            In 2014, Joe Laslo of Kelly shattered his clavicle and six ribs in a bike accident. He ended up with a plate and nine screws holding his body together. The near-death experience was a wake-up call for the avid cyclist, and he wondered whether he should be doing something more with his life. Sitting in church one Sunday, Laslo had what he calls a “noetic experience.”

            “That’s when you know that God’s spoken to you,” the 60-year-old Laslo explains. “God said, ‘Joe, you’re going to start a ministry to the homeless on your bicycle.’”

            Through online research, Laslo discovered the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry in Memphis, Tenn. They gave him permission to use the name and the model, and UBFM Des Moines was born.

            The organization quickly expanded, serving 1,500 food items a week, including burritos, sandwiches, fruit and granola bars—plus delivering donated supplies like blankets, hats, gloves and socks. With 50 volunteer riders and another 50 assembling meals at Capitol Hill Lutheran Church, UBFM could run seven routes through Des Moines on bikes and in cars, primarily downtown and on the north and south sides. On the street, they were dubbed the “burrito slingers,” a name they emblazoned on their bike jerseys.

            Read the rest of the story, from our March/April issue, here.

            Iowa Stops Hunger is an initiative by Business Publications Corp., dsm's parent company, to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa.

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