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Hunger So Close to Home, The Cheese Shop, Bess Kitchen
July 28, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
 
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"Hunger So Close to Home" is a part of our companywide Iowa Stops Hunger series, which aims to bring awareness and action to stop food insecurity.

IOWA STOPS HUNGER
TACKLING FOOD INSECURITY IN IOWA

About 1 in 9 Iowans struggle with hunger, and 1 in 6 Iowa children don't have enough to eat, according to the Iowa Food Bank Association. Join dsm magazine, ia magazine and the Business Record as we launch our Iowa Stops Hunger event series, Hunger So Close to Home, presented by Hy-Vee. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

A panel of experts from hunger and food insecurity nonprofits, government agencies, and academia will outline the issue and discuss what individuals and businesses can do to help. Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, chair of the Feeding Iowans Task Force, will introduce the event.

Panelists include:

  • Dr. Chris Nelson, president and CEO, Kemin Industries
  • Deann Cook, executive director, United Ways of Iowa
  • Linda Gorkow, executive director, Iowa Food Bank Association
  • Nalo Johnson, division director, Health Promotion & Chronic Disease Prevention, Iowa Department of Public Health
  • Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

Iowa Stops Hunger is a yearlong Business Publications Corp. initiative to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa.

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The Patagonia roasted garlic mackerel is one of 20 different kinds of top-quality tinned fish at the Cheese Shop.

TRY OUT C.J.'S CHOICE AT THE CHEESE SHOP

Writer: Wini Moranville

A few weeks ago, I slipped Allspice Culinarium owner Rory Brown a little cash and told him to surprise me with some under-the-radar finds he was excited about. I had such great luck with that strategy that I decided to do the same with C.J. Bienert at the Cheese Shop of Des Moines. “Here’s some scratch. Just hit me up with a bag of great stuff,” I said, in so many words.

While I thoroughly enjoyed everything Bienert chose for me (some exceedingly rare cheeses from Jasper Hill Farm), two items in particular rocked my culinary life:

Patagonia roasted garlic mackerel in olive oil: My mystery bag included a tin of these thoroughly amazing buttery-lush, ultra-moist fillets draped in olive oil and generously scattered with bits of soft, mellow garlic. Enjoy the fish on a cracker as an hors d’oeuvres or in a salad for lunch, being sure to serve with lots of bread to soak up the immensely compelling mackerel-infused olive oil.

The Cheese Shop offers more than 20 different kinds of top-quality tinned fish, including scallops, mussels, sardines, razor clams and more, from far-flung spots including Brittany (in France), Portugal, Spain and Patagonia (in South America).

These ready-to-eat delicacies are especially perfect for right now, when no one wants to turn their oven on. “You can eat the fish straight from the tin,” Bienert says. He’s not kidding in the least.

Chorizo de bellota: Imported from Spain, these whisper-thin slices of chorizo are crafted from pigs that forage on acorns for the last months of their lives. The meat is delicately sweet with hints of garlic/red-pepper spice. Plus, as Bienert says, “there’s something about the way the fat melts—it just dissolves like ‘meat butter.’ ”

So that nothing distracts from the sweet, lardy joy of this treat, I recommend serving it as simply as possible: on a mild cracker if you must, but solo from a toothpick is even better.

Head to the Cheese Shop of Des Moines for more ways to get a taste of elsewhere while you’re staying put this summer: 833 42nd St.; 515-528-8181.
Quinn, far left, and Quincy, far right, are two of the minds behind Bess Kitchen, a Southern-comforts food business.

AT THE TABLE WITH BESS KITCHEN

Writer: Karla Walsh

Each week in dsmWeekly, we’ll introduce you to a local food company owned by a person of color. Catch up on the previous editions: Street Eats DSM, G.G.’s Chicken & Waffles, Palm’s Caribbean Cuisine, Artis T’s Catering, Your Mom’s Bakery, Jazz It Up and Chellie’s Sugar Shack Bakery.

In October 2019, twins Quincy and Quinn Bess hopped on a Megabus in Atlanta. They landed in Des Moines, which had been home to one of their cousins for the past five years, seeking a fresh start. While they brought almost nothing with them—literally the clothes and shoes they were wearing and nothing else—they did pack their grit, determination and well-honed soul food cooking chops.

“We grew up in Elma, Georgia, a small country town,” Quincy recalls. “There wasn’t much to do but play sports and cook. My auntie used to make sausages, tomatoes and rice, and we’d often share oxtail, fried chicken, low-country boil, collard and mustard greens.”

Quinn and Quincy, who were separated at birth and raised in separate homes until they reunited at 13, moved to Atlanta together and worked in everything from fast food to fine-dining restaurants. Once they arrived in Des Moines in October, they took part-time work in chain restaurant kitchens until the pandemic put things on pause.

The time off (and lack of a consistent paycheck) lit a fire under Quincy to make his lifelong dream a reality. While Quinn is settling down and preparing to welcome his first child, Quincy took off building the food brand they hoped to someday own together. For now, Quincy and his girlfriend, Ashley Hill, have launched Bess Kitchen and applied for a commercial kitchen license.


Soon, Bess Kitchen will sell out of Kitchen Spaces (1139 24th St.), but for now, you can score some of their smothered pork chops, seafood-loaded low country boil, fan-favorite collard greens and more during their weekend pickups that you can learn more about on their Facebook page.

Quincy makes monthly trips to Georgia to acquire classic ingredients to ensure that his “soul food from the soul” is up to his standards. Someday, Quincy dreams of owning a food truck and brick and mortar restaurant—half for Quinn, half for Quincy to allow them to both show off their unique specialties on different menus under the same roof.


“We truly had nothing but a dream when we arrived here,” Quincy says. “Des Moines is giving me a chance to show them who I am now—my personality, character, love and intelligence. Based on the positive response so far, it’s clear the community is showing up, so I want to give them all I’ve got.”
Works from the late artist Peter Feldstein, like this ink-jet print, will be on display at a new Olson-Larsen Galleries exhibition.

CHECK OUT TWO UPCOMING LOCAL EXHIBITIONS

Art can certainly provide an escape from the troubles in our world, but it also can elevate conversations. An upcoming exhibition called "Art of Our Time" is hoping to do both. A collaboration among Olson-Larsen Galleries, Yellow Door Gallery and Mainframe Studios, this collection will showcase works from artists across the nation, all with a focus on today's issues, like social justice and the pandemic.

The exhibit, opening Aug. 7 at Mainframe Studios, will mark the return of the studio's First Friday monthly event. Proceeds will benefit Oakridge Neighborhood Services and Community Support Advocates.

“We were really interested in inviting artists from near and far to help demonstrate the fact that we’re all in
this together, and that artists can play a vital role in our nation’s resiliency when given the opportunity,” said Mainframe Studios director Siobhan Spain.

The list of artists includes Alexandre Arrechea, Susan Chrysler White, Jeanine Coupe Ryding, Kim Dingle and more.

Those interested in purchasing works or attending the event in person by reservation are asked to visit the website. Prices of the works range from $30 to $17,000.

This Friday, Olson-Larsen Galleries will open an exhibit of works by the late artist Peter Feldstein, who died in 2017. "Peter Feldstein Retrospective" will showcase unseen prints from Feldstein's archive, pieces on loan from private collections, works from the gallery's inventory, and remembrances from his friends, colleagues and former students. The exhibition will be available until Sept. 26, online or by appointment.

Jeff Bruning is co-founder and operator of Full Court Press, which operates more than a dozen eateries in
Greater Des Moines.

OPENING A RESTAURANT DURING THE PANDEMIC

Full Court Press, which operates more than a dozen eateries around Greater Des Moines, opened Lucky Horse Beer and Burgers two weeks ago, but it wasn't without difficulties. The idea for a new restaurant concept came about a year ago, and the original plan was to open in March, but the pandemic put that on hold, as Jeff Bruning, co-founder and operator of Full Court Press, said on the latest dsm CultureCast podcast.

"We pushed it off, pushed it off," Bruning said. "And then we decided it'd be better if we opened and see how it went."

The first week or so was slow and steady, Bruning said, because of the pandemic, but he expects business to pick up when Drake University students return to school in mid-August. The restaurant, which is located on University Avenue near Drake, doesn't have a patio, so the staff has implemented social distancing and increased sanitation measures inside the dining room.  

Burgers and beers make up most of Lucky Horse's menu. Bruning's favorite item pays homage to the location: the Dogtown burger (hot pepper bacon jam and smoked Gouda cheese).

"This really has the feel of a downtown establishment," Bruning said. "The space is comfortable, and it matches the food. We've had our normal opening jitters, but it's been good so far."

You can listen to the full episode here.
A main attraction at Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines is Blue Heron Lake.

REDISCOVERING LOCAL PARKS

With so many of the city’s events canceled this summer, we’ve been rediscovering our local parks. If your own outdoor wanderings haven’t yet taken you to these spots, now is the perfect time to check them out.

Raccoon River Park: West Des Moines refers to this 631-acre parkland as the “crown jewel” of the city’s park system—and with good reason. A peaceful, winding 3.2-mile crushed rock/asphalt nature trail—which truly makes you feel like you’re far away from any city—encircles the no-wake Blue Heron Lake. The park’s other offerings also make it a go-to destination, among them an expansive playground, a dog park, softball and soccer complexes, a nature lodge, and picnic shelters. (2500 Grand Ave., West Des Moines)

Union Park: Heritage Carousel is still closed because of the pandemic, but we're hoping it will open sometime this season. Accompanied by the cheery tones of a Stinson band organ, the carousel’s two chariots and 30 glossy basswood horses, rabbits and fanciful creatures can carry 35 riders at one time. See also: the gardens and the playground’s rocket slide, which was installed just a few years after astronauts first landed on the moon. (725 Thompson Ave.)

Easter Lake Park: During the six-year, $20 million project that involved draining, dredging and renovating Easter Lake, this southeast-side park had completely slipped off our radar. So we were delighted to rediscover it once the 178-acre lake reopened last summer. A new 4.1-mile trail loops around the lake, and you’ll also find Polk County’s only covered bridge, five picnic shelters and three playgrounds. (2830 Easter Lake Drive)

Read about more local parks in this story from our July/August issue.
     
     
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