MAY 28, 2019  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Catch Friday’s opening reception for a dual exhibit at Olson-Larsen Galleries. Eleven artists are on exhibit for their Annual Landscaping Show plus DMAF Curated, featuring seven of this year’s Des Moines Arts Festival artists curated by Silent Rivers.
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Jen Green, Shelby Jensen and Laura Sparks are human "computers" at the Harvard Observatory in "Silent Sky," May 31-June 16 at the Des Moines Community Playhouse. Photo: Steve Gibbons.


The stars of "Silent Sky," opening Friday, May 31, at the Des Moines Community Playhouse, aren't just the lead actors but the actual stars overhead, visible (weather permitting) through telescopes outside, provided by the Des Moines Astronomical Society.

The play tells the true story of Henrietta Leavitt, an astronomer ahead of her time. The time is 1901, and Henrietta has the opportunity to work at the Harvard Observatory, mapping the stars but receiving no scientific credit. In the process, and in the midst of personal turmoil, she makes  a scientific discovery that has had a lasting impact on the field of astronomy.

Shows continue through June 16. For more information, including showtimes and online ticket sales, click here.

There's one easy way to pronounce 'njuda, and many ways to enjoy it. Photo: Ellen Mary Cronin.


By Wini Moranville

"There’s a new fat in town!" exclaimed C.J. Bienert owner of the Cheese Shop and Cheese Bar. "And it’s the coolest thing to happen [in] artisanal food in years."

Bienert was talking about La Quercia’s ’nduja, a spicy prosciutto spread that’s turning a lot of heads both locally and nationally. (The New York Times and Bon Appétit both have written about it enthusiastically.)

First, let me assure you that pronouncing it is much easier than it looks. According to Kathy Eckhouse, who runs La Quercia with her husband, Herb Eckhouse, it’s pronounced "en-do-ya."

"As in ‘en-do-ya’ love me?" she says.

Frankly, ’nduja is easier to pronounce than it is to describe, as there’s really nothing else quite like it. But once you see and taste it, it makes perfect sense. You could think of it as a little like a very spicy pâté, except it’s not made from liver and it’s a lot more versatile.

I asked Kathy Eckhouse how the couple enjoy ’njuda at their house. She offered these tips:

• Stuffed Dates Extraordinare: The Eckhouses’ favorite way to serve it is to stuff a little of the ’nduja into a pitted date; wrap the date with La Quercia pancetta, put it on an ovenproof tray, and bake it for five minutes at 350 degrees.

• Something Even Simpler: Kathy also enjoys simply serving it in a little crock alongside Rustic Bakery Olive Oil and Sea Salt Flatbread Bites. Sounds like a great plan for your next casual aperitivo (that Italian ritual of a drink and nibbles at the end of the workday).

• All Over the Place: "Spread on the inside of a grilled cheese sandwich before grilling/griddling. Toss into sauteed veggies or pasta near the end of cooking. Stir into an insipid pot of beans," she added. "Plus, it’s pretty tasty on a baked potato."

Bienert says that he, his staff and his customers have found all kinds of uses for it too, such as using it to lard a chicken, braise greens or start a gravy.

As for me, I especially enjoy it when I need a quick meal in a hurry. I toss cooked, drained pasta with some ’nduja (about one tablespoon per serving) plus olive oil, then serve in a shallow bowl with plenty of grated Italian cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano. It’s about the best 10-minute entree I know of right now.

Look for La Quercia ’Nduja at the Cheese Shop, select Hy-Vees and Gateway Market.

Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook at All Things Food–DSM.

Pizza galore, free admission and hit songwriter Andy Grammer headlining Pizza Fest June 1! Festival fun including food tents and trucks, craft beers, contests and fun zone for the kids! ... Read more »

Feeling inspired? You're invited to create original artwork inspired by this or the many other works in the downtown sculpture park.


Here's a fun, creative challenge: The Des Moines Art Center invites you to participate in Sculpting Our Community, a showcase of your artwork, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park.

It's simple: Create art in any media, inspired by any of the park's sculptures. Then follow these instructions to see your work on display. Images will also be printed and displayed (weather permitting) at a free community celebration at the sculpture park on Sept. 7.

"The Storyteller," 22 by 30 inches, drawn in ink by Central College art instructor Mathew Kelly. 


The annual landscape show at Olson-Larsen Galleries in Valley Junction opens Friday, May 31, with an interesting twist: It's accompanied by work from artists who will be at the Des Moines Arts Festival next month.

The exhibition opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday. Featured artists include Thomas F. Agran, Mathew Kelly, Justin Rogers and Barbara Walton.

The Arts Festival selections will be curated by Chaden Halfhill of
Silent Rivers Design+Build. The art will be exhibited through June 27, then transferred to the Des Moines Arts Festival, where it will be installed in the Silent Rivers VIP Club for the duration of the Festival, June 28-30.

It isn't all bottles and sips: There's a lot of great food to look forward to at Winefest events each year.


Just think — Saturday marks the start of the 17th year of the summer events of Winefest. That’s 17 years of tastings, parties, dinners and more. Saturday’s opening events are mostly sold out, but plenty of opportunities remain before it all wraps up with the Grand Tasting Saturday, June 8. For a list of Winefest events, costs and other details, check out We hope to see you there. Have fun!

Legendary international golfer Vijay Singh will be among the prominent champions competing at the Principal Charity Classic.


Another favorite annual event of ours, the Principal Charity Golf Classic, tees up its first Pro-Am round today – Tuesday, May 28 (weather permitting), with the tournament action continuing through Sunday, June 2. Hours of play vary from day to day, with free admission available after 2 p.m. most days. Full details, from players to prices to parking, are available at

There's more than one way to have fun with a keg, Wednesdays at Zoo Brew.


That favorite of summertime Wednesdays is back: Zoo Brew returns to the Blank Park Zoo next week, on Wednesday, June 5, and runs weekly through Aug. 28. Nice to have things you can count on, and that includes wild animals, live music, cold beer and a fun crowd. The Cody Hicks Band kicks off the series. Get details on the whole season and purchase online tickets here.

How did generations manage before bounce houses and other inflatable delights? Makes us regret having been kids so long ago.


Summer fun returns to Cowles Commons next week, with three community events:
• Sunday Family Jamboree festivals, with bands, bounce houses and other fun, July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 29.
  • • "Wellness Wednesdays" with free yoga sessions every week, June 5 through Oct. 9.
  • Food Truck Thursdays each week, beginning June 6.

  • For additional details, click here. Cowles Commons is operated by Des Moines Performing Arts in addition to its productions at the Des Moines Civic Center and the Temple for Performing Arts.
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