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Django, LGBTQ Legacy Leaders, Alba
MAY 12, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
 
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Django chef Derek Eidson cooks up barbecue on a smoker. So far, the new takeout menu has been a success, selling out every weekend.

RESTAURATEURS FIND SUCCESS WITH NEW ANGLES

By Wini Moranville

Nobody with any kind of heart can enjoy seeing what’s happening to our local restaurant industry. And yet, it’s been inspiring to witness the way some chefs and restaurateurs have used the current crisis as an opportunity to try something new. Such is the case with these two long-admired local chefs:

Derek Eidson, Django: Eidson and his colleague, George Formaro, have been tinkering with a smoker and barbecue recipes for some time now, and they’d always hoped to do something with this side passion. When Django’s dining room doors shut, another door opened: They started selling their barbecue from the Django locale, and the new venture was an immediate success. Eidson says they’ve sold out every weekend.

The barbecue is inspired by Texas and Carolina styles—the former being mostly about beef smoked over oak, and the latter bringing the flavors of vinegar and mustard. And the rub? Salt and pepper only—in Eidson’s view, all those complex, multi-ingredient rubs only serve as a distraction from the meat.

Indeed, when I tasted Eidson’s smoked brisket and beef short ribs, I noted that while smoke was enticingly persistent, the beautifully textured meat—lusciously tender but by no means soft or flabby—was truly the star.

Look for Eidson’s barbecue on weekend nights only. The best way to stay updated is on Django's Facebook page.

Joe Tripp, Harbinger: Tripp knew there was no way to make Harbinger’s fine-dining/small-plates experience translate to the curbside pickup model required to stay in business. Fortuitously, he’d been working on a new restaurant concept that fit the modus-operandi quite well.

"I love eating casual street food while traveling, and I knew I wanted to introduce that vibe to Des Moines," Tripp says.

Hence, Basic Bird was born. Korean-style fried chicken—boneless fried chicken coated with a sweet-spicy chile sauce—anchors the uncomplicated menu. Choose from five, nine or 18 pieces (serving one, two or four people, respectively). Each meal comes with three sides from a choice of Korean cheese corn, ginger roasted beets, candied root vegetables, cucumber kimchee, coleslaw and potato salad.

With the cheese corn (decadent!), cucumber kimchee (spicy in that endorphin-boosting way), and potato salad (a good-old sweet-tinged American-style picnic version), our meal was a smorgasbord of great flavors and textures at a shockingly good value ($30 total for two of us). I’m betting that this Basic Bird will fly.

Keep up with the Basic Bird concept on the Harbinger Facebook page.

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Join us in honoring the 2020 LGBTQ Legacy Leaders at our virtual event on June 18. From left to right: Eileen Gebbie, Alexandra Gray, John Harper, Jan Jensen, Tracy Lewis and LGBTQ ally John Forsyth.

NEW DATE SET FOR LGBTQ LEGACY LEADERS EVENT

In response to COVID-19, dsm's LGBTQ Legacy Leaders Awards event, originally scheduled for June 4, has been changed to a virtual celebration to be held via Zoom on June 18, starting at 3 p.m. The program will include speeches from each of the honorees and a presentation of the 2020 graduates of One Iowa’s Leadership Institute. The honorees are:

Tracy Lewis, Des Moines, vice president of Ankeny-based Mom’s Meals.
Alexandra Gray, Des Moines, actress/performer and activist.
Jan Jensen, Iowa City, associate head coach of women’s basketball at the University of Iowa.
Eileen Gebbie, Ames, minister of the United Church of Christ.
John Harper, Iowa City, retired minister and retired English professor at the University of Iowa.
John Forsyth (ally), Des Moines, CEO at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.


Read their inspirational stories in our May/June issue of dsm magazine.

White-bean hummus, served with tortillas, is a starter on Alba's customizable three-course menu.

RESTAURANT NEWS NUGGETS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

By Karla Walsh

We’re still not quite sure what dining out will look like once restaurant dining room restrictions are eased. But one thing we know for sure: The creativity, flexibility and innovation by locally owned restaurants have been beyond impressive throughout the pandemic—and we predict this will continue in the weeks and months to come.

Check out the latest announcements from some old classics and new favorites. If you’re up for the culinary adventure, consider this your gastronomic to-do list for the week ahead.

Order a three-course feast from Alba. This East Village restaurant reopened for the first time since mid-March on May 7, and the kitchen and bar teams have ambitious plans. After deep-cleaning the dining room, they designed a customizable three-course menu for one, two or four (you can also order everything a la carte) that they’re now offering every night of the week, even on Sundays, when they’re typically closed. Gluten- and dairy-free options abound, and yes, the fan-favorite gnocchi is available. Open for carryout daily from 4 to 8 p.m. (524 E. Sixth St., albadsm.com)

Enjoy an extended happy hour on Tuesdays at Django. Miss snacking all night on charcuterie and oysters at this Sculpture Park-adjacent French spot? Re-create the experience at home with their newly reintroduced Tuesday all-night happy hour. OK, it’s all night while they’re open—4 to 8 p.m.—but you can order enough $5 apps and discounted cheese plates to keep the party going even longer if you like. Open for carryout and delivery through DoorDash or Grubhub Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m. (1420 Locust St., djangodesmoines.com)

Stock up on this ale at Lua Brewing to support the restaurant employee relief fund. Lua Brewing, the star of our "What We Love" column in the May/June issue, just gave us a reason to love ‘em even more. Along with upgraded comfort food like halibut fish and chips and a Korean cheesesteak, Lua is one of several brewers across the country selling the All Together IPA. Order a four-pack and $5 from the sale will benefit the Iowa Restaurant Association’s Employee Relief Fund. Curbside carryout available daily Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 12 to 8 p.m. (1525 High St., luabeer.com)

Susan Watts helped incorporate artwork as centerpieces in this living room. Artwork left to right: Tim Frerichs, relief prints; Michael Johnson, landscape photograph; and Jeanine Coupe Ryding, woodcut print. Photo: Justin Salem-Meyer

ARTWORK ENHANCES HOME DESIGN PROJECT

When Susan Watts, owner of Olson-Larsen Galleries, began working with local interior designer Jillian Lare in February, the goal was to transform a client's Ankeny home into something a little warmer and lighter. Watts frequently works with Lare to curate original pieces of work into projects. To do this, Watts set out to find a mix of artwork from Midwestern creators.

"We wanted to do a combination of abstract and landscapes," Watts says. "[Lare] had a pretty good idea of artwork she had seen on our website."

The project, which you can find here, turned out the way they had hoped. Neutral colors help brighten the home, and the artworks from Olson-Larsen enhance the living room and bathroom. The main piece over the fireplace comes from photographer Michael Johnson's series of the Driftless Area in northeastern Iowa and northwestern Illinois, a region characterized by forested ridges and deeply carved river valleys. The blue work to the right in the photo, by Jeanine Coupe Ryding, is a woodcut print that brings an aspect of abstract to the space.

"We're so fortunate to have relationships with designers who want to invest in Midwestern artists," Watts says. "I could never be an interior designer. I think it's a really hard job. But when it's done well, it's so clear. Being able to partner with that type of talent and curate collaboratively is really fun for me."  
Dr. William Schupp, a family physician at the Iowa Clinic, said it's important for college students to talk through their feelings if they feel stressed or anxious.

HOW HAS COVID-19 AFFECTED COLLEGE STUDENTS?

Currently home from school because of the coronavirus, many college students are experiencing an uptick in stress and anxiety as they try to navigate the resulting changes in their life plans, according to panelists who participated in the second installment last Friday of dsm Lifting the Veil: Life Interrupted by COVID-19, a virtual six-week series exploring the mental health effects of the pandemic.

Dr. William Schupp, a family physician at the Iowa Clinic, said the virus is "taking that depression or anxiety up another notch or two." The key, he said, is to talk through feelings with family members or friends and seek professional help if distress reaches an alarming level.

One of the biggest stressors is the effect on career opportunities, students on the panel said. Madi Dwelle, a graduating senior at Drake,
said her internship in Washington, D.C., was canceled because of the virus. Now she's moving there without a job, upping her level of anxiety.

Ana Kaushik, a graduating senior at Iowa State University, added that the situation "pushes us to think creatively about how to network, how to reach out to companies, how to find that niche. A mentor told me once that it takes one company to give you one job offer to start your career."

High school students entering college in the fall also have experienced heightened anxiety, both because they are missing a few months of learning and fear that the fall semester will be altered. "There's not a college or university in the country that isn't going to recognize the need to reach out to all of the new students and provide them any kind of support they need to make the transition," noted Rob Denson, president of Des Moines Area Community College. He recommended contacting colleges or universities directly to ask for help.

The next dsm Lifting the Veil: Life Interrupted by COVID-19, this Friday, May 15, from noon to 1 p.m., will focus on parenting and the challenges of working from home with children out of school. You can register here.
Emillee Richardson and Curt Simmons from the Science Center of Iowa joined the dsm CultureCast podcast to discuss their online content.

TAKING SCIENCE AND LEARNING ONLINE

On the latest dsm Culturecast podcast, Curt Simmons, CEO of the Science Center of Iowa, and Emillee Richardson, director of marketing and public relations, said it was their mission to provide material to engage and entertain students and families stuck at home during the pandemic. So the SCI has moved its training and educational materials to its social media channels.

"We had a little experience with virtual programming, but we had to pivot pretty quickly," Simmons says. "Spring break came at us, and that's when we had to close. Spring break is one of the busiest periods for us. We felt we need to do something right away to serve the audiences that weren't able to visit the Science Center."

You can listen to the full episode here.
 
 
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