Like the arrival of the season's first seed catalogs, the Home & Garden Show brings the promise of grand possibilities.


Snow gone? Check. A good Groundhog Day? Check. Yet another sign of hope for an end to winter: The Des Moines Home & Garden Show is this week, Feb. 7–10, at the Iowa Events Center. Brighten your mood with celebrities from HGTV and "The Brady Bunch" and visit an indoor garden. Mostly, wander around and imagine all the things you might be able to do for your home and garden this year. Vendors represent the latest in home-related products and services. Admission is $13 (less for children). Find more information and purchase discounted tickets online here. Want to jump-start your imaginings prior to the show? Here's a story about ways to make your home an oasis of calm with tips from home-show vendors; it's from the current dsm magazine.

The Des Moines Home + Garden Show is Thursday through Sunday at the Iowa Events Center. Come be inspired and chat about your next home project with Silent Rivers, where Des Moines Arts Festival will display art and give away a Festival VIP Package! ...
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By Design presents dsmDining —

A nice meal and a little wine shared with someone special in an intimate cafe ... maybe the "V" over the door stands for valentine, too.


By Wini Moranville

If you’re feeling spendy, restaurateurs will be thrilled to help you live large for Valentine’s Day. At the top end is Fleming’s all-inclusive "Wine, Dine, and Sparkle" dinners that include a three-course dinner, Moët & Chandon (or Dom Pérignon at the top end), and jewelry from a Fifth-Avenue jeweler. These dinners range in price from $350 to $1,000 for two.

Personally, however, my favorite Valentine’s Day meals have never been the most grand and glamorous. For me, charming will do. That’s why, of the Valentine’s Day menus I’ve caught wind of, I particularly liked the one I spotted at Vino 209, a pleasant wine bar in Valley Junction.

Executive chef Andrew Phelps’ menu kicks off with prosciutto toasts that include roasted tomato, cured egg yolk, charred onion and chèvre (the latter is from Swede Point Creamery in Madrid). Next comes a salad with poached pears, cranberry-Stilton cheese and beets, followed by a main dish of tagliata di manzo: sliced bistro tenderloin with Maytag Blue walnut butter and Bordelaise sauce. It all sounds like an inspired yet not-too-fussy feast. The menu costs $45 per person; wine pairings and dessert (as well as tax and tip) are extra.

This Valentine’s Day menu will be served Feb. 12–16; reservations can be made through the website or by calling 515-255-1209.

Four Poster Beds are coming back into style and we love it!
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"Here! Here!" A toast to the avocado toast at Eatery A.


By Wini Moranville

Until this year, Eatery A only served noontime meals on Fridays through Sundays. Now, they’ve added brunch/lunch service on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. More good news: To celebrate their fifth anniversary, Eatery A is offering a buy one/get one free lunch special on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the month of February. Starting today.

Last week, I ventured in to give the hybrid lunch/brunch menu a try. Executive Chef Keith Johnson, who recently took over the kitchen from Nic Gonwa, oversees a dynamite menu: Entrees range from a crab eggs Benedict and lemon-ricotta pancakes (a personal favorite) to shrimp and grits, spaghetti and meatballs and a cauliflower-chickpea falafel. And then there are toasts, salad bowls, sandwiches and wood-fired pizza, too.

Johnson and team have said "game on" to the culinary scene’s ongoing avocado-toast crush, and Eatery A’s is as crush-worthy as any I’ve had elsewhere. Well, almost. I must say I prefer an oozing poached egg over the mostly cooked-through one here, but that’s a personal preference. Otherwise the smashed avocado topped with artfully arranged feta, pickled corn, conserved tomato and chickpeas and a slight tangle of arugula pleased in all the right rich, sprightly and bright ways. My dining pal was equally pleased with her quiche Florentine (aka spinach quiche), which especially stood out for its brown-butter crust and the accompanying shaved-fennel salad. Just lovely.

So, where has former exec chef Nic Gonwa gone? He’s off concepting a new venue with restaurateur Jason Simon (of Alba, Eatery A and Harbinger fame). The new restaurant is taking over the former Chef’s Corner Kitchen spot in Beaverdale. Johnson tells me they’re shooting for a mid-April opening.

Eatery A is at 2932 Ingersoll Ave.; 515-282-8085;

The artist Alex Brown in his Des Moines studio in 2013.

Like so many others, we were shocked and saddened last week by news of the sudden passing of Alex Brown, 52, an artist and musician who was born in Des Moines and returned here to create artwork that has been exhibited worldwide.

Brown was featured in dsm magazine as early as 2013, when his oil-on-canvas painting "Bird," right, was the cover image for a summer issue.

"It’s extraordinary, and so fortunate, that such a highly complex artist, with gallery shows in New York, Geneva, Japan, etc., chose Des Moines to work and make his home," Des Moines Art Center Director Jeff Fleming said at the time, when the Art Center purchased one of Brown’s works for its permanent collection.

You can read that dsm magazine article here, and read the artist's obituary here. His talent and his presence in the community will be missed.

It's coming back! The sweet strains of Jazz in July will echo once again, thanks to a revival effort by Hoyt Sherman Place.


When we ran into Robert Warren at the Bravo gala Saturday, we were excited to hear about Hoyt Sherman Place’s plans to revive Jazz in July this summer. The event was a 40-year tradition until 2017, when organizer Metro Arts Alliance ended operations.

We’re not surprised Warren has resurrected the effort; as Hoyt Sherman’s executive director, he has remade the venue over the past few years into a thriving performance space, art gallery and community gathering spot. For Jazz in July, Hoyt Sherman will host concerts July 11, 19 and 25.

Local acts will perform on the expansive lawn at 6 p.m., with headliners following inside the theater at 7:30 p.m., including Charmin Michelle July 11; Debbie Duncan July 19; and the Damani Phillips Collective July 25.

And because we’ve learned to always expect more from Warren, we weren’t surprised when he also told us the Des Moines Jazz Festival is moving from the Des Moines Social Club to Hoyt Sherman, on July 20. Festival artists will be announced soon.

With support from co-sponsors Principal Foundation and Fagre Baker Daniels, Warren says Jazz in July is assured for 2020 as well.

Ok, the mustache is fake but the gleeful expressions are genuine; so is the fun at the Boys & Girls Clubs' talent show.


There may be bigger names performing around town, but who could be more entertaining than a cavalcade of kids? The third annual Club Talent Show, a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa, takes the stage at the State Historical Building Friday, Feb. 8, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Each act has been polished with coaching from a prominent mentor, such as theater impresario Robert John Ford, comedian Onnalee Kelley and others.

For adult patrons, the evening includes heavy hors d'oeuvres, beer and wine. Tickets are $50, which includes the food and drink. All proceeds from this event directly support Des Moines area youth, providing them with a safe, supportive place to be after school and over the summer. In Greater Des Moines, Boys & Girls Clubs currently serves about 2,000 school-age children and teens, providing structured programs and caring staff at five sites. Go online to for Talent Show tickets and more information.

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