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No "humbug"—Derek "Bob Cratchit" Eidson and George "Tiny Tim" Formaro are putting on a Dickensian dinner at Django.


By Wini Moranville

Whether you adore Christmas or you feel, like Ebeneezer Scrooge, that "every idiot who goes about with a 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart," the upcoming Dickensian dinner at Django should put you decidedly in the holiday spirit. 

Slated for Sunday, Dec. 8, the family-style meal will be a veritable feast of all kinds of food mentioned in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" as well as favorite holiday foods of the time. These include classics that endure to this day (oysters on the half shell, roasted chestnuts, stuffed turkey and mince pie), as well as some foods less likely to make their way to 21st-century holiday tables (in Iowa, at least). The latter include braun (head cheese), pork and goose sausages, and steak and Stilton pie.

"I’ve been toying with the idea for years," says chef/partner George Formaro, who is teaming up with Django executive chef Derek Eidson to present the meal. When choosing recipes, Formaro didn’t just Google the concepts. Rather, he consulted the fragile, yellowing pages of his own vast collection of historic cookbooks; he owns about 10,000 rare and antique books and has a particular passion for those from the Victorian era.

While some special events at Django are held in a party room, this event will take over the entire restaurant. "We’re hoping to do more of these kinds of themed events in the future," Formaro says. The best way to find out about upcoming events is to follow the restaurant on Facebook.

Tickets for the Dickensian Dinner cost $75 and are available through MidwestTix. You can also check out the event's Facebook page for the complete menu. Doors open at 5 p.m., with dinner starting at 5:30 p.m.

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

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It's just plain fun to wander the East Village during the annual Holiday Promenade, Friday and Saturday this week.


Des Moines’ East Village hosts its 18th annual Holiday Promenade Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23. Festivities run from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The historic district will be all atwinkle in holiday lights, and visitors can expect free horse-drawn trolley rides, visits with Santa Claus, carolers strolling around the neighborhood, ice skating and ice sculpting, plus—Friday night—a tree lighting ceremony and fireworks. Local businesses in the neighborhood will have extended hours and treats for customers.

For a full schedule and other details, visit

The "non-instant noodles" dish at Lucky Lotus: egg noodles, peas, carrots and bean sprouts in a sweet and savory sauce, topped with scallions, cilantro, fried shallots and a fried egg. Photo: Preston Mila.


By Karla Walsh

Calling all those craving casual Asian-inspired cuisine: Your options continue to bloom across Greater Des Moines. Joining the epic avenue of culinary options (see: Harbinger, Panka, Cheese Bar, Eatery A, Manhattan Deli, Creme and more), Lucky Lotus has opened in the space that Krunkwich vacated in June.

Des Moines-raised brothers Kevin and Souriyno Chen are taking over the business launched by their parents, Seng and Dala, at Cafe Fuzion, which recently sold to La Cuscatleca Pupuseria and Restaurant.You’ll often spot all four of them in the restaurant. "We’ve been witness to how hard our parents have worked over the years," Kevin says. "It’s quite an honor to take over what they’ve built and carry on our family’s legacy."

The menu blends Laotian and Vietnamese dishes the family has shared around the dinner table for decades, plus "a few Chinese-influenced dishes reflective of our Chinese heritage from our dad," Souriyno adds.

The lotus symbolizes a rebirth—fitting for this new restaurant that feels like a modern, colorful twist on Cafe Fuzion’s greatest hits. The decor matches that vibe, too: Be sure to look up when you near the back of the restaurant. A gorgeous rainbow-hued umbrella display hangs from the ceiling.

On our first taste visit, highlights included:
     ● Crispy Rice Wraps: Think summer rolls stuffed with deep-fried coconut rice, veggies, vermicelli and herbs.
     ● Laap: Similar to a stir-fry with fresh herbs and spices and your choice of tofu or chicken.
     ● Tom Yum Spaghetti: Pasta tossed with a Tom Yum soup-inspired tomato sauce, mushrooms, and shrimp.
     ● Bing Bing Wrap: A savory crepe-like scallion pancake stuffed with potatoes or beef.

Next up, I have my eye on the After-School Fried Rice and the Non-Instant Noodles (pictured).

Lucky Lotus is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday at 2721 Ingersoll Ave. Learn more and check out the menu at

Farmers' Market fun moves indoors with a holiday spirit this weekend. And its location has moved, from Capital Square (pictured last year) to Hy-Vee Hall in the Iowa Events Center. Photo: James Moos.


You can’t ignore the recent cold weather, but there’s a warm holiday atmosphere at the Downtown Winter Farmers’ Market, opening Friday in the Iowa Event Center’s Hy-Vee Hall. There you’ll find local produce, handmade goods and crafts Nov. 22-23 and Dec. 13-14.

With a lineup of more than 150 local vendors, expect to see some of your favorites from the outdoor market plus others with seasonal products. From pies to poinsettias, plus ornaments and gifts, you’re sure to warm up to the variety available. For more information, click here.

Megan Rapinoe, a two-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist, speaks at Drake University this evening.


Soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe will speak this evening (Tuesday, Nov. 19) in the 41st installment of the Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series at Drake University.

The U.S. women’s national soccer team co-captain will be interviewed in a moderated question and answer session beginning at 7 p.m. in the Knapp Center, 2525 Forest Ave. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

Rapinoe, a two-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist, is not only a successful soccer player but an outspoken advocate for equality. She has focused her efforts publicly on women’s rights, equal pay, LGBTQ rights, racial justice and refugee rights.

Comedy is serious business for Sid Juwarker, creative force and co-owner at Teehee's comedy club. Photo: Duane Tinkey.


There was a little extra laughter and merriment downtown over the weekend, as comedy club Teehee's opened with all the suddenness of a punch line. Final hurdles were cleared with city approvals and construction details completed just days before the opening. It was a quick BYOB event marketed by social media, but the club opened with a cast of comics and a full house of supporters. Many were friends of jovial club creator and co-owner Sid Juwarker, an engineer by day and charmingly funny guy anytime.

Juwarker wants the club to be an incubator of local talent as well as a regular stop for touring comedians. He sees it as a "middle ground" between smaller open mic nights for amateurs and the more structured realm of chain clubs like Funny Bone, for example.

Teehee's is located at 1433 Walnut St., occupying over 3,000 square feet with a capacity for about 100 people. For more info and updates, check Teehee's Facebook page.

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