Iowa Stops Hunger, R I Restaurant, Palm's Caribbean Cuisine
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June 23, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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The new Olson Larsen Gallery space called The Living Room is where you'll find the intriguing DMAF Curated exhibit featuring Des Moines Arts Festival artists. Enjoy a video tour with curator Chaden Halfhill of Silent Rivers.
dsm magazine and the Business Record, our sister publication, are launching a new initiative, Iowa Stops Hunger.


The statistics are sobering: One in 10 people struggles with hunger in Iowa; 1 in 7 children. What's more, food insecurity is on the rise as the pandemic drags on and the economy falters. But the problem doesn't have to be insurmountable; as we are in addressing nearly every problem, we as a community are better when we join together. To that end, today we were pleased to announce a new initiative, called Iowa Stops Hunger, at our virtual unveiling event for the July/August issue. With presenting sponsor Hy-Vee, Iowa Stops Hunger will seek to raise awareness and inspire action in communities across the state.

For the next year, dsm and the Business Record, our sister publication, will explore food insecurity in Iowa through a multifaceted approach that includes editorial coverage in our print publications and on our digital and social platforms, virtual panels and events, and an action-oriented Iowa Stops Hunger Corporate Challenge. We hope that you'll join us this effort to stop hunger and therefore create a healthier, safer and more equitable state for us all. --Christine Riccelli, editor-in-chief
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This take-home meal from R I Restaurant includes salmon, risotto and roasted carrots. Photo: Wini Moranville


Writer: Wini Moranville

After opening last autumn, R I Restaurant was applauded by dsm contributor Karla Walsh for its artfully plated food that calls on “the season’s best ingredients and sprinkles in a little of molecular gastronomy and a lot of texture.”

I was planning to take it all in myself, but the winter got away from me. And thenwell, you know what happened. So a couple of weeks ago when the Windsor Heights venue debuted R I to Go, a new takeout service, I wasted no time in placing an order.

Of course, molecular gastronomy loses something when transported across town in to-go containers. Wisely, chef Jacob Demars takes a different approach with his to-go service.“I love doing tasting menus and fine-dining—tweezer food and all that,” Demars says. “But for R I to Go, I’ve been falling towards a much more rustic approach.”

Hence, among the carry-out options (which will change every week or two), you won’t find molecular-gastronomy-inspired entrees such as a “scallop sweet pea vichyssoise, couscous, seared chorizo, tarragon foam.” Nor will you snag five- or 10-course tasting menus. You’ll have to head inside to the dining room, which is open, for that style of food.

Yet while the meal I recently brought home from R I was entirely foam-less, it was highly gratifying. The rich pesto-arugula risotto, made salty with bacon and bright with arugula pesto and black pepper, was speckled with bits of freshly picked and shelled sweet peas. Also pleasurable was the cast-iron-seared salmon, served on a bed of farro (a delightfully chewy and nutty grain native to Italy) studded with candied walnuts.

More good news: For those of you who are tired of takeout, but not ready to dine inside a restaurant, look for R I’s patio menu, which will debut in a few weeks (after the patio arrives). Demars plans to serve a menu slanted toward the casual seaside New England fare he grew up with in Rockport, Massachusetts: clams, lobster rolls and the like.

R I to Go is available Thursday through Saturday. Keep up with R I Restaurant on the R I Restaurant website.
Palm's Caribbean Cuisine has an eclectic mix of Jamaican-inspired dishes on the menu.


Writer: Karla Walsh

Each week in dsmWeekly, we’ll introduce you to a local food company owned by a person of color. Missed the first couple dispatches? Learn about Street Eats DSM here and G.G.’s Chicken & Waffles here.

I wanted to transport people to a happy place in the sun, like where I was born—Africa, or where my uncle is from, Jamaica—hence the name ‘Palm’s.’ Iowa has four seasons, and during the winter, it sure would be nice somewhere that has palm trees,” says Amara Sama, the cook and co-owner, along with his wife, Dionne Sama, of Palm’s Caribbean Cuisine.

It sure would be nice now that we’re not traveling as much to get a taste of a different land. With Palm’s, which the Samas launched this year after ending their business partnership that included the farmers market-based brand Rootz, they aim to fuse the cuisine of Liberia and Jamaica in one made-from-scratch package. Amara's family moved to Iowa when he was 4, and he grew up on a steady diet of Liberian food cooked by his stepmom and Jamaican fare from his uncle’s kitchen.

“We’re bringing the two cultures together. The Palm’s menu is about 90% Jamaican, and rich in herbs and spices, with a little Liberian in the mix,” Sama says, pointing to the top-selling side of jollof rice as an example of a traditional Liberian recipe.

You can get a taste by following Palm’s Carribean Cuisine on Facebook or check out, where the Samas post their latest menus and pre-order options for Saturday pick up (available twice each month) at their commercial kitchen in the Mickle Center (1620 Pleasant St.). They also cater for groups of 10 to 150 and plan to share their fare at festivals, farmers markets and other large gatherings once those are back on the calendar.

On the usual pick-up menu, $20 pre-order meals for two come with one entree, two sides and two Jamaican beef patties, while $40 meals for four to six include two entrees, two sides and four beef patties. So what does Sama recommend first-timers try?

“The Jamaican jerk chicken has a slight kick and is one of the most popular," he says. "It’s how my uncle made it. We bake the Coconut Candied Yams for at least two hours in coconut milk, and they’re a nice complement to the spicy chicken.”

As for the future of the Palm’s, Sama would love to see it grow into a brick and mortar restaurant.

“This type of food is not the norm, so we’re really focusing on building a following. I want people [to get] used to our flavors and then [we'll] eventually open a restaurant,” he says. “No matter what color or gender you are, food is a universal magnet to bring people together and allow them to connect.”

This photo, "Audrey," was taken by local photographer Annick Sjobakken and is for sale on Shutter Priority, which donates proceeds to the Broadlawns Medical Foundation. Photo: Annick Sjobakken


When COVID-19 gripped the nation in mid-March, Annick Sjobakken felt almost helpless. A local photographer, she wasn't reporting to the front lines like medical professionals or retail workers. But she wanted to do her part. On social media, she spotted a few friends in New York selling their work and donating the proceeds to local hospitals. She talked to fellow photographer Jami Milne, and in May they created Shutter Priority, an online photo store that splits revenue between artists and the Broadlawns Medical Foundation.

"It feels like I'm doing my part," Sjobakken says. "It's something I've never done before, but as a photographer, this is something I could do to help. I'm really enjoying it, and it's brought people together."

Many of the photographers on the site are Des Moines-based, but there also are contributors from around the state. To gather the group, Sjobakken reached out to her contacts via social media and put out a call for local artists, and almost a dozen people answered. Sjobakken says each photo listed on the website has three prints available for purchase.

Shutter Priority is one of the several online initiatives taking part in Art Week Des Moines, which kicked off last Friday with events and programs held online or viewable from a safe distance. Sjobakken says Shutter Priority has received some interest but is hopeful the event generates more sales.

"Right now, we're pressing forward," Sjobakken says. "We're hoping with more attention from Art Week our sales will be quite a bit more. But we've had nothing but a positive experience so far."
Hoyt Sherman Place's Jazz in July series has been canceled this year, but dates have been set for 2021.
Photo: Hoyt Sherman Place.


Local arts and culture organizations are adding virtual offerings while others are adjusting their summer schedules because of the pandemic. Here are a few updates from the past week.

  • Hoyt Sherman Place has canceled its annual Jazz in July summer concert series, citing the limitation of crowds because of the coronavirus. The dates for July 2021 are July 13, 20 and 27. "Everyone associated with Hoyt Sherman Place was excited to present some truly outstanding jazz artists to the Des Moines Community this year," says John Krantz, an organizer of the Jazz in July series. "After considering all the options, it was unfortunately decided that if we can’t do the spectacular event like we planned due to the current circumstances. We will bring it back even bigger and better in July 2021.”

  • The Des Moines Art Center will reopen July 7 with new safety measures in place. While the Art Center will continue to offer free admission, tickets for entry will be required so proper social distancing can be maintained. The Art Center recommends that tickets be reserved online in advance. Also, there will be a designated path through the museum, with on-site signage and graphics. Public programming, however, is on hold until the fall, and the Art Center gift shop and Tangerine cafe will reopen in late summer.  

  • The Des Moines Playhouse is adding family-friendly plays to its Live Theatre Drive-In series, which allows people to enjoy theater from the comfort of their own cars. "Miss Electricity" tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who is struck by lightning and gains control over all things electric but could lose everything if the power gets to her head. Showings start on July 25 and end Aug. 15.

  • Civic Music Association has launched an online concert series with the Belin Quartet at 6 p.m. every Wednesday on Facebook and YouTube.
Learn how to add joy to your home from local interior designers in this piece from the July/August issue of dsm magazine.


“The healthiest response to life is joy,” said Deepak Chopra. And where better to begin cultivating a joyful life than in the place we start and end every day—and in recent months where most of us have been hunkered down throughout the day as well.

Adding joy to your home goes far beyond bringing in bright colors (although those can help!). Cheering up your home can be as simple as opening the blinds, hanging up a cherished heirloom or choosing the right upholstery to fit your family’s lifestyle. dsm spoke with local designers to get their go-to tips on how to create joyful spaces throughout your home.

Read the rest of this story, "Joy at Home," from the July/August issue of dsm magazine, which was unveiled this afternoon.
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