dsmWeekly: February 2, 2022
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February 2, 2022

With a focus on warm, contemporary style and smart functionality, this delightful family collaborated with Silent Rivers on a sustainable design and remodel of their kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, living room and entryway. The result? This home has found its Zen.
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This platter from Whatcha Smokin' will keep even the biggest BBQ beast full: brisket, pork, chicken and tempting sides.

2 Saucy Nuggets of Barbecue News

Writer: Karla Walsh

Smoker season at home is still months away, but you can get your fix of brisket, burnt ends and beyond at two barbecue spots that are are rocking new owners and refreshed menus.

Dive into something new at King Smoke Texas Barbecue. The newly renovated and refreshed brand is located in the former Unrvld BBQ space (3701 E.P. True Parkway, #400, West Des Moines). Joe McConville, chef/partner with the hospitality group Dark Side of the Spoon, and his team partnered with Dre Jackson, one of the Unrvld owners who lives in Texas. “He worked with us on the meat preparations while we revamped the sides and sauces,” McConville told dsm.

They gave the interior a face-lift, rebranded and opened as King Smoke last fall. Brisket and spare ribs are the specialty, but the pulled pork, sausage and chicken are also stars, McConville promises. “We smoke all our meats fresh each day and when we’re out, we’re out,” he says. “The process is as much about what isn't on the meat as what is. It’s all about the balance of meat, smoke with minimal seasoning.”

Just be sure to save enough stomach real estate for a fun road trip about 45 minutes northwest of the metro. Gwen Page (who you might remember from her time as one of the founding owners of the downtown Fong’s Pizza location) and Texas native Sean Stratton are the new co-owners of Whatcha Smokin' BBQ + Brew in Luther (403 Iowa Ave.). In March 2021, the opportunity fell onto Page’s plate to take over. Whatcha Smokin’ 2.0 maintains co-founder Steve Perlowski as head pitmaster, and Amadeio Zarnegar is the “kitchen coach,” Page says.

As far as what to order, choose from the menu full of “unique Central Texas-style barbecue that is fresh pit to plate,” Page says. She recommends the brisket (take your pick from fatty or lean), ideally in the form of poutine with gravy and Picket Fence Creamery cheese curds. Don’t skip oatmeal cream pie for dessert.

Find King Smoke Texas BBQ online at and and follow them on Instagram @kingsmoketexasbbq. Follow Whatcha Smokin’ online at, and on Instagram @whatchasmokinbbqbrew.
The ensemble cast for "Murder on the Orient Express" includes, from left, Donna Scarfe as Princess Dragomiroff, Cedric Fevrier as Hercule Poirot, and Cate Miller as Helen Hubbard (right). Photo: Des Moines Community Playhouse.

Get on Board for ‘Murder on the Orient Express’

It’s winter 1934, and the Orient Express is chugging along full of passengers when a snowdrift brings their journey to a halt. That’s when a passenger is discovered murdered in his locked compartment. Fortunately, Hercule Poirot, a famous detective, is aboard.

Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” kicks off a three-week run at the Des Moines Community Playhouse starting this Friday. Fun fact: Cedric Fevrier, the actor playing Hercule Poirot, is Belgianjust like the character; he was even born in the same town.

Showtimes this weekend are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Green is everywhere.

Almost every interior design color trend forecasts green to be big. Should you consider the 2022 color of the year?
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Moberg Gallery exhibit (Friday 5-7 p.m.): Ames-based artist Kathranne Knight will open a new exhibit, “Shapespace,” at the Moberg, featuring colored pencil and graphite drawings. The in-person event is free and open to the public.

First Friday—Black Love (Friday 5-8 p.m.):
Mainframe Studios’ First Friday event this weekend celebrates Black History Month. See Artforce Iowa’s new location and buy from the EmpowHER art sale, or select your favorite Valentine products from local vendors. First Friday events are free and open to the public.

Ballet Des MoinesLove Flight (Friday 7-8 p.m.):
Catch the third and final show of “Love Flight” at Stoner Theater in the Des Moines Civic Center. The ballet features a new work by Tom Mattingly, the company’s artistic director, and an audience Q&A following the performance. Tickets are $50.50.

Jake Blount with Laurel Premo (Saturday 8 p.m.):
Start the new month off with a folksy kick at xBk Live, courtesy of artists Jake Blount and Laurel Premo. Blount plays the fiddle and the banjo, and Premo has a background in traditional folk song and dance. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show is at 8 p.m. Tickets are available online

Brooklyn Rider: Healing Modes (Saturday 7:30 p.m.): String ensemble Brooklyn Rider will perform Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15 at Hoyt Sherman Place this weekend alongside five shorter excerpts exploring the theme of healing. Ahead of the concert, Civic Music Association is hosting a conversation on the healing effects of music Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m.; find more information online

Love on Mulberry Street: The Surety Hotel’s Mulberry Street Tavern has a cozy Valentine’s evening in store for you. Normally closed on Mondays, the restaurant will be  open 5-9 p.m. on Feb. 14, when it will serve a three-course pre-fixe meal including herb gnocchi in Parmesan cream and grilled duck breast. The cost is $75 per person.
DMMO season tickets: You won’t want to miss out on Des Moines Metro Opera’s big and bold 50th anniversary celebration, so get your season tickets now for the Summer Festival (individual tickets go on sale Feb. 15). Three blockbuster shows“A Thousand  Acres,” “Porgy and Bess” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”will be performed on a rotating basis July 1-24 at Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola. DMMO kicks off the special season with a performance of “The Magic Flute” (pictured) March 5-6 at the Des Moines Civic Center; tickets for that show aren’t part of the season package but are now available here. Read more about the 50th anniversary in this story in the current issue of dsm.
Music fest lineup: Hinterland Music Festival announced yesterday that the Glass Animals, Phoebe Bridgers, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, and Billy Strings will headline the popular music and camping festival. Passes for this year's event, Aug. 4-7 at  Avenue of the Saints Amphitheater in St. Charles, will go on sale this Friday. Find more info here.

“Tootsie” comes to town: This musical comedy based on the 1982 film by the same name follows the story of a struggling male actor who adopts a woman’s identity and appearance in order to land a role. The show plays the Des Moines Civic Center Feb. 8-13; find tickets online.

Latin sounds: The popular Des Moines band Parranderos Latin Combo released a new album titled “El Gran Chantaje” on Jan. 1. The album's first single, “Travesuras,” features 13 musicians based in Iowa, Colombia and Mexico, and the music video showcases several Des Moines-based dancers. The album will be available exclusively on the band’s website before hitting streaming platforms, but they are performing at the Bravo Awards Gala on Feb. 5 and holding a release party Feb. 19 at Wooly’s. Watch this video to follow the band’s travels in Colombia and Iowa as they wrote “El Gran Chantaje,” and go deeper on Parranderos' story and sounds by reading this dsm story.
Forget diamonds. Pearls are the “it” gemstone and can be dressed up or down. 2AU gives the stones an updated look with modern settings. Photo: King Au.

Made With Heart

Producer and Writer: Beth Eslinger

Instead of heading online or to the mall, shop local this Valentine’s Day for gift ideas. These local makers provide indulgent options at myriad prices. Or if you’re going all out, consider all these retailers for the ultimate Des Moines artist experience.

Spa Day at Home
Give the gift of wellness care at newish-in-Valley Junction shop Lathermore. Owner Chelcee Cheers makes and retails body scrubs, soaps, lotions, and bath salts and bombs in a mix of fragrances. Products follow a theme. Rosey-hue Lust, for example, combines rhubarb, peony and pink peppercorn (and a great body exfoliant), while Happy goes a bit sweeter with cedarwood, pink grapefruit and orange.

Bring the Bling
2AU consistently delivers with creative jewelry pieces featuring unique mixes of stones, cuts and shapes. For pearl strings, Ann Au combined South Sea, Tahitian and freshwater pearls in blush pink, cream, gray, golden and pistachio hues. Showcasing topaz and tourmaline, other pieces have a more modern look. Continue reading on

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