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A glamorous Art Deco remodel has transformed one of the first homes purchased in downtown's iconic Brown Camp Lofts. See more photos of the exquisite loft featured in the new dsm publication The Homes Issue.  ... Read more »


We're working to keep you connected with cultural leaders in this period of disconnection. Toward that end, dsm magazine has launched an ongoing series of podcasts and videos, called dsm CultureCasts.

For the dsm CultureCast podcasts, we'll talk with Greater Des Moines leaders, touching on arts and culture, food and dining, style and design, philanthropy, and more. dsm CultureCast videos will highlight similar topics, brought to you by local organizations or businesses. We are excited to launch these offerings, which will appear on a variety of dsm platforms, including our newsletters, website and Facebook page.

Please join us for the first in the podcast series, a conversation with Sally Dix, executive director of Bravo Greater Des Moines. It's quick, interesting, and available here. We hope you enjoy it, and we welcome suggestions for future podcasts.

check out our first video, brought to you by Salon Spa W, which provides timely and helpful tips in meeting a current challenge for many of us--"How to Look Fantastic While Videoconferencing From Home." It's available here.
Here's a short post on the new green trend and some inspiration images. Bring spring into your room year round.... Read more »
C.J. Bienert has some timely tips about cheese—in good times and bad.


By Wini Moranville

I asked C.J. Bienert, owner of Cheese Bar and the Cheese Shop, the "cheese" version of the old "desert island" question: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take three cheeses with you, what would they be?

Normally, I find the question unproductive. But while we’re pretty much desert-islanding ourselves from each other, it’s a useful question in the realm of food: After all, stocking up on a few choice ingredients that are incredibly versatile is a great way to simplify your cooking while continuing to dine well. Here, then, are his picks:

Parmigiano-Reggiano: "You want a hard cheese you can grate on anything and that keeps until the end of the world," Bienert says. Bold, snappy Parm-Regg will do the trick. He also recommends buying a larger piecea pound or half pound will keep much better than a smaller piece.

A tomme-style cheese: Traditionally, a tomme is an Alpine cheese crafted into a circular shape. American cheesemakers craft their own versions. Bienert recommends this semisoft style of "super delicious and versatile" cheese for melting, snacking and tucking into sandwiches. He suggests Appalachian from Meadow Creek Dairy in Virginia. Comté or a young Gouda will also fit the bill here.

• A soft cheese: I asked Bienert for a cheese that was so happy-making that it will remind you to take good care of yourself so you can be around to eat more great cheeses. He recommended the gooey, spoon-able Harbison from Jasper Farms Hill Creamery in Vermont. It’s wrapped in bark, so while it’s super-soft, it makes its own serving vessel. "Cut off the top and spoon it out like a pudding," says Bienert. "With each spoon, you’re so happy you forget what’s going on."

The Cheese Shop of Des Moines (833 42nd Street, Suite B; 515.528.8181) is currently filling curbside carryout orders; they’re currently open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Isn't this what we're craving right now? Mac and cheese from Bubba's—plus maybe a classic Old-Fashioned.


By Karla Walsh

I’m declaring it: ‘Tis the season for comfort food. Yes, yes, I know we just wrapped up resolution season and Lent is still in effect (for those who observe it). But in these uncertain times, little soothes the soul more than some cheese and carbs, right? Well, besides maybe a little chocolate and a cocktail ...

That’s why I can’t get enough of Bubba’s creativity to keep our community in good spirits—literally—amid the coronavirus pandemic and resulting shifts in the restaurant and social scene.

Taking note of the popularity of video chat happy hours (AKA my new favorite way to keep in touch with friends and family), Bubba is offering $25 "Happy Hour Kits" with everything you need for four Old-Fashioned Cocktails:
     A recipe card, in case you need a little how-to from their mixologist.
     An 8-ounce bottle of bourbon.
     An orange.
     A mason jar of infused syrup, such as Mixed Berry-Basil Simple Syrup.

They’ve also partnered with Creme Cupcake to offer a bonus cravings-cure.

Chicken soup for the soul? Nah, one serving from that kit plus a big bowl of Pimiento Mac and Cheese plus a cupcake is what my soul could use right now. The frozen veggies can wait until tomorrow.

P.S. If you’re more into wine than cocktails, sign up for Bubba’s virtual Winefest event in partnership with Yalumba Wines.

Bubba’s Temporary hours are 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Delivery of items off their temporary menu is available through DoorDash and GrubHub. For carryout, call 515.257.4744. Curbside pick-up is available upon request (call the same number when you arrive at the restaurant, 200 10th St.). Note that the Happy Hour Kit is only available via carryout, not delivery.
John Irving's novel "A Prayer for Owen Meany," recommended by library director Sue Woody, has also been adapted to stage and screen.


The Des Moines Public Library may be closed, but you can still check out books through the library's large collection of e-books and e-audiobooks. And with socializing at a minimum these days, we think there's no better time to catch up on our long "to-read" list. Here are some books DMPL librarians turn to for comfort and inspiration during challenging times:

Susan Woody, Des Moines Public Library director:
"A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving: Once you’ve met Owen Meany, you’ll never be able to forget him. This heartbreaking story by a master storyteller will make you laugh, cry and believe.

Kathy Leonard, collection development librarian:
I return to Agatha Christie novels because I find comfort in knowing that a satisfying resolution is in sight. Even when the stories don't feature Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, the stand-in will ferret out the evildoer. The books have a quiet humor.

Carrie Anderson, collection development librarian:
In "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles, Count Rostov is sentenced by the Bolsheviks to live out the remainder of his days in a hotel. While he can't leave the four walls (sound familiar?) of the hotel, he creates a rich and beautiful existence with the hotel employees and other people staying there. The world of this novel and its characters are a delight to get lost in, and the way Count Rostov approaches his life and makes the best of it is inspiring.

I am currently slowly reading "The Overstory," an award-winning door-stopper of a novel by Richard Powers. This book takes you through the lives of several strangers and how trees have had power over their lives. The slow-paced, lyrical writing and the timeless presence of the trees will take you beyond the present moment.

In addition to its large collection of e-books, the library offers a range of other 24/7 digital services, including the Library app, which gives cardholders the ability to read or listen to e-books on most mobile devices; Kanopy, an on-demand video streaming service; the Flipster app for popular magazines; and a number of learning tools for kids, such as LearningExpress Library and World Book Online.

Have fun making genuine Fong's pizza at home with these kits and your kids.


By Karla Wals

Even more reasons to keep those frozen veggies on ice: These small businesses* are pulling out all of the stops to keep their customers well-fed and in good spirits. We’ve rounded up one for every day for the rest of the week so you can plant a little "carrot" daily to help power you through another week of quarantine.

Add a culinary class to your home-school curriculum with these kits that allow a family of four to channel their inner pizzaiolo. With pizza dough, sauce and toppings for four personal pizzas, each $20 pack is available at the Ankeny, Drake and downtown locations via curbside pick-up and delivery. All tips are donated to team members who had to be laid off due to the pandemic’s impacts on business. (Three locations across the metro;

Tequila Thursday: El Guapo's Tequila + Tacos Margarita Mix
At last check, this new south-of-the-border-inspired hot spot is offering three varieties of margarita mix (via carryout or $3 delivery) for $12 per quart. Just pour a serving into a shaker, add tequila and ice, shake and serve. Email or call 515.216.2198 to inquire about today’s flavors and to place an order. (8950 University Ave. Suite 105, West Des Moines;
     Guapo’s House: OJ, lime, lemon, agave, orange zest syrup.
     Street Snack: Lime, lemon, house pineapple tepache, agave, sumo mandarin syrup.
     Hellfire: Lemon, house sour, muddled jalapeño, habañero shrubs, Bittermens Burlesque Bitters, citrus syrup.

Fish Friday: The Hall To-Go Fish Fry Fridays
Order via email ( by Thursday at 3 p.m., and enjoy curbside pick-up fish fry dinners from FoodWorks in honor of Lent. Each meal comes with two pieces of breaded Atlantic cod, a pile of chips (aka fries), homemade coleslaw and tartar sauce. Orders can be picked up between 4 and 7 p.m. on Fridays, and the Hall is offering 25% off to-go crowlers of beer. (111 S. 11th St., West Des Moines,

Snack Saturday: The Cheese Shop To-Go Monger Boards
Flip on a movie and enjoy an at-home date night with a perfect-for-two Monger Board. With three cheeses and two meats for $25, these beautiful boards feature the best of the Cheese Shop’s world-class cheese and charcuterie. Call 515.528.8181 to reserve your spread for curbside carryout. (833 42nd St., Suite B;

Sweet Sunday: Cha Cha's Confections Cookie-Decorating Kits
Once you’ve mastered and devoured your Creme Cupcake kits, try your hand at Cha Cha’s perfect-for-Easter 12-cookie kits. Complete with royal icing, sprinkles, and spring-shaped almond sugar cookies and available while supplies last, the $25 kits can be ordered via and picked up at the confection kitchen. (1614 McKinley Ave.,

*Since this is a rapidly evolving situation and menus change frequently, please call or check the social media sites for the brands before attempting carryout.
Matt Unger, CEO of the Des Moines Area Religious Council, which operates 14 food pantries.


By Rachel Vogel Quinn

These days, food pantries in Central Iowa look a lot like they did 20 years ago. Clients pick up prepacked bags of food outside the building or from their car windows, without walking through the pantry or choosing their preferred items. While implementing social distancing, the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC)—with a network of 14 food pantries in Central Iowa—is also operating without their normal volunteer base, almost all of whom are older, retired adults in the high-risk category for COVID-19.

"We are trying to minimize the risk of interactions while still keeping food distributed to those in need," says Luke Elzinga, communications and advocacy manager at DMARC.

In response to the pandemic, the nonprofit has canceled its large volunteer groups, dramatically reducing its ability to sort and process food. DMARC has also suspended its Red Barrel Program that collects food donations in grocery stores.

Before the pandemic began, its pantries were already operating at a 10% increase over 2019, which Matt Unger, CEO of DMARC, attributes to years of stagnating wages and increased living expenses."We were already making heroic efforts to try to maintain what we were doing," Unger says. "And this [crisis] is going to tax the system even more. We’ve got [fewer] people to do the work and less choice in how the work is done. This is a complication unlike any we’ve faced before."

As the economic crisis surrounding the pandemic worsens, Unger expects to see pantry use grow exponentially in the coming months. March is already showing a 15% increase over last year, with more than one-fifth of those clients using the pantry for the first time.

"Unfortunately, when the stock market is soaring, a lot of folks don't see an immediate impact," Elzinga says. "But when the stock market crashes, they do."

Unger worries about how households affected by layoffs or reduced hours will manage two months from now. And he agonizes over whether DMARC will be able to keep up with the increased need."Right now," Unger says, "we are just trying to respond to this crisis. We are going to do as much as we can, as well as we can, for as long as we can."

What you can do:
Donate funds to DMARC online. By buying in bulk, DMARC can purchase three to six more times the food than the average grocery store shopper.

In other nonprofit-related news:

     The Des Moines Art Center, currently closed through April 5, is offering virtual tours of its galleries online.
     United Way of Central Iowa’s 211 has mobilized to serve as the statewide center for calls about the pandemic. Those showing symptoms of the virus or facing economic challenges should dial 2-1-1 or visit the website.
he Iowa Council of Foundations is advocating for nonprofits at the state and federal levels. It signed on to a national letter calling on Congress to provide $60 billion in aid to nonprofits. The request didn’t make the final relief package, but nonprofits are eligible to apply for the $367 billion set aside for small businesses.
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