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Jazz It Up, Main Street Cafe, Butter Cow Festival
July 14, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
 
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When the 2020 festival was sidelined, Chaden Halfhill created a DMAF Curated exhibit to keep our community connected with Des Moines Arts Festival artists. Now through July 27, you can schedule a small group tour at the hip new Olson Larsen Living Room space.
The chicken sandwich and Asian wrap at Main Street Cafe and Bakery are ideal for lunch on a warm summer day.

PICNIC AT BIG CREEK WITH CAFE FIXINGS

Writer: Wini Moranville

As part of my ongoing goal of enjoying great locally made food in the great outdoors, I ventured out to Big Creek State Park, and a discovered some terrific picnic food along the way.

Getting There: If your GPS sends you to Big Creek via Iowa Highway 141, heads up: The construction of the flyover ramp from 80/35 to 141 is causing all kinds of delays. For the time being, a more seamless route is to go via Ankeny. Fortuitously, this gives you a chance to swing by the excellent Main Street Cafe and Bakery to pick up superior picnic fixings. Then you’re about 20 minutes away from Big Creek (via Iowa 415 and Northwest 144th Street – set your GPS).

Big Creek: This state park, surrounding an 814-acre lake, offers the largest beach within the Iowa State Park system, as well as hiking and biking trails, boat rentals, fishing and disc golf. It’s also a picnicker’s paradise: Dozens of picnic shelters and tables dot the park’s 3,550 acres. Numerous cabanas (one-table shelters) near the marina and beach make it possible to people-watch (a rare pleasure these days) while also social distancing. Although the cabanas and other shelters can be reserved, on the weekday of our visit, plenty were available (without cost). Want more seclusion? Picnic tables and shelters in more remote spots throughout the park help you get away from it all.

Main Street Cafe and Bakery: What a gem! Choose from dozens of salads, hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, wraps, rice bowls, pastas and mac-and-cheese combos, many kicked up a notch with fun twists – e.g., cilantro pesto, sugared pecans, sun-dried aioli. On a hot day, we opted for the cold side of the menu and scored a great sweet apple chicken salad sandwich (made all that much better with cranberry mustard) and an Asian chicken wrap. Flavor highlights of this refreshingly crunchy feast included fresh sweet peppers, wonton strips, peanut sauce and sesame seeds.

Whatever you do, don’t pass up the bar cookies. While the lemon bar was fine in the way you’d expect, the Carmalita Bar is worth a detour to Ankeny: Ooey-gooey in the best possible way, it’s chocolatey and caramely and brown sugary and crumbly and all at once. Bring an icy cooler and zip-close bags so you can pick extras up to tote home.

Main Street Cafe and Bakery is at 2510 White Birch Drive, Ankeny; 515-964-7141.

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Blackened Chicken and Andouille Sausage Mac and Cheese is one of Jasmine Hayes' favorite culinary creations.

AT THE TABLE WITH JAZZ IT UP

Writer: Karla Walsh

Each week in dsmWeekly, we’ll introduce you to a local food company owned by a person of color. Catch up on the first few features: Street Eats DSM, G.G.’s Chicken & Waffles, Palm’s Carribean Cuisine, Artis T’s Catering and Your Mom’s Bakery.

Since age 3, standing on a stool next to her great-grandma in her kitchen in Des Moines, Jasmine Hayes has loved being in the kitchen. By sixth grade, she was sneakily experimenting with flavors and recipe tests.

“While Mom was out of the house, I’d take anything from the kitchen and play around," she recalls. "I often made crispy fried shrimp and I tried to bake rolls a few times. It’s not easy, especially at age 12 and without a recipe. Sometimes it turned out, sometimes it didn’t."

Hayes spent years in the corporate world at businesses like Wells Fargo and Mercy, “but couldn’t see myself doing it forever. I needed to focus on something that I love to do. That’s cooking,” she says.

So in 2015, she started from scratch and enrolled in the Iowa Culinary Institute and DMACC to earn a degree in culinary and hotel restaurant management. By the time she graduated in 2017, Hayes had sharpened her skills at everything from savory to sweet—her almond petits fours were a hit during a big baking exam—to strategies to launch a business.

Hayes did just that in 2018, when Jazz It Up became an official personal chef service. The business name is a riff on her own name, Jasmine, plus “I jazz up a lot of different menu items and create art from something initially basic. I love to put my own stamp on comfort food from many different cuisines," she says.

Her specialty is private in-home dining, which has now evolved into mostly patio parties. Jazz It Up will soon offer preorder carryout meals, but for now you can learn more about upcoming options for private dinner parties (oh, yes, and scroll through dozens of tempting recipe photos) on her Facebook and Instagram pages.

“I customize every menu based on a client consultation and have hosted birthday and anniversary gatherings," Hayes says. "I come to you, set up the table decor, cook and clean up so you can just enjoy your one-of-a-kind menu."

While each menu is unique, Hayes says that her shrimp and grits are a popular request. They feature cheesy grits, jumbo seasoned shrimp, a salmon croquette, bacon, marinated rainbow cherry tomatoes and Parmesan cream sauce. Another surprise success arose for a Friendsgiving: a corn muffin filled with mac and cheese, topped with mashed potato and crispy chicken.

Her inspiration comes from her great-grandma and culinary school, of course, but also from her daily dinners with her husband. “We laugh about this often, because I vow: ‘I don’t have a catering event tonight, so we’ll support someone else’s business and order out,'" Hayes says. "Then I think, ‘I could create something today!’ So I cook for us and learn what works best for catering from those trials at home."

The annual Ingersoll LIVE, which was canceled this year, features performances from local musicians. Photo: The Avenues

SUMMER CULTURAL EVENTS MAKE ADJUSTMENTS

  • In lieu of the canceled Iowa State Fair, the Iowa Craft Beer Tent is hosting a Butter Cow Festival, an outdoor weekend live music event fit with socially distant seating.

Scheduled for Friday, Aug. 14, and Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park, the event will feature local breweries, local State Fair food vendors and local bands on what would have been the first weekend of this year’s Iowa State Fair.

Seating is arranged in squares big enough for eight people. Tickets range from $75 to $250 per square, based on the location. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Des Moines Water Works Park Foundation and the State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation.

  • Ingersoll LIVE, a neighborhood street party and live music event set for Aug. 29, has been canceled. The decision, which breaks a 17-year run, was made recently by the Avenues of Ingersoll & Grand board of directors. Run the Avenues, a community 5K run, was also canceled.

“Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of the people in our neighborhood,’” said Kris Maggard, executive director of the Avenues. “During this COVID-19 pandemic, we are considering socially distanced alternatives to bring culture and fun to families on a smaller scale.”

Look for pop-up events in public spaces along the Avenues, Maggard said.
Join our virtual conversation, Hunger So Close to Home, at 11:30 a.m. July 30.

IOWA STOPS HUNGER
TACKLING FOOD INSECURITY IN OUR STATE

Iowa feeds the world, yet many in our state do not know where to turn for their next meal. According to data from the Iowa Food Bank Association, about 1 in 9 Iowans are struggling with hunger. We are joined by our sister publication, the Des Moines Business Record, and ia magzine in kicking off a new virtual panel event series: Iowa Stops Hunger: Hunger So Close to Home.

In our first discussion at 11:30 a.m. on July 30, we will explore hunger in Iowa, whom it affects, and how the pandemic has made the problem even worse. A panel of experts from hunger and food insecurity nonprofits, government agencies and academia will outline the issue and discuss what individuals and businesses can do to help.

Among the questions we plan to tackle:

  • What is food insecurity?
  • Who does it affect in Iowa, and who are the newly food insecure in our state?
  • What are the systemic barriers and challenges that lead to food insecurity?
  • How is the pandemic affecting hunger for your workforce, children, seniors, veterans, and diverse and marginalized populations?
  • How does food insecurity hurt the economic output of our state?
  • What can community leaders and the business community do to help?

Register for this free virtual event here.

Iowa Stops Hunger is a yearlong Business Publications Corp. initiative to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa.

Ben Godar of the Des Moines Film Society joined the dsm CultureCast podcast to chat about the Varsity Theatre renovation and the organization's virtual cinema series.

CREATING A NONPROFIT HOME FOR FILM

The Varsity Theatre is a staple in the Drake neighborhood, with its one-screen, historic charm. Now the Des Moines Film Society is working to renovate, expand and reopen the theater under a new name, the Varsity Cinema, as Ben Godar, president of the Des Moines Film Society board of directors, explained on the latest dsm CultureCast podcast.

Fundraising has been quietly underway for about two months, but a larger capital campaign is planned for the fall months, which will kick plans into high gear. Godar said an aggressive timeline would have the theater opening in summer 2021.

"One of our longtime goals has been to run a full-time nonprofit arts cinema," Godar said. "With the COVID-19 situation over the past few months, some of the things about our timeline have not quite happened when we planned. ... But everything is still moving forward in a positive way."

Godar said he hopes the theater can turn into a nonprofit cinema showcasing acclaimed independent and international films, which are hard to find elsewhere in Greater Des Moines. The renovation will add multiple screens as well.

"We had done programming at the Varsity before, and we had a relationship with them," Godar said. "It was a really exciting opportunity for us to do two things. One, to have that permanent space to program in all the time. But just as importantly, to help preserve this last historic cinema that was still operating in Des Moines."

You can listen to the rest of the podcast here. If you want to listen to future episodes like this, with leaders in the Greater Des Moines arts, culture, food and dining scenes, subscribe to our podcast feed on your favorite listening platform, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Spotify and more.
"Art of Our Time" features locally created art addressing some of our nation's deepest challenges. Photo: Hannah Sung

NEW ART EXHIBIT AIMS TO HELP CREATE CHANGE

Olson-Larsen Galleries and Yellow Door Gallery are collaborating on an exhibition that will benefit a good cause. Called "Art of Our Time," the display will feature works that "comment or respond to current challenges and changes facing us today," particularly racism and discrimination. It's available for in-person viewing at Mainframe Studios during its First Friday reopening from 5 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 7, by reservation only, and online.

The invitational show benefits Oakridge Neighborhood Services and Community Support Advocates.

Here are a few links for more information:

 
 
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