The Wallace Centers, Fourth of July, Opera Opens
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June 29, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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The polenta entree, which comes with roasted snap peas, garlic scapes, braised kale, tomato-caper sauce and eggplant relish, at the Wallace Centers of Iowa's farm-to-table dinners.


Writer: Karla Walsh

After more than a year without farm-to-table dinners at the Wallace Centers of Iowa (756 16th St.), it was a refreshing change of pace to enjoy a sneak peek at their upcoming season of locally sourced, garden-fresh meals last Thursday in advance of their 2021 season, which runs July through December.

Hosted each Thursday in a historic Sherman Hill Victorian home, chef Katie Porter and her team whip up a unique menu each week using as many close-to-home ingredients as possible, including produce from the Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center farm in Orient, meat from Story City Locker and Orr Lamb, dairy from Milton Creamery and Picket Fence Creamery, and more.

Reserve a table in the dining room or on the picturesque wraparound porch (al fresco dining is available for the first time ever for 2021), then choose from a selection of three appetizers, three entrees and a couple of desserts to build your own tasting menu, and BYOB, if desired, to complete the meal.

I opted for the pickled rhubarb salad to start, which came topped with salty almond “croutons” and quark cheese crumbles. For my main, the vegetarian crispy polenta cake with braised kale and tomato-caper sauce made for a dreamy summer dinner. And come dessert, a scoop of uber-refreshing cantaloupe sorbet was a surprisingly lovely partner for a scoop of cardamom ice cream.

As soon as I walked down the steps of the stunning Wallace Centers venue, I was already checking my calendar for my next free Thursday. Perhaps I’ll see you there?

Visit to reserve a table online, and here’s an insider secret: Call 515-243-7063 if it appears to be sold out. They may be able to sneak you in, place you on a waiting list or clue you in about the next available seats. Farm-to-Table dinners run through December 2021, and you can also attend Pizza on the Prairie at Wallace Centers' Orient farm this summer. Learn more here.
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    Des Moines Metro Opera's "Sweeney Todd: The Demon of Barber Street" will debut at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola. Photo: Des Moines Metro Opera


    The Des Moines Metro Opera summer season begins this weekend, featuring the first in-person performances in a year. "Sweeney Todd: The Demon of Barber Street" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, followed by "The Queen of Spades" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, at Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola.

    The calendar extends through July and includes "Platee" (debuting at 8 p.m. on July 10), plus "Fellow Travelers" (July 17 at Hoyt Sherman Place) as part of DMMO's 2nd Stages Series. In addition, the company will present “The John Holiday Experience,” starring countertenor John Holiday, at 7:30 p.m. on July 11 at Drake University's Sheslow Auditorium. Also featured are three Opera Under the Stars shows, with "Sweeney Todd" (8 p.m. July 9), "Platee" (8 p.m. July 10) and "The Queen of Spades" (8 p.m. July 13) on the east lawn of the Blank Performing Arts Center.  

    DMMO has had quite a year so far. In April, the organization announced it was commissioning a $1 million opera, "A Thousand Acres," based on the 1991 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. It will premiere on July 9, 2022, as part of the company's 50th anniversary celebration. (Read more about "A Thousand Acres" in this dsm story.) And on June 11, local philanthropists Nix and Virginia Lauridsen announced a $2 million gift to support the production of Mozart's "The Magic Flute," which will kick off the organization’s 50th anniversary season in 2022.

    Find more information, including how to obtain tickets for the 2021 summer festival, on the DMMO website.
      Joseph Giunta, music director, leads a past Des Moines Symphony Yankee Doodle Pops show, which will be virtual this year. Photo: Des Moines Symphony


      There are plenty of benefits of the Fourth of July falling on a weekend—the biggest being all of the events taking place on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night. Here are a few around Greater Des Moines:

      Urbandale will host live music Friday and Saturday nights, with parade and fireworks over the weekend. Waukee will hold its own parade Saturday and a weekend carnival; fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. To the south, Norwalk will have games, vendors and live music on Saturday, followed by a breakfast and fireworks on Sunday.

      Yankee Doodle Pops: While not in-person, the Des Moines Symphony's annual Yankee Doodle Pops show will be livestreamed on Iowa PBS and Iowa Public Radio throughout the weekend. Scores include the patriotic "1812 Overture" and "Stars & Stripes Forever." Broadway’s Hugh Panaro will join to perform some favorites from popular musicals as well.

      Adventureland Park: One of Greater Des Moines' most popular Fourth of July fireworks shows starts at 9:30 p.m. Sunday at Adventureland amusement park in Altoona.
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        Corey and Emily Abbas at a past Polo on the Green event. This year's fundraiser will take place on July 17.


        The summer nonprofit event season is in full swing. Here are a few to consider as you make July plans.

        Polo on the Green: Variety—the Children's Charity of Iowa is bringing back its popular Polo on the Green fundraiser as a live event 5-11 p.m. on July 17 at Powder River Ranch near Cumming. The event will have local cuisine, an all-inclusive hosted bar, and live and silent auctions. There will also be a polo match complete with divot stomping at halftime, followed by a dance. Individual tickets are $500.

        Breakfast at Tiffany's: Enjoy a brunch with mimosas, a raffle and a fashion show at this Oakridge Neighborhood Services fundraiser, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on July 18 at the Tea Room. Sabrina Ahmed, anchor with WOI-Channel 5 news, will emcee.

        Sunnyside Regatta: At 2:30 p.m. on July 8, business leaders will paddle around Lake Cheerio at Easter Seals of Iowa's Camp Sunnyside. Winners receive the Admiral's Cup while teams with the most energy win the Sunnyside Spirit Award.
          La Tapatia is a Mexican grocery store with one main location and two other offshoots around Greater Des Moines.


          This is a sneak peek at "Global Flavors," a story in our July/August issue, which will be released on Thursday evening at

          Writer: Linh Ta

          As ambitious home cooks try to prepare the global cuisines they love, ingredient options at standard grocery stores may fall short for those al pastor or pho attempts. But fear not—Des Moines’ international grocery stores not only have the ingredients you need, but they’re also helmed by knowledgeable local owners.

          Want to make a Laotian larb salad, coupled with a Middle East couscous wrap? Go right ahead—and finish it off with some locally made tiramisu while you’re at it. Before you turn to online ordering, explore an international grocery store instead. Here’s our list of some of the best spots, with owners who are willing to help you shop.

          La Tapatia (1440 Des Moines St.)
          This 14,000-plus-square-foot Mexican grocery store has everything you need, and then some. When you walk inside, you’re immediately met with vibrant colors of children’s piñatas, the produce aisle and rainbow cakes.
          Want some fluffy pan dulce, aka delicious Mexican sweet bread? They’ve got it fresh. Want to up your quesadilla game? Head over to the dairy section and pick up some Oaxaca cheese.

          If you can’t make it to their flagship store, there are also smaller offshoots at 3504 Merle Hay Road, 4007 S.E. 13th St. and 1606 Sixth Ave.

          Favorite find:
          A spicy breaded chicken breast called milanesa de pollo. I picked up a pound from the meat counter and cooked it in my air fryer that night. The thinly pounded chicken was crispy and addictive, with just enough spice that I didn’t have to do anything further for seasoning.

          Also check out: The extensive bakery selection. The tres leches cakes are as beautiful as they are moist and sweet.

          Read the rest of the story on global grocery stores here.
            "Crusoe Umbrella" by Claes Oldenburg at Cowles Commons. A Des Moines Art Center exhibit includes a model of the sculpture. Photo: Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation


            The Des Moines Art Center is highlighting Swedish artist Claes Oldenburg's work with a new exhibit, "Giants, Miniatures, and Desserts," which runs through Oct. 17 in the Blank One Gallery. On display are Oldenburg's prints, drawings and cardboard sculptures, as well as a model for "Crusoe Umbrella." "Three Plug, Scale A (Soft), Prototype in Blue," one of Oldenburg's most notable works, is on display in the lower level of the Meier building.

            The Art Center is presenting the exhibit in anticipation of an installation by Las Vegas artist Justin Favela that will open July 17. In an interview with dsm that will appear in the upcoming July/August issue (published this Thursday), Favela said Oldenburg was one of his inspirations for the site-specific worksconsisting of vibrantly colored tissue paper made in his signature piñata stylethat he's creating for the exhibit.

            “I’m obsessed with [Oldenburg's] giant works of food and other objects,” he told dsm, explaining that given his own works are so site-specific, he seeks to incorporate pieces from the museums where he exhibits.
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