dsmWeekly: March 30, 2022
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March 30, 2022

Silent Rivers Design+Build leads with our values, and we believe that each person’s project, space, environment, culture, and community are intertwined. Read more.
The rhubarb-almond cake by Nik Pugmire of Dore Bakery was served to the guests of the Iron Somm competition. Photo: Maharry Photography.

Rae Doyle Wins Iron Somm Honor

Writer: Karla Walsh

Since 2015, Iron Somm, a challenge between two Iowa sommeliers to select flavor profiles to complement a five-course dinner prepared by area chefs, has become a signature Winefest event for diners and oenophiles.

Held last Friday at Willow on Grand, the two sommeliers in the competition got to see, taste and study up on all of the dinner ingredients in advance so they could create perfect pairings for the dishes. Guests were served meals prepared by Aaron Holt of Doolittle Farms, Derek Eidson of Malo, Mike Holman of Trailside Tap and Nik Pugmire of Doré Bakery. Attendees go into the event “blind”; although our place settings included a menu that listed the five courses, we had no idea what was in our glasses (guests also serve as judges).

Bookended by a cheese plate by CJ Bienert of
the Cheese Shop and rhubarb-almond cake by Nik Pugmire of Doré Bakery, diners sipped on pairings from reigning champion sommelier Rae Doyle of the Surety Hotel and Dana Swasand of the Wine Shop Cedar Falls.

Both somms selected divergent pairings, which made it exciting for diners to select favorites. Afterward, I caught up with the winner, Doyle, to talk about the experience. This was the second time she took home the prize wine decanter trophy. (You might recognize Doyle from her previous work at Harbinger, RoCA and the Bartender’s Handshake; currently she’s the director of food and beverage at the Surety Hotel.)

“Pairing with modern cuisine is always a fascinating challenge as every dish is certain to contain many contrasting elements," she told me. "It’s the traditional wisdom to structure wine pairings as either a contrast or a complement to a dish, but this type of food requires a bit of both.”

Doyle's personal favorite duo? Syrocco Syrah paired with wood-charred octopus from chef Derek Eidson of Malo because “there were a lot of delicate elements to the dish that could have been easily overshadowed by too bold of a red. But this wine struck an affinity with the earthy flavors on the plate while making the bright, bitter kumquats shine,” she said.

The next
Winefest event—Unexpected Cellar—is April 23. Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.

See all food and wine pairings from the event at

"Singin' in the Rain" at the Des Moines Community Playhouse features real rain and a live orchestra to fully immerse viewers in the story.


‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Provides a Feel-Good Escape

A surefire way to lift your spirits: Head to the Des Moines Community Playhouse to see “Singin’ in the Rain.” The upbeat musical, which features a live orchestra and a stage design that includes real rain, is a “perfect story for escaping,” says Katy Merriman, the Des Moines Community Playhouse artistic director.

After a forced closure after only two performances in March 2020 because of the pandemic, this production of the classic musical reopened last Friday with much of its original cast. For a full list of showtimes and to purchase tickets, visit the Playhouse website. The show runs through April 10.
Organic Furniture Design

Natural shapes, materials and colors define this interior style. It is a beautiful look that might be perfect for you.
Read more.

Intergalactic First Friday (Friday, 5-8 p.m.): Ballet Des Moines will present a special preview of their upcoming world premiere performance, “Of Gravity and Light,” at this week’s First Friday event at Mainframe Studios. The event is free and open to the public and will also include a special exhibit by visual artist Christopher Chiavetta, snacks and cocktails, and musical soundscapes by Dartanyan Brown. (Read more about Chiavetta in this story from the dsm archive.)

Funny ASL Comedy Show (Friday, 8 p.m.): Comedians Bernard Bell, CeCe Brewer, Darius Daye and Day Peace will perform comedy at the Light Room Studios (97 Indiana Ave.). Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here. The performance will be in person and also will stream live on Facebook.

Wild Lights Festival (Friday through Sunday, 7:30-10 p.m.): Blank Park Zoo will open the Wild Lights Festival with over 40 displays featuring endangered animals, Asian mythical creatures and more, all illuminated as colorful, larger-than-life lanterns. Visit the Zoo’s website for more details, pricing and tickets. The exhibit will run through May 30.

"Long Day's Journey Into Night" (Friday through Sunday, hours vary): Iowa Stage Theatre Company will present Eugene O'Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play at Stoner Theater in the Des Moines Civic Center again this weekend. Originally published in 1956, the four-act play portrays one summer day in the dysfunctional Tyrone family. The semiautobiographical piece is widely regarded as O’Neill’s finest work. It runs through April 3. See the Des Moines Performing Arts website for ticket information.

Streetsmart art: You can now experience “Borealis,” an experiential light art installation reminiscent of the Northern Lights that’s meant to brighten a dark public space. Created by Alex Braden, “Borealis” is visible in the evenings at the Eighth Street viaduct underneath the bridge at Eighth and Cherry streets. Learn more on the Des Moines Partnership website.
Cooking classes: Kitchen Collage has a lineup of new classes. Nela Blanco (pictured), featured in the current issue of dsm, will teach you the recipe for her homemade fish tacos April 24. Other classes include bread and pound cake-making, Southern-inspired recipes, pastry and pie-making, and modern cookies. Tickets for classes can be purchased here.
Podcast power: The “Community Difference Makers” podcast by Bankers Trust was launched to lift local nonprofits and connect people with ways to get involved with the organizations. Emily Abbas with Bankers Trust interviews different nonprofit leaders each week; guests have included Kristi Knous, Mary Sellers and Sally Dix. For more local podcast finds, read this story from dsm’s current issue.

Food and architecture: Iowa Architectural Foundation’s Eat.Drink.Architecture will return this year on April 23. The guided walking tours will highlight buildings throughout Historic Court Avenue, the Market District and more. Along the way, tours will stop at popular spots, such as the Iowa Tap Room and Rita's Cantina, for food samples and libations. Proceeds will help fund Iowa Architectural Foundation programming. Tickets and full tour schedules can be found here.

Now open
St. Kilda Cafe and Bakery has opened its newest location in Clive (12695 University Ave., Suite 140) with new menu additions, including a Kobe beef burger and fried fish tacos. There’s also a patio space. Learn more at St. Kilda - Clive.

Iowa State University College of Design professors Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia explored how to reshape the relationship between the land and humans in an exhibit at the college last fall called “The Planetary Wretched.” Photo: Joe Crimmings.

Artists Focus on Designing the Future

Writer: Brianne Sanchez

The intellectual landscapes that inspire architect Cruz García have roots in revolution. In the cigar factories of the early 20th century, for instance, lectores read aloud from anti-capitalist philosophy books as laborers rolled tobacco. The practice allowed workers, denied formal education, to learn about and organize around the ideas.

As an associate professor of architecture at Iowa State University, García, 38, looks for opportunities to teach and generate creative discourse broadly and without barriers. He operates in this collectivist spirit alongside his partner in life and work, Nathalie Frankowski, 36. In December, amid their students’ final presentations, the pair welcomed their first child, a daughter. (Frankowski followed along from the maternity ward.)

Born and educated in Puerto Rico, García loved playing sports and imagined that he would become an engineer. But the public university in his hometown of Rio Piedras (a district of San Juan), where he was on the track team, only had architecture classes. As he learned about the civil rights movement and explored the intersection of politics and urbanism, his passion for the profession clicked.

“If we understand architecture as not just the building but as all the forces that are shaping and destroying and reshaping the environment, then we are engaged with all these other fields,” García says. “It’s all tangled. We cannot look at architecture as this island. Buildings don’t just appear. There’s labor, there’s extraction, there’s speculation, there’s wealth being accumulated. So many forces, so many layers.”

Read the full story at

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