Victory Cheese, Symphony Season, Nonprofit Events
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September 29, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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This curated cheese platter is available through iGourmet, which offers a Best of the Midwest Box featuring regional cheesemakers.


Writer: Wini Moranville

“During the pandemic, cheese sales have really taken a dive for a lot of American cheesemakers,” says California-based food writer and renowned cheese expert Janet Fletcher. “They’ve lost restaurant accounts and a lot of their retail, and dairy farms have been struggling along with them.”

To help, Fletcher, publisher of the influential Planet Cheese blog and e-newsletter, partnered with other proponents of artisan American cheeses to create the “Victory Cheese” movement. Inspired by the Victory Gardens of World Wars I and II, this is a call to action for food lovers to support domestically produced cheese.

As a volunteer for the movement, Fletcher curated 12 Victory Cheese Boxes available through iGourmet. Each cheese-party-in-a-box offers hand-picked selections centered on a theme, such as Southern Standouts, West Coast Gems, a Box for Beer Fans and a Cheese Trio for Sparkling Wine.

Iowans looking to support regional cheesemakers should consider the Victory Cheese Best of the Midwest Box. It includes a Capriole Goat Cheese from Indiana, St. Pete’s Select (a raw-milk blue cheese) from Caves of Faribault in Minnesota and Flory’s Truckle, a collaboration between a Missouri dairy farm and an Iowa cheese producer.

For Flory’s Truckle, the Flory dairy in Missouri first creates the cheese using raw milk sourced from their Jersey cows. Then the cheese is sent to Milton Creamery in Milton, Iowa, for expert aging—a process that Fletcher says is as key to successful cheesemaking as the initial cheese-crafting steps. (“Truckle,” by the way, is a traditional term for a tall, cylindrical-shaped cheese.)

So what does Fletcher, a three-time James Beard Award-winning food writer, have to say about the Iowa-aged cheese?

“It’s a beautiful cheese and widely considered one of America’s finest cheddars,” she says, adding that while this sweeter style of cheese offers fruity-pineapple notes, it finishes with cheddar’s signature tang.

Check out Fletcher’s other curated boxes on iGourmet. As a bonus, Fletcher created a 10-minute guided tasting video for each cheese collection. Available on her YouTube channel, these mini-tours can help you decide which boxes to buy, or, once you’ve purchased a box, serve as a fascinating way to taste through the cheeses with an expert.

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Joseph Giunta, music director, is leading the Des Moines Symphony through a virtual fall season, which features three livestreamed shows with events leading up to each one the week before. Photo: Des Moines Symphony.


Writers: Luke Manderfeld and Allaire Nuss

Giunta says the Symphony is implementing safety precautions for its rehearsals and shows. He will be 7 feet away from all performers, and musicians will be 6 feet apart. That's why the three shows"Copland and Vivaldi" and "Winter Fantasia" will follow "History and Folklore"will be performed by groups of 20 to 30 musicians at the Temple for Performing Arts.

"Something so natural and elementary, such as playing together, will be challenging," Giunta says. "We're not going to be able to hear each other as well. It'll take more time to perfect and get us to the level we're accustomed to. But I know the musicians are excited about gathering together, seeing each other again, and I think they're going to be up for the challenges."

Virtual events for "History and Folklore" begin at 7 p.m. today with ReMix, an evening of mixology and music trivia held live on Zoom. At 6:30 p.m. tomorrow is Classical Conversations, featuring Eric McIntyre of Grinnell College and C.J. Bienert of the Cheese Shop for an online class that combines wine, cheese and music. Find details on the rest of the season here.

The fall season will also feature a special offer: The Symphony is providing free concert tickets to health care workers, teachers, and community and nonprofit organizations.

“We saw this idea as a way that we could show our appreciation to the people who have really been heroes of the pandemic in the last six months,” says Megan Helmers, the Symphony’s director of marketing and public relations. “It’s a really important thing to engage with our community through music. That’s something that’s always at the forefront of anything we do.”

The application for free tickets will be available until the Symphony’s first concert Thursday.
    Sunny Hostin has been an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, a legal correspondent for ABC, an executive producer of a documentary series, and a co-host of "The View." Her debut novel, "Summer on the Bluffs," was published in June. Photo: ABC/Heidi Gurtman.


    Three upcoming virtual fundraising events for local nonprofits promise to be fun, interesting and informative:

    Sunny Hostin, an Emmy Award-winning legal journalist and co-host of ABC's "The View," will be the speaker for the Chrysalis Foundation's annual "Inspired" fundraiser, Oct. 9 from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. During the live virtual event, Hostin will share how she came to understand her calling: to give a voice to the voiceless and “to show that if I can become who I’ve become, anyone can.” A self-described Afro-Latina lawyer who grew up in the South Bronx, Hostin has said she is not a role model but a “possibility model.”

    Tickets are $30 to $75, available here. All proceeds will support Des Moines girls and women through educational scholarships, after-school programming for at-risk girls, and grants to local agencies.

    Salisbury House and Gardens will host a Virtual Tea at the Castle on Oct. 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. You’ll receive a tea kit containing two varieties of tea,
    finger sandwiches, madeleines and tea cookies, mini scones, clotted cream, jam, and fresh flowers. The event includes short real-time videos on the history of the house and its collections, education about the tea, and more.

    Tickets cost $40 ($36 for members) and are available here or by calling 515-274-1777. Sales close this Friday, Oct. 2. On the day of the event, you'll pick up your tea kit between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the venue’s
    north door.

    Ballet Des Moines and
    Winefest are partnering for three virtual wine dinners and a behind-the-scenes ballet performance and wine discussion. The first, on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m., will feature a three-course dinner from Table 128 and a live rehearsal for the ballet company’s upcoming virtual season. In addition to the virtual option, a few tickets will be available for guests to have dinner and see the rehearsal from the Ballet Des Moines balcony. Tables will be socially distanced.

    Dinner for two and two bottles of wine are $110 for the virtual event and $210 for the in-person event. Tickets are available here. Dinner can be picked up between 5 and 6 p.m. at Table 128 in Clive on Oct. 6, but orders must be placed by Oct. 4 at 5 p.m.
    "The Laundry Room," a video by Katya Oicherman captured in this photo by Boris Oicherman, is one of the works on display at Drake University's Threads Laid Bare exhibition featuring textiles and fabrics.


    Writer: Allaire Nuss

    Many of us think of textiles in their common, everyday uses, like clothing or home goods. But Emily Newman, assistant professor of art at Drake University, wants to challenge those preconceived notions.

    Newman curated the
    Threads Laid Bare exhibition at Drake’s Anderson Gallery. The exhibition, open until Oct. 16, features 12 artists’ use of textiles and fabrics as an expression of identity and community.

    “Textiles and fibers have always been very community-based, both historically and traditionally,” Newman says. “I think that continues in contemporary textiles and fibers.”

    Newman hopes the exhibition can be an entry point for viewers who don’t have a background in textiles and fibers. These works allow them to see the materials in a creative light. “I wanted something for everyone, whether or not they were an expert in textiles and fibers, or they really hadn’t given the medium much thought beyond picking out their clothes for the day," Newman says.

    Because of COVID-19 and limitations on in-person showings, the exhibition almost never came to fruition. But with a grant from the Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Anderson Gallery expanded virtually
    , allowing patrons to experience the gallery from their homes. The app features exhibition photos, artist bios and interviews. The exhibition is now also available for in-person viewing for Drake students, faculty and staff.

    After adapting her exhibition to online platforms, Newman wants to use the experience when planning future shows. “It’s really pushed us to consider how virtual programming can expand accessibility to people who may not ever be able to visit in person, even if they live just down the street,” Newman says.
    The Des Moines Public Library has reopened the David Chipperfield-designed downtown branch for limited in-person services. Photo: Farshid Assassi.


    The Des Moines Public Library's Central Library downtown has reopened for limited in-person services. The new phase, called DMPL Express, includes limited browsing of shelves, library card signups and renewals, printing, faxing and copying services, and walk-in public computer usage.

    Five other public library buildings will follow suit on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

    Susan Woody, Des Moines Public Library director, said library leaders have worked with city officials and the library board of trustees for several months to create a safe reopening plan. Each library has added new safety measures and procedures, and masks and social distancing will be required at all times.

    “Our focus has been on the safety of our staff and community since the day we closed,” Woody said. “We took our time to get it right, and we are now ready to start welcoming our community back into our buildings.”

    Des Moines Public Library shut its doors to the public in March to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but the library never truly closed, as staff shifted to creating virtual programming, introducing new digital tools and resources, and offering a new curbside pickup service. But options like public computers and the ability to browse shelves for books are services that are impossible to replicate digitally, Woody said.

    “The library plays such an important, essential role in our communities, and we have missed being able to serve our customers in person,” she said.

    Go here to see the full scope of in-person services at Central Library.

      This work from Rachel Cox, "Untitled #22," is a part of her "Mors Scena" collection depicting the decor of funeral homes. Photo courtesy of the artist.


      The Des Moines Art Center will feature Iowa City-based photographer Rachel Cox and her “Mors Scena” series in the museum's annual Iowa Artists exhibit opening Oct. 16.

      Cox, an assistant professor of photography at the University of Iowa, found inspiration for this collection after participating in funeral arrangements for family members. She became interested in the decor of funeral homes, and how the colors, lighting and formal elements of these staged environments manifested within the grieving process.

      Cox conducted research at small, independently owned funeral homes to not only chronicle their spaces, but also delve into how notions of class, culture and social expectation all play a role in how such places look and feel. The resulting photos capture the uncertainty and sense of loss often present after a death.

      “Working on this project during a time of unrivaled global and national tragedies has given me more confidence to trust that this kind of representation can reveal the beautiful, yet complex, ways we process grief,” Cox said.

      The Art Center’s official exhibition website will offer links to a downloadable gallery guide and schedule for related programming, including a virtual gallery talk with Cox and curator Laura Burkhalter yet to be scheduled.

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