Locally Grown


Food Courting The Groceries
2017/03/14, 8:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In all of my time living downtown here in Des Moines, I have wanted a grocery store that I could call my own.  A store that would take about 5 minutes to ride a bike to, some place that sold all of the little things you need to get a grocery store, save for cat supplies which I buy at my local bulk membership box of fun. I live close to two Asian Markets, and down the street from La Tapatia, a large Mexican Market, and across the river two miles there is Gateway Market, and Price Chopper lives on Ingersoll Ave.  There are options, but none that really fit the bill completely. Last year locally based Hy Vee and some developers sold us downtown residents on the promise of a full on grocery store at the venerable 4th & Court intersection.  They would be building atop what was a main parking lot for the eating/entertainment district, but the structure would include a parking garage that would replace those parking spots.  I was initially very against this idea, mainly due to my inability to accept change, but also the fact that this whole deal seemed a little off.  Take all the parking, one of the last great commodities, add a full grocery store. I don’t know.

What we actually got from Hy Vee was a full on food court, complete with taco shop, sushi shop, bagel shop, Italian Street food shop, Asian Foods Shop, gourmet cupcake shop, a fucking New York Deli (which I hear is the best of these places), a Salad Bar, a full bar, a Market Grille, a Fresh Pasta stand, a liquor store with 40 different varieties of Vodka alone, a Growler fill station, and somewhere hidden along the periphery of all of this prepared food and booze madness, there are some groceries.

Hy Vee did a good old fashioned bait and switch on us downtown folk, promising a grocery store and instead making, what I overheard one of their employees saying, the prototype for future stores for small towns/city centers.  Sounds like a great plan. Local Grocery Chain eyes the jugulars of surrounding local restaurants and bars with a serrated sandwich knife in one hand and the key to the city in the other.  Hy Vee got a 20 year tax abatement from the City of Des Moines, and the City also did not require them to build the extra parking spaces which were originally called for. Hy Vee put in food concepts that seem to be strategic direct competition to the restaurants on the surrounding blocks, like they took inventory of what the neighborhood had to offer, then pretty much made their own version.  I suppose it can be hard being a grocery store with a big dream of becoming a restaurant. I mean, it’s fucking mad genius on their part, they don’t have to worry about distributors jacking up prices, they just buy from themselves.  They have had prepared foods for decades, and recently added their “Market Grille” concept to their existing stores, blah blah blah.  Whatever. The grocery selection is just ok.

I’ve shopped there three times, by bike, to check the place out, and was only left hanging on a few items. Their Vegan selections are decent, and the produce section is probably the standout section of the store. It takes about 4 minutes to get there from my house by bicycle. It’s convenient and close. The bike parking is lackluster, but it works. I’m not happy with how the businesses of the area have been treated by the Hy Vee corporation, but it’s kind of a grocery store and frankly I’m tired of writing about the goddamn thing.

Rep Local. Shop Wherever.

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Breaking News: Judged Worthy By Food Critics.

well, AMAZING TENS, it’s been a good long while since we have shared screen to screen moments.  When our eyes meet over the same words at different times…it’s like a deliciously delayed serendipity.

A lot has happened in the cook’s life over the last tens of months, I worked my buns off at cooking instead of making up words and ended up opening my own restaurant in the lovely East Village of the most amazing town west of the Mississippi and east of the Missouri, Des Moines.  Things are going swimingly so far (we are only just over a month in), and we have received our first few PRINT REVIEWS FROM FOOD CRITICS.  This is a moment I have been pretty nervous for, as some of you know I have been less than forgiving towards the writers of food article type things.  I sat in anticipation, knowing that my restaurant is doing things NEARLY up to my standards (if you are doing things right as a chef/owner/kitchen cat herder the nothing is going to be up to your standard…because of obsessing and raising the mental bar every day.), and also knowing that I have potentially upset a number of people who would be finally maybe writing/judging my true body of word, Tacopocalypse.  Turns out, either I am a little paranoid about the whole food reviewer thing (duh), or my crew is really doing the job that I am perceiving that they do.  Probably both.  All reviews have been very kind and positive at this point.  Thank you, we have truly worked hard to make sure that the dining experience is top notch for every person walking in the front door.  I know it’s all about personal perception, and the persons perceiving so far have been very happy.  Thank you, again.

Here’s the thing about personal perception: It’s personal.  Every single individual sees similar situations in slightly (or wildly) different ways.  Creating an experience that keeps a majority of the poplulace is a challenge because of this.  What keeps one happy can ultimately infuriate the next.  It’s some really frustrating shit, the kind of frustrating shit that birthed that keeps restaurant folk on their toes and continually aging faster than the rest of the populace, the kind of frustrating shit that caused this blog.  It’s the kind of shit, that if you encounter it for a long enough period of time, you might start finding the humor rather than the stomach grinding pain of it all.

Thank you to all who have visited my new restaurant and have elevated it to a level of medium-ish success with your shining faces, and especially to you critics…I hope that you come back and continue your positive personal perception of what we here are doing.

You know what, I might just start writing this blog again.  It feels good.  Just hope it doesn’t get me into any trouble…hahaha.

 

The Cook



Whine me, Dine Me?
2012/07/07, 2:16 am
Filed under: Dining Tips

Tens,

One thing I am officially over is this: people who constantly whine about what Our Fair City doesn’t, in their opinion, have to offer as far as dining options.  Why don’t these people either do something about it, find something close to what they are looking for, or just move to the city/country they deem the benchmark of culinary cornucopism?

Because that would be too easy.  The DMZ is growing, and we are seeing the next generation of food leaders start to mold the dining future, a future that could include whatever it is that you are waiting for.  Eat, follow, or get out of the way.

The Cook.



Baby Boomers RIP.
2012/04/29, 9:20 am
Filed under: Local Food Commentary | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I really hate to see good local businesses close their doors. Tom and Rodney Maxfield, owners of Baby Boomers in the East Village have declared today to be their last day in business, and not for financial reasons but for the simple fact that the last 7ish years of running a restaurant has been tiring and they are ready to move on.  I totally understand that sentiment, but it is a sad day for those of us who will miss Tom and Rodney and their giant omelets, great pancakes, and fun (most of the time) staff.  They became famous nationally when the Presidential person and his family fell in love with their chocolate chip cookies (which they will continue to produce and sell), but what they are known for is a great breakfast and lunch spot where you can have some privacy (I hid in a corner and wrote many posts for this blogular device at their location) or to run into friends and public figures.

I will miss BB’s, Tom and Rodney, and their staff.  I had some good times at your restaurant, thank you.  I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

The Cook.



It’s Not Nearly Over…The Foodmare Continues

Okay, a few of you yesterday spoke your minds regarding my thin threat that I will no longer be posting “things” here at Locally Grown.  I was half full/half empty of crap in stating that due to a change in subject matter that I may not continue to publish this blog. After minutes of deliberation it has been decided that I will continue on with LG, but with a focus on the original intended subject matter: Local food, farmers, markets, chefs, and a little news from around the world.  The rants will also continue, and I know that you tens are most happy to hear that your angry “bi-polar” cook will still be educating the A-Holes of the world how to tame their inflamed dining sphincters.  So, with that said, we will be seeing each other soon with a little report about one of the most important entities within our DMZ, the Downtown Farmers Market and some news about a certain cook’s campaign to be on the show Chopped.

I will leave you with this, a video of the band Tacocat playing their song “Bike Party” which combines four of my favorite things: Cats, Tacos, Bikes, and Palindromes.

Come one, Tens, I couldn’t just leave you all.  It’s been too much fun over the last few years.  Smooch!

The Cook.



Writing About The DD Is OVER.

Well, Tens, it’s been almost a week now.  A whole week without the non-rythmic word stylings of the Artist Formerly Known As The Datebook Diner.  A whole week which we learned that she will still indeed be writing for the Register, albeit on a monthly basis, and that she will continue to milk her Register-hosted blog for all its cook book marketing worth.  I also learned that she will be acting as a server at the newly-taken-over Proof restaurant in the Western Gateway.  Incredible, I can’t wait to have her wait on my table.  I am sure the service will be French-tastic.

whatevs.

Tens, I am here to call the whole thing off.  We have had a good run with Winni as our main subject here, and I am thankful for my friends who slip little notes into my email in-hole early in the morning to tip me off to her…things she does.  I know that the fun contained within the digital confines of this blogular entity has been lost on her for about two years, she doesn’t return my tweets or comments ever, and I am sure that if we were to actually run into each other in public she would either ignore me or give me that “whatevs” look.

Sure, in a movie about the Datebook Diner I would cast Kristin Stewart, And The Cook would be a hybrid shiny vampiristic wherebear who was her sidekick, kinda like a really fucked up Chewbaca. They would argue constantly because The Cookbaca would always substitute olive oil for butter, which isn't very French.

And that is fine, I have earned that look (even if it actually comes from Kristin Stewart) but I would rather meet up with Winni and have this kind of situation transpire:

This is a better, more peaceful, scenario in which I would like to encounter the Artist Formerly Know As The Datebook Diner.

With all of that sort of said, I think that ragging on the AFKATDD is OVER.  Winni, if you are out there, I leave you to market your super amazing cook book and spread the French in peace.  It’s been a great time witnessing and reacting to all of the…stuff…over the years but it is time for this Cook to move on.  Enjoy your not really new life doing pretty much what you were doing before, with the addition of pretending you are a restaurant worker (I did think your old waitress picture was damn adorable), and you can continue ignoring what I write because it…well…I will probably just retire this blog.   So, farewell, see you down the road.

The Cook



Finally, A Properly Titled Book About Amateur Food Writing
2012/04/12, 3:25 pm
Filed under: restaurant reviews | Tags: , , ,

This month Wiley Publishing will be throwing down yet another “For Dummies” title aimed towards a group of people whom feel the need to share their views on food.  “Food Blogging For Dummies” (how appropriate considering the average food blog is well below average) will drop April 17th, and if you are a current or aspiring blogger it should be worth a look, especially if there is a chapter entitled “For Those Without Service Industry Experience: Please Stop Acting Like You Know What It Is Like” or a chapter entitled “How To React To A Bad Restaurant Experience Without Looking Like An Asshole,” a seriously needed class for the layman food blogger.  Below is a link to Eater Nationals write up on the book.

http://ny.eater.com/archives/2012/04/eater_book_club_17.php

The Cook