Locally Grown

Hooooly Chow! A Hairy Carry!

Yesterday LG covered the aftermath of what is currently Our Fair City’s “Defining Moment of International Culinary Capacity,” the Adam Emmenecker Sandwich challenge as sort-of-tackled by Travel Channel star and Slop Jockey Adam Richman.  In the end what/who tackled what/who was lost in the fray of yet another ploy to illicit the help of the city’s “Food Press” to further the global acknowledgement of our locavore-istas and the chef-driven local food scene here in Iowa.  We heard from the Food Dude (via my facebook account, you can “friend me” there for more musings.)  regarding his dealings with food television producers, and the Illustrious Datebook Diner, who was as inquisitive as ever.  Let’s see if we can turn back time and find a way to cull forth her comment…(The following is in no way an attack on DD, but since she summed up many good points in her comment, this is happening.)

[rubs magic jaunty light fixture]

La Bonne Femme: Well, maybe there’s an adverse connection between our “gluttonous portion lack of control” and the finesse/precision/creativity of our cuisine. When quantity is valued over quality, bi-coastal food scouts aren’t going to pay much attention.

I see the point, but quantity is valued over quality in every city around the country, in one restaurant or another.  Food Scouts go either to the “Big 5,” NYC, SF, LA, PDX, CHI, or to Places Of Interest As Promoted By Said Places Of Interest.  You have to create a “buzz” or “rattle” around your food scene to get noticed, especially in a small market such as Des Moines.  This is where the “credibility” of the actual print press can come in handy, hence the call to um…arms? pens? You get the point.

Also, on the chef-driven local food scene, what can you get here that you can’t find at good restaurants in many places? What makes DSM stand out? Lots of cities in the country lie close to agricultural abundance….

All True, except that Iowa is supposed to be the Agricultural Center of this Tootsie Pop we call America.  How many licks will it take to get to the center? Huh?

it’s what chefs do with the goods that makes news.

Yes, but it is really what the NEWS WRITERS do with the news of what the chefs are doing with the goods that makes a difference.  News is just marketing with a little more credibility in this equation, so get out there and spread the words.  There are chefs that are kicking some culinary ass around here, and they aren’t getting the due that they deserve.  This is a problem.  You can’t get noticed if your head is buried in the sand.  Just ask any ostrich.

Don’t get me wrong–I love the food scene here, but I just wonder what you think would be worth the country’s attention, as in, You HAVE to go to Des Moines to eat at __________.

(I have an answer, but you go first.)

Ok, I will go first.  In fact, the first draft of yesterday’s nonsense-a-thon included a list.  Here is another version of it, in not much of an order:

  1. Alba
  2. Cafe Di Scala
  3. Azalea
  4. Baru 66
  5. The entire Asian Cuisine phenomenon (I realize this is not a restaurant)
  6. Lincoln Cafe

There are many others, but I am on a time constraint here.

Here is MY point:  The writers of Juice, the Register, Cityview, and all other major news outlet type things: Please listen to what I am saying here.  I, along with many local chefs and restaurateurs, implore you to use your influence and maybe a little of your free time to lift up the Food Scene.  Help elevate it to the “next level” by working with other media outlets, in other cities, to form some kind of partnership…and maybe, now that we have our proverbial foot in television’s door, we can let the world know what is happening in the great city of Des Moines.



The Cook


22 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Tell me more about this Asian Cuisine Phenomenon. The others have websites I can check out. Help the new guy out.

The Server

Comment by The Server

Drive to 2nd Ave on the North / East side. North of the post office. Stop at one of the SE Asian restaurants. WIN!

There is a rather large population of Asian folks in Des Moines, specifically, that really rocks out some great food. Most do not have websites, are family owned and have great scratch food.

Go for the food, not “fine dining” or anything really like that. I recommend the Pho Tai at Lucky Dragon, the Thai food at Thai Flavors (on E 14th) and the banh mi at Mi Kong Deli or Lucky Dragon. Om-nom-nom.

Still waiting for a suitable replacement for Pho All Seasons. 😦

Comment by InthewaterDSM

This is a great tip. I agree one hundred percent. There are other spots, but these truly represent.

Comment by locallygrown

I agree. Lucky Dragon is great. Too bad Pho All Seasons is gone, they were great too. Here is a plug for an El Salvador vendor at the Farmer’s Market who serves pupusa. Hand’s down the best I have had to date. Check it out…only in the tent! Farmer’s Market dates are the next location for the near future. Support great food!!

Comment by Marcus Walsh

Marcus, I agree, agree, and agree. I miss Pho All Seasons and their mind-bogglingly good bread. How did they make that bread so good, and out of THAT kitchen? AND THOSE PAPUSAS! I could, if it weren’t considered extremely creepy, just watch those wonderful women patting those perfect pockets of masa all day long (of course while eating papusa). Much respect! And the slaw…I make Cortida every week for my own tacos, inspired by that very vendor.

Comment by locallygrown

Surprised that Baru66 is on that list after your comments on it from a few weeks ago.

Comment by S.Fuller

Well, they ARE assholes butt the food is really that good.

Comment by locallygrown

Dear Locally Grown,
We invite you to come in to discuss the true “facts of the matter” with us, the owners/managers of Baru 66.
Let us know what time works best for you.
-Baru 66

Comment by Sara Hill

Sam, just don’t sit their with your mouth open ready to catch flies, step up and accept the invite already. That is if you really want to know the truth.
You wouldn’t really spread nasty rumors without knowing the truth, now would you?

Maybe you should take a journalism class or two.

Comment by Pat Mearson

You are right this time, Pat. I should take a journalism class or THREE. I have stated before that I am just a lowly cook with spell check on my side, but I am sure with a few classes I could blossom into a REAL BOY, like that ridiculous Italian wooden puppet.

As soon as I make it down the line of comments to Ms. Hill’s, I will accept the invite and report back to you all with the REST of the story. You have no idea how excited I am.

Comment by locallygrown

Do we ever get to hear “the Rest of the story on Baru 66?

Comment by InthewaterDSM

Nope, although it would have been a great opportunity to work my childhood love for Paul Harvey’s use of space and phrasing into a blog post, the story will not be told. At least that’s what a trusted advisor suggested would be the best thing to do in this situation.

I would appreciate it if any further contributions to the comments section of this blog never mentions said restaurant or any of its owners or employees (Other than Chef Leon) or is contributed to by anyone related to said restaurant in any way. I will delete any reference to that place from here on out. That goes for everyone. Try Me.

Comment by locallygrown



Comment by InthewaterDSM

Hey, I’m just saying. I would love to tell the story, but them’s the breaks, kid.

Comment by locallygrown

Did you delete my post? I didn’t mention “said restaurant” by name.

Comment by InthewaterDSM

I did. It was borderline.

Comment by locallygrown

Hehe. Okay, sounds good.


Comment by InthewaterDSM

obviously sam was advised by his lawyer not to spread untrue rumors because he could get in hot water for it. but he still can’t resist suggesting there is some juicy “story” there.

Comment by Chris

Well, I haven’t spread any untruths, Chris. I was advised that I am well within my legal rights under the 1st Ammendment to the constitution, which as a Veteran chose to put my life on the line to defend, and that I should just play nice. That is all. I wasn’t doing anything other than being a jerk. I admit to that. There IS a juicy story, aka how the other party is handling things, but I don’t feel like poking the angry box too much.

Comment by locallygrown

What I REALLY want to know is, why are you posting in regards to “the restaurant that shall remain unnamed” and others are, but you aren’t deleting their posts?

Thought that was unacceptable here. These aren’t even border line, you are obviously talking about them and no where near as general as mine that was deleted.


Happy Friday.

Comment by InthewaterDSM

I am wishy washy. I promise that any reference to ________ will be removed as soon as I find more time to waste.

Comment by locallygrown


Yer killin me.

Comment by InthewaterDSM

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