Locally Grown

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.


The Datebook Diner Retires….
2012/03/08, 3:39 pm
Filed under: restaurant reviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

Dearest Tens,

I regret to inform you that the most popular person featured in this blog is stepping down from her food reviewing post to concentrate on other Frenchness.  I mean endeavors…  In true DD style, I will just repost her words for you.

From the Des Moines Register Datebook Diner Blog from March 6th, 2012:

I’m Ready to Pass the Plate!

9:04 AM, Mar 6, 2012 | by W.E. Moranville |
A few weeks ago, I visited a class of third graders to explain the ins and outs of restaurant reviewing. Kids ask the cutest questions, such as, “Has the food ever made you barf?” (For the record, no.)

At one point, after I had mentioned that I had been writing the column for 14-plus years, one kid raised his hand and asked, “So, when will you stop being the Datebook Diner?”

Interesting question. But what it reveals is that even a third-grader sensed that 14 years was a really long time to be doing this job.

And he’s right. In fact, I’d been thinking it was time to move on for a little while now. While it’s hard to give up a gig that combines two things I love to do (eat and write), it’s time for me to—in the lingo of people who move on from jobs—“pursue other opportunities.”

As much as that sounds like a cliché, it’s true. I’ve recently published a cookbook (The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day), and I need to continue in my efforts promoting that and possibly following it up with another book.

I also want to focus on more healthful dining, both in my career and my personal life. And let’s face it, that isn’t easy to do when you’re the restaurant reviewer—it’s not the focus of most restaurants.

Finally, I simply think it’s time to let someone else give a fresh perspective on the restaurant scene.

My last review will run next month.

It’s been a pleasure.


There you have it, folks.  WEM managed to squeeze in a few jabs about how long she has been subjected to the grueling lifestyle of a food reviewing person, pimp out her new cookbook in yet another Register forum, throw a subtle punch about how unhealthy it is to dine in DSM (damn portion sizes) ,  and then claim that she thinks it’s time for someone else to bring a fresh take on the scene.

Who should that be?  Any ideas?

Winnie, we are going to miss you here at Locally Grown.  In fact, we may have to change our whole format back to what it was intended now that you are not going to be around…especially Ace Editor Bathory (here’s a picture for old time’s sake)

Gonna Miss Mew.

Next month will be her final review.  I hope there is at least one during that time that is worth an old school picking apart.  Keep your fingers crossed.

The Cook.


Why Tigers Love Pepper, Especially On Val-Day

Happy Day To Spend Money On Someone Who You Hang Out With!  We of the Restaurant Industry love this day sooooo much.  So much.  We appreciate your business.  We appreciate your easy going attitudes and low expectations on this day.  The greatest part of the end of the Holiday Season in restaurants is the Last Holiday, Valentine’s Day.

Let's hope you didn't get this card from anyone this year.

We here at Locally Grown hope that you and your loved ones enjoy wherever it is that you choose to eat your prix-fixe choice of Steak, Chicken, Shrimp, or Pork.  May your evening end with some sort of chocolate dessert incorporating something heart shaped.

See you tomorrow for some actual posting, if we all make it through this, the most *cough* romantic of holidays.

The cook

Defection, Deflection, Datebook Dissection aka Wini-Gate

Note: This post was originally written on Thursday, but due to time constraints was not finished or posted.  I am including the original post, but more of the story has unfolded…so now this is happening:

Wini-Gate part 1

Being inside the kitchen-sphere gives one a great insider view into the hearts and minds of those who have decided that they have what it takes to please the palates of the eating public.  One of the common complaints from these hard working owners and chefs, after bad customers and slow business, is the dreaded Restaurant Reviewer.  Cries of foul play, unfairness, favorites, and the like can escalate into the more-popular-than-you-would-think “well, if I see that so-and-so come into MY restaurant, I will just tell them to leave.”  This is a comment that is generally prefaced by much drinking or similar shenanigans, and is always a tough talking empty threat…until now.


La Mie Owner Joe Logsdon ended what could be hundreds of years of threats of denial towards Reviewers this week with the shocking treatment of our very own Datebook Diner.  DD and her Husband attempted to enjoy dinner at La Mie (Now that La Mie has purged itself of Le Jardin, which was a restaurant which served dinner in the La Mie spot and was owned by former Grand Piano Bistro chef Tag Grandgeorge), when they were met with the Brick Wall of Denial from Mr. Logsdon.  To get the inside story on what happened you should read DD’s account of the event. My truncated version is this:  Winni and her husband showed up very close to closing time, were met by owner Logsdon, and were turned away.  I, for one, and pretty shocked at this brazen denial of not only someone who would like some food, but someone who’s opinion on food is generally trusted by the general public.

But does the general public (that means you) need to rely on the opinion of a few professional foodies, or are we ready to trust our digital peers?

Added Friday, Dec 3:

There has been much dicussion/argument regarding Wini-Gate as to who was right or wrong in this situation and I firmly stand on the side of Mr. Logsdon.  I know that those of you who follow me on twitter were treated to a “you don’t know the whole story” while trying to argue for the DD’s valor, and I am sticking to my story.  I WILL share the other side of this incident when and if I speak to the guy who reached down, grabbed his stuff, squeezed a little, and felt that pain that lets you know that you have cajones to fly that Mission Accomplished flag, Joe Logsdon.  Joe, who may go down as a hero to anyone out there in the industry who wanted to treat their local food critic to a little bird watching.

Anyhoo, i suppose I should go earn a real living at my actual job.  This will earn you all a special Saturday edition of Locally Grown, as we aim to stir the turd in the punch bowl until it is properly incorporated in the punch party we call the DMZ Dining Scene.

The Cook

Ban Thai, Banh Mi, and BLACK FRYDAY!!!!!

Here it is, the yin to T-day’s yang, the number one shopping day of the year and the most ironically placed “holiday” on our current holiday calendar (A day of thanks followed by a day of trampling strangers in the name of greed or giving).  I know that most of you celebratorians of the Turkey probably think that whatever you ate yesterday will carry you through the rigors of draining your holiday savings today, but you are kinda sorta wrong.  At some point today you are going to feel a little bonk from all those laps around Mal-Wart waiting for those timed specials to drop and you are going to need some real food.

Black Friday Post-Thanksgiving Meal Group Depository

I urge you to either stop in at a local eatery for a bite of lunch or a small snack, or to pack a sandwich or similar portable item to take with you along the road to bargain shopping.  I know, this is all information you could have used YESTERDAY.  I understand.

With all of that said, I hope that if you are out in the Thunderdome we call Black Friday you are being safe and exercising compassion towards others.  I have already read via Twitter of a few people being trampled early this morning and of security guards having to use force to keep crowds in check.  Come on, people.  Even though this is a tough time for finances and you want to get the most for what dollars you have to spend, don’t drive up health care costs by injuring other people.  Next thing you know the Insurance Industry will recognize the danger of Black Friday shopping and require special insurance coverage for just that day, sort of like flood or fire insurance.  Then saving a little money off your LCD TV turns into more national debt, as the less fortunate who are currently receiving Medicare or Medicaid will benefit most from the sales on Black Friday, but the government will have to pay a higher premium to insure those people for said day.  It’s not that far fetched, and my speculation here put into the wrong hands may be the butterfly effect that pushes this insurance nonsense forward.

But I digress.

This year our Lovely Datebook Diner, formerly known here as She Who Shall Not Be Named, compiled a list of restaurants which have closed during her twelve year tenure at the super awesome Des Moines Register.  Since that list was released, so were a few more eateries released from the hands of their owners.  One of the closings that has been buzzing on my Twitter Feed (sounds like a very inappropriate gathering) is the closing of none other than Ban Thai (normally I would list the contact info here, but they are closed), a Thai restaurant in the southern quadrant of the DMZ’s East Village.  I used to frequent this spot often, and have a really wicked scar on my left leg from a bicycle accident/failed attempt to make it to Ban Thai in time for lunch service.  I never did make it there for lunch that day, and now there will forever be a void where those vegetable spring rolls once occupied.  Rumor has it that the food had gone way down hill over the last few months before its final demise, and I had noticed the parking lot growing emptier during my travels through that neighborhood.  The owners had been shopping around for a new location (rumor has it that it was to be located in a vacated 4th street dining spot), and some people had been trying to sell off the Ban Thai business for about a year.  Well, all problems aside, you are missed, Ban Thai.  Sorry you had to make “The List.”

Another rumor has dropped that A-dong (1511 High Street,Des Moines, IA 50309 515-284-5632) has decided to throw their hat into the Banh Mi circle.  You may remember this Vietnamese sandwich from such moments as the Banh Mi Craze of Summer ’10, and from numerous articles written by your various food critics (and myself).  A-dong will be selling these happy little sandwiches in to-go form only from a cold case.  I am really excited to see what the A-dong Banh Mi will entail, I have been a fan of that place for years and pass by it every day on the way to Cafe Di Scala, where we have been known to devour our share of Banh Mi.  Banh Mi.  I am not sure when A-dong will officially drop their sandwiches, but rest assured you will be kept posted.

OH yeah, I still haven’t wrapped my tiny brain around how to address this Relish issue.  Maybe Monday.

Well, folks, I am off to Iowa City for the weekend for some New Pioneer Co-op sandwiches to enjoy the Jingle Cross Rock cyclocross festivities.  Maybe I will see you there.

The Cook


Climbing From The A-hole Hole

After reviewing the last few weeks of sporadic postings, I realized that there is somewhat of an overlying A-hole theme that has crept into this sexy little otter of a blog. All of my posts have sounded like a hyper-cranky Andy Rooney wanna-be has taken over the writing duties. Am I really that mad from the chafe of cockamamie culinary culprits? I think the answer is clear, but should I let this chain of venting turn borderline-obsessive like that whole month of Gateway Market stuff? This revelation was then passed on to my hiatal editor, Bathory, who had this to say…

The Eyes of a Concerned Friend and Editor.


You know, he’s right, I need to just chill out and write about something a little less stressful.  He also has a right to be concerned now that his meal ticket is exerting signs of manic madness.  (You can only get so many cans of Super Supper on a Karaoke King’s winnings, so he has to live off my creative output, like any good editor does)

My latest rants have been oft misconstrued by readers, both human and feline, and while my real talent lies not in writing good, solid articles, but in writing retractions and explanations and basically back-tracking all over the place, I still insist on trying to bring you news in the guise of opinion.  The facts are sometimes colorfully re-arranged or totally skewed/backwards (I referred to SAMOSAS As PAPUSAS ONCE).  Well, now that I have had someone holding my attention for the last twenty minutes (with something better than me just whining about whatever it is I was whining about), I forgot my point.  Shocking.

OH!  The point was that I need to maybe chill out and bring you some real news for a few days.  We will see how that goes.

So without further skidoo, here is your Monday LG News, albeit a day late:

On August 2nd, 2010 from Noon until 1:30 p.m. I will have the honor of holding court with Michael Libbe of daily webcast Insight On Business , where Michael and I will be talking about local food, marketing, and probably local food.  Tune in to hear Micheal every Monday to Thursday at Insight On Business.

Next Friday, August 6th, from 6 til 9 (I like where this is going so far), the Great Western Gateway Al Fresco Dining Event will be held on 15th street between Locust and Grand and will feature ingredients from Cleverly Farms in Mingo, Iowa and a collaborative menu from George Formaro, Tony Lemmo, Carly Groban, and will feature the baristas of Ritual Cafe.  The price is $100 a head. You can read more about it here. I think I just went from 6 to midnight.

What else is going on?  Tuesday, August 3rd will see this year’s edition of National Night Out which you can read about here.  I hear that some local chefs are preparing food for the event to be served at Nollen Plaza.

well, that is your news for now.

I don’t feel right doing the news.  I think talking sh#t may be in order for tomorrow.

that is all for now.

The Cook

Oh, you can follow me on stinking Twitter if you really want to know what I am up to while shirking my write-a-torial duties at @VegChefDSM.

Dining A-holes, You’ve Just Been Served
2010/07/13, 7:09 am
Filed under: Local Food Commentary | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Being a person who is employed in and around restaurants, I have the pleasure/displeasure to have made the aquaintance of many servers.  Servers are people just like you and me, they just make a larger percentage of their living in cash.  In many cases the people serving you are college students, mothers trying to make some extra cash for their kids’ care, people trying to pay their bills and sometimes they are just dudes and ladies trying to make some cash to party on.  Whatever the motivation for this job choice, these are people.  People who, for the love of cripes, deserve to be treated as human beings.

So why do certain people still insist on being assholes to these regular working-class people?

This is to the employers who make their servers pay the customers’ credit card fees, to the rude people who take your frustrations out on strangers, to the demanding customers that can’t seem to grasp the fact that your server may have other guests to attend to, and my personal favorite, the people who call a restaurant to have the phone answerer tell the history of the place or rattle off the entire menu.

Way to be a bunch of A-holes

We of the restaurant industry thank you for frequenting our respective establishments (and to the employers for employing us), but please try using your adult-type manners when dining.

Remember to “Treat your servers as you would have them treat you.”

That is all for meow now (nice try, Bathory)

The Cook