Locally Grown

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


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.

News: Tacopocalypse Voted #2 Taco In The DMZ
2011/06/15, 12:18 pm
Filed under: Personal | Tags: , , ,

Yes, it is again time for the self tooting of the Cook’s cooking horn, and also time for a break the normal bitching emanating from this sexy otter of a blog.  You may remember my last post from this week where I was whining about not being chosen to take part in the DSM Magazine (or DMZ in our hearts and minds) Top Competition-ular Contest.  I wasn’t so much searching for validation within the confines of some cooking competition dreamed up and executed by most likely non-chefs (or as they like to be called, foodies), but looking for some sort of response as to how I could have been left out when I was assured by my tens of fans that they had all voted at least one time for their favorite chef (me).  Well, no official response was received BUT TODAY a little validation floated down the information pipeline.

Tacopocalypse, my vehicle for putting food in front of Des Moines’ mouths, was voted by the readers of Juice/Metromix as the #2 taco in the metro area (or DMZ).  You can read my post over at Tacopocalypse.com for more details.

Yeah, but can you make the #2 taco in the DMZ? We Can.


Thank you, Tens, for making this year an amazing time for this bearded human.

The Cook.


News! (Kirkwood Lounge, Bacon Fest, Chef Groben)

The question of the day around my brain is this:  What the heck is going on at Locally Grown?  Has focus been un-focused?  What happened to all the updates and pissing-off of other people who mint words attempting to describe what the food world feels like from the standpoint of the old “hand in the bag” what’s that object trick?  Here is a partial answer/cop/out:  I am busy.  I have been busy working a few jobs (because as crazy as it may seem I don’t make a living from being a non-anonymous interweb scribe), and the new job effectively fills almost all of the hours previously allocated to entertaining you, my Faithful Tens of readers.  What is going to be done about this problem?  More coffee, less television, and less laying around on the couch.  This is my pledge to you.

So many subjects have been flying past my eyes…so many things to snark at.  So many laughable happenings which would undoubtedly tickle your morose funny bone.  Today, though, we start with baby steps.  Yes, another edition of Locally Grown News. Or as I like to call it:  something to write about instead of being creative.

The Kirkwood Lounge Will Be Opening In The Next Few Days

Yes, according to my sources (which for this blurb is the Craigslist Help Wanted Ads), we are about to be clobbered by a new-to-the-DMZ concept, the Gastro Pub.  The Kirkwood Lounge, occupying the former Azalea space at 400 Walnut Street, will be the first restaurant to officially claim the moniker “Gastro Pub.” (Note: a Gastro Pub is a bar/meeting house which generally carries a wide beer selection, a chef-driven drinks menu, and a chef-driven bar food menu which includes twists on bar and comfort food classics.  It is meant as a hang out spot with excellent food and drinks)  Chef Sean Wilson has a new simplified menu of classed-up bar foods, which is indicative of the GP concept, along with a drinks menu, beer, and wine.  The new concept is a much more casual venture than Azalea, but the inclusion of Wilson should assure diners and loungers that the food quality will be at a similar level.  Contact the restaurant to inquire about the actual opening date, I do not have that information right now.

Blue Ribbon Bacon Fest Kicks Off Next Week

The Universe’s Ultimate Ode to Bacon, Blue Ribbon Bacon Fest is set to kick off next week, including a number of events such as Bacon Taco Happy Hour on Monday, Bacon Elegance Dinner on Wednesday, and the Big Daddy,http://www.blueribbonbaconfestival.com/blog/ Bacon Fest on Saturday.  Click on the links for more information (the Bacon Taco Happy Hour features Tacopocalypse Tacos made by me, your humble cook)

Carly Groben Of Proof/Flour Up For Best New Chef Award

Carly Groben of Proof and Four restaurants has been nominated for Food and Wine Magazine’s “People’s Best New Chef, Midwest” award.  I encourage you to vote for Ms. Groben, and so does F&W (one of the qualifiers for voting is that you have dined at the restaurant of the chef you have chosen).  Read through the blurbs for each chef, there are some real characters up for the win, but there is only one character from Our Fair City nominated and I expect you to support the local scene and give her your vote.  I already cast mine.

Cityview Best Of Awards Gala and Announcement Next Week

Weekly free-press Newsertainment mag Cityview conducts a yearly reader poll to recognize what the people of the DMZ have deemed as the Best Of Des Moines.  The time has come for the results of this year’s poll to be un-sheathed and weilded mightily around the personal spaces of the general public.  The Gala (invite only, you have to be named in the top three runners for a category to attend) will be held Tuesday night, with the following day seeing the release of the printed poll results to you, the reader.  I am proud to say that a certain restaurant in which I cook has been nominated for no less than seven awards, and that I will be at the Gala.  I will take notes and share the experience with the tens of you reading this blog.


Tens, I hope that you continue being patient with this here alleged writer and cooking machine.  I have many reading pleasure units for your faces, just need to find the time to get it all out in the open.


The Cook

Hello, Friday. Some Local News.

Good morning to all of you out there with the free time in which to partake in some inter-oggling of some more news type things.

This Saturday you will have the opportunity to hear myself and Cafe Di Scala/Gusto Pizza owner Anthony Lemmo on the radio show of George Formaro, Kitchen Insider.  We will be talking about local food and dining (shocker) and the GRAND OPENING OF GUSTO PIZZA (which you can read about in the next paragraph).  Tune in to 99.1 FM or listen from the KFMG webular site at 10 am this Saturday morning.

Yes, the moment has finally arrived.  After much anticipation, Gusto Pizza is officially opening this coming Monday, January 31st at 11 am.  I have been to the location at 1905 Ingersoll Avenue…it is a great looking spot.  I have had the pizza, I love it.  Come in Monday and see an all star opening crew, including Mr. Lemmo, Chef Phil Shires of Cafe Di Scala, and your favorite Cook, me.  It will be a glorious day of pizza, pranks, and hilarity.  See you there.

The TACOPOCALYPSE is upon you!  Saturday night from 5 until 7 I will be serving my sort-of-well-know tacos as part of the Central Iowa Trails Association get together at All Play in downtown DMZ.  Get all of the information at the CITA Facebook Site.


Well, that isn’t all of the news we have to talk about, but somebody has to mount a bike and ride to work.  Don’t forget to partake in all of the fun this weekend and Monday.

The Cook.


Yet Another Manic Monday

Here it is, the day that is celebrated around the world as being the one day of the week to not celebrate.  What used to happen around these parts when the Un-celebrate-able showed up on our doorstep in that cute little basket with a note stating that it is our duty to tend to Little Orphan Monday, was a report on the news.  I think it is about time we continue that tradition by talking a little about an upcoming tradition, and some presently-forming traditions, and a little smidge of news.

“Here are some blankets for those Turkeys, mister Native person. They look awfully cold.”

Now, I don’t know what “historical” account of what went down between the Natives of what came to be North America and their pasty white devil guests you believe, and I don’t really know what to believe either as the IRS wasn’t around to require the “pilgrims” keep track of their receipts and Facebook wasn’t around to record the status updates of all parties involved.  I am also not entirely sure what significance the Turkey had on the original ‘Uh…Thanks for Giving us this Stuff” meal, but I would bet all the buckled shoes and goofy hats in all of history that none of what we have been taught is historically factual/accurate.  Since everyone has their own version of this lovely holiday story, I thought I would relay to you, the Faithful Tens, an abridged version of MY favorite story of Thanksgiving and the significance of the Turkey in all of this history stuff, as told to me by a very intoxicated friend who we will refer to as uh, Burt.

Burt wasn’t there for the first, as he calls it, “Turkey Holocaust Day,” but he thinks that the Wild Turkey he has been imbibing has given him some historical insight that those of us not holding the Shot Glass of Knowledge just wouldn’t get.  Here is Burt’s story:

Some a-holes from Europe decided to float their boats toward China but the dumbasses didn’t know that America was in the way.  A lot of people say that they left Spain or England or whatever so they could practice their religion, but that’s a load of crap.  Who loads up a bunch of boats and people for a million mile trip when they could just move to France, where nobody gives a shit about anything but butter and cream anyway.  I say they were just bored rich people like those teenagers who decided that they would try to sail around the world until their parents were like “oh no you aint” and the courts agreed and there were a few failures.  It’s amazing what bored rich people are capable of.  So they got in their fancy boats and went for a trip.  They landed here, and met some Indians who were like “oh, these guys don’t have cool red beards and fancy animals carved on their boats [I think he is talking about the Vikings at this point], they look awfully uptight and probably need to chill out” so these Indians, you see, have the peace pipe and they offer it to the Pilgrims and they smoked.  The pilgrims, used to “snuff” and uppers got really high and paranoid.  They asked if the Indians had any snacks, and were like “hey, you don’t look like yer from China.”  The Indians brought the Pilgrims some potatoes and berries and gave them directions to their “guy” in case they needed the hook up later.  The Indians went about their business, but the Pilgrims were high, paranoid, and freaking out.  So they gave them Smallpox.  Not a very cool trade if  you ask me…hey, can I get another shot? So anyway, the Pilgrims start taking out these Indians like they were all gangsta.  They were doing some real damage, then decided to take over the whole country.  Most of the Indians moved away from the East Coast because the hostile ass Pilgrims were always acting up, this is also why the East Coast is so much more hard core than the West Coast.  It was the pilgrims, man!  The Pilgrims then started killing turkeys.  The TURKEYS are a symbol of the Indian.  That’s why we can’t eat the Turkey man, it’s totally racist.  We should only DRINK the turkey. Then the Pilgrims got into a big war with the French over some shit that wasn’t theirs in the first place, totally a white man thing to do, and shit they should have just moved to France to begin with and taken over France.  Then maybe Paris would be New York City and America would be safer.

Thank you, Burt, for your amazing telling of the first Thanksgiving.  I feel as though we all should have been wearing buckles on our shoes and hats for that one.  Burt may be full of crap and Wild Turkey (I honestly thought he would pass out right after that last shot, before the France Rant), but his version brings up some very good points.

  1. America is not China.  Fact.
  2. History, no matter how factual, is still very subjective.
  3. Turkey probably wasn’t served at the first “Thanksgiving”
  4. There was a land dispute between the colonies and the French.
  5. Bored Rich people can come up with some stupid things to do with their money.
  6. The Native Americans gave the Pilgrims food that they had gathered LOCALLY.

That’s right, no matter what the real story surrounding this Novemberly holiday encompasses, the real reason to celebrate is this

The Natives of our continent ate locally, as we should.

That’s right, everyone.  Whether you rock the turkey or the tofurkey, this year make it a point to give thanks for the real bounty produced by your local farmers and livestockists.  Am I going to give you all the resources to contact the sources for this Locs-Giving feast?  No, as a local news person has been working on an article about said subject and I am pretty sure all of you are going to read said juicy article when it drops in your local orange colored news stands.  I think she has a good start and look forward to seeing what she has to say.  Seriously.

On to the News…

Taco Bike, oh Taco bike.  Two weeks ago the Des Moines City Council passed a new set of rules for food carts.  New rules state that food cart vendors can not operate between the hours of 1:30 am and 5:30 am due to drunk people.  The DMPD claims that the one or two food carts that set up in the 4th and Court district are causing drunks to fight, and that it is too much of a strain on the city to police these trouble-makers.  Ok. The food carts serve food, not alcohol.  The food carts do their business serving drunks like anyone else, but BETTER because they are on the street and can see/look out for people who are passing by or eating.  They have more control over their crowds and have more of a reason to control what is going on with the drunks in front of their stands than the other store front businesses in the area. The Food Carts do not manufacture drunks, the bars do.  Food carts don’t make a society full of pushy, macho assholes, society does.  Food Carts don’t cause traffic congestion, especially on 4th street where traffic is pretty minimal, drunks stopping in the middle of the street to “holla at their bros” do.  Food Carts don’t cause more Police off-duty overtime, drunks do.  Food Carts aren’t the only reason people have to interact socially outside of store-front businesses, the smoking ban causes quite a bit of sidewalk run ins with drunks and aggro homeless peoples.  This all reeks of some business owner (I suspect the initials TF are involved) getting upset and claiming that the food carts are “stealing their business,” (a similar cry that caused the stunting of our Food Truck revolution) then the Powers That Be make up a story that is full of speculation and about as air tight as my buddy Burt’s account of Thanksgiving’s historical roots, causing a quiet vote and rule change.  Or maybe I am just paranoid as a Pilgrim…  At any rate, you can read about it here at the Des Moines Register site and here at Eater PDX (thank you, DMZ City Council for causing Portland to say it “Sucks To Be You, Des Moines”).  You can also watch a spot on the subject tonight on WHO TV in Des Moines at 5 p.m.  It may be time to start taking some action/writing letters.

The Downtown Farmer’s Market is over, aside for two winter markets.

Trader Joe’s is open and is potentially adding to a tradition here in our city, driving small natural food stores out of business.  Don’t forget the little guys.

That’s about it for the news.  Stay tuned for my upcoming Vegan’s guide to getting harassed at the Thanksgiving Dinner Table.


The Cook


Regulators, Mount Up…For Friday News!
2010/10/15, 9:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Happy Friday!!!  It’s been a heck of a week! Dealing with egos, injuries, and economics has left your Humble-ish Cook a little frizzle fried.  Thank you to all that helped clear the path of BS as we ran the gauntlet called this week, only to land safely and soundly within the boundaries of this beautiful Friday.  In the spirit of NOT pissing in the cheerios of a few of the more sensitive readers of LG, today we will just talk news.

Tomorrow I will be appearing, once again, on George Formaro’s radio show, The Kitchen Insider which airs on KFMG 99.1 at 10 am every Saturday.  Chef Formaro and I will be discussing the local food scene, tacos, and our favorite movies to watch during the run-up to Halloween.  It will, as always, be a good time.

Super Hot Breaking News:  The New Issue of Relish has dropped.  Look for a propper tearing apart of some of its articles next week…

In the “This Is A Huge Blow To The DMZ Food Scene” department:  The heralded Heritage Pork Pride event Cochon 555 will not be returning to Our Fair City for what would have been its third year of showcasing Heritage Pork and Local Chefs.  I have not yet heard back from the event organizers as to why we are being skipped over, but a few inside sources say it is rumored to be directly related to the Meh turnout at last years event.  There is a rumor that the Cochon555 folks have just decided to skip the formalities and directly award two-time winner and Datebook 5-Star awardee Matt Steigerwald of the Lincoln Cafe in Mt. Vernon, Iowa his three-peat.  Just kidding.  I will pass on any more information as it rolls in.  Locally Grown will be traveling to one of the other Midwest cities to cover the event.

As some of you know, I have been working hard at bringing you not only the most inflamatory words and subjects in the local food scene, but also to bring you TACOS that will change your life.  Well, your Taco life.  I have secured a builder for my dream bike, the Taco Bike.  Scott Forscht of Cornfed Customs has agreed to construct this unholy mix of Taco Truck and Bicycle.  Thank you, Scott.  This is exciting news for all you Taco Likers out there who have been making the trip to the Cumming Tap every Tuesday for the Best Tacos You Are Going To Probably Going To Stuff In Your Face, or B.T.Y.A.G.T.P.G.T.S.I.Y.F. as the plan involves me riding around town on The Taco Bike, throwing down tacos for you to chomp.  More to follow…

[I am writing this as Barney is on in the background.  I can’t take it.]

A certain local food critic has declared via the comments section of this little kitten of a blog that this person does not consider Cafe Di Scala a real restaurant, but more of a catering place.  Hilarious.  We at the “not restaurant” have been having a good laugh at your statement, person who I promised via Twitter to never mention again.

Well, Friday is about to get underway.  Time for Me, Warren G, and Nate Dogg to saddle up and regulate.


The Cook