Friday, December 2, 2011

Des Moines Dining

In the afterward (aftermath?) of our titanic Tuesday nuptials, we accompanied Kara and Drew on some fine culinary adventures of our own. Let me first say that The Kids brought a fine foodie "Taste of Iowa" wedding gift. A six-pack of Cornucopia Belgian-style beer, a bag of aromatic coffee beans, a jar of black truffle salt from Allspice and a jar of Kara's own homemade apple butter. Awesomeness in a gift bag.

K and I had explored a bit of the downtown edible scene after securing our license earlier in the day when we stopped for lunch at Court Avenue Brewing Company. I sipped on a Pointer Brown Ale, a Southern English-style brown ale while enjoying my Chicken Sandy, made with bacon, swiss and Blackhawk Stout BBQ sauce. Their mug club is clearly a popular one, judging by the 600+ mugs hovering over the bar. This was good fortification for the momentous afternoon.

After the ceremony and a shared glass of Prosecco, Kara and Drew took us to downtown Des Moines favorite Centro. Located in the restored Temple of The Performing Arts building, this is an upscale mecca of Italian inspiration. I had great difficulty choosing among the diverse selections, especially when they are are listed so creatively, as in the Kill Bill Pork Tenderloin Sandwich ("The Five-Pointed Palm Exploding Heart Sandwich"); a cholesterol-challenging meat spectacular. I ordered a Trappistes-Rochefort Belgian Ale to accompany our starters: fried brussel sprouts with Parmesan cheese and truffle aioli and fresh bruschetta with housemade mozzarella cheese. We ravished our dinners of specialty pizzas laden with cheese, wood-grilled salmon with a lemon-caper butter sauce, crispy veal scallopini and Kara's somewhat revelatory (for me, anyway) pan-seared tofu gnocchi. My past experiences with tofu have not exactly been memorable but this was really tasty: sauteed with spicy pepper flakes, red onion, spinach, basil, shallots and garlic, this tofu was surprisingly gnocchi-like. Dessert was the over-the-top celebratory finish...Drew ordered the hazelnut creme brulee and Keith the flourless chocolate torte and both were quite good, but Kara and I ordered Chef George's Marshmallow Sundae. Vanilla bean gelato, chocolate ganache, salted peanuts, homemade brownie and topped with bruleed marshmallow....decadent overkill that was the perfect ending. I now see why Centro was so packed; even on a Tuesday night.

We sauntered down the chilly streets and stopped to check out some of The Pappajohn Sculpture Park, where we were all especially drawn to the Jaume Plensa sculpture Nomade (K and I in the sculpture pictured top left). It would later prove to be fitting that we would be drawn to this sculpture as it was built to reflect on the relationship between human beings and water. Despite the lack of actual H20 in the work of art, the giant white letters are meant to represent cells in the human body, which are 60% water. For K and I, it was a way-cool continuation of our water theme...and way better than the "posing in the womb" idea that my warped mind was conjuring up. We strolled over to the Americana for an after-dinner drink. Their website describes this joint as "an urban restaurant and lounge that celebrates the swagger of the cocktail culture" and indeed, its sleek supper club setting is very cool. We sat in an excellent second-floor location ir order to take it all in and indulged in some creative cocktails; including my Moscow Mule, made with house ginger-infused vodka, CABCO Jamaican ginger beer and lime in a copper mug. Excellent way to end the evening out.

The next morning, we met at local classic Waveland Cafe for breakfast. From the kitschy murals representing the folks who run and work at the Waveland to the slightly-damaged menu, this funky little place is a hoot. The Waveland has apparently been a bit of a campaign stop over the years as there are chalkboard signatures from everyone from John Edwards to CNN's John Roberts from the 2008 political stops. They are actively preparing for the upcoming Iowa Caucus as well, judging by the banners and our C-Span coffee mugs. All of the bells and whistles aren't worth a ring if the food don't sing, though. That, as it turns out, is far from a concern, as our hearty breakfasts were all very, very good. Love the locally sourced bacon, thick, buttery toast and especially my hash-browns topped with melted cheese and filled with jalapenos and onions.

Des Moines will always be special to us for a myriad of reasons; not least of which are the excellent eats.


Anonymous said...

ok 1. The pic of you and keith is amazing and 1. Chef George's Marshmallow Sundae has me literally reeling. How delicious must that have been. You KNOW how I likes me some gelato (which you introduced me to). Facetime was great but you can't eat it LOL~!


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