October 21, 2014
RōCA has taken over the former Sbrocco location on Court Avenue.

Opening Tomorrow: RōCA 

By Wini Moranville 


It's as if Jason Kapela looked Jason Simon in the eye and said, "Game on."

Which is to say, if you love the kind of chef-driven, casual-yet-ambitious food that
you find at Jason Simon's Eatery A, which opened on Ingersoll last spring, you'll
want to try RōCA (Restaurant on Court Avenue). The new venue opens for dinner
tomorrow night.

RōCA has taken over the former Sbrocco location, and the colorful bar, mingling-
friendly high-top tables, and natural light from the open windows in the front have
livened up this place immensely.  


The menu, overseen by managing partner Jason Kapela (formerly the chef and a founding partner of Louie's Wine Dive), offers a mix of shared plates, big plates, flatbreads, spreads and sliders. Craft cocktails are also a major focus, and while it seems that craft cocktails are the focus everywhere these days, Kapela and team not only offer handcrafted syrups, juices and mixers, but also are upping the ante with hand-cut ice-cubes carved from specialty ice ordered from Chicago (check out the saws on display behind the bar).

Highlights on a Sunday night preview visit included escargot served in little Yukon-
gold potato cups, delicate tempura green beans, and an amazing beef stroganoff,
made with short ribs, no less. Cocktails were equally impressive; if you've never had
olive oil in a cocktail, try the "Good Libations" drink. It's an unbelievably rich and
smooth gin- and Cointreau-based sip.

RōCA is at 208 Court Ave.; 282-3663. Check out the restaurant's Facebook page or visit their website to learn more. 


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These caramel apples make the perfect Halloween treat.

Trick or Treat? Definitely a Treat!  

By Wini Moranville 


Whether you're hosting a Halloween party or you know some trick-or-treaters who deserve something out of the ordinary, you'll want to check out these luscious caramel apples from Chocolate Storybook.   

Each starts with a crisp, tart Granny Smith apple, which gets covered with caramel, chocolate and a variety of nuts, candies or other treats. Throughout October, the store stocks three varieties: traditional (with caramel, milk chocolate and white-chocolate drizzle), pecan and toffee. A snowball apple--with white chocolate and coconut--will be available until Christmas.  

However, if you're planning a gathering, you can special-order from among nearly
20 other options. Try M&Ms and cookies-and-cream for the kids, or German
chocolate or sea salt for the adults. There's even a bacon option for the hipsters.  


The apples cost $10.95 to $12.95 each. For a lovely (and simple!) dessert in the coming weeks, serve them sliced with a glass of tawny port.

Chocolate Storybook is at 1000 Grand Ave., West Des Moines; 226-9893. For special
orders, email

Serkan Usta has been artistic director of Ballet Des Moines since 2005.

Ballet Des Moines' New Season 

By Belle Du Chene 


Ballet Des Moines' season will open Oct. 24-26 with three performances of "3 + One: A Triple Bill" at Hoyt Sherman Place.

Tickets are on sale now at the Hoyt Sherman Place box office (1501 Woodland Ave.) or online here. Tickets are $42.50 per person, $27.50 for students. 


The ballet's artistic director, Serkan Usta, created the first portion of the performance, which was inspired by Mozart's "Sonata for Piano and Violin." We sat down with him for a little Q&A about his career at Ballet Des Moines.


What has been the biggest accomplishment for the ballet since it launched?

The board of directors deciding to start a company where we have eight professional dancers, on a 26-week contract, doing three productions every season was a big accomplishment. 


What is the ballet's biggest goal?

We'd love to eventually hire another five to seven dancers and increase the number of productions we do each season.


What is one thing the general public doesn't know about Ballet Des Moines?

That it's a professional company, not a school with a recital. We are a ballet company like you would see in Chicago or New York, with high-caliber dancers producing quality work. 


What has been your favorite moment so far?

There isn't one, necessarily. It's seeing how people get excited about the ballet, educating young audiences and building a better art form every day. 


Showtimes are 8 p.m. Oct. 24 and 25 and 2 p.m. Oct. 26.  Other shows for the 2014-15 season include "The Nutcracker" (Dec. 11-14 at Hoyt Sherman Place) and "The Wizard of Oz" (April 4 at the Des Moines Civic Center).

fyi: Mark Your Calendar 

  • An exhibit by Karen Strohbeen and Bill Luchsinger will open at
    Moberg Gallery Oct. 24 from 5 to 8 p.m. The well-known and -regarded artists combine their love of gardening with photography and digital work to create sculptures, photos and prints.
  • Des Moines Community Orchestra's fall concert with the Des Moines Diversity Chorus will be Oct. 26 at 2 p.min Drake University's Sheslow Auditorium. Conductor Carl Johnson will give a talk at 1 p.m. in Room 204 in Old Main. The talk and concert are free.
  • There's still time to catch "Girls' Weekend" at the Des Moines Community Playhouse, a farce written by local theater veteran Karen Schaeffer. Tickets are $34 for adults, $32 for seniors and $23 for students. Purchase them here. The show runs through Nov. 2.
  • And speaking of Des Moines Community Playhouse, "Hollywood Halloween," the organization's annual costume ball, is Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. at The Temple for Performing Arts. Tickets are $100 ($60 for young professionals), available for purchase here. The fundraiser includes  hors d'oeuvres, drinks, a silent auction, live music and a costume content.

P.S.: Did You Hear? 


After months (maybe years) of waiting, the day has finally come: Nordstrom Rack, the discount version of Nordstrom Inc., will have its grand opening Oct. 24 in the Plaza at Jordan Creek (just north of Dick's Sporting Goods). Fashionistas will want to check out the store's merchandise, which is typically 30 to 70 percent off regular store prices. 

The event starts at 8 a.m. with light breakfast foods and music. Shoppers can also enter a raffle for the chance to win one of 30 gift cards worth $100. One lucky person will win a $1,000 shopping spree. To find out more, follow the store's Twitter account here.
Belle Du Chene is senior editor of dsm magazine.

Wini Moranville, author of "The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day," is a food, wine and travel writer who covers the dining scene for dsm magazine. Follow her at All Things Food DSM - Wini Moranville and catch her food segment on Fridays at 6:40 a.m. on KCWI-23's "Great Day" morning show.

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