DEC 1, 2015

Knock winter weather out of your mind with a visit to the ever-balmy Botanical Garden. 

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden has kicked off the holiday season in horticultural style with its third annual holiday exhibition, which runs through Jan. 17. The show features nearly 1,000 amaryllis plants in rotation over the next eight weeks.

The site's horticulture staff curated a collection of 34 varieties of amaryllis imported from the Netherlands and South Africa for the display. 

"We always aim for nontraditional," says Kelly Norris, the garden's director of horticulture. "We try to expose people to new plants and new possibilities, and I think we've accomplished that in a florally forward way in this exhibit."
Building Art in Collaboration with the Client's Design
Love for art glass and custom woodworking was the inspiration for this "build only" project. See how we integrated vivid color and warm wood tones in this craftsman kitchen. ... Read More »
Hold back your inner skeptic; fine milk chocolate and Gouda is a pairing not to be missed. 

By Wini Moranville 
Each holiday season, we bring out cheeses paired with all kinds of things: honey and preserves, crudités, fruit, nuts ... the list goes on. But for this year's entertaining, how about trying something a little more off the beaten path: cheese and chocolate.
Of course, it has to be the right cheese and the right chocolate--and leave it to Gateway Market pro Caleb Campbell, to lead me to the right combo. He had me taste Caro milk chocolate from Spain beside the four-year-aged Pitting Gouda from Holland.
What a revelation! The caramely notes of this hard cheese pair wonderfully with the chocolate. It's like getting a great chocolate-caramel dessert in a totally unexpected (and easy-on-the-cook) package.
What's that you say? You only like dark chocolate? Don't even go there; bitter flavors do not play nice with cheese.      
Besides, maybe you need to get off your dark-chocolate high horse and give milk chocolate another look. There are some amazing ones out there. The trick is finding one with a high percentage of cocoa (which gives the chocolate its creaminess and intensity). Caro milk chocolate is 44 percent cocoa, while many candy bars contain around 23 percent.
"It also has true complexity," says Campbell, "with flavors of hazelnut, coffee and cinnamon, all from a chocolate."
Caro milk chocolate costs $13.99 a pound; Pitting Gouda costs $15.99
a pound. Gateway Market is at 2002 Woodland Ave.; 515-243-1754.
On Another Note:
Next week, I'll be presenting a class on French soups and stews at
Vom Fass
. Why not join us? Details are on my Facebook page.  

OK, we've made it through Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And today? Today is Giving Tuesday--a day to celebrate with generosity. Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday encourages philanthropy ranging from small acts of kindness to grand donations. It has grown through the power of social media, where encouragement is spread and challenges are made and met. Last year, #GivingTuesday brought together 30,000 supporting businesses and agencies in 68 countries and registered 32.7 million impressions on Twitter. Since 2012, research says online giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has increased more than fourfold. To learn more, visit
The NOLA Jazz Band performs Friday in The Basement at the Social Club. 

Last week's Black Friday Jam Session reminded us to pay attention to the Jazz Happy Hour from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. most Fridays in The Basement at the Des Moines Social Club, 901 Cherry St.
This club within a club promotes itself as reminiscent of Greenwich Village circa 1960, "where the vibe is cool and the jazz is hot." Most weeks, the series showcases local and regional performers, produced in cooperation with the Synergy Jazz Foundation. Special events are planned for the first Friday of each month; this Friday, it's The Basement's New Orleans Jazz Party featuring the NOLA Jazz Band. Admission is $5.
Jazz fans should also remember that the jazz club Noce opens Dec. 31 with a New Year's Eve bash. Noce is in a renovated building at 1326 Walnut St. You'll need a reservation. For details, visit
Ian Fleming rocks a stylish fashion accessory of his time, the cigarette holder.


It's an odd combination, but there is a link: Bond, of course, is the legendary 007 creation of writer Ian Fleming. Bond's latest incarnation,
in "Spectre," is scoring big at movie theaters. Less well-known is that Fleming was also the author of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," a children's story that was made into a movie and then into the family musical now playing at the Des Moines Community Playhouse. Fleming wrote the story for his young son while recuperating from a heart attack. "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" runs through Dec. 20. For tickets and details, visit

Sages Over 70 - 2015

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