DEC 8, 2015



The Des Moines Choral Society program ranges from pop carols to religious classics. 

SOUNDS OF THE SEASON
 
Catch the holiday spirit at the Des Moines Choral Society's annual Christmas concert this Saturday, Dec. 12,  at 7:30 p.m. at  St. Ambrose Cathedral downtown, 607 High St. The program includes Christmas favorites and a festive carol sing-along. New this year: The event will include City Voices Des Moines, a music education program for youths. Tickets are $25-$30 ($10-$15 for students), available online at dmchoral.org or by phone, 515-273-5255.
 
Speaking of choral music, kudos to Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble, which this past weekend presented a stellar holiday concert at
St. Augustin Catholic Church. Timothy McMillen, conductor and artistic director, led the choir in performing a stunning program that included masterpieces from around the world. Our favorites included "Pat-a-pan," a traditional French carol; "Nesciens Mater," an eight-part piece by Franco-Flemish composer Jean Mouton; and Philip WJ Stopford's "Ding Dong! Merrily on High." If you weren't there, don't fret too much. Instead, mark your calendar for the group's next performance, Feb. 13 at Hoyt Sherman Galleries, where the choir will present its annual cabaret. Find out more on the ensemble's website.
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The cozy quarters of the Royal Mile are steeped in English pub traditions. 

NEW MENU AT THE ROYAL MILE  
By Wini Moranville 
 
I've always enjoyed the Royal Mile for its true-to-a-T pub atmosphere, but it seems most right in winter, when the parlor-like setting feels especially cozy. On a recent frosty night, this yearning for warmth--and the news that the kitchen had rolled out some new dishes--led me to give the old pub a visit.
  
We tried the tikka masala, a popular dish throughout Great Britain (consider it British-Indian in the way spaghetti and meatballs are Italian-American). This winner brought tender, bone-in chicken pieces--equivalent to a half chicken--in a creamy, complexly spicy sauce, with a side of fragrant basmati rice. One order could easily satisfy two diners, especially if you order a Scotch Egg (a sausage-encrusted hard-boiled egg) as an appetizer.
  
A true Scottish haggis brings a mix of sheep organs, onion and oatmeal stuffed inside a stomach lining; frankly, it would take a lot of single-malt scotch for most diners to choke that down. The Mile offers a tamer (and saner) nod to the traditional dish: In its Haggis Toastie, it keeps the onions and oatmeal, but nixes the organs in favor of a loose-meat mix of ground beef, lamb and chicken. The sandwich was satisfying in a patty-melt kind of way; slather it with English mustard to add a little punch.
  
Other new items on the menu include braised lamb shanks and a beef short-rib pot roast. Remember, too, that you can't go wrong with the bangers and mash, with fabulous homemade sausages.
  
The Royal Mile is at 210 Fourth St.; 515-280-3771. Find the menu on its website.

Wini Moranville is a freelance writer who covers the food and dining scene for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food - DSM Wini Moranville.
Looking for a holiday gift for someone intrigued by business or by local history?
Just sayin'. 

ONE FAMILY'S ROLE IN BUILDING DES MOINES 
 
From City Hall to Capital Square, The Weitz Co. has been building important structures locally since before the Civil War. A new book offers the inside story on the Weitz family and the company they created. Simpson College history professor William B. Friedricks is the author of "Constructing a Legacy," published by our own Business Publications Corp. Inc.

Retired banking executive J.C. "Buz" Brenton, who has seen the inner workings of Des Moines business over decades, described the 312-page book as "detailed and unvarnished," adding, "It tells you how things really happened through thick and thin."

"Constructing a Legacy" (subtitled "The Weitz Company and the Family Who Built It") is available for $20 at local booksellers and at the publisher's offices at 100 Fourth St., in the Old Depot building downtown.
The sounds of the season arrived yesterday in the offices of dsm magazine. That's when carolers from Easter Seals Iowa entered with jingling bells and ho-ho-hoing. After a few festive carols and a round of well-wishing, it was back to work--with a lighter heart.
The Des Moines Art Center's collection of "selfies" ranges from Anthony Van Dyck's etching from the 1600s to Ragner Kjartansson's 2001 video, "Me and My Mother 1."

THE SELFIE, DONE 'OLD SCHOOL' (NO STICK)  

If you think the selfie is a recent phenomenon, consider the Des Moines Art Center's upcoming exhibit "Selfie: Self-Portraits From the Permanent Collection." Opening Dec. 18, it presents self-portraits from the 17th century to the present.

"Selfie" includes works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Anthony van Dyke, Wanda Miller Matthews, Chuck Close, Cindy Sherman, Mauricio Lasansky, Danny Lyon and Graciela Iturbide, none of whom had a smartphone to post images of themselves and friends on the town. They relied instead on paint, chisels, charcoal and other early software.

Today, Instagram has over 225 million photos tagged #selfie, while the word "selfie" has been mentioned in Facebook status updates as many as 368,000 times in a single week. Those stats might give us something extra to consider in how we see ourselves.

The exhibit in the Art Center's Blank One Gallery continues through
April 24, 2016.

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