FEB 2, 2016

Celtic Blue Reserve from Ontario won "Best of Show" at last year's American Cheese Society conference in Providence, R.I. This year, the conference heads to Des Moines. Photo: Misa Me Photography.

By Wini Moranville

Food lovers making summer travel plans might want to schedule a stay-cation July 27-30, when the American Cheese Society's Annual Conference and Competition will descend on the Iowa Events Center. The society expects more than 1,200 cheese and specialty food professionals at the event for educational seminars, competitions and all-out revelry.
Unless topics like listeria, thistle rennet and hazard analysis fascinate you, most of the educational sessions are mainly for industry professionals. However, casual cheese enthusiasts will find major ways to partake, including:
  • A Block Party, hosted by The Cheese Shop of Des Moines on July 27. "We plan to close the street, have a beer garden and invite all of Des Moines to come and meet our favorite national cheesemakers, who will be offering samples," says owner C.J. Bienert.
  • Grand Cheese Tasting and Sale: On July 30, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., the Iowa Events Center's doors swing open for the Festival of Cheese, when the public can sample more than 1,800 American artisan and specialty cheeses alongside preserves, chocolate, wine, cider and craft beer. Cheeses will also be available for purchase at cut-rate prices. Tickets cost $60 and go on sale May 4.
  • A 5K Cheese Run: The race is scheduled for 8 a.m. July 31, a day after the conference ends; proceeds will help support the nonprofit American Cheese Education Foundation.
 Follow details as they unfold on the American Cheese Society website. 
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With motion and emotion, performers with Jessica Lang Dance convey timely themes pertaining to the effects of war. 


New York's celebrated Jessica Lang Dance will perform the world premiere of a work co-commissioned by Des Moines Performing Arts Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Des Moines Civic Center. The piece, "Thousand Yard Stare," sheds light on the theme of war and those affected by it, most specifically veterans. In preparation for the work, choreographer Jessica Lang talked with soldiers to convey themes including injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and arts-based therapies for veterans. Including the world premiere event, the troupe will perform a total of five pieces. Tickets start at $15 at DesMoinesPerformingArts.org, the Civic Center ticket office, all Ticketmaster locations and through 800-745-3000.
"Bistro Night" delivers a fresh approach to French cuisine at popular Baru 66.   
By Wini Moranville

Any night is a great night to visit Baru 66--especially if you're looking for detailed and precise French gastronomy. But if you're craving a more casual, everyday side of French food, check out Bistro Night at Baru.
On the first Wednesday night of the month (including tomorrow night, Feb. 3), chef David Baruthio serves a three-course fixed-price menu. Each Bistro Night menu is anchored by one French classic, such as coq au vin, choucroute garnie or trout amandine. On tomorrow night's menu: garlic spinach cream soup, roasted duck with orange and peppercorn sauce, and for dessert, vacherin glacé--an iced meringue with fresh fruit.
If that all sounds good, there's more to come. "My bistro nights are a prelude to an upcoming adjustment in the menu, which will feature a permanent and evolving classics section," Baruthio says.
Of course, classics in the hands of this chef are anything but standard. I enjoyed January's Bistro Night, featuring coq au vin. Baruthio's version raised the bar on the tried-and-true dish, thanks to a mix of wild mushrooms instead of the usual champignons de Paris (the dreamy French term for the usual white button mushrooms). Tomorrow night, look for a little escargot amid that spinach cream soup, along with--sans doute--other tweaks here and there. Baruthio is one of the most creative chefs in town, after all. He just can't help himself.
The three-course menu costs $35 per person, and includes a glass of wine. Baru 66 is at 6587 University Ave., Windsor Heights; 515-277-6627.

Related: Read Wini's recent article on what Baru 66 co-owner Sara Hill and other local restaurateurs have to say about reviews on Yelp.

Wini Moranville is a freelance writer who covers the food and dining scene for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food - DSM Wini Moranville. 
Carrie Schneider, partial still from "Reading Women" (2012-2014). HD video installation,
4 hours, type-C print. Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche, Chicago.


"Arts & Letters," which opens Feb. 13 at the Des Moines Art Center,  considers connections between literature and the visual arts across various times and cultures. Works from the Art Center's collections will sit alongside generous loans from the libraries of the Salisbury House and the University of Iowa.You'll also see illustrations from noted novels as well as images from familiar biblical stories, Greek myths, fairy tales and fables, with Shakespeare, Goethe, Herman Melville and Lewis Carroll. The exhibit runs through May 1. For details, visit the Art Center's website
For Italian wines, ask Des Moines Metro Opera if the labels are available with subtitles.


Des Moines Metro Opera will pop the cork on its annual Wine & Food Showcase fundraising event Feb. 19, at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown. Enjoy tastings from more than 40 wine, beer and food vendors. Or be a high roller in the VIP Club with its own fine wines from private collections and food prepared by renowned tenor Taylor Stayton. Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door ($100 to rock the VIP Club). Call 515-961-6221 or visit desmoinesmetroopera.org. 

Count on singing, dancing and a worldly dose of wholesomeness from Up With People.  


Up With People, the 50-year-old showcase of youthful exuberance, returns Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. to launch its 2016 tour. Local families are being sought to host members of the show's international cast Feb. 15-22. We've done it, and it's fun. Contact Karen Leyva, 720-391-7019. Tickets for the performance at Grand View University's Sisam Arena range from $12 for young children to $50 for VIP seats. Click to learn more.

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