JULY 26, 2016



Cajun-spiced catfish gets a festive presentation at Bubba, opening Thursday.

FIRST LOOK AT BUBBA 
 
By Wini Moranville 
  
I'll say this about Bubba--Southern Comforts: There's nothing like it in town. Sure, it has the high-ceilinged, giant-windowed, exposed-ductwork look of many restaurants housed in historic downtown buildings, but
Christopher Diebel's new soon-to-be hotspot (set to open Thursday), exudes grandeur, poise and polish.
  
Elements of Diebel's native South (he's a son of Texas) charm up the walls in dashing vignettes: a display of framed bow-ties here, a collection of straw rancher-style hats there, a montage of venerable silver platters in the entryway. Presiding over the goings-on in the bar is a portrait of a bonafide southern belle, Diebel's great-grandmother. Comfortable banquettes -- upholstered in a handsome tan plaid worthy of a dapper Southern lawyer's suit -- line many of the walls. Everything about the spot is gracious and gentlemanly, in a fresh and modern way.
  
I attended two preview events -- a lunch and a dinner. Highlights from the kitchen of chef Jammie Monaghan included biscuits and cornbread served with lavender butter and rhubarb jam; meaty crab cakes with a sprightly cucumber-onion relish; sweet-and-spicy Gulf shrimp atop creamy grits; and a glistening Cajun-spiced catfish.
  
Big-food bravura dominates much of the menu, as evidenced by the massive portions of chicken-fried steak, fried chicken and waffles, and a Kentucky hot brown -- an open-face turkey-bacon sandwich smothered in Swiss cheese sauce and broiled. In general, the kitchen seems to be trading on the kind of heft that has made neighbors Django and Malo such popular standbys -- which is to say, this newcomer fits right into the neighborhood.
  
Bubba--Southern Comforts is at 200 10th St; 515-257-4744. More info is available at Bubba's website and on Facebook.

Wini Moranville covers food and dining for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food - DSM Wini Moranville.    
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The history of an abandoned grocery store in Sherman Hills and Silent Rivers' total transformation of this 1920 brick building on the corner of 19th and Center. Read More
Playwright Lorenzo Sandoval's reimagined "Romeo and Juliet" has won high praise and will be presented free at Terrace Hill this Friday and Saturday.

SHAKESPEARE WITH A TWIST 
 
It's been 400 years since Juliet wherefore'd for her young Romeo. It's about time for an update, with a little music and dancing.
 
Local playwright Lorenzo Sandoval's award-winning revision, "Romeo and Juliet: Thrice Told Tales," will be produced on the grounds of Terrace Hill Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30, by the theater company Iowa Shakespeare Experience. The 7:30 p.m. performances are free (gates open at 6 p.m., to claim the best spots), and you're encouraged to bring a picnic, blankets and lawn chairs.
 
Sandoval is artistic director and playwright-in-residence of the company, whose annual Shakesperience Festival produces free outdoor performances, currently at the governor's mansion, where first lady Chris Branstad predicts that either of this weekend's shows "will be a night to remember." 
 
Submitted to a Cambridge University competition called "Channel the Bard," Sandoval's script is one of seven (out of some 300 international entries) cited for special mention by the Cambridge organizer, playwright Diana Risetto.
 
"This play asks the dramatic question, what would have happened if Romeo and Juliet had not died so very young and had gotten married like the rest of us?" Sandoval says.
 
The answer amused Risetto: "I laughed out loud several times during this charming and thoughtful play."
A grilled cheese sandwich is best with a gooey cheese -- but it's never bad.

A NATION OF CHEESE ROLLS INTO TOWN 
 
Your long wait is over! The American Cheese Society's Annual Conference and Competition arrives at the Iowa Events Center this week. More than 1,200 cheese and specialty food professionals are expected for the seminars, competitions and cheesy revelry. 
 
The Cheese Shop of Des Moines is hosting a free block party tomorrow -- Wednesday, July 27 -- from noon to 4 p.m. on Rollins Avenue., just south of the Shops at Roosevelt. They'll have cheese samplings and other treats, including a beer garden. "Come and meet our favorite national cheesemakers, who will be offering samples," says owner C.J. Bienert.

Then on Saturday, 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 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.

Find details on the American Cheese Society website. And for a better understanding of cheese, in its many varieties, read this article from the current issue of dsm magazine.
Spirits soar in the uplifting atmosphere of each Iowa Arts Summit. The next one is Aug. 5.

SUMMIT CELEBRATES THE ARTS
 
Hobnob with artists, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, non-profit pros and community leaders at the statewide Arts Summit  Aug. 5 at the Iowa Events Center. It's a day of networking, learning and celebrating the arts, including the presentation of the 2016 Governor's Arts Awards.

The Iowa Arts Summit is a bi-annual conference for artists, cultural organizations and communities that seek to enhance the quality of life in Iowa through the arts. Registration is $50 ($35 for artists, filmmakers and students) and can be arranged online here. Questions? Email joseph.piearson@iowa.gov.

A casual opening reception with the Iowa Arts Council is Aug. 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. on stage at Hoyt Sherman Place.

Learn more about recent developments and new plans for Hoyt Sherman Place in this story from the current issue of dsm magazine
Enjoying delicious food with drinks and live music can't mask your commitment to help the Food Bank of Iowa feed the less fortunate. Join Smoke Out Hunger on Sunday.

EAT FOR THE HUNGRY? DO IT SUNDAY 
 
Now here's an ironic concept: Help the hungry by eating great barbecue. With beer, of course, and great music by Brother Trucker. Generosity never felt better. Here's how it works: The Food Bank of Iowa invites you to enjoy the food from local pitmasters Jethro's, Guru, Uncle Wendell's, Captain's, Gusto and Berkwood Farms. It's served with beer from Doll Distributing, plus wine, soda and water.

The whole package is called Smoke Out Hunger, and your piece of it is just $38.50. Want to boost the value? Bring a kid. Children 12 and under are free. All proceeds benefit the Food Bank's work to alleviate hunger.

Join Smoke Out Hunger from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at Brenton Skating Plaza.

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