DECEMBER 27, 2016

A masterful presentation transforms butternut squash soup into a tabletop event at Alba.

By Wini Moranville 
These five dishes stand out as the most memorable amid a year of many good times at local tables.
  • Butternut squash soup at Alba: Most butternut squash soups can best be described in two words: bo-ring. Chef Joe Tripp rejuvenates the standby, with spiced pecan butter, squash-seed granola and maple-syrup marshmallows. The dish exemplifies the way Tripp's food melds the familiar with the unexpected in thoroughly gratifying ways. (524 E. Sixth St.;
  • Cheese and charcuterie at Django: On the spectrum between simple-and-sublime and simple-to-a-fault, this plate of well-purveyed delicacies lands firmly in the former field. Lush pâté, artisan cheeses and cured meats arrive beautifully plated with irresistible accompaniments: Marcona almonds, olives, fig jam and cornichons. (210 10th St.;
  • Lamb chops with sweet peas and sweet pea purée at Table 128: While the sweet peas, garden-fresh herb salad and light mint-yogurt accompaniment have all gone the way of summer, take heart, lamb lovers: Whatever Chef Lynn Pritchard does with lamb, he does well, so if you see it on a list of features, snag it! (12695 University Ave., Clive;
  • Pork cheeks at Eatery A: Steer firmly into bistro territory at bar-grill prices: A mere $14 brings you this rich, meltingly tender meat, sparked with a harissa barbecue sauce and served with a bright fennel slaw. (2932 Ingersoll Ave.;
  • Swordfish meunière at Splash Seafood Bar & Grill: Just about any fish tastes great meunière style--that is, lightly flour-dusted, sautéed and finished with a lemon-butter sauce. However, I hail 2016 as the year I discovered that this prep goes especially well on firm, meaty swordfish. (303 Locust St.;
Silent Rivers Projects Win National 2016 Remodeling Awards
Two vastly different Silent Rivers projects - a luxury en suite and a charming hallway bathroom - were honored in 2016 with coveted awards! Photo Essay here. ...  Read More »
Brilliant colors, fanciful figures and equestrian forms are common themes in painter Amer al-Obaidi's recent work, rendered in mixed media on a variety of surfaces.

In each issue of dsm, we profile the intriguing people--artists, educators, philanthropists, fashionistas, entrepreneurs and activists, among others--who help make our community such a dynamic place to live. Here are a few of the people whose stories we especially enjoyed sharing over the past year; click on their names to read more:
  • Artist Amer al-Obaidi, an Iraqi refugee, creates arresting works bold with color and life but also teeming with a sense of frustration, anguish and disillusionment about war and its effects on humanity. His work and his personal story are more relevant now than ever.
  • In one short year, Robert Warren, executive director of Hoyt Sherman Place, has succeeded in re-energizing and revitalizing the entire venue, thanks to his impressive record, sharp vision and determined drive. 
  • Drake and our state universities may grab the most headlines, but over the past 16 years, Kent Henning has brought unprecedented growth to Grand View University. Henning, Grand View's president, has guided its metamorphosis into a vibrant and thriving university.
In addition to these and numerous other profiles, we also visited with some of the city's most well-known leaders and newsmakers for our "How I Got Here" column, for which they shared their life stories and the lessons they've learned. We were inspired by, and excited to share, the compelling tales of Bill Stowe, Roxanne Conlin, Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, Marsha Ternus and Dr. Richard Deming

We promise our next issue, January/February 2017, also will be chock-full of people you simply need to know. Be among the first to get your copy at our unveiling party Jan. 10, 5-7 p.m., at Speck USA, 4100 Merle Hay Road, Suite D.  
Alba's executive chef, Joe Trip, seeks inspiration in Thailand for new restaurant concept.

Joe Tripp will be stepping down as executive chef at Alba on Jan. 1. Tripp told dsm magazine that he leaves for Thailand Jan. 3, for culinary research and inspiration. Upon his return in February, he'll stay on at Alba in a new role as consulting chef.

This coming spring, Tripp and Alba owner Jason Simon plan to open an all-new restaurant concept in another location. Tripp would not confirm the location; however, dsm, with its ear to the ground in all matters culinary, suspects that it just might be the Ingersoll Avenue site long occupied by Bistro Montage. Chef-owner Enosh Kelley's final night at the stoves there is this Saturday, Dec. 31.

Clearly, that space has some good karma. Bistro Montage had a great run of almost 16 years; if indeed the new restaurant concept will reside there, dsm magazine wishes Tripp and Simon an equally long and fruitful tenure. 
The Dirty Rotten Scoundrels bring a retro vibe to rock and to dining.

The Des Moines Social Club's annual New Year's Eve party Dec. 31 is always a BASH; it's the name of the event and an apt description for a celebration that has three popular bands in the Kum & Go Theater and a "silent disco" in The Basement. Tickets are $30 ($100 for the VIP treatment).

Bands include the retro-rockers Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the jazz-infused Maytags, and a blast of brass from Grand Ave Ruckus. And who doesn't love a ruckus? It lasts from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. For a schedule of BASH entertainment and a list of other activities, click here. You can volunteer to help out here, or get tickets to be entertained here. Either option should be fun. 
The total package: Steve Lippia brings Sinatra sound and style to New Year's Eve.

Had he been immortal, Frank Sinatra would have turned 101 years old earlier this month -- but at 101, Old Blue Eyes wouldn't sound nearly as good as Las Vegas singer Steve Lippia, who performs Sinatra tunes with the Des Moines Symphony Saturday, Dec. 31, a New Year's Eve event that could fly you to the moon.

Sinatra would sell out the Des Moines Civic Center, of course, and it looks like Lippia may, too. Some seats were still available when we checked over the weekend, but no seat in the house will miss a note, from "My Way" to "Strangers in the Night." Noteworthy at this time of year, Sinatra scored big on holiday songs, too: his Top 40 hits included "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Let It Snow, Let It Snow" and "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town." 

Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $35-$110 through  Des Moines Performing Arts and at the Civic Center ticket office. 

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