THE DISH – Honors, milestones, transitions and more

By Jim Duncan

It has been a quarter of surprises, mostly pleasant. Bird flu virus seemed to level off after a horrific first quarter. The percentages of fresh, local and organic foods in American diets rose considerably over previous years. Food trucks made their long-awaited debut in the prime real estate of downtown. The Greek Food Festival expanded dramatically without moving away from their roots at St. George Orthodox Church. (So let it be with others.) Eat Greater Des Moines’ Robot Retail Project won two grants to bring its first mobile, healthy grocery store online. The first store, completely operated by robotics, will bring fresh and healthy foods to an underserved neighborhood (permits pending) in August at MLK and Carpenter. It will be called Oasis 24-7.

The American Customer Satisfaction survey reported that Chik-fil-A is now America’s favorite fast food chain. Chipotle, Panera, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks rounded out the top five. Burger and pizza chains lost much ground in the annual rankings. Texas Roadhouse was the favorite casual dining chain.

The World Food Prize named Sir Fazle Hasan Abed its 2015 laureate. This was a remarkably popular choice as Abed has lived a Gandhi-like life since 1970, empowering nearly half a million of the world’s poorest farmers, particularly women, to find better access to capital, science and technique. He has never invented a genetically modified seed, either.

 

The good news

Super restaurateur Darrin Beck (Barumda Co.) continued his invasion of the metro area (Stuffed Olive, Voodoo Lounge, Jokers) with the opening of Hurricane Grill & Wings in the former TGIF’s building near Valley West Mall. Hurricane is a Palm Springs-based restaurant that has rapidly opened 70 restaurants in 15 states… Whole Foods announced a new chain of low-priced stores called 365 by Whole Foods… Fareway opened a new supermarket on Grand Avenue in West Des Moines. The store has one of the only bakeries in the entire chain… Eastman’s Jamaican Cuisine opened on East 14th Street… Mills Crossing, a new development at 60th and Mills Civic Parkway, announced additions to the project that will be anchored by Fresh Market, a North Carolina-based grocery store. Caribou Coffee will move its West Glen Town Center store, and Einstein Bagels will also be part of the project… Lori Salsby and Tim Ruhnke announced a second store for their Twisted Bean Coffee Company on Merle Hay Road. The new store will seat 100 and have an expanded menu including sandwiches and craft beer… Akylah Johnson opened a gourmet popcorn shop on Douglas Avenue in a former Cherry Berry yogurt space. Popcorn Heaven will offer about 60 flavors geared for weddings, showers, parties, graduations and corporate events… Mike Crownover and Spencer Vandeberg announced an October opening of Lurra Cocina, a 5,000-square-foot Mediterranean and Spanish restaurant on Locust Street Nick Illingworth (Bistro Montage, Flying Mango, Blue Tomato, etc) will be chef… Rails Brewing Company prepped for a September opening in Bondurant… Guttenberger’s American Restaurant opened on University in West Des Moines.


The bad news

Iowa Fertilizer asked the state for $21.5 million to create 11 jobs and to make nitrogen fertilizer, which Des Moines Waterworks is spending $7,000 a day to remove from drinking water… The U.S. House of Representatives voted to end country of origin labels in meats sold in the U.S. The repeal was inevitable after the World Trade Organization ruled that such U.S. laws discriminated against Canada and Mexico. Canada alone was about to enact $3.7 billion in retaliatory trade sanction against U.S. agriculture… The Iowa State Fair announced its new vendor foods for 2015, reinforcing the popular Raygun T-shirt that reads “I went to the Iowa State Fair and all I got was Type 2 Diabetes.” For the record, you will be able to buy: Apple Pie On-A-Stick dipped in a funnel cake batter and apple pie spice, deep fried, topped with cinnamon sugar and served with a side of caramel and three apple wedges; Corn in a Cup with pork sausage, cheese, mayo, butter, lime and spicy “magic” dust; Cattleman’s Steak Fajita Wrap with “traditional” peppers and onions, lettuce, and cheese in a flour tortilla, topped with a chipotle mayo; Deep Fried Nacho Balls of seasoned ground beef, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese rolled in a nacho cheese Dorito crust that is deep fried and served with nacho cheese dipping sauce; Toasted Coconut Caramel Clusters blended with pretzel pieces, and caramel dipped in chocolate and served on a stick; Ultimate Bacon Brisket Bombs with diced jalapenos, onions infused with a pepper cheese and all wrapped in bacon, and served with a sweet and spicy chili glaze; Chocolate Marshmallow Malt Fair Squares; Bruschetta; Deep Fried Cherry Pie; Donut Sundaes; Golden Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly on a Stick; Gluten Free Corndogs; and Kernel Klusters.

 

Honors and milestones

Fareway finished fourth in Consumer Reports’ 2014 Supermarket Survey behind Wegmans, Publix and Trader Joe’s. Hy-Vee ranked 12th on the list… Elizabeth Davis of Davenport won the third annual Supermarket Chef Showdown in Chicago with her original Chinese New Year dish called Yu Sheng Citrus Salad. Davis beat out 300 other chefs. She works at a Davenport Hy-Vee and won $1,000 and an all-expense­ paid culinary trip for two to the Italian Culinary Institute in Calabria, Italy… Chef Mike Booth of Jethro n’ Jake’s Smokehouse Steaks in Altoona won a month-long contest of hot wings sauce makers with his creamy bacon sauce with a hint of bleu cheese… GoodSon’s won the Wing Ding competition… Thrillist released its choices of the worst dishes at every major fast food chain. Among chains with Des Moines outlets: Burger King’s rodeo burger for the redundant use of smoky sauce on a flame-grilled patty; Hardee’s for its Hawaiian teriyaki chicken sandwich; Chick-fil-A for serving a chicken salad sandwich on wheatberry bread; Dairy Queen for its Hawaiian blizzard; Dunkin’ Donuts with “tuna two ways,” which mixed the contrasting textures of croissants and bagels; A&W’s corn dog nuggets; Arby’s turkey farmhouse salads for straying off the company message; both Culver’s and Popeye’s for green beans; KFC for its grilled chicken; Taco Bell’s black bean burrito; McDonalds’ filet-o-fish; and Wendy’s three quarters of a pound triple burger, which was described as “the burger equivalence of water boarding.”

 

Transitions

George Hatzigiannakis announced his beloved Mr. Filet will close this fall… Felix & Oscar’s Restaurant and Pub in Des Moines completed a floor-to-ceiling dining room renovation with a new high-tech audio-visual system in the meetings room… Former Des Moines chef and restaurateur Rob Beasley (Adam & Abby’s, Varsity Café, Mojo’s on 86th) is the new executive chef at Chaumette Winery in Ste Genevieve, Missouri… Taoufik Essaidi and Jenna Irving moved their Little Morocco bakery into the Shops at Roosevelt. Formerly a pop-up restaurant, the bakery sells Moroccan pastries, sandwiches, salads, die-for hummus and coffee. They continued offering full dinner events at the Culinary Loft of Des Moines Social Club… Jerry Talerico, an icon of Des Moines dining and son to Vic Talerico of Vic’s Tally Ho, sold Sam & Gabe’s… Gino’s closed.

Is Congress listening?

Between 1989 and 2006, the consumption of sugary drinks increased by 60 percent per capita in Mexico. Rates of diabetes and obesity rose in harmony. Since the national government added a 10 percent tax on sweetened beverages at the end of 2014, consumption has decreased by a whopping 17 percent.

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Categories: The Dish

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