As Relish moves into its 15th year, we have witnessed a marvelous birthing of central Iowa’s food culture. The number of good places to eat here has increased exponentially since our first issue. The diversity of foods available here has, too. Our readers, who are also the city’s fine diners, have also become far more sophisticated about food. Fifteen years ago, few people here knew what charcuterie or heirloom tomatoes were. James Beard Awards were for New Yorkers, Chicagoans and San Franciscans. Free ranged, cage-free, organic, pasture-raised, and naturally grown were terms few people cared about. Today, Target and Hy-Vee stores have giant sections devoted to them.
Clearly the times have changed, and now it’s time for us to change, too. This issue introduces our new format with more of the things readers have told us they like – glossy paper, subject oriented stories, recipes, food and wine/beer pairings, and, of course, top restaurants. Don’t worry, The Dish returns with three months worth of tales from the wacky world of food. Two features in this issue focus on hot new restaurants. Another lauds the season with a story about why we believe that Des Moines in late summer, more than anywhere else on earth, represents the perfect conjunction of time and place for producing great things to eat.
Fifteen years ago, that was not the case. It’s been a glorious ride while watching this food scene develop on our watch. Today Iowa travelers tell stories about exchanging our local foods with friends and chefs in other parts of America. August produces the best of Iowa tomatoes, and we have been told that they are now apparently worth their weight in roasted Hatch chilies in Albuquerque, stone fruit in Fresno, wild mushrooms in Oregon and crabs in Baltimore.
Bon appétit. RELISH
— Jim Duncan, editor
Jim Duncan has covered the food scene in Des Moines for more than 25 years. And he never met a dish he didn’t respect.