Fun at The Farmer’s Market

The Farmer’s Markets in town kick off their seasons this week!  It might be a chilly start, but better weather is in sight and it’s worth it to brave the weather anyway!  If you want the freshest local produce, prepared food and specialty items, the Farmer’s Market is where to get them.

How awesome is it that we have such great Farmer’s Markets in Iowa.  Where else can you find such a wide variety of ethnic delicacies alongside the best of Iowa.  The Downtown Des Moines market is the largest one, followed by the Valley Junction one.  It’s wonderful because Downtown includes Breakfast burritos, breakfast pizza, pasties along with BBQ, Indian, Moroccan, Bosnian (and many more!) delights for lunch.  Valley Junction will take care of your dinner and you can buy the baked goods and pastries to take him for breakfast the next day!  Of course don’t forget all of your produce and local meat!

A few of my “must haves” at the market are 1. A cutlet form Saloo’s India (a potato cake filled with meat or veggies-gluten free) 2. A breakfast burrito or bowl from Farm Boys. YUM! 3. A gluten-free crepe from Sweet Treat Without Wheat.  4. A burger from Local Yocals.

Oh, and of course it’s not all about the food.  Vendors also have handmade items of all kinds like clothing, jewelry, soap, decorations and much more.

Here is a list and info from their websites for some of the larger local ones.  Check your town to see if they host one too. I know Waukee, Johnston and many others have them too!  Merle Hay Mall is startign an Indor Farmer’s Market…Here are the dates for those:  The Green Wood Market (Merle Hay Mall) is from 4:30pm-8:30pm on dates listed below.

  • Wednesday, May 28
  • Wednesday, June 4
  • Wednesday, June 11
  • Wednesday, June 18
  • Wednesday, June 25

Ames: Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 12 noon Starting May 3

Fresh fruits, veggies, meats & breads. Hand crafted goods. Family entertainment. The Ames Main Street Farmers’ Market has it all!

Ankeny: 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays. Uptown Ankeny. The Uptown Ankeny Farmer’s Market vendors provide a wide variety of products to the public. In the past, the market has seen everything from fresh seasonal produce, home-made baked goods, specialty food items, BBQ cooked on-site, perennial plants, hand-made items, and much

Downtown Des Moines:   7am-noon (8am-noon in Oct.) Support local agriculture and buy direct from Iowa farmers while shopping the Downtown Farmers’ Market – presented by UnityPoint Health – Des Moines. The Downtown Farmers’ Market presents Iowa producers from 51 counties across Iowa, offering fresh fruit, vegetables and so much more. You’ll find fresh herbs, beautiful flowers, farm fresh eggs, local wineries, a delicious assortment of goat cheese, an endless selection of baked goods, and many varieties of Iowa raised meat such as beef, pork, chicken, lamb, buffalo, ostrich, and tilapia.

Southridge Mall: Mondays 3:30 to 6:30pm, Meet us in the parking lot North of Sears every Monday for fresh produce, yummy treats and MUCH MORE!

West Des Moines: 4-8 p.m. Thursdays, Valley Junction. Farmers Market is home to over 100 weekly vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods, plants and flowers, arts and crafts and prepared foods. Join your friends and neighbors.

Corazon Coffee Roasters

get-attachment-29.aspx get-attachment-25.aspx Have you wondered where some of your favorite restaurants source their coffee and tea? It may be Corazon Coffee Roasters in Valley Junction.

This very cool shop offers organic, fair-trade coffee and tea to many local restaurants and shops in the area (and beyond) such as Hoq in the East Village, Perry Perks in Perry and they are coming soon to a brand new brewery in Ankeny called Firetrucker Brewery who will be brewing beer using their coffee!  How cool!


Owner Scott Warner opened the store about a year and a half ago after a successful career in the wine industry.  He said that coffee was a perfect fit for him since it too is all about sharing the flavors. Also, the organic, fair-trade coffee they carry fits right into he and his wife Laura’s  philoshpy of providing only the highest qulaity products.  They did remind me that the best flaovrs are achieved when the coffee is brewed correctly too, so make sure to follow the producers instructions for making your coffee.

get-attachment-34.aspxRight now they are mainly suppliers to restaurants and other shops and they also particiapte in the Iowa Food Co-op.  You can also stop in for a to-go cup of coffee in a bio-degratable cup, but they are not a full-service coffee shop.

I encourage you to stop in to say hi and browse the many coffee brewing supplies they offer in the shop, try a cup of coffee and take few pounds home to enjoy!

Check them out on Facebook at too!

Della Dolce Bakery

Today’s guest post is by my friend Christie who knows a good cookie when she tastes one!  Check out her experience at this brand new bakery and make plans to attend the Grand Opening for some samples!

Today’s guest post is by my friend Christie who knows a good cookie when she tastes one!  Check out her experience at this brand new bakery and make plans to attend the Grand Opening for some samples!

I had the chance to be one of the first customers at Della Dolce Bakery on their opening day yesterday!

This is the most beautiful bakery I’ve ever been in.  No surface was left untouched when turning this space into a cozy bakery.
Stop in the morning for a cup of tea or coffee and a scone, cinnamon roll, caramel roll, quiche, or turnover.  By afternoon they have dessert favorites such as cookies, cupcakes, pies, and tarts.  I had one of the chocolate chip cookies and it was DELICIOUS.  Crunchy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside.
Owner, Catherine, also makes wedding cakes and caters other beautiful desserts for events.
Catherine is hosting her Grand Opening Ceremony on Saturday, November 2 from 5-8pm with the ribbon cutting at 6pm.  She will have light appetizers and samples sizes of menu items for everyone to try.
You can find Della Dolce Bakery at 13435, Suite 300 University Ave, Clive  IA 50325.  Phone: 515-330-2848.  Facebook:

Ritual Cafe

I had a great experience hanging out at Ritual Cafe the other morning.  I had some blogging to do, so I brought my computer, grabbed a few (gluten-free, woohoo) snacks and did some work.


downtown, right near Proof restaurant, Ritual Cafe serves up coffee, smoothies and even vegetarian food.  They had an awesome selection of vegan and gluten free pastries at the front

counter and I was super impressed with my gluten-free banana-chocolate chip bread and apple cider cupcake. Yes, I had to try both.  And they were out of pumpkin spice syrup, so I got a gingerbread-flavored iced coffee and it was really good!

They also offer a full menu of breakfast items like bagels, oatmeal, and a breakfast plate with eggs and toast.  For lunch they have panini’s, quiche, hummus plates and more.  They even have a kids grilled cheese sandwich meal available for kids.

What a cool place to hang out.  Of course it’s a great place for Vegans, but anyone can enjoy these healthy menu items and casual atmosphere.  I’ll be back to chat with a friend over coffee or use the free wi-fi to get some work done.

They also offer live music many nights of the week.  You can check the schedule here. Very cool.


Granite City Brunch

There are a lot of great places for buffet brunch in Des Moines.  Some of my faves areThe Machine Shed, Americana and Hy-vee Grille at the new Waukee and Urbandale locations. I also just can’t keep myself away from the Sunday Brunch buffet at Granite City.  It is just so awesome.

I have dreams about the reggiano hash browns.  Seriously, dreams.  I’m a sucker for a cheesy-potato dish, but these take the cake.  I can’t even explain the sophisticated, sharpness of this flavor, you must try them yourself.

Ok, enough about the potatoes, the rest of the buffet is good too.  They offer an omelet station, prime rib station, fruit, eggs, waffles, great quality sausage links and thick cut slices of bacon.  They also have a lunch dish available on the buffet as well like a pasta or rice dish.  An all around great buffet.


And don’t forget about the impressive cinnamon rolls.  Always hot, fresh and addictive.

I don’t always love buffets for brunch, but everything they serve is great on this one.  It is definitely one of the more pricey in town at about $16 per person. Kids are a reduced price, but definitely a trip for a special occasion.  It does get pretty busy when folks get out of church.  We waited for a bout 45 minutes on out latest visit.  But the earlier you arrive the better.

They offer an all-you-can-drink mimosa or bloody mary special during the brunch as well and you can of course order off of the regular menu, but why would you want to?!  Just kidding, their regular menu of sandwiches, pizza, pastas, etc. is very good and a great option for lunch or dinner.  I just love the buffet!!


Friedrichs Coffee

Located on the corner of 42nd street, on University ave in Des Moines is a cute little coffee shop.  Friedrich’s is a chain, but they they offer pasties, cookies and muffins from local sources and a nice variety of coffee and smoothies.



The shop is very welcoming and the staff is always friendly.  I tried the “canopy jumper” (or something similarly named) and it was good, unfortunately for Friedrich’s though, The Juice Company is right down the street and offers better smoothies.
I’m not a coffee drinker, but my friends said they enjoyed some of the exotic brews and would come back for more.

Sometimes you are just looking for a spot to relax or do some work and have a snack, read a book or meet with friends.  If that’s your goal and you are in the Drake neighborhood, check out Friedrich’s.

Mars Cafe

In my mind it had only been a few months since I had last visited Mars Cafe.  Mars Cafe is in the Drake neighborhood right across the way from the college.

In my grad-school days we’d often come over to the cafe for a snack and a coffee while studying like many other students do and it was really the coolest place around to hang out.

Well, unfortunately I realized that it’s now 2013, and I graduated from grad-school in 2008.  bwah-bwah……Fail.  It’s now been upwards of 5 years since I’ve last visited the cafe.  But the good news is, it’s gotten even cooler since then

I met a friend for breakfast and my has their menu grown!  From breakfast sandwiches like peanut butter and nutella and vegetarian wraps to breakfast quesadillas and more, this menu was awesome!  They carry paninis and other specialty sandwiches and lovely salads and snacks.  Awesome menu for a “coffee shop” type of cafe.  Of course they carry the caffeine-filled stuff, too. =)

Come in to the cafe to catch up with an old (or new) friend, get some work done or bring your little one in for a special breakfast.  This cafe is very welcoming, inexpensive (my quesadilla was $4.99), laid-back and tasty!  Try it!

Ankeny Cafe

I honestly didn’t know the Ankeny Cafe on Ankeny Boulevard (in Ankeny) even existed until last week!

We were making the trip up to Center Grove Orchard for some cider donuts and apples and thought we’d stop along the way for breakfast.  A quick google search came up with Ankeny Cafe so we decided to give it a shot.


What a nicely decorated place.  A little retro, clean and inviting.  Table or booth seating and lots of seating at the “bar” too.

We were pleasantly surprised by the whole experience.  Our server was maybe high school aged and very sweet and the owner kept coming by to check on us to make sure everything was right.


 The menu had your regular selection of diner breakfast items like french toast, omelets, pancakes, etc.  The prices were all very reasonable and our meals came out quickly.

I enjoyed the sausage omelet with a pancake substituted for toast at no extra charge.  My son and hubby enjoyed the french toast.  My son loved the generous amount of powdered sugar on his. The hash browns were definitely homemade and were very tasty.   The bacon was crispy and hot.  All around a good meal.

You aren’t going to find fancy-schmancy dishes here, but you are going to get good portions of good food at a reasonable price.  A great place to go for friendly service and a break from cooking at home.

They are also open for lunch offering your typical greasy-spoon favorites like tenderloins and burgers and fries.

Grounds For Celebration

In Windsor Heights, right near the Mustards Restaurant on University Ave is Grounds For Celebration.  They have other locations in Beaverdale as well as the Somerfield plaza on Mills Civic in WDM too.


This is more than just your typical coffee shop.  They of course serve your normal line-up of lattes, smoothies, shakes and teas.  But, at lunch time, they have a full menu with table-service.  The menu includes pasta, salads, sandwiches fruit plates and my favorite, the chicken salad croissant.  The chicken salad is full of relish and grapes.  Sweet and tart with tender chucks of white meat chicken, just how I like it.  For about $8.75 you can choose two menu items served with fruit for a wonderful lunch.

They atmosphere is cozy and the staff is friendly.  They also carry an assortment of locally made bakery items including gluten-free cookies which is great because coffee shops don’t always offer something for people with allergies.  They also had some gorgeous looking cakes and muffins all from locally-owned bakeries.

They had a selection of breakfast sandwiches available and even have gelato.

This is the perfect place to meet some friends over a cup of coffee or lunch and dessert!  I once attended a baby shower here and it was perfect.  Casual atmosphere with a relaxing feel and good food and coffee.  Check it out!


Cupcake Emporium

You might have heard of this cool little cupcakery named Cupcake Emporium located in Ames in June when they competed on the TV show Cupcake Wars along with Des Moines dessert shop Creme Cupcake.  While they didn’t take the trophy, they did give us a glimpse into the shops cool decor and yummy cupcakes and I knew I would have to make the trip to Ames and check it out.  So we did!



I didn’t realize that this isn’t strictly a cupcake/milkshake shop like Scratch Cupcake in WDM or Carefree Patisserie which is cupcakes and cakes and cookies, in Valley Junction.  Cupcake Emporium actually has a full lunch menu including sandwiches, soups, salads and walking tacos.

They serve their cupcakes and lunch in the cutest retro-soda shop themed diner-type restaurant.  The decor really is a style all their own as is the menu and personalty of the restaurant.




I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong with any of the cupcake flavors, but we really enjoyed the cinnamon “roll” cupcake because the cake actually had cinnamon chunks baked right in to the batter and my son thought the pie-crust star cut-outs on the cherry pie a-la-yum cupcake were ingenious, as did I .  The frosting on the pink champagne was to-die-for and the peanut butter cup was rich and smooth.  The cakes were all moist and the frosting weren’t overbearingly sugary.  We liked them them all and had to refrain from trying more.  I see another trip in our near future.

We also enjoyed a chocolate milk-shake on our visit, but have yet to try the lunch options.  I am looking forward to coming back soon to try some of the soups.

You could really plan a Fall day trip to Ames hitting Center Grove Orchard on your way up to play at the Farmyard and hit Cupcake Emporium for lunch and cupcakes.  Sounds like a great day to me!