Have you had The Wine Experience?

IMG_2263IMG_2245Look! I’m shopping and drinking wine at the same time!  Is this heaven?!  No! It’s Younkers!  We rediscovered The Wine Experience in Younkers at The Jordan Creek Mall this weekend.  The Wine Experience, with its impressive wine selection, top-notch cuisine and lovely atmosphere makes The Wine Experience (in my eyes) one of the best kept secrets in the metro.

I know I’m known for being kind in my restaurant reviews because I have a soft spot for locally owned and IMG_2272operated restaurants (like this one), but this place is the real deal.  I was happy to be invited in this week to try out what they had to offer.  I have to admit, I was definitely not expecting it to be as wonderful as it was.  It’s unfortunate that The Wine Experience isn’t as well-known as other restaurants in its league, because it should be!  I’ll be having dreams about Chef Simon’s Korean Steak and Egg entrée special that he served with brussel sprout hash and miso corn puree.  Seriously, I’m not kidding…Out. Of. This. World.  All of these dishes were intricate and delicious and paired well with our wine choices.

IMG_2203 This particular evening had a corn theme, a wise choice as the most glorious Iowa corn season is coming to close. IMG_2194I don’t think we could have gone wrong with anything on the menu, but stand out items were the bacon deviled eggs served with house-made pickles, which I could have easily eaten a whole plate of by themselves. That good.  The corn fritters which were light with a nice crunch.  The stuffed dates which had a generous amount of bleu cheese and a superb red wine reduction.  Our friends tried the pesto pizza and chicken apple salad which they said were fantastic and Josh had the La Quercia prosciutto baguette which he was so attached to that he was still trying to finish the whole thing when our local pear, pear crisp arrived. It was so good, our friend who proclaimed he didn’t usually like crisps said it was awesome.

IMG_2201 IMG_2210The prices were quite reasonable, the wine was excellent, not to mention that you can BRING YOUR WINE into Younkers to shop!  Umm…what a great idea!  Why do I not see people walking around with wine glasses all the time in Younkers?

It’s in such a convenient location that we already plan to be back for lunch very soon and what a great intimate setting for a special occasion, or just because!

IMG_2240 IMG_2254Please do yourself a favor and check out The Wine Experience.  You won’t be disappointed.  Like, I said you can’t go wrong.  Especially check out the shared plates that are available after 5 and whatever Chef Simon says to get….do it!  He makes some magic in that little kitchen and I hope more people come try it out soon!





Check out their website here for menus and information and “like” them here on Facebook for special events and meal specials!  Thanks for having us in Tom and Lane!

2015 SCI Fundraiser & Auction

IMG_6350Remember our friend Jessie The Cow that Josh spent a whole evening bidding on last year?  Well, on August 28th, 2015, we’ll be at the annual Science Center of Iowa Fundraiser and Auction again hoping to bid on a friend for Jessie and we hope you will be too!  Well, we hope you’ll be at the event, not necessarily outbidding Josh on paintings.

IMG_6331That’s right, one of our favorite events of the summer is coming up on August 28th and I got to sit down with Marla, one of the event coordinators this week and get the inside scoop.  This year sounds bigger and better than ever and features a “Space” theme, complete with a real, live astronaut!  Astronaut Clayton Anderson will be at the event signing books and answering all of your “spacey” questions!

IMG_6336They are keeping some of the favorites from past years, such as the Moscow Mule bar, delicious food vendors like Hy-vee, Gateway Market, Christiani’s and Creme, but adding more decor, more themed foods (like fruit “rockets” get it? Space Theme? Rockets? I love it!), more seating and more locally made auction items in a dedicated “Make Section” in the silent auction.  Some of the hand-made auction items include local food, furniture and more.  I’m very excited about seeing lots of IMG_6345locally produced wares and of course bidding on them!  Don’t worry, you can still bid on plenty of local event packages, foodie packages, vacations and even unique packages like a trip to see Wheel of Fortune or a chance to attend the Mercedes-Benz Driving School in Germany.   I know!  Cool!

IMG_6334For more information and to buy tickets, visit:

and make sure to RSVP on Facebook at:


See you there

The Dinner Detective

IMG_0754What do you get for the guy who has his Birthday, Wedding Anniversary and Father’s Day all in a matter of a few weeks?  Well, a Murder Mystery Dinner apparently!

I had got word that these 3 hour events were taking place at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Des Moines a few months ago and knew we needed to give it a shot.

IMG_0753The current calendar has a show scheduled every Saturday evening from 6-9pm.  $59.99 includes dinner and the show.  You can pay extra for packages that include t-shirts, coffee mugs and even chances to be a part of the show.

Dinner is a salad, choice of chicken, pork or a vegetation option with potatoes and vegetables and cheesecake dessert.  They also have some passed hors d’oeuvres as you are seated.  The meal was pretty typical of what you’d expect at a wedding reception at a hotel.  It was good, but I wouldn’t come specifically for dinner.  There was also a cash bar available.

The show was a good mix of funny and “who dun it?”.  I won’t give too much away from what happened during the show, but instruction are provided right away and it isn’t to hard to figure out what’s going on as soon as you begin.  There is a lot of role play involved, even on the part of the guests.  Every guest is a suspect since the real actors are actually seated among the guests and not revealed until the end of the game.  There are prices for those who can guess the murderer correctly.  The best players were definitely the ones who weren’t afraid to mingle and ask questions of other “suspects”.

IMG_0752All-in-all, a fun evening.  We went as a couple by ourselves, but were surprised when we met another couple we knew there and they happened to be seated at our table.  It definitely upped the fun factor to have friends along, but would have been enjoyable had we been just the two of us as well.

I would definitely recommend trying this at least once.  According to their website, the company is based out of Los Angeles and have a number of casts nationwide, but use local actors for the shows.  They periodically change the theme of the show, so it could very well be a different show on another visit.  Guests must be over 18 and no shorts or printed t-shirts are allowed.  One guy showed up in shorts to our event, but they let him stay because he came two hours to see the show and blamed not knowing about the dress code on his wife.

They also do private events for groups for birthdays, etc.  I think that would be really fun to have a group of all friends as well.

All of the menus, calendars and info is on their website. Check it out!



get-attachment-25.aspxget-attachment-12.aspxI admit it, even though this year marked The 80/35 music festival‘s 7th festival, it’s the first year I attended.  Yup.  It may have been Cake (the bad, not the dessert) that enticed me enough to come out for the fest.  Even though I have a degree in music, sitting and watching music for long periods of time just isn’t my thing.  I thought I might be bored, so I never went.  Boy was I wrong!  I’m kicking myself for not coming to this event sooner.

get-attachment-13.aspx get-attachment-14.aspxThe event takes place in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park and while you have to pay admission for the main stage, their is lots of free fun to be had too.  It’s so much more than just bands (on three separate stages) playing all day.  There are lots of food vendors and art merchants, a kids play area and beer gardens.  Access to everything but the main stage is free.

Man, this was so fun, even my almost 7 year old had a great time and he even liked Cake as much as I did (in the 90’s at least =)!

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Things to bring that made this two-day festival a great experience for us were ear plugs and cash (lots of vendors didn’t take credit) and our friends came equipped with lawn chairs, a blanket and glow sticks so we had everything we needed to have a comfortable spot to relax and enjoy and had a base to return to when we were off enjoying the vendors.  I can’t wait til next year now! What a cool July 4th weekend tradition.

Trivia at Blue Moon with Super Moms!

So basically, today’s post is about Tuesday Trivia Night at Blue Moon Dueling Piano Bar with some really awesome friends. BUT, there is so much more to tell you about.

get-attachment-58.aspx First, let me introduce these lovely ladies…They are the Des Moines Area Super Moms, well, just a few of them.  There are about 32 of them in all right now, and I’ve been a part of this fab group of moms since my son was 4 months old.  My son is now almost 7, so I’ve known a lot of these gals for quite a long time.  They organize their get-togethers on a website called  get-attachment-59.aspxThey have a great message board where they discuss anything and everything and get together frequently for play dates with kids or the occasional Moms Night Out (like tonight).  The best part, it’s open for all DSM (and surrounding) area moms to join!  These ladies have been a HUGE support system for me during the years when I didn’t know when to introduce new foods to my kid, what the line etiquette was at school pick-up or even why there was green stuff coming out of my kid. Most importantly they are there for each other through those days that seem to last forever at the time, but really go by so fast when you look back.  Anyway, if you are a new mom, or just looking for some great mom friends who “get it”, check out the Des Moines Area Super Moms on  Membership is $6/year and the value is priceless!

get-attachment-62.aspx get-attachment-61.aspxBack to beer and trivia! Trivia Night at Blue Moon Piano Bar in West Glen Town Center was a blast!  My first tip would be to get there early to get seats for your team.  You can have as many people as you want on your team, but they limit the prizes (i.e. a round of drinks) to 8 per team. And the prizes were great for a free event!  Our team, aptly called “The Super Moms” won round two and got to share this delicious free order of chicken nachos as our prize! Woot!  Another prize for winning a round was a round of shots and there were prizes for the top three overall teams as well!  The big prize was a $50 gift card.  Like I said, pretty awesome prizes for a game that’s free to play!  Plus, they had $3 beer and ciders all evening, so this was a pretty cheap night out!  Our table had pizza, chicken fingers and nachos and everyone enjoyed all the food.  They also offer sandwiches, soups and salads if you prefer.  Our server Ivan was awesome!  Even though he informed us that’s not his real name, and was shocked our group won round two, we still think he was pretty cool!

get-attachment-63.aspxThis would be fun for adults of any age, and the age range here was all over the board.  Host Andy “Dj Cubbie” Powell from Select Entertainement (known for his former role as Cubbie Bear for the ICubs) did a great job challenging teams to 6 rounds of trivia in just under two hours and keeping it good, clean fun with categories that challenge, but don’t make you feel too dumb.  DJ Cubbie says he aims to have people be able to answer 7 out of 10 questions correctly  in each of the 6 rounds.  Unfortunately, our group of moms failed miserably in the sports category or we would have taken home one of the top three prizes!  Next week for sure!

get-attachment-64.aspxAnyway, if cheep beer and free fun didn’t convince you to try Trivia at Blue Moon on Tuesday nights.  Go to support Dj Cubbie’s efforts with the Children’s Cancer Connection’s Oncology Camp.  Through trivia at Blue Moon he raised money to send kids to camp this past week AND volunteers his own time each year Dj-ing the dance at the camp and hosting games for the kids at the camp.  What an awesome guy!  You can find him at other bars in the area hosting trivia or beer bingo!  You can find trivia hosted by Select Entertainment at Claxons in Altoona, Champps in Jordan Creek, Wellmans Pub (both locations) and more!  Check out their fb page for the most current places to find them.  Or contact DJ Cubbie directly at to find our which games he’s hosting.  Fun times!


Free Flicks-Summer 2014

UnknownFree Flicks is a summer-long series of outdoor movie showings throughout the Des Moines area parks and facilities. Every movie is free to the public.

The films will be shown on a 25-foot portable screen, and will begin after sunset around 9:00pm. Admission to the movie is free, and blankets and lawn chairs are encouraged. People are free to bring their own food and drinks as concessions will not be provided for purchase.

Free Flicks Schedule
06/05/2014 Moonstruck Art Center: 4700 Grand Ave
06/12/2014 The Incredibles Ashby Park: 3200 38th Street
06/19/2014 Frozen MLK Park: 1650 Garfield Ave
06/26/2014 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Jordan Park: 600 E. Wall Ave
06/27/2014 (Drive-in) Movie: TBD Cownie Soccer Park: 2600 E Hartford Ave
07/03/2014 Gravity (PG-13) Witmer Park: 1610 34th Street
07/05/2014 Despicable Me 2 EK Davis Park: 1400 Forest Ave
07/10/2014 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Art Center: 4700 Grand Ave
07/17/2014 The Smurfs 2 Evergreen Park: 2135 E Park Ave
07/24/2014 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Tower Park: 4900 Hickman Road
07/31/2014 The Lego Movie Good Park: 1103 17th Street
08/07/2014 The Pink Panther (1963) Art Center: 4700 Grand Ave
08/09/2014 Despicable Me (STAR Party) Ewing Park: 5300 Indianola Road
08/14/2014 The Karate Kid (1984) Woodlawn Park: 3126 Twana Drive
08/23/2014 E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (Restored) Hoyt Sherman Place: 1501 Woodland Ave
08/28/2014 Ghostbusters Simon Estes: 75 East Locust Street
09/04/2014 Maltese Falcon Art Center: 4700 Grand Ave
Unknown-1Colby Park in WIndor Heights also has their own series.

Free Admission!
Event Dates
Colby Park is the place to be on Friday evening’s this summer for the “Movies in the Park” series.  In conjunction with the films, there will be a Farmers Market.  A children’s hands on activity will be at 7 pm.  The movies begin at dusk.June 20            FrozenJune 27            March of the PenguinsJuly 11             RatatouilleJuly 18             The MuppetsJuly 25             Mary Poppins

August 1          The Rookie

Vom Fass

get-attachment-3.aspxWe had a great time at our first class at Vom Fass the other night!  We attended the Fireside with Brandies class.  5 hearty samples of Brandy in one hour… wow!


If you aren’t familiar with Vom Fass, they are a
store at the Shops at Roosevelt on 42nd street in Des Moines.  This location is locally owned and
offers a wide variety of exclusive oils, vinegars, spirits and liquers.  They opened in March of 2012 and are offering some wonderful classes for us to enjoy.


As you can see, at the Brady class, there was lots of sampling to be had!  They had a gorgeous array of bites including cheese, bread and dried fruits from the cheese shop (right next door) for us to pair samples with, along with samples of their line of chocolates made by Chocolaterie Stam just for them.  The chocolates are infused with Vom Fass oils and liquers and can only be purchased at Vom Fass.  OMG…so good!

While you can stop in any time to sample their products, these classes are a great way to see how these special
products pair with food and gain some in-depth knowledge from some local experts.  Most classes are only an hour long so they aren’t a huge time commitment – huge plus!

Here is their upcoming event calendar.  I’m especially excited about the Scotch pairing dinner on March 9th to be held at Table 128 in Clive.  You can read more about that event and even see the menu on Wini Moranville’s website here.

 She is also hosting a French Salad’s class at the store on April 3rd that sounds divine.
Can’t wait to broaden my spirits horizons even more by taking more classes at Vom Fass! Fun!

EPLDSM Night @ Confluence Brewery

We are pleased to announce that our event on November 7th at Confluence Brewery raised $500 to donate to Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh, Buy Local.
There was plenty of food, beer and fun and we appreciated each and every one of you who came out to the event!
A Huge THANK YOU to all of the vendors, entertainers and donors that made this evening happen!!
Kritter Knits & More
Peace Tree Brewing

Moonbugs Art Classes
Padded Little Seats
Grounds For Celebration

Radiant Om Yoga
Dishcrawl Des Moines
The Durr Family
Vander Sluis Chiropractic
Chick –fil-a Paradise Pointe
Tarre De’Amore Farms
515 Brewing Co.
Rogue Sweets
Noodles & Co. – Jordan Creek
J Sayles Design Company
Buy Fresh Buy Local
Confluence Brewing Company
Confluence Brewing
Tamales Industry
Noodles & Co. – Jordan Creek
Rogue Sweets
Jerry Lorenson
Dishcrawl Des Moines
Des Moines Derby Dames

Shhhhh…It’s a secret!

Dishcrawl Des Moines’ first Secret Supper did not disappoint.  Tickets were $49 and guests were told of the meeting location and menu the week of the event.

The first Secret Supper was prepared by Chef Mike Holman in the private room at Dos Rios Cantina and Lounge on Court Ave.  I had the pleasure of interviewing him before October’s Battledish competition and you can read about it here.

The venue was cozy and nicely decorated for the intimate group of 15 for the event.

This was seriously one of the best meals I’ve had in a while.  Chef Holman outdid himself on this one.  Drink pairings were also offered and got rave reviews from the diners.   I was smitten with the blood orange cocktail I had.

The Amuse course was a cold smoked seared foie gras with black mole, duck chicharron and black mint & apricot compote.  The flavors surprisingly blended so well together.  It was excellent.

The first course was an ancho infused tamale with slow braised goat shoulder, charred tomatillo salsa and jalapeno pickled onions that added just a little kick. It was superb and the goat was tender and delicious.  I loved it.

The second course was a sweet corn bisque with fried octopus, crispy chorizo, cilantro and garlic jalepeno crema.  These flavors
together worked so well.  This was a favorite among a lot of the diners.

The third course was a seared sea bass with Spanish cannelloni ragout, braised swiss chard and lemon ginger espuma.  They must have had this bass flown in today because it was incredibly fresh and and perfectly flakey.  It was my favorite dish of the evening.

The fourth course was picadillo stuffed rotisserie quail with crispy tacu tacu dressing and romesco cream sauce.  Chef Mike called it his version of Thanksgiving.  It was fantastic.  Almost too cute to eat, but the flavors meshed so well.

The fifth course (yes, another course!) was a chile crusted rack of lamb with fried smashed plantain, spiced black bean

sauce and mint jalapeno jam.  The black bean sauce made the dish.  I didn’t care for the texture of the plantain as I’m used to it a bit softer, but the flavors of this dish were great.

The sixth and final course was a dessert of leche fritz, goats milk caramel,

vanilla apple chutney, powdered hazelnut espresso brittle and white chocolate cinnamon tuile.  Can you imagine fried cream?! It was stellar.  Heavy and sweet and heavenly.

This was an overall great event.  I feel like Dishcrawl’s events get better with each one and I’m looking forward to Cocktail Wars next month.  Great job Chef Holman and the staff at Dos Rios and kudos to Dishcrawl on a great first Secret Supper event.

Eat Play Love Des Moines Night @ Confluence Brewery!

Don’t miss it!  Proceeds from this evening’s event will go to Buy Fresh Buy Local Des Moines!  This is a family-friendly event!  Please RSVP on our facebook page: