Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Scott Kaven: BEER is ART

An art exhibition currently on display at Firetrucker Brewery, 716 S.W. Third St., Ankeny, featuring mixed media artist Scott Kaven. An Iowa native that grew up surrounded by art, Scott has done everything from newspaper illustration, mixed media painting, posters, making of all things, and is now currently Firetrucker's Creative Director. Reception to be held Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 6 p.m.



Blue Hand of the Brewery

The Brewery

Beer Pipe Paddles


Holy Beer

Bottle Brewery


Glycol Lines # 1

Glycol Lines # 2

Beer Lines

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Random Bits of Artwork

There's a degree of discordance in this artwork at Ritual Cafe. I like.

The work in progress at Graziano Brothers.

Art is what you make of it.

I am… somebody! With love to Alton and Seeta. #AltonBrownLive

Monday, January 26, 2015

Nick's keeps on going… and growing.

Nick’s has had a brief but mobile history on Des Moines' south side, beginning as a food truck on Army Post Road in 2006, then moving to a brick-and-mortar location on S.W. Ninth in 2012, before settling into its current and much larger venue at 1106 Army Post Road in 2013, where the Tavern South once resided. After many visits with friends I've grown to appreciate the comforting food and laid-back atmosphere at Nick's.

Nick's most popular sandwich is the tenderloin, which comes either Queen or King sized on a toasted bun. The King is easily the thickest hand-cut tenderloin in town, with moist pork loin meat enrobed in a thick, crunchy breading. A Grilled King is also an option, along with loin on-a-stick, and loins topped with either marinara and mozzarella, chili and cheese, or bacon with Swiss. You might want to settle for a Queen if you don't possess a hearty appetite.

Another well-regarded sandwich at Nick's is the Italian Beef. The thinly-sliced beef is tender, juicy, and quite tender, with a generous amount of giardiniera piled on top. The hoagie roll didn't stand up to the jus on my visit and fell apart easily, so keep a fork handy.

Other sandwiches at Nick's include an [Italian] sausage, a Reuben, grilled cheese, hot dog, chili cheese dog, hamburger, and chicken. The sausage with mozzarella and fried peppers is a zesty sandwich, but could warrant a side of marinara for added moistness. I resorted to a few squirts of mustard and ketchup to lube it up.

The poppy seed bun on the chili cheese dog is made of sturdier stuff, holding together rather well under a thick beef wiener, a saucy house-recipe chili, and cheddar cheese sauce. The chili is a little more tomatoey than what I expect for a hot dog topper, but still quite good. I would eat a bowl of this with some oyster crackers.

Nick's doesn't skimp on cheese for their house salad, especially if you add on the chunky blue cheese dressing. Crinkle-cut French fries are golden enough and a full order of crunchy wide-cut onion rings is a meal unto itself, but a shake of salt is advised for both.

An addition to Nick's menu upon moving back to Army Post is a selection of 12-inch pizzas built on a thick, soft and bready crust. Its rather like a cross between focaccia and fry bread. The Greek pizza offers special Greek sauces topped with spinach, tomato, feta cheese, and kalamata olives. I haven't enjoyed a pizza with so much feta this side of The Wheel House in Ankeny [see blog post]. Its a keeper! Other specialty pizzas are Taco, BBQ Chicken, and Buffalo Chicken.

Nick's Tenderloin and Italian Beef on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Everything Hashbrowns and Skillets aplenty at the Waveland Cafe.

Visits to the Waveland Cafe remind me why it still remains a popular place on Des Moines' west side for a no-nonsense breakfast. The crowds who frequent the place – often waiting in lines out through the front door – aren’t my cup of tea so I try to arrive as early as possible.

Waveland's signature dish, the Everything Hashbrowns, are fairly satisfying with ham, green pepper, jalapeño, onion, tomato, mushroom, and slices of Swiss and American processed cheese. Accessorizing it with fried eggs completes the package.

The Mexi Best Skillet is a plank of crispy hash browns resting on a bed of seasoned ground beef, diced green bell peppers, onions and jalapeños, with choice of egg atop, adorned with shredded cheese. The scrambled egg I ordered was light and fluffy. Hash browns were first rate.

Still feeling peckish I set into a half-order of biscuits and gravy. Nice grill on the cut side of the biscuit. Delicious, well seasoned gravy, accentuated with chunks of breakfast sausage. The peppery bite builds with each forkful.

The KYR Monster Skillet combines diced ham, taco-seasoned ground beef, green pepper, jalapeño, mushroom, and onion; then topped with a plank of crispy hash browns capped with sliced American cheese and shredded cheddar. The Skillet comes with optional sour cream and salsa, that I elected to trick out a side of scrambled eggs and an English muffin. That was an inspired move, IMHO.

Of late I’ve had the displeasure of being offered packets of powdered non-dairy creamer in some local eateries that I wouldn’t have expected to. I’m happy to report there’s no steenkin' powdered creamer served at the Waveland.

On one visit I bought a bottle of the house table condiment, Rickey's World Famous Louisiana Hot Sauce. Much thicker than most bottled Louisiana-style hot sauces, and far less vinegary or salty than Tabasco, its a superior product and my new gold standard for the variety.

Waveland's Best Skillet, with hash browns, ham, mushrooms, green peppers, hot peppers, melted cheese, is fine but doesn't rate as high in my book as does the Mexi Best or KYR Monster Skillets. For simpler fare, a plank hash browns with melted cheese slices, and a pair of eggs over easy easily satisfies a lesser appetite.

Waveland Cafe on Urbanspoon

Artwork by Dennis Kaven.


She Brings the Sun; He Brings the Moon

Sarah's Red Dress

Check This Out

From an exhibit at Firetrucker Brewery that ran from November 4, 2014 through January 4, 2015. More about the artist can be found at www.denniskaven.com.