The Tastiest Corner of Des Moines
I have a new favorite corner of Des Moines: the Shops on Roosevelt, on 42nd Street. My favorite Des Moines bakery, La Mie, was already there, and has recently scored a couple of new neighbors. The posh foodie boutique Vom Fass features specialty and infused oils, aged and infused balsamic vinegars, specialty liqueurs, and whiskey (i.e., all things “from the cask,” which is what “vom fass” means in German).
As we perused the shelves of goodies, store clerks hovered nearby, ready to decant tiny tastes of oil and vinegar into disposable spoons. (Don’t worry — whiskey tastings are served in tiny, properly shaped glasses.) Underneath the casks, shelves upon shelves of glass bottles, some more decorative and some more practical in shape, were also for sale. You pay for the bottle the first time you fill it with something from one of the casks; on subsequent visits, you can bring back your empty bottle and have it refilled. After much sampling, the Midwestern Gentleman and I settled on tangerine olive oil, star fig balsamic vinegar, and plain avocado oil. Like olive oil, avocado is a mono-unsaturated fat high in omega-3s, but the avocado oil has a much higher smoke point, making it a better choice for broiling, frying, and searing. The tangerine oil is bright and citrusy, as you would expect, but with a pleasant mellowness. It’s meant to be used as more of a finishing or dressing oil, as high heat will lessen the impact of the tangerine flavor. The star fig balsamic surges on the palate with a rich, fruity figginess. Yes, “figginess” is a word. (Taste this fig balsamic, and you’ll agree with me.) I also tasted a fig and chile balsamic that woke up my taste buds with a happy HELLO, but was a little too intense for the Gent. Maybe when we get back from our upcoming trip to Santa Fe, his palate will have grown more accustomed to chile heat [insert plotting, evil laughter]. As you can see in the above photo, I’m a sucker for decorative bottles.
The other new tenant at the Shops on Roosevelt is The Cheese Shop. We just expected to pop in and purchase cheese to take home, but it turns out this tiny shop boasts a cozy, European vibe that makes you want to settle down on a stool at a high-top table, crack open a bottle of wine, and order a cheese plate — which is exactly what we did. Our party of five agreed on a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape, a platter of three cheeses, artisanal crackers from Minnesota, and marinated olives. Periodically, as we noshed and chatted, one of us would slip off to the cheese counter for a taste of this and a nibble of that, all accompanied by the educational spiel of the knowledgeable staff.
After tasting at least half a dozen cheeses, the Gent and I selected Avalanche “Midnight Blue,” a pristine ivory goat cheese from Colorado with distinct blue veins and a surprisingly creamy mouthfeel. We added a Cacio Di Bosco, a decadent, truffle-flavored pecorino from Italy. Finally, we rounded out our order with the highly-recommended Clabbered Cottage Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery; it’s pretty much the richest, creamiest cottage cheese I have ever tasted.
We tried drizzling a little bit of fig balsamic on a few, thin slices of Midnight Blue… and you can keep your sugary desserts: this is the way to finish off a meal.