“Without taste genius is but sublime folly.”

– French statesman Chateaubriand


The new site is keeping me on my toes, but I did steel some time out to celebrate my friend Cynthia Occelli’s birthday with a divine afternoon of art, breathtaking views, an indulgent lunch, and a lot of giggles at the Getty Museum recently. I’d heard such great things about the Restaurant at the Getty I couldn’t wait to go.

To start, the Des Moines Art Center has a wing built by Richard Meier (the architect that designed The Getty Center), so I felt right at home – especially once Cynthia pointed out the “Jewels flower” on the table to boot!

BTW, I should probably wear a warning label: “Beware, being my friend could turn you into an alcoholic.” I can’t do any sampling of my own, so I made Cynthia a double fisted drinker when I insisted she order not one, but two cocktails (they all sounded so interesting)! First she sipped a Pimms …

Jalapeno Martini

… then got down to serious business with this Jalapeno Martini. One whiff alone was enough to make me feel giddy, and so the indulgence and giggles began…

…with Grilled Flatbread, Prosciutto, Apricot Jam, Baby Arugala, Brie, Roasted Apples, and Balsamic Gastrique. A superb mix of flavors and textures, and almost too pretty to cut into. I could have eaten this as lunch on it’s own, but…

… I have a hard time passing up any opportunity for Pork Belly, especially on Three Cheese Polenta, Wild Mushrooms, and Spiced Pecans with au Jus! The creamy polenta paired perfectly with the crispy pork belly, and the spiced pecans added an unexpected but lovely crunchy texture. That was just our first course!

Next we dove right into this exquisitely presented, mild Arctic Char cooked to perfection with Roast Fingerling Potatoes, Asparagus, Baby Beets, and a Lemon Sabayon. I suppose presentation does have to be raised to an art form when your restaurant happens to live in one of the worlds most stunning art museums!

With eyes being bigger than our tummies, we saw one of these Pastrami Sandwiches with Cole Slaw, Truffle Cheese, Lark Farm Tomato, Fried Egg float by, and had to have one of those too, coupled with a cup of Cream of Mushroom Soup to warm our bones. California has been oddly chilly this year.

Did I tell you we had the most adorable waiter that gave us impeccable service? Most pleasantly yet absolutely stuffed to the gills neither one of us could be tempted by the dessert menu, so he asked the kitchen to put together this little celebratory plate of Homemade Madeleines, Macaroon, and Salted Dark Chocolate in honor of Cynthia’s birthday. What’s a girl to do? One finger dipped into the rich dark chocolate, and we devoured that plate full too.

An after lunch stroll through the enchanting gardens, a few wishes made in the well, some fresh air and breathtaking views of the city on out to the ocean helped us digest our fabulous meal, and we were ready for some art. Although, not before I studied this clever arrangement of bouganvilla, and made a mental note that I’d love to reproduce it in my own garden. The metal piping they use to construct walls, is bent into huge vases for the flowering vine to grow – simple yet so beautiful.

Cynthia Occelli

My parents had a very small Giacometti sculpture I loved as a child, so his work is probably the first I could recognize elsewhere instantaneously. I wonder how he imagined Cynthia so long before her birth?

Julie Anne Rhodes

We meandered through the photography, sculpture, decorative arts, and paintings (my favorite were the impressionists). Then caught the trolly back down to our car, and back to Cynthia’s for Rose Scented Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes.


This is yet another example of how the many benefits of premium membership at JulieAnneRhodes.com can help you, and why you get so much value for your dollar. Our how-to videos are the next best thing to mom showing you how-to herself! More will be added periodically, concentrating on recipes that require a little more technique than others.


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  • June 4, 2011
    10:33 am

    HEY! I didn’t even drink that martini. I’m not brave enough! I’ll cop to the rest.

    <3 <3 <3

    Thank you for a beautiful day!

  • June 4, 2011
    1:32 pm

    Hahahaha! You took one sip, and quivered it was so strong!

  • June 5, 2011
    5:23 pm

    The meal sounds wonderful! Hope you both had a wonderful day of art, food and fun together. That’s the best part of having friends, you get to celebrate so many occasions together.

  • June 6, 2011
    7:01 pm


  • June 21, 2011
    3:06 am

    You mean, steal time, not *steel* time. Can’t help it, I proof as I read. There are a few others but cute story.

  • June 21, 2011
    3:37 am

    You don’t have to post that last comment – was just for you. I love Cythia and love the art of writing. Just want you to look fantastic in all you do!