Solera Wine Bar Opens

Solera Wine Bar Opens

I’ve decided to post my various publications to this blog for my organization and your enjoyment.

Originally printed in the Scarlet and Black and online at http://www.thesandb.com/community/solera-wine-bar-opens.html

 

solera

Colleen Klainert is bringing the big city to small-town Iowa with her new wine bar, Solera. A wine aficionado, Klainert has years of experience of both selling wine and running a wine bar.

“I sold wine to wine bars and wine restaurants in the Twin Cities for years, and what I missed most living in small town Iowa was a big city wine bar. I missed a wine bar that had 50 to 60 wine selections. I missed drinking out of clean, crystal clear glassware, just relaxing with some soft jazz in the background,” Klainert said.

Solera is a wine bar based around socializing. Everything in Solera—from the menu to the seating options—is designed to encourage relaxation and conversation. Klainert’s philosophy of looking at wine as something anyone can enjoy has deeply influenced the environment of Solera. According to Klainert, the world of wine should be accessible to anyone, not just connoisseurs. Ultimately, wine encompasses more than simply a drink.

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The Many Glasses of Solera

“I think its about making connections, about socializing. Wine facilitates socializing, but there is a common denominator … It facilitates getting to know strangers. Already here in three weeks, I have seen friendships starting across my bar,” she said.

With the interior of Solera, Klainert has created a fantastic setup. The bar is huge and gently lit, and a variety of different sets of furniture round out the space. The front seating area is wonderfully vintage, with 60s-style furnishing and accessories. Other seating areas have their own unique, artistic flavors, including some Mona Lisa and American Gothic inspired collages on the walls. Some gentle music adds a bit of nice background noise. Wine is served in beautiful glassware, with specific glasses for each type of wine, something Klainert believes is absolutely necessary for the best wine experience.

The menu at Solera offers a plethora of wines, with prices ranging from the economical to more luxurious choices better suited to celebrating. Most are sold by the bottle to facilitate sharing, but there are also nine by-the-glass options spread across the categories. There is also a limited food menu dedicated to options, such as breads, savory pastries and desserts that change regularly. Solera also offers a variety of high-quality beers either for individuals or for sharing. The menu is carefully curated by Klainert, who has honed her tastes for many years working within the wine industry.

Wine - Eric Mistry
Inside Solera

“If  it’s not good enough for me, it’s not going on the menu,” Klainert said.

Overall, Grinnell is gaining a true gem with Solera’s opening. The space is beautiful and imaginatively decorated, the wine and beer selection is superb and it promises to be an excellent space to meet and interact with a variety of people. Klainert’s past experience and expertise are demonstrated in the details that pepper the wine bar, from the eclectic collection of furniture, to the plethora of proper glassware, to the name itself.

“Solera is a wine term. It implies a winemaking process by which some wine is preserved and blended into the next batch. I chose that word not only because it’s a wine word or because it’s easy to say, but I like philosophically taking something from your past and blending it into a better future,” Klainert said.

Solera impresses from the start, and its future looks bright.

 

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Awards Unlimited Sets Gold Standard for “Personalized” Service

Awards Unlimited Sets Gold Standard for “Personalized” Service

I’ve decided to post my various publications to this blog for my organization and your enjoyment.

Originally printed in the Scarlet and Black and online at http://www.thesandb.com/community/awards-unlimited-sets-gold-standard-for-personalized-service.html

 

Awards Unlimited, a local business that specializes in customized clothing and items, has come a long way since its humble 2003 origins. The co-owners, Stephanie and Andrew Hoopes, started out doing some embroidery and heat transfer apparel. Then, they moved on to trophy making and engraving plaques and now they have taken the business to the next level by adding on personalized and customized clothing.

Awards Unlimited was the recipient of the Retail Business Award at the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Awards, which took place on Friday, Feb. 7. According to Hoopes, both she and her husband were notified that their business would be winning an award, but did not have any idea it would be one so prestigious.

“It’s obviously an honor and it makes us feel like we’re doing good things and moving in the right direction,” Stephanie Hoopes said.

The store, located on 931 Main St., offers a variety of products—both readymade and customizable. One of its main products is school spirit or athletic clothing for the local schools in the Grinnell school district, as well as state universities. According to Hoopes, the business has catered to making t-shirts for state tournaments for sports such as football and basketball.

“It’s really fun to be a part of something people are so excited [about]. We take a lot of pride of getting involved in something so important to the community,” she said.

Awards Unlimited also offers custom screen printing and embroidery for almost any type of clothing. Businesses and individuals are encouraged to request customized promotional materials of their choice.

Awards Unlimited - Aaron Juarez

“We can put your logo on just about anything you can imagine,” she explained. “It can be as small as a pen or as large as a folding chair.”

True to its name, the business focuses on producing custom awards and trophies as well. According to Hoopes, Awards Unlimited is very flexible in terms of customers’ needs and can therefore make anything from a single trophy to a whole set.

“We’ll have parents come in wanting to recognize their child’s school achievements, to the local basketball teams and other small jobs like that. We also do big jobs, as well,” she said.

Awards Unlimited’s most well-known returning trophy customer by far is the Iowa State Fair, as the business has been providing many of the fair’s trophies for the past few years. Trophies for the fair’s special events like the Bill Reilly Show, Monster Arm Wrestling and Bench Press are all courtesy of Grinnell’s very own Awards Unlimited.

Although Awards Unlimited has found much success in retailing trophies, plaques and other forms of customized merchandise, the owners have expanded their scope of goods. The latest—and arguably most unlikely—set of products available at Awards Unlimited is its collection of boutique clothing.

“That’s almost a whole separate venture in itself, but it’s really taken off and we’ve seen a great response so far from that,” Stephanie Hoopes said. “It wasn’t really something I saw as going along with what we did, but it actually compliments it quite well.”

Hoopes, a strong believer in the benefits of local businesses, considers community enhancement and economic improvement two key contributions of small businesses. She explained that buying from local businesses keeps more money in the community.

“I have four kids and so you really are supporting a local family and a local business when you give us the opportunity to do a job for you,” Hoopes said. “You’re not lining a major CEO’s pocket, you’re helping send our kids to gymnastics.”

Grinnell prides itself in its economic diversity and Hoopes views this heterogeneity as a crucial foundation for a level playing field, further stressing that local businesses are able to offer equal or better quality compared to larger competitors, while providing more personalized service.

“Just because we’re small town and a small company doesn’t mean we can’t also be competitive with the larger market. We welcome any job, small or large. We want you to be satisfied, to tell your friends, to come back again and again,” she said.

 

McNally’s Serves it Up

McNally’s Serves it Up

I’ve decided to post my various publications to this blog for my organization and your enjoyment.

Originally printed in the Scarlet and Black and online at http://www.thesandb.com/article/mcnallys-serves-it-up.html

McNally’s Foods may be known for its fresh food and produce, but it offers more than the raw materials for a meal. You can now add the local grocery store on Main Street to your list of off-campus lunch options, because McNally’s has started to serve fresh-made meals during the week. In fact, the hot food counter is one of the centerpieces of the new McNally’s location.

For owners Randy and Julie Smith, promoting hot food at the previous McNally’s location was tough. With the move across Main Street this past August, the Smiths made sure that a lunch area and hot food would be featured prominently in the new location.

“Something that was a huge tragedy—having to leave that building—actually turned into a big blessing. This has worked for us even better than we had imagined,” said bakery and deli manager David Barnes. “We have a fairly regular lunch crowd and quite a few people like to get their groceries and lunch in one go.”

The hot food counter offers a rotating menu of meals you can either take out or enjoy in the new seating area. Plenty of tables, a beautiful wall mural and a good view of Main Street through the large storefront windows create a comfortable eating space. The regular stream of lunch and grocery customers also adds a liveliness, making it a likely venue to run into friends, professors or townspeople.

The hot lunch menu is offered from 11 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday, with a different daily special alongside regular options. Prices are very reasonable for the amount of food provided and all entrees are well under five dollars. The menu is fairly meat and gluten-heavy, but vegan and gluten-free options are currently being developed, according to Barnes, an employee of McNally’s for 20 years.

Recently, the addition of health foods, dried fruit and other specialty options from Juli’s Natural Foods has added even more unique options to snag from McNally’s. While Juli’s Natural Foods has decided to no longer stay in business, its offerings will still be available at McNally’s, and Juli will still be around to offer her expertise, according to Randy Smith.

With so many options to choose from, I was faced with a tough decision when I visited McNally’s for lunch. But then again, it’s tough to go wrong with delicious food. I ended up enjoying a chicken pot pie. A crisp, flaky crust split open to reveal the gooey goodness of rich chicken and vegetables in a creamy sauce. The warm pie was substantial and filling, rich without being overwhelming. It was clearly freshly made, as the crust was still light and the vegetables still full of flavor. The other options in the case looked equally tempting, especially the crowd-favorite, the “Tater Tot Casserole” (five people ordered it while I ate my lunch). The bakery case also offers pastries, including the dangerously delicious cinnamon roll I enjoyed, baked with tightly rolled croissant dough and topped with rich frosting.

McNally’s is a great lunch option for those looking to enjoy simple food with superb ingredients. Its grocery store selection ensures that every meal is made with fresh materials, which you can taste in the food. Topped with a friendly staff, it’s an incredibly convenient way to get a good, hearty lunch in and grab groceries, all in one place.

 

Building and Discovering

Building and Discovering

I’m going to start this post by giving the story of yet another fantastic coincidence. Observe the picture below…

 

This is a picture scanned from an admissions slide show slide from the early 80s. I asked for it to be scanned because it had Burling Library in it. What I couldn’t tell from the tiny slide was that there was another story in this slide…

See that guy in the yellow shirt? That’s my dad, Bomi Mistry, Grinnell Class of 1984.

 

 

In any case, onto the usual business.

 

After an extensive and enjoyable spring break, I’ve returned to Grinnell and my work has continued. (Spring Break had some wonderful adventures- including turning 22 years old and finding a fantastic apartment!)

My MAP project has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced, yet has simultaneously been incredibly rewarding. I’ve had to solve tough challenges, but it’s been giving me hope that none of the challenges yet has proven insurmountable. It’s been a blast to get to delve into the archives and uncover beautiful treasures from the past.

I’m also excited to see how the app itself is received. To me, it’s a different way of presenting history- with huge potential for changing the size of an audience. If I had written a paper, or even made a small exhibit covering the same material, it may be read or examined by those who are interested in the topic, but would likely end up buried in an archive. With this app, the history is placed directly in one’s hands, whether on a tablet, or a smartphone, or even a computer. Because of that, anyone can look at it or find it. It’s also easier to navigate an app than to read a paper, which lowers yet another barrier to entry. As app creation becomes simpler, I’m willing to bet we’ll see it expand into academia as a common product of research. It makes interacting with the data so much easier. Here’s hoping to the continued growth of the digital humanities.

This week, I’ll be giving a short presentation on my work over the past year as part of Grinnell College’s Humanities Symposium. (I’ll post my slides after the talk!) I’ll be sharing the session with other students taking unique approaches to humanities projects. It should be a great experience.

As a special treat, here are a few of my other favorite images I’ve pulled from the archives for this project.

A swim meet in the original Grinnell College Pool. Four lanes wide and 20 yards long, it’s far cry today’s massive olympic-sized beautiful pool.

 

A postcard showing Blair Hall, my favorite building from the past. It was sadly demolished in the 1960s
Spring Break, Wellness Tech, and Photography

Spring Break, Wellness Tech, and Photography

Hello all!

I’ve made it to spring break! It should be great to spend some time with my dad as we venture up to Madison together! The app is going quite well, and it now is just a matter of adding sufficient pictures and information to it. I was also accepted as a presenter at the Humanities Symposium for my work on the app, so that is exciting!

On the wellness side of things, I am working on designing the wellness app project and putting together orders for our Wellness Lounge. (More on that in a few weeks!) It’s so interesting to see all the various technologies dedicated to tracking fitness and wellness data. The New York Times had a great section on activity trackers and wellness technology this week. Check out these articles:

Beautiful work days!

Beautiful work days!

It’s a beautiful day here in Grinnell, Iowa. I’m continuing work on my programming project. My main problem that I’m trying to solve in how to place a clickable map inside the application. I’ve drawn up some plans for it and am trying to get the code to cooperate. Luckily, Google and other online resources are proving pretty useful for finding resources. It’s a matter of making all the bits of code work together. I like to think of it as working with a very complicated recipe. I know what ingredients I need, it’s just a matter of prepping them and cooking them into a delicious dish. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, but I’m feeling more and more empowered as I learn. That’s not to say that I feel like an expert, but its exciting that what used to be pure gibberish now makes at least some sense. I spent the whole weekend working on the code, and seem to be making progress. I’ve also been designing a series of posters for the wellness department and continued modifying app mockup drawings.

Today has been spent doing readings, planning, and organization… outside! It’s a balmy 58 degrees outside right now, so I’ve been taking advantage of it. I’ve been soaking up the sun (and vitamin D) by working outside in front of the JRC. It feels great to just be outside after a long and freezing winter. The snow is melting, turning parts of campus into lakes and rivers, which makes for some cool photographic opportunities.

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Loch Mac #gcpride #springtime

A post shared by Eric Mistry (@ericmistry) on

 

 

Projects & Progress!

Projects & Progress!

Coincidence is a funny thing. 

I keep running into fantastic coincidences during my meetings and work that make everything work better. The latest:

1. When looking into programming a web application, I found a product by Intel (#GrinnellConnection) that completely reshaped my plan for programming my MAP app. 

2. My professor (Janet Davis) for my Value Sensitive Design class that I was meeting with to discuss some strategies for making my app better had just been using the ideal app I need for my Wellness Technology Internship progress. (More on that later!)

3. My meeting last week with Professor Purcell led to us looking at the app for HistoryPin, which is solving a great deal of my design issues for my app, as it also deals with historical memorabilia and mapping. 

 

In any case, here’s what is going on with my projects!

My MAP continues to chug along nicely and the prototype is working pretty ok so far. I’ll definitely be checking with my computer science-minded classmates to see if they have any suggestions or tricks to make it work better. My basic (so far!) programming skills seem to be working out well, though. It’s exciting to see what used to be indecipherable code take on meaning. I can see some patterns and understand a little better what is happening behind the scenes of my websites. The development software, the Intel XDK, is pretty incredible. It contains a coding suite, design software, testing, and software packaging for the major app stores. It also lets users code in HTML5 instead of other languages, which is great for a beginner like myself. Another awesome feature is the ability to stream the app directly to my phone for direct testing, which is super useful to make sure each new feature works. 

On the Wellness Tech front, I’m working on developing some public awareness posters based on survey data from the student athletes this fall. It’s an exciting project and I enjoy putting the data into a more visual form. Jen Jacobsen and I are also working on a pilot project to use smartphones as wellness-enhancing tools! I’ve been using myself as a guinea pig to test out various fitness tracking apps and wellness-oriented apps to see what may work for college students. My current favorite is “Balanced” which was recommended to me by Professor Davis. It focuses on reminding you to practice good regular habits with minimal reminders. I’m enjoying the fact that it hasn’t jumped on the social-for-social’s-sake train unlike many of the other apps I’ve been trying. It also is incredibly simple and customizable. I think it may be the app we’ll be using for our project, I just want to test it for a few more days. 

 

 

A few of screenshots from my app prototype so far

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Back to the Blog- with updates galore!

Back to the Blog- with updates galore!

Hello all!

It’s definitely been far too long since I’ve been writing here. Life has been crazy, but quite wonderful at the same time. I recently finished my final season of collegiate swimming, bringing my fifteen years as a competitive swimmer to an end for now. I haven’t managed to stay away from the pool, however; it still remains an integral part of my workout.

I’ve also been hard at work on a variety of projects.

Mentored Advanced Project

(In case you are just joining me, I’ve been working on an independent project to place historical maps and pictures onto the current campus by designing and programming an application for mobile devices.)  This has probably been one of the most exciting and fulfilling challenges I’ve had the pleasure to work on. Not only have I been using tons of historical research skills in digging through archives and maps, but I’ve gotten a chance to use the training from my Value Sensitive Design class in designing and reworking my prototypes. Alongside using the traditional education, I’ve been dipping my toes into alternative education by using the well-regarded Codecademy to learn the programming skills necessary to complete the app. I’ve really enjoyed the discussion this dual-education has sparked between my adviser (Sarah Purcell) and I. With the education world currently atwitter (ok, bad pun) about technology and social media in regards to education, it’s enjoyable to be exploring a rather new area of learning.

Cookbook!

I’ve been wanting to write a cookbook for just about forever now, and am finally doing it! SPARC, the committee in charge of distributing funds to aspiring publication projects, has decided to fund my endeavor to create a “cookbook” based on the Dining Hall. I’ve written a column for the past few years on creative eating in the Dining Hall, and am looking forward to developing a set of recipes for this cookbook from past successes and new experiments. It’s a bit of a challenge, as there is a relatively small range of constant ingredients and the only cooking surfaces open to direct student use are a microwave, toaster, and toaster oven, but I’ve had a great deal of fun and success over my four years here, and can’t wait to put my ideas into print.

Creative writing/ Photography/ Artistic Endeavors

I’ve decided to set aside time almost every day for a little bit of creative work. I’ve found it helps me relax and work better, plus the results are something I can enjoy later. I’ve been spending my Tuesday and Thursday mornings doing pottery in the student ceramic studio, which has been so much fun. It’s been really enjoyable getting back into throwing, which I used to do in high school almost daily. I’ve also been taking pictures of Grinnell’s campus; it may be blisteringly cold, but it sure is beautiful. (Check out the pictures below!) My latest, and newest creative endeavor is food writing exercises. I picked up an amazing book called Will Write For Food by Diane Jacob; it not only has fantastic advice and interviews, but Jacob offers a variety of enjoyable writing exercises at the end of each chapter. It’s been fun working my way through them and seeing different tweaks I can perform on my writing.

The Bear (Fieldhouse Side)
The Bear (Fieldhouse Side)
Gates-Rawson Tower
Gates-Rawson Tower
The Bear (Natatorium Side)
The Bear (Natatorium Side)
Days of Design and Development

Days of Design and Development

Things have been crazy here in Grinnell, but life is quite wonderful and exciting!

On the Wellness Technology Intern (under the guidance of Jen Jacobsen ’95) side of things, I’ve been on quite a design spree. We’ve been planning and executing a variety of events. I’ve also been drafted into another couple of design projects, which are always a fun way to take a break from studying. Our most recent event was Facing the Bear, an evening devoted to making the athletics facility (nicknamed the Bear) as appealing and inviting as possible. We stocked the Bear with friendly staff, gave tours, and gave away food. I was also responsible for creating a few handouts to illustrate the Bear’s many offerings. It was an enjoyable evening, and has set up a good prototype for future events. Check out the design work I’ve been up to below!

My MAP (Mentored Advanced Project) with Professor Purcell ’92 has taken a dramatic and exciting change in direction. After a few discussions on the goals of my project and on the DIgital Humanities (particularly its emphasis on building things, rather than just discussing things), we’re changing gears. Rather than an ebook, I’ll be creating an app. We’re still very early in the planning stages, but essentially the app will provide a guided tour of the campus of Grinnell College and allow the user to “go back in time” to see what buildings once stood on the same ground, notable events that happened in certain buildings, and a wealth of information about each building and its evolutions. It looks to be a massive, but extremely rewarding project. Currently, I’m examining other touring apps, college apps, and various history apps and making prototype mock-ups. More to come on that front as the semester progresses.

 

Alumni Challenge Poster
Alumni Challenge Poster
Handout designed for "Facing the Bear"
Handout designed for “Facing the Bear”
Handout designed for "Facing the Bear"
Handout designed for “Facing the Bear”
Handout designed for "Facing the Bear"
Handout designed for “Facing the Bear”

Bear Intramurals

New logo I designed for the Hall Wellness Coordinators. The six pointed hexagon inside the circle is meant to allude to the Six Dimensions of Wellness.
New logo I designed for the Hall Wellness Coordinators. The six pointed hexagon inside the circle is meant to allude to the Six Dimensions of Wellness.
Poster for advertising "Facing the Bear"
Poster for advertising “Facing the Bear”
Newspaper Writing: Pop into the Peppertree

Newspaper Writing: Pop into the Peppertree

I’ve decided to post my various publications to this blog for my organization and your enjoyment.

Originally printed in the Scarlet and Black and online at http://www.thesandb.com/community/pop-into-the-peppertree.html

Pop Into the Peppertree

Looking for a good place in town to enjoy a classic Iowa meal with a bit of history? Catch the next train to he Peppertree at the Depot Crossing, on 3rd Avenue and Park Street.

The Peppertree resides in the former railroad passenger depot, where the two train tracks through town cross, and the restaurant plays on this history, with a stained glass rendering of a train just inside the front entrance. The beautiful architecture lends to the atmosphere, with original wooden trusses and bricks providing an old-fashioned feeling that simply cannot be duplicated with modern materials. There are a few choices for dining environment: there is the main dining room, the bar area and a small seating area near the bar.

The menu is quite extensive and offers something for everyone. There is a good list of appetizers, as well as a selection of soups and small salads. The entrée selection is huge, with a heavy emphasis on meat and seafood. There are also a variety of large salads, pastas and various sandwiches. Most of the pastas, meat dishes and seafood come with bread, salad and a side. Portions are quite sizable at the Peppertree; those with smaller appetites could easily split a meal and be sated. The Peppertree also offers a kid’s menu and various early-bird specials.

I had dinner at the Peppertree this past week—here is a peek at a meal there. After perusing the menu and being tempted by the daily dinner special of a rack of ribs, I decided on the Chipotle Chicken Sandwich. Though it came with shoestring fries, I decided to upgrade to seasoned criss-cross fries for 50 cents more. It was totally worth it. The fries were delightfully crisp and deeply flavorful. The sandwich itself was quite huge and ridiculously rich. It featured charbroiled chicken breast, topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, tomato and chipotle mayo, all on thick toasted sourdough bread. The chicken was succulent and the stack of bacon, cheese and tomatoes made the sandwich extra indulgent. The thickly cut and toasted sourdough was a good choice, as it kept the sandwich from falling apart; a lesser bread would not have made it. The portions for the meal were quite substantial—I had a generous amount of fries and the sandwich was almost big enough to split.

The Peppertree is a great choice for larger groups and definitely has something for everyone to enjoy. The service is attentive, and the location is both historic and fun. If you like trains and great food, then choo-choose the Peppertree for your next dinner.

My Meal At the Peppertree