Breakfast today was at Wilma & Frieda's at The Gardens on El Paseo. Went in fairly early and thought the place was deserted but by the time we left, there wasn’t a spot empty! Looks like a breakfast and brunch fave around here. For a true blast from the past, just like the huge sign hanging on the wall reading Café Dining Cars, get their specialty pop tarts – so many flavors and so much fun. There’s a few varieties to choose from so I won’t spill the pops on what those are – I hope you will visit to discover.
Enjoyed visiting the Palm Springs Art Museum at Palm Desert with docent Patrick Blythe, and perused the newly installed “Glass for the New Millennium: Masterworks from the Kaplan-Ostergaard Collection” exhibition, which is on display through early March 2017. The exhibit features works by artists from more than 10 countries and traces the history of studio glass from the 1960s. I seriously could not believe some of the artwork I saw here – incredible that they are all made from glass. Images do not do justice to the critically curated collection.
The museum, known as The Galen, presents exhibitions of internationally important art, including painting, sculpture, photography and new media. The Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden has large installations of sculptures surrounded by beautifully landscaped desert gardens, water features and walkways. This is perfect for a casual walk through, bring a book, some coffee and hang out – you are technically in the middle of a very busy area but in this sculpture garden, you are almost protected from that amidst the rocks and art.
Wednesdays are Certified Farmers’ Market days here, held right outside the museum, and run from October through May, featuring everything from fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to baked goods, olive and avocado oils, orchids and plants, eggs and live music. If you are will be visiting the area for a few days or have access to a kitchen then the produce here is great to take home for a few fresh meals.
The Desert Willow Golf Resort, home of two thoughtfully designed courses, Firecliff and Mountain View, that opened for play in 1997 and 1998, respectively, was the resort that became the lunch destination for the day. The outdoor dining with incredible views of the surrounding Santa Rosa Mountains at the Terrace restaurant must be experienced. If you are a photographer then a lovely sunny day will get you some great shots of not just the golfing greens but also the mountains in the distance. Their popular date lemonade was the first thing I checked off my list! When you enter the mail lobby ar the resort, remember to look up for a minute - a beautiful purple and green Dale Chihuly chandelier hangs from the ceiling!
Amply armed for the next activity - Desert Adventures “Red Jeep” San Andreas Fault Eco-Tour with local guide Darrell to explore the backcountry trails of a Bureau of Land Management Wilderness zone. I learned so much about the area on this one that I couldn’t stop scribbling notes. They give you a good sprinkling on local history, geography, culture, habitat, flora, fauna so you have a better appreciation for the area. Time restrictions ensured it was mostly a drive but I believe the full length of the tour has a few opportunities for hikes.
The beauty of the desert is unbelievable. You and your group are pretty much the only folks around during some parts of the tour – the silence amidst canyons is eerie. We saw slot canyons and block canyons, canyons shaped like owls and heads, learned about so many different plant varieties, got to taste honey mesquite powder and some palm fruit too. Overall, a great way to spend a day here.
And then I was in for another surprise when I got to taste a signature date shake made from dates grown in the Coachella Valley, during a visit to the active date grove at the Palm Desert Aquatic Center. Date palms were planted in this region during the 1890s, and today there are more than 6,500 acres of plantings, producing more than 40 million pounds of four different varieties—the Deglet-Noor, the Medjool, the Barhi and the Zahidi. A date shake is a Palm Desert must! You will not regret it. Better yet, head for a tour with Oasis Date Gardens who are among the largest producers of dates in the country. Growing up in the Middle East, and being raised Muslim, I have a special fondness for dates and will probably be the first person to pounce on some if I see a bag open nearby. One sip of that date shake and I was on my way down memory lane.
The final dinner for this trip was at Le Paon. Located on El Paseo, this award-winning, 4-star contemporary French restaurant is owned and operated by Executive Chef Eddie Babai and his brother, General Manager and Maitre d’ Antoine Babai. Eddie trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and also at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. It is certainly a high-end establishment and a tad bit pricey but totally worth it for a celebratory meal or a special occasion. I went all out with my choices for the night, the crazy Francophile and foodie in me surfaced and how – coquilles St. Jacques for appetizer, stuffed quail in pomegranate sauce for entrée and homemade butter cake with vanilla and date ice cream for dessert. Everything was fabulously flavorful, presented beautifully and service was excellent. Did I mention I went all out?
*Hosted at this destination as a member of the media/guest of Visit Palm Desert. All opinions my own*