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Sunday, 12 June 2016 15:50

Exploring Greater Palm Springs' Foodie Trail

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Palm Springs Foodie illus Picmonkey

TASTE News Service, June 13, 2016 – While Riverside County's Coachella Valley has a well-deserved reputation as a year-round playground, few visitors realize the region is also one of the nation's top producing agricultural centers.

Agriculture in Riverside County is a massive industry. The region is home to more than 1,200 farms, and agriculture accounts for more than 15,000 jobs, with a total economic impact of $3.5 billion for the county.

"We have the best quality and variety of produce in the country," says Gregorio Calderin, the Executive Chef of King's Highway at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs. "I've worked in many other places and never seen the variety you can get here."

From the county's famed dates to grapefruit and leafy green to goat cheese and honey, local farmers are harvesting bountiful flavors which means nearly every meal in the Oasis offers an element of “Farm to Table.”

Looking to create your own edible tour of Greater Palm Springs? Below are a few establishments on the area's foodie trail, all of which offer a great exploration of the region's bounty.

Day One

Jimmy Schmidt PicmonkeyJimmy Schmidt of Rattlesnake Club fame is now Executive Chef at Morgan's in the Desert

Shields Date Garden, Indio

More than 95 percent of the country's dates come from Greater Palm Springs, so a visit to a date farm is a fitting kickoff for your Oasis foodie adventure. At Shield's date garden, you can sample nearly a dozen varieties, enjoy the garden's palm tree views and sip on the quintessential Coachella Valley treat: the date shake. Also not to be missed? A free viewing of the cheeky film, “Romance and Sex Life of the Date.”

Madison Street Produce, Indio

Visitors are just a few feet from the fields that produce the strawberries, tomatoes, squash and other produce sold at this roadside stand. Madison Street Produce has been selling its freshly picked fruits and veggies at the corner of Highway 111 and Madison Street since 2000.

Morgan's in the Desert, La Quinta

Local seasonal ingredients and a breathtaking hacienda-style setting make Morgan's in the Desert unforgettable. Chef Jimmy Schmidt, a James Beard Award winner, is credited with pioneering the local farm-to-table scene, thanks to his seasonal menus which feature offerings from the area's farmers. Dishes pair perfectly with the restaurant's West Coast wine list.

Koffi, Rancho Mirage

Savor locally roasted beans at Koffi in Rancho Mirage, the only roasting facility in Greater Palm Springs. Green coffee beans, many organic and fair trade, are roasted in small batches to ensure the freshest cold brews and espressos in the oasis. The tempting treats in the pastry case are also baked fresh daily.

La Spiga Ristorante Italiano, Palm Desert

Although this restaurant serves up a taste of Tuscany, the menus are prepared with ingredients that are mostly grown onsite at La Spiga. Not only is everything here prepared from scratch in tried-and-true Sicilian fashion, but many dishes feature herbs, vegetables and citrus harvested from the restaurant's very own gardens.

Day Two

Cheeky's, Palm Springs

Every Wednesday, chef-owner Tara Lazar debuts a new menu at this chic brunch spot, which reflect the freshest offerings from local farmers. From heirloom tomatoes to arugula, produce is locally sourced, while eggs are organic and the beef grass-fed. The local ingredients are then creatively combined into fresh new takes on familiar breakfast and lunch fare.

Chicken Ranch, Palm Springs

This isn't your run-of-the-mill chicken joint. With a focus on healthy eating, Chicken Ranch's rotisserie birds are locally sourced from Gone Straw Farms. Plus, all the side dishes--like the famed beet and goat cheese salad—are sourced directly from the local Certified Farmers Market in Palm Springs. Wash down your meal with a locally brewed craft beer from Coachella Valley Brewing Company.

King's Highway, Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs

King's Highway, once a local Denny's, has become a popular desert eatery. Executive Chef Gregorio Calderin has designed a menu that honors Greater Palm Springs desert heritage by paying tribute to modern desert cuisine. While the menu includes culinary favorites from such desert locations as Mexico, the Middle East and Northern Africa, the menu utilizes foods from as close to home as possible.

Birba, Palm SpringsBirba Pizza Margherita PicmonleyPizza Margherita is a staple at Birba

Another locally focused dining experience from restaurateur Tara Lazar, Birba delights with its romantic patio where guests enjoy pizza pies and homemade pastas. Crusts are hand-crafted in a traditional or gluten-free style, while toppings are all sourced locally. The pastas are also filled with local finds such as goat cheese and citrus.

Workshop Kitchen + Bar, Palm Springs

An architectural delight thanks to its clean, industrial ambiance, Workshop Kitchen + Bar designs its menus around the seasonal offerings of local farms. Here, New American cuisine plays with local offerings like honey, mustard greens and dates, while the cocktail menu features handcrafted creations muddled with local fruits and house-made syrups.

Coachella Valley Certified Farmers Markets, Region-wide

Discover the bounty of the Oasis at a number or area Coachella Valley Certified Farmers Markets. Find everything from produce, meats and cheeses to fresh flowers, locally made salsa and freshly squeezed juice. Markets are open October through May in Palm Springs, Palm Desert and La Quinta and through the summer in Palm Springs.

Greater Palm Springs Craft Beer ExperiencesBabes BBQ Brewery PicmonkeyBabe's BBQ, 2015 Brewery of the Year

Coachella Valley Brewing Company, Thousand Palms

The hand crafted beer at Coachella Valley Brewing Company's Thousand Palms brewery shine, in part because of their use of local ingredients. Try Desert Swarm, made with local coriander, kumquats and honey or the Palms to Pines triple IPA, brewed with locally gathered spruce tips.

La Quinta Brewing Company; La Quinta, Palm Desert

Enjoy a locally brewed beer at La Quinta Brewing Company's Old Town La Quinta taproom or Palm Desert brewery. Award-winning favorites include the Poolside Blonde and Indian Canyon IPA, but don't miss the Koffi Porter, brewed with locally roasted coffee beans from koffi.

Babe's Bar-B-Que Brewhouse, Ranch Mirage

The destination's oldest micro-brewery is lodged within a popular barbecue restaurant at The River, an entertainment complex in Rancho Mirage. The restaurant, which recently won “Brewery of the Year” by judges in the California Craft Brew Competition at the California State Fair, includes a long list of award-winning beers. Try the Honey Blonde Ale flavored with orange-blossom honey or their winningest beer, Blackfin Lager.

For more fresh culinary selections, take a look at the Riverside County Ag Trail map.

Read 2333 times Last modified on Sunday, 12 June 2016 16:16

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