I was down in the desert for a long weekend, staying in Palm Springs and meeting up with friends with kids in Rancho Mirage. It was a lovely trip all in all.
I was reminded repeatedly that I was in Southern California, and often the atmosphere was better or bolder than the food. There was definitely a time warp in terms of portion size, menus, and the number of varieties of potatoes (at one place, we chose from fries, steak fries, curly fries, waffle fries, or hash browns--and this was just the grill at the golf course).
I stopped in at Koffi a couple of times, once for iced coffee, another time for tea, a blueberry muffin ($2.75! Palm Springs resort prices), and the NYT. Great spot, very popular. I had to share a table on a Sunday. Free wifi.
Had decent pollo con mole at El Mirasol ($12), with stale tortillas and not very good iced tea. This is a popular place. Not sure I'd return, although the enchiladas looked good.
Respectable pastrami at Sherman's in Palm Desert. This was like Miami Beach in the 70s, when I grew up, including the patrons, perhaps more Wolfie's than the Rascal House (which had meaner waitresses but better food). The challah looked very good. Awful sauerkraut and pickles! Very friendly service.
I grabbed a late breakfast at Rick's in Palm Springs. Chicken fried steak was probably not the right choice, although the sunnyside eggs were good--and huge, I've never seen such yolks. Home fries with onions and red peppers were tasteless. Excellent biscuits. Dreadful cafe con leche. I should have gone back to Koffi.
The Saturday farmers' market was a disappointment, with higher prices than in San Francisco and not very tasty fruit driven from far away. I tried strawberries from Santa Maria ($4 a basket and not sweet), tangerines ($2 a pound, and not that good), and skipped the Fuji apples (from Indio?). The highlights were definitely the dates and honeys.
We did drive down to Shields' Date Farm for date ice cream and shakes, which were so sweet they were hard to finish. The fresh squeezed grapefruit juice is a good deal here.