Woke up Wednesday, started the day at Koffi, and headed directly to the farmers' market at Palm Desert. We stocked up on oranges (blood and mandarin), grapefruits, lemons, tangelos, avocados, goat cheese, greens, and a fantastically healthy and delicious fresh-squeezed grapefruit and kale juice. I must say that the jalapeno goat cheese was particularly memorable.
After some shopping in Palm Desert, we drove out to Indio for some lunch at El Mexicali. This place was great. At the owner's insistence, we tried the restaurant's signature dish, the shrimp stuffed yellow peppers. Those were absolutely delicious: hot (as in temperature, not spice level), tangy, with a slight char flavour from the grill. I then enjoyed my main, the Especial de Mexicali, which is Carne Asada, Nopales y Frijoles de la Olla (cactus and whole beans). I loved the tangy flavour of the cactus and that the beans were served whole rather than refried (the restaurant also serves refried beans, of course). My wife had a combo plate that I vaguely remember...again I think that there was a chile relleno, an enchilada, and something else on her plate. Regardless, the food here was delicious and the housemade salsa was excellent.
We were so full that we had a light supper only of avocado, goat cheese, and greens on crackers.
Thursday we started the day at Cheeky's again (another great meal). I chose a healthy breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal with walnuts and blueberries. It was fantastic. I made up for any healthy pretensions by stopping at Swiss Donut before heading out to Joshua Tree National Park. I bought a pecan sticky bun for myself and an apple fritter for my wife. Both were fabulously fresh and pleasing. I like that the dough itself in their baked goods is light (texturally, anyway), tender, and moist. Sometimes cinnamon buns have great toppings but lousy, tough, and dried-out dough.
After a day of hiking in Joshua Tree, we headed to our condo for a quick shower and then out to Johannes for dinner. Our meal there was highly enjoyable. My wife's starter, the cheese spaetzeln, was the ultimate comfort food. With gruyere, fontina, bacon, arugula, onions and chives, it had layers of flavour, and the spaetzeln were cooked perfectly. I had the endive salad (always a favourite) which was beautifully presented. For a main, I had the duck breast with sauteed spinach, a perfectly roasted bosc pear, and an orange tarragon glaze which was sweet but not cloying thanks to its acidity. My SO had the tenderloin steak in a green peppercorn brandy sauce with fries, glazed carrots, and creamed spinach. Both mains were good, and the prices were exceedingly fair ($22 for my duck; $12 for my wife's spaetzeln, which was a huge serving). My wife loved the flavour of her steak and the creamed spinach. My duck was cooked a perfect medium rare and paired fabulously with a glass of gruner veltliner. I also liked the grilled pear on my plate, which surprised me because I usually dislike fresh fruit paired with protein.
Desserts at Johannes looked amazing (particularly the Orange Chipotle Chocolate Mousse) but we were too full to indulge.
This was our best meal overall in the Coachella Valley. To be continued...
El Mexicali Restaurant
82720 Indio Blvd, Indio, CA 92201
652 E 6th St Ste A, Beaumont, CA 92223