CVI Crapcam
It's pretty, yummy and messy—all at the same time! Credit: CVI Crapcam

What: The Black Spaghetti and Clams

Where: Catalan Mediterranean Cuisine, 70026 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage

How Much: $25

Contact: 760-770-9508;

Why: It tastes great—and looks amazing.

New Orleans is one of the best food cities I’ve ever visited. We were last there in 2011, and it seemed like every meal we enjoyed (well, make that every meal we had when we escaped from the tourist trap that is Bourbon Street) was simply fantastic.

One of the best meals we had—OK, two of the best meals we had, because we simply had to go back a second time—was at Domenica, a restaurant owned by celebrity chef John Besh. The entrée that was so good it practically forced us to return was the squid ink tagliolini with crab and herbs. Amazing.

Well, the good news is that I’ve found a dish here in the Coachella Valley that reminds me a lot of the squid ink tagliolini: the black spaghetti and clams, at Rancho Mirage’s Catalan Mediterranean Cuisine.

This delicious and beautiful plate of food combines perfectly prepared pasta, briny clams, fruity Calabrian peppers and a healthy portion of garlic into a dish that will make you want to return to Catalan a second time to get more of it. And a third.

There are downsides to this dish: It’s messy as all hell (you have to fish the clams out of the broth), and your breath will be … um, fragrant after you eat it. However, that’s why they make soap, laundry detergent and mouthwash, right?

As an added bonus, the setting at Catalan is gorgeous as well. We recommend a seat in the courtyard, where you can enjoy Spanish acoustic guitar Thursday through Saturday nights.

You may not be in New Orleans, but thanks to Catalan, you can sure eat like you are.

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. He is also the executive editor and publisher of the Reno News & Review in Reno, Nev. A native of Reno, the Dodgers...