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Thu12122019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival Grows in Its Second Year

When I talked to David Fraschetti about the inaugural Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival a year ago, he promised me that the fest, taking place at the Rancho Mirage Amphitheater and Community Park, at 71560 San Jacinto Drive, would feature great food—but the primary focus would be on the wine, with no booze, beer or cooking demonstrations.

“This is a marketing event for our wineries,” he told me. “… We’re not trying to be everything to everyone.”

Seeing as Fraschetti, a Coachella Valley resident, is also the organizer of the popular VinDiego Wine and Food Festival, it should come as no surprise that he apparently knew what he was doing—and that an expanded Rancho Mirage Wine and Food Festival will return this year, taking place Jan. 30-Feb. 2.

A couple of five-course wine dinners at restaurants will happen on Wednesday, Jan. 30, with the Rare and Reserve Tasting happening at the park on Friday, Feb. 1. But the main event is the grand tasting, taking place at the park on Saturday, Feb. 2.

“When we started doing this business seven years ago in San Diego, we had a great business plan: ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Fraschetti told me recently. “Last year really proved to be the same out here in the desert.”

This year’s grand tasting will feature 18 to 20 restaurants—most, but unlike last year, not all based in Rancho Mirage—and about 45 wineries.

Fraschetti said he loves the community aspect of the festival; related to that, a portion of the proceeds will again benefit the Desert AIDS Project.

“I live four minutes from the festival site,” Fraschetti said. “The people who come are neighbors of mine. Everybody seems to know everybody out here.”

Tickets to Saturday afternoon’s grand tasting start at $85. For tickets and more information, including a complete schedule, visit ranchomiragewineandfoodfestival.comf.


Enzo’s Bistro and Bar Replaces the Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar

So it’s a good-news, bad-news sort of thing.

The bad: The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar, which took over the old Crab Pot digs at 70030 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, has closed its doors. (It had no relation to the Fisherman’s Market and Grill locations in Palm Springs, Palm Desert and La Quinta, for the record.)

The good news: The space is now home to the second Enzo’s Bistro and Bar location.

The first Enzo’s opened at 78121 Avenida La Fonda in La Quinta last spring and has gathered a lot of great buzz. I have not yet had a chance to check out the “elegant and authentic” Italian fare at either location—but you can bet your bottom dollar I will soon.

Get more info at www.enzosbistroandbar.com.


In Brief

One of the culinary centerpieces of downtown Palm Springs’ redevelopment project is open: Il Corso, the much-liked Palm Desert-El Paseo Italian restaurant owned by chef Mario Marfia and, uh, indicted developer John Wessman has opened its second location at 111 N. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 180; get info at ilcorsocv.com. … Save wildlife “one brew at a time,” according to the news release, at the 10th annual Brew at the Zoo event, happening at and benefiting the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, 47900 Portola Ave., in Palm Desert, at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 9. Tickets start at $60 (for members) and $65 (nonmembers) and will get you access to more than 30 beer, wine, liquor and non-alcoholic beverage vendors; 10 food trucks will offer food for purchase. Designated drivers get in for just $20; call 760-346-5694 or visit www.livingdesert.org for tickets or details. … Celebrate the Academy Awards in style and support AAP Food Samaritans at the same time by heading to Trio Restaurant at 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24, for the annual “Hollywood’s Biggest Night” shindig. The event will sell out, so get your seats, starting at $125, ASAP at aidsassistance.org; you’ll get a six-course dinner and beverages with your reservation, and most of what you’ll pay is tax-deductible. Yay! … The River giveth, and The River taketh away. The Rancho Mirage shopping center, at 71800 Highway 111, recently welcomed the second location of the locally owned Apong’s Philly Steak, while the only valley location of MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza Company, which was located at The River, has shut its doors. Learn more about the yumminess at Apong’s at apongsphillysteak.com. … This announcement brings me joy: Mariscocos Culiacan, one of my favorite valley seafood places, has opened a second location: In addition to the original Coachella location, there’s now one at 16760 Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs. Yes! More info at www.facebook.com/mariscocosymaristorresculiacan760. … Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, at 32250 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage, has recently made some nice changes—including the opening of 360 Sports, a big, beautiful sports bar and restaurant. Learn more at www.hotwatercasino.com/360-sports-bar.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

What: The Philadelphia-style cheesesteak

Where: Apong’s Philly Steak, 68444 Perez Road, Cathedral City

How much: $8.49

Contact: 760-770-0229; www.apongsphillysteak.com

Why: It’s delicious simplicity.

I walked up to the counter at Apong’s Philly Steak, and I was greeted by a smiling employee. I told him I wanted a cheese steak, and asked what specifically he recommended.

Hoagie-style, perhaps, with lettuce, tomato and “special sauce”? With bacon, maybe, or jalapenos, or multiple kinds of cheese?

“Just Philadelphia style,” he said—meaning just meat, cheese and grilled onions on the bread. Nothing more, nothing less.

He made the right call: My cheese steak was delicious.

Tucked into one of those industrial-ish Perez Road centers—this particular center also features an all-American combination of a strip club, a bakery and a marijuana dispensary—Apong’s is not a place you’ll go for the atmosphere (though it’s perfectly pleasant inside). You’ll go there for the food, which includes an unusual mix of sandwiches, salads, Mexican specials and Krispy Krunchy-brand Cajun fried chicken. Apong’s also offers a lot of Filipino fare, including breakfasts, noodle dishes, soups, meat entrées and desserts; I’ll order from the Filipino portion of the menu the next time I’m there. (I am dying to find out more about “sweet Filipino style” spaghetti.)

But for this visit, since “Philly Steak” is part of the restaurant’s name, that’s what I ordered—and I loved every bite. The combination of piping-hot beef, grilled onions and melted provolone (American and whiz are also available; the aforementioned man behind the counter selected the cheese for me) on the bun were all this sandwich needed. It was warm, meaty, gooey goodness. Any other additions would have been needless at best, or detracting at worst.

Don’t let the odd, off-the-beaten-path location of Apong’s Philly Steak deter you; it’s worth your time and effort to check out this family-owned joint … especially if you like a simple, damn tasty cheese steak. 

Published in The Indy Endorsement