CVIndependent

Wed12132017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

What: The jamón Iberico

Where: Counter Reformation, inside the Parker Palm Springs, 4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $14

Contact: 760-770-5000; www.theparkerpalmsprings.com/dine/counter-reformation.php

Why: It’s a treat in every sense of the word.

I was fortunate enough to spend several days in Barcelona at the end of a cruise a while back—and during those several days, I enjoyed some of the best food I’ve ever had.

I was reminded of those glorious meals one recent late afternoon when I met friend and colleague Kevin at Counter Reformation, a hidden gem of a wine bar tucked inside the Parker Palm Springs hotel.

However, Counter Reformation is much more than a mere wine bar; it also serves some of the most decadent small plates around. Along with your glass of lovely wine (all of which are $6 for 3 ounces, $11 for 6 ounces, or $40 for a bottle) or champagne ($11 for 5 ounces, or $40 for a bottle), you can enjoy more than a half-dozen delights such as the grilled prawn brochette ($11), or the fingerling potatoes with a poached egg ($11) or the downright-intriguing foie gras macaron ($12).

However, when I saw the jamón Iberico on the menu, I knew that’s what I had to have. The cured meat from the black Iberian pig was one of the culinary highlights of my Barcelona stay, and the see-through-thin slices on offer at Counter Reformation—served with a tomato relish and two crostini with a creamy spread—were every bit as delicious (if a bit more pricey) as the stuff I enjoyed in Spain.

Almost (but not quite) as great as the jamon were the complimentary jars of olives and cornichons served with the tapas and wine. Wow. Just … wow.

The hours at Counter Reformation are limited (3 to 10 p.m. Thursday through Monday), but it’s worth finding some time to treat yourself there. It’s one of the best wine bars in the Coachella Valley—with some of the best tapas in the Coachella Valley. 

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: Black Pepper Pok Pok Som Drinking Vinegar

Where: Dead or Alive, 150 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $4

Contact: 760-864-7193; www.deadoralivebar.com

Why: It’s an equally attractive nonalcoholic beverage.

Back when I was in college, the university had a policy: Any group that threw a party on campus that included alcohol also had to offer EANABs—equally attractive non-alcoholic beverages—for attendees who were eschewing booze, for whatever reason.

However, this policy was a joke: The EANABs at parties were almost always terrible—a couple cans of Diet Coke, perhaps, or maybe a half-flat two-liter bottle of Sprite off in the corner somewhere. These lame beverages were certainly not equally attractive to anything, in any way.

EANABs have been on my mind as of late, because the hubby recently quit drinking. (He was never much of a drinker in the first place. He just doesn’t care for it.) Therefore, in recent months, we’ve learned that most bars and restaurants are horribly uncreative when it comes to non-alcoholic beverages.

That’s why the Pok Pok Som Drinking Vinegar offered at Dead or Alive, the fantastic new wine and beer bar across the street from Mr. Lyons on Palm Canyon Drive, is so refreshing—in several different ways.

It’s refreshing because it’s a perfect warm-weather beverage. I know many of you are reading this and thinking, “WTF is drinking vinegar?!” The answer: It’s a tart, sweet, nuanced beverage that in no way tastes like the stuff one would use to make a salad dressing. Dead or Alive offers several different flavors in rotation, including Meyer lemon, grapefruit and passion fruit. However, my favorite is the black pepper: You don’t really taste all that much pepper, but you feel a pleasing, subtle burn on the back of your tongue while drinking the beverage.

It’s also refreshing because it’s truly an EANAB. Hooray to the folks at Dead or Alive (full disclosure—co-owner Christine Soto is a contributor to the Independent) for offering non-drinkers an equally attractive beverage. Here’s hoping other bars and restaurants follow suit.

Published in The Indy Endorsement