CVIndependent

Thu06212018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

What: The tostada especial

Where: Mariscoco’s Culiacan, 51683 Harrison (Cesar Chavez) St., Coachella

How much: $11.99

Contact: 760-398-5666; www.facebook.com/mariscocosymaristorresculiacan760

Why: The freshness and the impeccable flavor.

A while back, a friend told me about the most amazing Mexican seafood place in Coachella. I remembered part of the distinctive name—Mariscoco’s—so when I recently found myself in Coachella during lunch time, I looked the place up.

Boy, am I glad I did: The lunch was one of the tastiest meals I have had in months.

Seafood, obviously, is the focus at Mariscoco’s, and the restaurant is renowned for its seafood towers. However, these towers are meant for more than one individual, even if said individual is quite hungry, as I was. The helpful server pointed me in the figurative direction of the tostada especial—a smaller, meant-for-one dish containing most of the same ingredients as the most-popular towers.

The plate that arrived a short time later was a thing of beauty: cucumbers, onion, shrimp, abalone, octopus, fish, sea snail, scallops and other ingredients sat atop a tostada, with another tostada gently placed on top. The plate also included some fresh avocado, a bit of mango, and a couple of orange slices—and everything sat in Mariscoco’s smoky, savory “special sauce.”

The plate’s beauty was topped only by its flavor: Everything tasted impeccably fresh and delicious. The crunch of the cucumber, the sweetness of the shrimp, the smoothness of the avocado, the tartness of the citrus in the special sauce—it all came together masterfully. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out what an amazing deal this is: $11.99 for this much great seafood?! Amazing.

The only thing that could have made it better would have been a chavela (which I could have ordered, but I didn’t because it was a work day) and a beach (which, alas, is not available at Mariscoco’s Culiacan). Otherwise, this was a perfect lunch—one I can’t stop thinking about.

Cliff Young has been a well-known face in the Southern California food scene for more than two decades.

He’s owned coffee carts and coffee houses. He’s done restaurant reviews. He’s organized food festivals. He’s hosted popular radio and TV shows, including a local PBS show, Out to Eat, for more than five years. Through it all, however, his true passion has always been coffee—specifically, roasting coffee.

About six months ago, he put aside his media efforts to focus on his passion full-time via his brand-new Coachella Valley Coffee Co. The “small-batch artisanal coffee roasting” company today makes coffees specifically tailored to individual restaurants, while also roasting coffee that’s great to brew up at home—and Young always makes sure that a chunk of the proceeds go toward philanthropy. Young’s coffee can be purchased online or at retailers including Tipper’s Gourmet Marketplace and the Palm Springs Air Museum.

To order coffee or learn more, visit coachellavalleycoffee.com. We recently sat down with Young at—where else?—a coffee house for a chat.

What possessed you to go ahead and start Coachella Valley Coffee Company?

I’ve been roasting since 1994. I started my first coffee business at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana—a little coffee cart. If you go to any Kaiser … those coffee carts were started by me. So I’ve been in the coffee business a long time. I wanted more control over my product, so I started going to Seattle, and hanging out with the roasters in San Francisco. I love taking this raw green coffee bean, which is about 12 to 15 percent moisture, and turning it into this gorgeous brown bean. Done rightly, the sugars come out.

A lot of people think, “Oh, I’ll just buy a roaster. I’m going to put this in, and it comes out.” No, it doesn’t. I learned from the old guys up in San Francisco, when Alfred Peet was still alive. It was nose and ears—it was olfactory and your ears. I can smell what’s going on with that coffee bean during the roasting process, and I can listen to it. I love standing next to my roaster, and just closing my eyes, and going, “That bean’s at 386 degrees,” and I’ll be within a degree or two, because you can hear what’s going on with that coffee. Even though we all have computers now telling us what to do, a computer can’t smell; a computer doesn’t taste.

I sold all of my other roasting businesses in ’08, before I started my PBS television show, because I was going to get rich on PBS. (Laughs.) Out to Eat was a fun show; I was No. 2 in ratings behind Huell Howser. Even after Huell died, he was still beating me in the ratings.

After moving back out here from Los Angeles, I said, “I’ve got to do something besides PBS, because I’m not paying the bills.” I’ve always been very, very good at roasting. Everybody has something they’re good at, and that was my thing. I built my own restaurants, opened my own restaurants—but this coffee thing, it got me. It’s my thing. I travel to the farms and meet the farmers …

Let me ask you about that. I just finished a bag of fantastic Nicaraguan coffee from you at home. How do these beans get from Nicaragua or Sumatra, or wherever it is, to your roaster?

Cliff Young, the roastmaster general, goes to Nicaragua, or Guatemala, or Costa Rica, or Colombia—I go to every country except for the African countries. I might buy from brokers who’ve been in the business for 30 years. I go visit farms. I learned years ago that just because it’s from, you know, Columbia, it doesn’t mean it’s good coffee. Columbia grows a lot of bad coffee, and so does Guatemala. The key is finding the farmers who take care of their crops, who are making sure they have the right fertilizers, natural, and that they’re feeding (their crops). Then you pay them properly … so they’re making money, and I get a great product.

I just got back from Nicaragua, where I’ve been going since ’03—(with) some of the best coffees ever. Luckily, I took one of my roasting friends with me, a kid who used to work for me, who now owns my very first coffeehouses in Redlands, and is roasting and doing a good job. We bought the entire crop. He said, “This is the best coffee we’ve ever had,” and thank god he has a bigger credit card than me. Then we book shipping containers and get it up here. It takes us a couple of weeks. Then I hold it … in a controlled environment. Even though we’re out in the desert, I have a controlled warehouse, because I want to keep that moisture content at 12 percent in that raw bean, so I have something to work with when it’s time to roast.

I think that’s what sets me apart: I travel. I know the farmers, and I make sure the farmers are taken care of. I enjoy traveling to these countries and making sure that not just the farm, but the local community, is taken care of.

Since you started doing this full-time again, how’s the reception been?

I thought it would be better, because I thought, “OK, I know so many of the shops and the restaurateurs in the valley; they’ve been on my television show, and on my radio shows,” so I thought they would just crawl all over me. It’s tough, and I know part of it is that I’m new. There are a couple other roasters out here that have been doing it for three years, or five years. I’ve got 25 years under my belt, and there’s a world of difference. I think I just have to put my product in front of them and let them try it, and compare it to anybody else’s, and they’ll notice the difference.

Where can your coffee be found right now?

A couple of the places in the Coachella Valley are Heirloom Craft Kitchen in La Quinta … and Wabi Sabi (Japan Living) and Tipper’s Gourmet Marketplace in downtown Palm Springs; Oscar’s just picked us up, and Alebrije Bistro Mexico. … It took me about three tries to get a roast level that they were happy with. Theirs is really a half dark and half city roast.

You’re actually customizing your coffee for your different clients?

Yeah, I try to customize it for each restaurant, because … different coffees go with different foods. For Alebrije and the Mexican food with a little more fat in it, I wanted to get a darker roast in there that cleanses the palate. If I was going into more of a strictly breakfast restaurant, I’m going to stick with a little bit of a lighter roast.

What’s the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had?

It was on one of my first trips to Nicaragua in 2004. We didn’t want to stay in the city with the farm owner at their nice house, so we stayed at the farm with the workers, because I thought, “Oh, how cute, I want to pick coffee.” Well, that lasted about a half-hour, because it’s hard, and it was raining, and I’m falling down. … We stayed there at the farm in their new building, which just meant it was a one-room building with a concrete floor. Every day, we had black beans and rice and tortillas. You could hear the cook when she got to work at 5 a.m., because you could just hear slap, slap, slap as she’s making tortillas in the morning.

What made it good was … we figured out everything: We got a great coffee; we brewed it correctly. Roasted correctly, coffee has natural sugars in it, and you know you’ve done it right when people are putting less and less flavored syrups or sweeteners in their coffee. We take that liquid, that 12 percent moisture, and we caramelize (the bean) correctly at the right heat, and we have about 5 seconds while we can turn that into sugar, or we can destroy it. … (It’s not) full of sugar; it’s not that kind of sweet. It’s smooth. It’s almost velvety.

Most of us drink our coffee at home. When you’re making coffee for the general public, you can’t really customize it to a food, like you are for a restaurant. What do you do to make sure that coffee is great?

What am I doing? I’m packing it into a plastic bag with a valve that releases the carbon dioxide, because as coffee ages, it’s letting out (carbon dioxide). After a couple of weeks, all the gas is gone; all the CO2 is gone. CO2 is good, because it also moves flavors around in your mouth, so once all the CO2 is gone, it’s stale, old coffee.

When you get coffee, grind it right before you brew it, because within a few minutes of grinding coffee, 50 percent of those oils and the flavor disappear. So grind it fresh, and then use good water. If you drink your water from the tap, and it tastes good, then it’s good. We don’t have to over-complicate this. Buy a decent grinder—you can get one for $30. So you have good, fresh-ground coffee, good water and hot water—water’s got to be right off of the boil, about 202 degrees. That’s the issue with a lot of home coffee makers—they don’t get hot enough, and if you don’t get hot enough, you’re not extracting everything you want to.

What: The huevos rancheros

Where: Tacos Gonzalez, 80120 Highway 111, Indio

How much: $9.99

Contact: 760-347-6858

Why: It’s delicious, meticulous simplicity.

It shouldn’t be difficult to make great yet simple food … but it most definitely is.

For example, consider the amazing huevos rancheros at Tacos Gonzalez, a popular hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint in Indio. There is nothing fancy or complicated about the dish: It consists of eggs, and tortillas, and sauce, and salsa, with beans, rice, lettuce and guacamole surrounding it.

Simple ingredients all, correct? Well, this leads to a question: If all of this is so simple, why don’t all restaurants serve such splendid huevos rancheros?

The answer: Not all cooks pay attention to the details like they do at Tacos Gonzalez.

The tortillas were tasty and well-prepared. The eggs were a perfect over-medium—just as I ordered them. The ranchero sauce was delicious with just a hint of spiciness. The salsa fresca was fresh and vibrant. All of the accompaniments were spot-on—especially the guacamole, which made me regret not ordering more as an appetizer.

If just one of these ingredients had been amiss—if, say, the eggs were overcooked, or the ranchero sauce was bland—the dish would have fallen into mediocrity. But the people in Taco Gonzalez’s kitchen made sure that did not happen. As a result, the huevos rancheros were fantastic.

This attention to detail was also apparent in the street tacos ($1.89 to $2.29 each) my husband ordered. He got six tacos, each with a different meat, and there was not a bad taco in the bunch. I liked the chicken best, while Garrett’s favorite was the carnitas.

The aforementioned meal was our first at Tacos Gonzalez—and it most certainly won’t be our last. All cooks—from restaurants at every price level—could learn a thing or two from the attention to detail on display at Tacos Gonzalez.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a notice from my printer saying the Independent’s print costs were going to go up.

I saw this coming … but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.

Here’s what’s going on: Because of a complaint from one—yes, just one—hedge-fund-owned paper mill in Washington state, the Commerce Department has slapped tariffs of up to 32 percent on newsprint imports from Canadian paper mills. (The exact tariffs vary from company to company.)

Of course, those costs are being passed on to the consumer—in this case, newspapers, including the Independent. In other words … because of these tariffs, newspapers, including the Independent, may need to make serious cuts to the journalism we produce.

Canadian newsprint is vital to the American newspaper industry. Only five paper mills in the U.S. still produce newsprint—and even if all five of those mills ran at full capacity, they’d only be able to produce a fraction of the newsprint needed in this country. Some 25 paper mills in Canada fill the gap—and as a result, about 75 percent of American newspaper publishers use Canadian newsprint, according to a recent Columbia Journalism Review piece.

Not only is just one paper mill asking for these tariffs; pretty much everyone else in the United States—including other paper mills—is opposed to them.

“The Commerce Department definitely is open for business for these types of complaints,” said Paul Boyle, from the newspaper trade association News Media Alliance, to the Columbia Journalism Review. “They want to push and show that they’re trying to protect American jobs and potentially create manufacturing opportunities for businesses in the United States, which is a laudable goal. But anyone who’s in the newsprint industry knows that the decline in newsprint manufacturing has everything to do with the shift from print newspapers to digital, and nothing to do with prices on products coming from Canada.”

This mess has led to the formation of a coalition called Stop Tariffs on Printers and Publishers, or STOPP. While there is encouraging movement in the battle against these tariffs—including a bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate in May that could stop the tariffs temporarily—print bills are already on the rise … as I learned from that notice from my printer a few weeks back.

Want to help? Please contact our federal representatives—Rep. Raul Ruiz and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris—and ask them to fight these tariffs. I’ll be doing just that after I send this issue to press.

The actions of a company with just 300 employees is needlessly threatening the newspaper industry, which employs 600,000 people nationally—and, of course, produces the journalism on which the country depends. That’s not right.

As always, thanks for reading. Also, be sure to pick up the June 2018 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting streets this week.

Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week, From June 1-17, Boasts 100-Plus Participants

Hey, foodies: That wonderful time of year known as Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is almost here!

From June 1-17—so, yeah, it’s more of a Greater Palm Springs Restaurant 2 1/2 Weeks—restaurants valley-wide will be offering special prix-fixe menus for lunch and/or dinner. Those lunch menus, with at least two courses, will cost $15, $20 or $25, while dinner menus, with at least three courses, will be $29, $39 or $49.

As of this writing, the Restaurant Week website listed a whopping 104 participants, from AC3 Restaurant + Bar to Zin American Bistro.

There are truly fine offers available at every price point for both lunch and dinner. However, because I earn a journalist’s salary (read: a half-step above “pauper”), I tend to focus on the $29 dinners—and, man, there are some great deals to be had. For example, we can go to Catalan Mediterranean Cuisine in Rancho Mirage and get the amazing paella (or one of five other main courses) and one of three first courses and one of two desserts for just $29. Or we can go to Jake’s in Palm Springs and choose one of six mains—including petite filet mignon!—plus a starter and dessert, again for just $29.

And now, a word of caution: While the majority of the Restaurant Week prix-fixe meals are indeed good deals … not all of them are. I’ll be diplomatic here and won’t name names … but some restaurants are offering menus under the Restaurant Week banner that are no better and no more exciting than what’s usually available. So, I recommend doing due diligence and researching the menus first.

Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week takes place Friday, June 1, through Sunday, June 17. For more information, including a constantly updated roster of participants with their menus, visit www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com/dinegps/restaurant-week.


New: Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar Opens in Downtown Palm Springs

The ever-controversial downtown Palm Springs redevelopment project is now home to yet another place to dine—and there’s nothing controversial about saying that the Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar is a whole lot of fun.

The Marlin Bar, located at 111 N. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 150, is—like the Tommy Bahama restaurant and bar in Palm Desert on El Paseo—attached to the beachware-themed clothing store. However, the Palm Springs menu is a bit more limited than the Palm Desert one, although there’s still plenty of food to satisfy any appetite—and the prices are quite reasonable

At a recent media preview, I was able to sample some of the Marlin Bar’s signature offerings. The coconut shrimp ($9) were simply divine, while the ahi tuna tacos with wonton shells ($8) were fresh and delicious. The Cuban sandwich ($11) was a messy delight, while the all-American burger sliders ($10) were juicy and delectable.

Beyond the ample selection of appetizers and “hand-helds” (i.e., tacos, sandwiches and burgers), the Marlin Bar also offers entrée salads ($13-$16) and mains ranging from a vegetarian bowl ($13) and a Thai shrimp bowl ($14) to guava-glazed baby back pork ribs ($18) and steak frites ($22).

What about the cocktails? There are a lot of yummy rum and island-themed drinks—no surprise there—along with martinis and standards that’ll cost you from $11 to $13.50. Select wines and cocktails are knocked down to $6 during happy hour, weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m., during which you can also enjoy select martinis for $8; select beer for $4; and well drinks for $5.

Oh … and the patio, just off Palm Canyon Drive, is pretty epic.

The Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar in Palm Springs is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily. Call 760-778-0019, or visit www.tommybahama.com for details.


In Brief

As promised … Grand Central Palm Springsis finally open! The restaurant is located inside the historic building at 160 La Plaza; for now, coffee, breakfast and lunch are being served from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday through Tuesday, with dinner to come later. Oh, and there’s a full bar, too! For more information, including menus and a history of the building, visit www.grandcentralpalmsprings.com; you can call ’em at 760-699-7185. … New to Indio: Sushi Bento, located in the old China Jo’s location at 82280 Highway 111. The place opened in March; get more info by calling 760-775-3444, or visiting this very odd and apparently in-progress website: sushi-bento-pan-asian-restaurant.business.site. … New to La Quinta: Enzo’s Bistro and Bar, at 78121 Avenida La Fonda. Enzo’s opened its doors in April and offers upscale Italian fare; the bar opens at 3 p.m., daily, with the dining room opening at 5 p.m. For more information, call 760-564-7333, or visit www.enzosbistroandbar.com.

What: Ice cream (specifically, the cookies and kreem)

Where: Kreem, 170 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $6 for two scoops, as shown

Contact: 760-699-8129; www.ilovekreem.com

Why: It’s revelatory … but your favorite flavor may not always be available.

There’s something to be said for mass-produced products.

Take, for example, a Snickers bar. If I want a Snickers bar—pretty much any time day or night, and pretty much anywhere in the world—I can get a Snickers bar. It’s that simple.

Alas, the same cannot be said for the cookies and kreem ice cream at Kreem.

When I made my inaugural visit to the newish “artisanal ice cream and coffee shop”—located in the part of Palm Springs where Palm Canyon Drive changes from a north-south thoroughfare into an east-west road—I ordered the cookies and kreem ice cream. It beat out flavors including strawberry rose, lavender coffee, vegan turmeric ginger and vegan ube … and it was revelatory. It got better with each passing bite, and when I was finished, I had to talk myself out of ordering more.

Flash forward to several days later, when I decided to take an ice cream break from work. I hopped in the car and made the short trek to Kreem, with my mouth watering the entire way.

I walked in, opened my mouth to put in my order … and then realized cookies and kreem was not on the menu anymore. You see, all of Kreem’s ice creams are made fresh in-house, and the cookies and kreem had sold out.

The kicker: I was told more had just been made … but it had not yet set, and was therefore not ready to be served.

Sigh.

So I ordered the chocolate chip ice cream. It’s what’s shown in the picture above. It was very good. But it was not the cookies and kreem I so deeply desired.

Damn you, artisanal yumminess! Damn you!

What: The pizza Italia

Where: Spaghetteria Pasta and Pizza, 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, No. 13, Palm Springs

How much: $20.95 for a medium, as shown

Contact: 760-322-7647; www.facebook.com/Spaghetteria-184803948227261

Why: A bevy of tasty ingredients.

I was in the mood for pizza.

It had been a long work day—including a meeting with a friend/colleague who had extolled the virtues of the thin-crust pizza at Spaghetteria, the longtime family-owned restaurant in Palm Springs. Therefore, I put two (my hankering for pizza) and two (my friend’s recommendation) together, and called up Spaghetteria for a to-go order.

Spaghetteria offers a variety of reasonably priced pies, but the one that caught my eye was the pizza Italia, thanks to the menu description: “everything on it.” When I called in my order, I asked for some clarification. “It has all of the ingredients we offer, except for pineapple and anchovies,” the woman replied.

It turns out that not everything else offered, toppings-wise, was on the pizza; I did not see any broccoli, spinach or chicken, which are also available on Spaghetteria pizzas. However, this is not a complaint, as there were ingredients aplenty: The pizza came with mushrooms, onions, black olives, artichoke hearts, sausage, ham and pepperoni, all with mozzarella on top—and it would have had green peppers on it had I not declined ’em.

After I picked up my pizza and brought it home, I could not wait to dive in—and my friend’s recommendation rang true: This was a great pizza. The crust was tasty and had a fine texture, while all of the many ingredients were excellent. Other than the inadvertent inclusion of some inedible onion-skin pieces, I had nary a complaint.

Spaghetteria offers all sorts of other Italian fare, including, yes, spaghetti, and I look forward to trying other things there.

“From Florence with love,” it says on the menu. This makes sense: It was clear that my delicious pizza was indeed made with love.

The last month has been crazy for those of us here at the Coachella Valley Independent.

Brian Blueskye was dealing with all the musical craziness April brings to the valley—including those really big festivals out in Indio that you may have heard of. He also talked to activist and organizer Cleve Jones for what serves as our May print edition cover; read that at CVIndependent.com on Friday, May 4.

Meanwhile, as my injured arm has healed (trust me, folks—dislocating one’s elbow is not very fun), I’ve been busy with my usual newspaper duties. I also took a trip to San Francisco to see Jamiroquai, one of my all-time-favorite bands (that’s one thing crossed off the ol’ bucket list!), and I joined some of my fellow alternative-newspaper publishers at an all-expenses-paid conference in Whistler, British Columbia, put on by a company called Maven.

I have been in the journalism business for more than two decades, and I can assure you that publishers aren’t often offered all-expenses-paid, no-strings-attached trips to luxury hotels at five-star resorts. OK, it never happens. That’s why my dozen or so alternative-newspaper colleagues and I were baffled by the whole thing as we gathered—with another 300 or so conference-goers—in Whistler on April 11.

Over the next two days, we learned a little more about Maven. From the Maven website, themaven.net: “Maven is a coalition of mavens operating on a shared digital publishing, advertising and distribution platform, unified under a single media brand. … Dozens of award-winning journalists, best-selling authors, top analysts, important causes and foundations are bringing their organizations to Maven’s coalition of elite content channels.”

It turns out co-founder James Heckman (a veteran of Yahoo!, Fox Interactive Media, Scout and Rivals.com—and his team want to unite as many independent publishers as possible) content providers who have been burned by Facebook and Google’s ever-changing policies and algorithms—under one figurative roof. While the Maven coalition members maintain their brand, identity and ownership (at least I think they do), they share technology and distribution, and become part of one large entity that, in theory, will be attractive to national advertisers. Heckman told us that he doesn’t think small, independent publishers can survive in the online world on their own. Hmm.

Maven claims 90 million monthly unique users as of now, and wants to at least double that.

So … where do the Independent and other alternative-newspaper publishers fit into all of this? I honestly don’t know. I do know we have a lot of questions, and we’re working on getting answers.

In any case, thanks for reading and supporting the Independent. Don’t hesitate to email me if you have comments or questions—and be sure to pick up our May 2018 print edition, now available valley-wide.

New: Temecula's Snow and Crab Expands to Bring Shaved Ice and Cajun Seafood to Palm Springs

I was driving south down Sunrise Way past Tahquitz Canyon Way when I saw the words on the south end of the building that houses the 99 Cents Only store: SNOW and CRAB.

Hmm. I was intrigued. I love crab, after all, and as for snow … well, I wasn’t sure about that. So, I decided to investigate.

Here’s what I found: Snow and Crab is a new-to-Palm Springs restaurant—the first one is in Temecula—and the “crab” part of the name refers to, well, crab, as well as other Cajun-style seafood on offer: snow crab legs, king crab legs, whole blue and Dungeness crabs, clams, mussels, wild-caught shrimp, catfish, and both fresh and fresh-frozen crawfish. Basically … you choose your catch; your flavor (Cajun, scampi, lemon pepper or full house); your spiciness level; and your extras, if desired (hot Louisiana smoked sausage, potatoes, sausage or corn on the cob). Soups, salads, sides, appetizers and several “chef’s specialties,” as well as desserts, fill out the menu. Yum.

As for “snow” … that refers to the shaved ice concoctions available, like the “Let It Snow”: milky shaved ice topped with marshmallow and shredded coconut. Boba smoothies, flavored teas and other specialty drinks may also be ordered.

I decided Snow and Crab warranted some in-person investigation, so I dropped in for a recent lunch. I am dealing with an injured-but-healing left arm, so I decided to save the more hands-on seafood for another time, and instead ordered a “chef’s specialty,” the fried catfish tray with fries ($12), along with the garlic-bread appetizer ($3). Both were tasty—and the amount of catfish and fresh-cut large fries was substantial enough that I could have made two meals out of it. (I said “could have.” Hey, I was hungry.)

The person who helped me during my mid-April visit said Snow and Crab is still in its soft-opening phase, so menu tweaks and additions are possible.

Snow and Crab looks like an exciting, unique addition to the area food scene. It’s located at 186 S. Sunrise Way, in Palm Springs. For more information, call 760-218-6056, or visit www.snowandcrab.com.


In Brief

A new restaurant has opened at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Persimmon Bistro comes from Candice Held and Tristan Gittens, the owners of Palm Springs’ Frankinbun; according to a news release, Persimmon serves “rustic, eclectic cuisine with a twist in a unique café setting on the edge of the museum’s sculpture garden … combining fantastical wallpaper design and chic comfort food.” The “jungle to table” restaurant serves coffee, tea, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, salads, soups and sandwiches, as well as a few “delicacies” like charcuterie and French desserts. Persimmon Bistro is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day but Wednesday at 101 N. Museum Drive, in Palm Springs; visit www.persimmonbistro.com for details. … A couple of Facebook friends have been singing the praises of a brand-new place—and by “brand new,” we mean “opened on April 14”—at 3700 E. Vista Chino, at Gene Autry Trail, in Palm Springs. It’s called Paul, and the place serves food and great drinks, often served by someone named Paul, starting at 4 p.m. every day but Tuesday. That’s all we know for now; watch www.facebook.com/PaulPalmSprings for more details. … If you like either Lucha Libre wrestling or tacos—and if you don’t like at least one of those two things, something’s very wrong with you—head to Morongo Casino Resort Spa, at 49500 Seminole Drive, in Cabazon, on Saturday, May 19, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the second annual Morongo Taco Fest. More than two-dozen SoCal taco-makers will be present selling $2 tacos, while music, tequila-tastings, a hot-pepper-eating contest and a “Tiny Taco Dog Beauty Pageant” (!) takes place. Admission is $10; get more details and tickets at www.morongocasinoresort.com. … A brand-new—and gorgeous—Koffi has opened in Kaptur Plaza, located at 650 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in downtown Palm Springs. This is the fourth Koffi location—three of which are in Palm Springs, with the fourth in Rancho Mirage. More info at www.kofficoffee.com. … Now open at The River, at 71800 Highway 111, Suite A116, in Rancho Mirage: MidiCi, The Neapolitan Pizza Company, a national chain restaurant serving food made with “mostly non-GMO” ingredients, along with beer and wine. More info at www.mymidici.com. … Coming soon to downtown Palm Springs: a new La Quinta Brewing Co. Taproom, at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, across from the Hyatt and beneath Café Europa/JusTapas. Watch www.facebook.com/LQBCPalmSpringsTaproom for updates.

What: The avocado fries

Where: Grill-a-Burger, 73091 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert

How much: $8.95

Contact: 760-346-8170; www.grill-a-burger.com

Why: The rich mix of crunch and creamy.

I love avocados. They’re delicious; they’re good for you; and they’re interesting. (For example: Did you know the avocado is technically a berry? Really!)

Plus, avocados gave the world guacamole. Enough said.

Given my love for avocados, it should come as no surprise that on a recent trip to Grill-a-Burger—the highly regarded and somewhat famous (thank you, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) Palm Desert restaurant—with friend and colleague Kevin, I simply had to try the avocado fries.

While I have enjoyed avocado in a variety of ways, I’d never tried it fried before. Here’s how that works: The good folks at Grill-a-Burger take fresh avocado wedges, dip them in beer batter, coat them in Panko bread crumbs, deep-fry ’em, and then add a little sea salt.

The resulting “fry” is a revelation: It’s sweet, savory, crunchy, creamy and oh-so-delicious. The first bite almost overwhelms the mouth (in a good way), because of the wide variety of flavors and textures arriving all at once.

A word of caution: The avocado fries are rather filling. Our server warned Kevin and me that we’d have more than enough food after each ordering a burger and splitting the avocado fries, but we went ahead and also got an order of the 50/50—half french fries and half onion rings. We barely touched ’em.

Grill-a-Burger has earned a number of accolades during its decade-plus of existence, thanks to the restaurant’s quality (including fresh-baked buns and all-natural USDA beef sans hormones and antibiotics), the variety (30 different burgers, along with mini-burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, milkshakes and malts—plus beer and wine!) and the fantastic service.

If you’ve never been to Grill-a-Burger … go. If you have been to Grill-a-Burger, but you’ve never tried the avocado fries … go. Trust me.

Page 1 of 44