PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY CORK & FORK
Local Date Plate
Originally developed while Cork & Fork chef-owner Andie Hubka was working with the California Date Commission, the dish features local dates stuffed with Point Reyes blue cheese, topped with toasted almonds, and drizzled with garlic-chive oil. Hubka added it to the menu of her La Quinta restaurant in 2013. While it’s billed as a starter, many customers cap off their meal with it in lieu of a cheese course.
Maine Lobster Claw Spring Roll
An already sweet lobster claw salad is accented with dates that 533 Viet Fusion chef-owner Chad Gardner sources from Mecca-based Bautista Farms, pairing it with the savory buckwheat noodles, fresh pea shoots, and a cilantro honey dipping sauce at the Palm Springs eatery. Then, it’s rolled together and sliced, making for a very shareable starter. 533vietfusion.com
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY 533 VIET FUSION
Shields Date Sliders
The most decadent date-centic offering at The Café at Shields Date Garden, the nearly century-old date farm in Indio, is its signature burger topped with blue cheese, bacon, and sautéed Deglet Noor dates, known for their honey-like taste. For a mini-but-mighty version, try this slider duo offered on the happy hour menu.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THE CAFE AT SHIELDS DATE GARDEN
Coachella Valley Dates
Behind the simple name on Trio’s menu belies a hearty appetizer that’s always available at this Palm Springs hot spot in the Uptown Design District: six local dates stuffed with blue-veined Gorgonzola and wrapped in thick Applewood smoked bacon, then skewered and served alongside a creamy béchamel sauce.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY TRIO PALM SPRINGS
crispy brussels sprouts
The once maligned cousin of the cabbage has made a major comeback in recent years, becoming a nutrient-rich darling of the culinary world. Jake’s in Palm Springs’ Uptown Design District fries up the Brussels, then tosses them with fish sauce, chopped peanuts, and local dates for an app that’ll make you wanna finish your veggies. jakespalmsprings.com
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY JAKE'S PALM SPRINGS
Why are dates so popular here?
The origins of the stone fruit trace back to ancient Arabia. In the early 1900s, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program sought exotic crops and tried planting date palms in the bare Coachella Valley desert, where the conditions mirrored those of the Middle East. Fast-forward a century, and the valley is now responsible for almost all of the nation’s date production.
ILLUSTRATION BY SAM N. ORIAS