SUNNY SUPPING: Desert dining has been in vogue since, oh, the middle of the last century, when indoor-outdoor meals became the Official California Way of Entertaining (tm). "Fresh" is used a lot when describing recipes well-matched to an arid climate, and fruits, salads, and no-cook dishes get their time in the spotlight. Or sun, more like it. But anyone visiting the desert resorts over the last couple of decades has witnessed cuisine going well beyond the whole sliced watermelon with mint deal. (As delicious as that is.) Desert cuisine is everywhere cuisine, though restaurants around Palm Desert and La Quinta and Palm Springs seem to have perfected the icy cold cocktail and poolside appetizer pretty dang well.
THIS HAS LED... to many dine-out developments that have other foodie cities looking to the area for ideas and inspiration. One such example? Throw a many-faceted but relaxed food festival juuuuust about when the weather is starting to get warm, which is rather relative in the sleeve-free capital of California. Food and Wine Palm Desert is the fest we're thinking of, and it will again kick off spring with a three-day bite-laden bash.
CHEFS APLENTY: The March 21-23 to-do will welcome, for its fifth outing, some tip-top toques. Roy Choi, Gale Gand, Ari Taymor, and Valerie Gordon are a few of the food masters who'll be demoing and chitchatting. Some "80 premium wines" will be in attendees' glasses, and eats from 50 restaurants'll be on the plates. And a James Beard four-course luncheon is a festival centerpiece. Yep, you can find a pool to sit by during your stay, but bet you'll be watching things fry and bake and soak and fizz. Dining in the desert resorts have gone way beyond the indoor-outdoor thing, though the fest kind of meets the concept halfway: It's in a large tent.