DINE IN THE DESERT: Eating in most environments is, well, consuming nutrients and liquids for health and enjoyment. Perhaps in the woods you might turn to easier-to-pack foods, and the beach might see more seafood-oriented meals. But desert dining is different, its own soft-evening, warm-air, al fresco foodie-tastic thing. It's toastier for much of the year, so dishes never feel heavy, only hearty, and an assortment of spices tend to be standard rather than special (though "standard" shouldn't rob them of their innate specialness, because spices rule). This vibe lends a desert-based gathering of food lovers, and those who make food and innovate the making of food, an extra-cool atmosphere. And "cool" is a fine word for the Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert happening, which is steaming and saucing and pouring and biting into its fifth outing over the final weekend in March.
OKAY... it might not exactly be "cool" around the El Paseo shopping district come that time of the year -- temps can and do flirt with the high 80s and up -- but the scene can be labeled as such, easily. Chefs like Cat Cora, Gale Gand, Lulu Powers, and Brooke Williamson will all be grabbing spatulas, or the cooking implements of their choice, as they lead fans through demos and talks. A Salute to Women luncheon opens things on Friday, March 27 -- it's a gourmet four-courser -- and a Grand Tasting goes big on Saturday, March 28 (look for "over 50 restaurants and 80 premium wineries and spirit purveyors" to both be chatting with attendees and feeding the attendees, too).
THE GRAND TASTING... continues on Sunday, to round the weekend out. Spatulas down, it is one of the desert's largest food happenings, a bigness that has been achieved in just a half decade. Perhaps that combo of lauded chefs and fine restaurants and fine sips and the chance to sup and socialize in the desert, one of the nicest places to dine, it may one day be proven, is the draw. Tickets? Better unhand your fan or mister and grab 'em soon.