Thursday, March 18, 2010
Two Great Meals plus Culture: More from Palm Springs
On our first full day in Palm Springs, Jim went out for his usual several-mile morning walk. Along the way, on Palm Canyon Drive, he noticed a restaurant called Cheeky's. He looked at the menu, was tempted, but kept walking another few blocks. Then, he decided that he was hungry and returned for breakfast, ordering the breakfast sandwich of Cornmeal Fried Green Tomato, Bacon, and a Fried Egg.
Meanwhile, while I was in the gym riding the stationary bicycle, I was reading an article from the November 22, 2009 Washington Post by Tom Sietsema about three restaurants that he likes in Palm Springs. The first one he praised was Cheeky's, the very same restaurant where JIm was eating breakfast. Sietsema went on to elaborate how 32-year old chef/owner Tara Lazar never went to cooking school and had studied "political economics of industrial studies" at UC Berkeley but now at her Palm Springs restaurant makes the best breakfast and most interesting lunch in Palm Springs. The restaurant opened in the summer of 2008.
Jim returned to our condo with a copy of Week 87's menu in hand. The menu changes weekly.
A few days later, we walked the few miles from our place to Cheeky's for breakfast. We got there a bit before the 8 a.m. opening, amusing ourselves with the Lawn Chair sculpture covered with artificial grass on the corner near the restaurant
and looking in the windows of Tchotckes, an eclectic home decor and gift shop next door.
Cheeky's patio with its bright orange acrylic chairs was glowing in the morning sun.
Almost everything at Cheeky's is made fresh in house. At this time of year, the fresh-squeezed juices include Blood Orange, Tangerine, Grapefruit, and Orange. The eggs and coffee are organic, the produce comes from sustainable farms, the pastries and sausages are homemade, as are the batters, sauces, and dressings. Breakfast is served all day long. Lunch is served after 11:30 a.m. Cheeky's is open every day except Tuesday.
Jim's breakfast choice was the Buttermilk and Fresh Corn Pancakes with fresh Blueberries. They were served with a slice of bacon.
I ordered the Buttermilk Waffle, which was garnished with Lemon Curd and fresh Strawberries. I accompanied my meal with The Bacon Flight, an order of five different kinds of bacon ($4). The flight that day featured the following bacons: Nodines Smokehouse, Applewood, Jalapeno, Maple Vanilla, and Pineapple (pieces of grilled pineapple on top of this slice.)
It was there and then that I decided that next year we have to spend more than a week in Palm Springs so we can eat more meals at Cheeky's.
When Lazar opened Cheeky's, after leaving a stock trading job in San Francisco, she worked with a furniture designer friend to create her cheerful restaurant. Dogs are welcome on the outdoor patio and are treated to dog biscuits and bowls of water. I love her attention to small details such as having miniature milk bottles of coffee cream on each table and serving maple syrup in tiny log cabin tins.
Even my stop in Cheeky's restroom made me smile at the hot pink bands around the rolls of toilet paper.
Breakfast dishes are priced between $7 and $10; lunches are in the $8 to $14 range.
After this wonderful breakfast, we meandered back to our condo, stopping along the way to peek in at Copley's, a restaurant in the home where Cary Grant once lived, or at least entertained.
Jim and I have dined at Copley's in past years. Much of the seating is outdoors on their lawn (hidden from view from this street photo). While the food was elegant and tasty, I did not enjoy the meal because the light is limited and I don't like not being able to see my food. Copley's is popular with the locals. Entrées are about $30; first courses in the $10 to $14 range.
Our next stop was at The Corridor, a complex of shops that surround a very popular interior park.
The park attracts lots of people with dogs and children as well as being a favorite gathering place for gay men. Koffi, a local favorite coffee shop has its shop at the entrance. On pleasant days, most Koffi customers take their drinks out to the park.
The park is something of a hidden treasure. We bought Louie a cute dog toy at The Corridor's pet shop, Paws.
And, I could not resist this vintage Palm Springs poster, printed on tin, at Just Fabulous, a store packed with books, cards, artwork, gifts, and more.
On the block directly behind The Corridor is Liberace's house, Casa Liberace. Liberace is no longer alive and the house belongs to a private party, but the candelabra and plaque on the door remain.
I am always fascinated by the stars on the sidewalks of Palm Canyon Drive and in front of the Palm Springs Museum on Museum Drive. These are a few stars that caught my attention.
I stopped to say "hello" to Sonny Bono in the middle of town. Sonny was mayor of Palm Springs from 1988 to 1992. It was he who brought VillageFest and the Palm Springs International Film Festival to Palm Springs, both of which still go on.
Later in the afternoon, we headed over to the Palm Springs Museum, one of our favorite museums anywhere. We were so fascinated by the "Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner (through May 30, 2010), that we later drove near some of his Modernist homes in Palm Springs. Many of our favorite art works in the museum's collection have been relocated to make room for the "The Passionate Pursuit: Gifts and Promised Works from Donna and Cargill MacMillan, Jr." (through June 20, 2010), which is the collection of more than 75 contemporary works that the MacMillan's have either promised to or already donated to the museum. All of these, except, I think, the Chihuly glass, are in the MacMillan's collection.
For dinner, we met friends Mary and Bill at Shame on the Moon in Rancho Mirage. Every year we dine at Shame on the Moon and continue to love the food and ambiance. It was Mary and Bill who introduced us to Shame and tipped us off to ask for a table in the Garden dining room where it is quieter. The menu stays pretty much the same, indicating that's what Shame's regulars have been enjoying for its 26 years.
All entrées are served with soup or salad and mostly priced between $20 and $30. Meals are served with seasonal vegetables.
Mary ordered the Scallops and Shrimp.
Bill's choice was the Tilapia.
Jim almost always orders the Calves Liver with Bacon, the chef's signature entrée and something I never prepare at home. This year, that's what he had.
I was pleased with the evening's special, herbed lamb medallions.
For dessert we all shared a serving of Peanut Butter Pie with Butter Pecan Ice Cream.
End of another day in paradise.