Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekends in and around Palm Springs

Saturday mornings in Palm Springs at the Camelot movie theatre parking lot There is a Farmers Market. It's a small market, but has a little bit of everything, including amazing produce, fresh flowers, meat, freshly baked bread and pastries.

For those who bring their pets along, there is pet sitting available.

This year we will be lucky enough to shop the Saturday market twice. This Saturday we bought for the week...not much, but enough to assure delicious lunches on the days that we eat at our condo.

These are some of my purchases: heirloom tomatoes and a cross between a mandarin and a kumquat. I couldn't resist the mandaquat, or whatever the farmer was calling it. It is larger than a kumquat, but not by much and you eat it whole, skin and all.

The market is fun and very social. We met many people while shopping and afterwards at the Camelot's cafe that opens early on market day and serves pastries, full breakfasts, and beverages.

One tempting item to which I did not succumb was the goose eggs. One is equivalent to about three regular eggs. If I was here longer, I'd attempt an omelet or frittata with one.

We spent Saturday afternoon at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Jim's favorite sculpture was there to greet him.

We spent most of our time viewing the "Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography" exhibit. This exhibit is here through May 27 and is a fascinating collection of photographs and video displays. We spent several hours enjoying it.

For years my friend Paul has been recommending Mamma Gina's in Palm Desert. We finally dined here on Saturday night.

It's old style Italian and family owned. It's been in Palm Desert since the 1980s.

The large basket of bread which was presented to us shortly after we were seated was brimming with house made Italian breads. I loved the two kinds of focaccia: sun dried tomato and an unusual whole wheat version. In addition to the oil and balsamic vinegar on the table, the bread was served with a tasty black olive tapenade.

To start, we shared the Mamma Gina Chopped Salad. What you see here is half the serving...quite enough for two, for sure.

we both ordered pasta dishes for our main courses.

Jim chose one of the evening's specials, Spinach Gnocchi.

My choice was Zucchini Lasagne which was assemble with layers of noodles and layers of sliced zucchini.

All Mamma Gina's pastas are made in house.

Our meals were delicious.

While we really weren't hungry for dessert, I can never pass up Spumoni gelato, which was one of the offerings. As you can see, it is not the traditional pink and green Spumoni but Mamma's version was worthy of the indulgence.

Early Sunday morning, we were off to the College of the Desert Street Fair, which takes place every Saturday and Sunday on the College of the Desert campus in Palm Desert.

The Street Fair is a very large mix of flea market, art fair, produce market, and more. Many locals go every weekend. Parking and admission are free and you can find everything here from fire pits to nail clippers to golf shoes to fresh asparagus.

Jim was tempted by a remote-controlled helicopter, but resisted.

I could not resist one of these succulent dish gardens...let's hope it survives the week in our condo and the drive home.

We lunched in the Fair's food area...a bratwurst for Jim and Stuffed Grape Leaves for me.

We stopped at the small but moving Cancer Survivors Park in Rancho Mirage. It's been here about ten years and is a special spot right next to the Rancho Mirage City Hall, right on busy Highway 111.

The large sculpture at one end of the park depicts five people with cancer who are about to go through the maze of cancer treatment. On the other end of the maze are survivors. As a survivor, I had to walk through the maze and celebrate with the survivors.

Our Palm Springs weekend ended with dinner at Thai Smile, a very popular Thai restaurant in the Uptown neighborhood, about a block from Trio where we dined the other night.

We started with the Fresh Spring Rolls.

Our other dishes were Panang Curry with Chicken and Red Mountain. Red Mountain is one of the chef's specials. It is made with shrimp or chicken, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery, cashews and a "secret" sweet and spicy sauce.

We loved this meal. Everything tasted very very fresh and was delicious. It's a friendly place; we chatted with people at neighboring tables and had a lovely dining experience.

Hope we have a chance to come back to Thai Smile.

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