This article highlights the best dishes of the Palm Desert Food Festival!
How do you like to eat your food? Grilled, boiled, poached, baked, seared, fried or steamed?
The gastronomic world is comprised of an innumerable amount of dishes. Nevertheless, if you think about it, cooking and preparation techniques can be as exciting as the dishes themselves.
After all, a piece of meat is piece of meat until somebody cooks it in certain way and combines it with other ingredients. We may be eating that piece of meat in the same fashion for many years until somebody else decides to apply a different cooking method and to pair it with a whole new range of ingredients.
You all know how much I enjoy attending food festivals. And, yes, it is great to eat and drink to your heart’s content.
But, you actually get more than the food. You get an entire experience. For example, say you see a chef taking a raw ingredient, cooking it in a way you have never seen before and then serving it with other ingredients picked to enhance the flavor profile.
Once that plate is in your hands, you are eager to sink your teeth into that food. You observed the entire preparation process and now, you are anxious to try the final product.
That is how I felt when I attended the Palm Desert Food Festival presented by Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa this past weekend. The food was delicious but some of the cooking techniques blew me away. I am still thinking about some of the stuff I saw there.
In this post, I am going to share some of those techniques that I found interesting. Have you seen some of these before?
The chefs of JW Marriot Desert Springs Resort & Spa were preparing their beef cheeks in a wood steamer. This technique gave the cheeks a super tender feeling. This reminded me of the boxes (bigger, of course) used to prepare an entire pig in urban areas of Puerto Rico. The pig is slowly cooked for an entire day to achieve a melt in your mouth texture.
JW Marriot Desert Springs Resort & Spa was also preparing liquid nitrogen ice cream on site. They poured a vanilla or chocolate concoction into a bowl and mixed it with the nitrogen. You got ice cream in a couple of seconds.
The folks from Big Green Egg were serving a variety of smoked meats and fruits. I had the pineapple sprinkled with a spicy dust called Diva Caliente (I will let you translate that one).
The Green Egg is a domed-shaped clay cooking utensil (very high tech utensil). This type of utensils had their origins during the Chinese Quin Dynasty and sometimes are known as kamado style cookers. The design gives added flavor and juiciness to the food that is prepared inside.
Also, the Green Eggs can be used as a grill. This is how the chefs of Balisage Bistro were using them. In addition, they had a block of Moroccan salt inside the grill. They kept alternating the meat between the grill and the salt block until cooked.
The guys from Hepp’s Salt and Co. were demonstrating how to turn a simple summer salad into something out of the ordinary. They added their flavored salts (sciracha, applewood, garlic, rosemary, etc.) to lettuce, tomato and crumbled cheese.
Roy’s was serving grilled ribs (tons of ribs I should say).
bluEmber was serving seared ahi tuna (to die for!) and a variety of desserts.
Every year, several festival participants present some sort of raw fish dish. This year was not the exception and establishments such as El Jefe (The Saguaro) and Threesixty North Bar & Grill presented attendees raw tuna dishes.
Essence presented a halibut and citrus Gohu Ikan (mandarin, grapefruit, mint and sciracha aioli). For what I found, Gohu Ikan is a raw fish dish from Ternate, Indonesia. I am assuming the dish is a reinterpretation of the chef since the ingredients do not resemble the typical way of doing it.
My favorite raw fish of the day was the Peruvian ceviche prepared by chef Ricardo Zarate. He mentioned the secret of this type of ceviche is the sauce called Leche de Tigre (Tiger’s Milk). The sauce is a mix of red onions, ginger, garlic, celery, rocoto (a Peruvian pepper), lime juice and sea bass. So, the sauce is poured over raw fish but it contains raw fish itself. It was delicious!
Fleming’s presented their phenomenal oven baked potatoes (leeks, cheddar, jalapenos and cream).
The State Fare Bar + Kitchen (Ritz Carlton, Rancho Mirage) threw the house by the window. They excel by presenting attendees about six different samples.
I was able to see how they were preparing some of their food in the back. They focused a lot on fresh ingredients.
They prepared a goat cheese and date pizza in order to showcase local ingredients (the Coachella Valley is one of the biggest producers of dates in the United States).
They also had perfectly grilled sliders.
Lots of people were fascinated by the watermelon mojito shots.
Soups like this crab bisque made an appearance (from Wilma & Frieda’s)
The Purple Room served a chilled salad and a caramel / chocolate tart
Here are other festival highlights:
Biscuits topped with chili from The Broken Yolk
Shrimp tacos from Rubio’s
Sweet corn tomato and shredded pork from Rio Azul
Green tea ice cream from Ice Cream & Shop(pe)
Toffee and caramel popcorn from Brandini
Pea panna cotta with Jamon iberico and edible flowers from WP Kitchen & Bar
Chef Gale Gand
Chef Suzanne Tracht
Chef Engin Onural
More photos of the Palm Desert Food Festival:
Have yo been to the Palm Desert Food Festival? What cooking techniques or preparation methods grabbed your attention from here?