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City Wok, Consistently Good!

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By Denise Ortuno                                                                             rsz imag0888

With Chinese food being a fave for many foodies, the Coachella Valley is fortune cookie fortunate to have fresh and fantastically tasty edibles at City Wok in Palm Desert. Consistenly good after all of these years.

City Wok has been around for over two decades, providing excellent Chinese food, with the freshest of ingredients. You could say that it’s a modern take on a traditional Chinese joint. And although there are no overt Chinese decorations, it feels like they’re around anyway, it’s strange, or maybe it’s just me. The restaurants open style kitchen allows guests to watch the chefs prepare delish dishes, whipping woks into a fiery stir fry frenzy. Sitting at the counter is quite the show at City Wok.

I recall living down the street for City Wok. If I wasn’t eating there at the counter, I was ordering take out, which is a substantial part of their business. The menu items stay true to Chinese food standards. Top dishes include Pot Stickers, Crispy Chicken Won Tons, Hot & Sour Soup, Honey BBQ Pork, Kung Pao Shrimp or Chicken. Mongolian Beef, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and City Wok Chicken (Orange Chicken), just to scratch the chop sticks. 

All the food is made to order, and without MSG. Being a kind of creature of habit, I tend to stick with what I like best at restaurants that I frequent. I call it playing it succulent, instead of playing it safe. But not before I try a bunch of items to make that decision. My menu adventures have honed in on certain delectable fare at City Wok. Favorites include starting off with the BBQ Pork. This is not their spare ribs, but boneless pork in sweet and sticky BBQ sauce. The pork is tender, with the sauce borrowing from both sweet and savory flavoring. It’s a must for me when I go…and I would be happy just having it only…a double portion, all to myself.

Another one that I could just have alone…and I do mean alone, it the Filet of Sole in Black Bean Sauce. Oh my, talk about melt in your mouth! When I first had this dish, I wasn’t quite sure about it. I wanted to have some seafood so that I could feel that I was eating healthy. To insure my healthiness, I had them hold the side of rice that comes with it, you know, to limit my carb intake. The bowl of Filet of Sole was placed in front of me all vulnerable, without its rice counterpart. I’m not sure how many bites I took before I realized that I almost devoured it all, but the Filet of Sole had touched my soul…the part attached to my yum factor that is. It was so good, I seriously want some right now. That’s what the food at City Wok does, keeps you wanting more.

City Wok is moderately priced, and has indoor and outdoor seating. They offer beer and wine for those wanting to imbibe, and convenient online ordering.

Some restaurants in the Coachella Valley may come and go. But it’s comforting for our belly’s to have long standing ones like City Wok, a definite Palm Springs Local favorite!

City Wok is located at 74-970 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert, 92260

760-341-1511

For more information and to order online visit www.citywok.com

Escape Room Palm Springs New Location!

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By Denise Ortuno                                                                                       rsz fp escaperoom

Escape Room Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley’s original Escape Room attraction, has moved to a new location!   

The entertaining venue which puts your problem solving skills to the test in a fun, heart pumping environment, has expanded to a 6,000 sq ft locale with a total of 6 rooms to choose from!

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Opened since February 2016, Escape Room Palm Springs is the creation of computer and game savvy couple, Mark and Dominique Fruchtman. The concept is to bring a group of people together in a themed room, give them clues to decipher a puzzle, so they can escape the room in an allotted amount of time. Twisted fun! There are now 6 different rooms, the Locker Room, Vampires Liar, Jack the Ripper, the Titanic Room, Bank Heist and Merlin’s School. The rooms are so well created, it’s like walking onto a movie set.                                                               rsz vampires lair

Escape Room Palm Springs is opened daily from 12pm to 9:30pm. Tickets are $33 per person. It is great fun for families, friends, couples, and even business groups. The attraction ups the ante for exciting Coachella Valley amusement!

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Escape Room Palm Springs new location is, 2500 N. Palm Canyon Drive-on the corner of Racquet Club and Palm Canyon

For more information and tickets visit www.EscapePS.com or call 760-779-8888

Oh October!

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                       rsz fb img 1506107573541

As I left my little sanctuary at Our Lady of Solitude Church in Palm Springs, I turned the corner and saw the grand San Jacinto Mountain starring me in the face. Its majesty embraced me, framed by a boundless blue sky.

I reached for my phone to take some quick memory shots, and noticed the trees being rustled by a slight, soft breeze. There were even some leaves dancing in the wind. It was a little bit of autumn in the wake of the day. I turned to see two men talking across the street, one of them said something to the other and they both erupted into laughter. I thought of friends that I wish were there to share in the moment…and realize that the cooler air of fall makes everyone smile, everyone lighter. Summer has passed and fall is here in the desert….let the happiness and blessings of the season begin. 

There’s loads of things to do in the CV in October. Events abound from concerts, to car shows, to a chili cook-off, golf carts craziness, Halloween haunts and so much more. Let’s check all of the “Oh October” fun!

October 13th & 14-10th Annual Concert for Autism features local CV talent to help raise funds for families with those with autism. The two day event takes place at The Tack Room in Indio, with proceeds benefitting the Desert Autism Foundation. For more information visit, http://concertforautism.com/

October 14th- The 11th Annual Paint El Paseo Pink Walk takes place at The Gardens on El Paseo. The event promotes Breast Cancer awareness, as participants wear pink event t-shirts and other accessories. All proceeds from the walk benefit the Desert Cancer Foundations Suzanne Jackson Breast Cancer Fund. The fund helps with breast cancer screening, diagnostic and treatment services for Coachella Valley residents and surrounding cities. Registration for the walk starts at 7am, with the walk beginning at 8am. Cost is $25. For more information visit www.pepp.desertcancerfoundation.org 

October 19th-22nd-Modernism Fall Preview brings a taste of what’s to come for Modernism Week 2018 in February. Wet your modernism whistle with tours, parties, exhibitions and more. For tickets and tour schedule visit www.modernismweek.com

October 20th-22nd- Vintage Vibe Festival takes place at the Palm Springs Convention, celebrating the best in music, fashion and memorabilia from the pre-1999 era. Enjoy musical performances from relevant bands of the time, as well as a marketplace where era goods will be exhibited and sold. Party like its pre-1999! For more information and tickets, visit www.VintageVibeFest.com

October 21st- 31st Annual Desert Aids Walk helps to provide support funds to the Desert Aids Project. The event benefits those in need with everything from Medical & Dental Care, Medication, Housing and Behavioral Health Counseling.  The walk starts off at Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs. For more information on how to participate and donate visit, www.support.desertaidsproject.org

 

October 21st-Nightmare in Palm Springs will make you party until you scream! The Halloween themed dance party will feature more than just music, promising some scares, frights and freaks (not just the partiers) to help make that night Nightmarish. The event gets creepy at a designated hanger at the Palm Springs Air Museum and runs from 9pm to 2am and cover is $23 in advance and $30 at the door. For more information and tickets visit https://www.facebook.com/NightmareinPalmSprings/

 

October 28th-The 32nd Annual Tram Road Challenge challenges participants with a 6k Run/Walk that climbs 2,000ft in elevation at the Tram Road in Palm Springs. All participants willing to complete the challenge receives a medal, t-shirt and breakfast. The event benefits the United Way of the Desert which assists community members in need. For more information and to register visit,   www.kleinclarksports.com/Tram

                              

October 28th-The Palm Springs Air Museum Halloween Chili Cook-off & Car Show will offer tasty chili to try and over 100 classic cars to drool over, all with a frightfully fun Halloween theme. For more information visit, http://palmspringsairmuseum.org/programs/halloween-themed-chili-cook-off-car-show-3/

October 28th-Terrorfest freaks out party goers with a variety of bone jarring music, and scares at every turn at The Date Shed in Indio. Creep around their Zombie Lounge, Path of Terror, Spirit Garden and Phantom Food Court for added chills. For tickets and more information visit, https://www.indioterrorfest.com/

October 28th-BB’s 33rd Annual Halloween Bash continues the tradition of the longest running Halloween party in the CV. The epic party will be held at The Hard Rock Hotel in Palm Springs from 8:30pm to 2am, with multiple dance floors, bars and plenty of scantily clad ghouls. For more information and tickets visit,  http://partywithbb.com/

October 29th-53rd Annual Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade cruises down El Paseo in Palm Desert and, entertaining on lookers with elaborately decked out Golf Carts. This year’s theme is, Desert Safari and the Grand Marshal is Gavin McLeod. The parade starts at noon, but get there early to reserve a spot on the parade route. For more information visit, http://golfcartparade.com/

October 29th & 31st-Howl-O-Ween at The Living Desert is a kid friendly Halloween event for the whole family. Little ones can get candy on the trick-or-treat trail, go pumpkin bowling, decorate pumpkins and go through a monster maze. For more information visit,  http://www.livingdesert.org/event/howl-o-ween/

October 31st-Halloween Palm Springs on Arenas gets crazy fun on Arenas Street in Palm Springs. Party goers wearing costumes can enter their costume contest. And if you love to get down to disco, make sure to enter the Disco Dance off! Party starts at 5pm. For more information visit, http://www.halloweenpalmsprings.com/dance-off

 

 

Grab a Chair at June Hill's Table

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                             rsz imag1960

Grab a chair and get ready to experience one of the East Valley's brightest up and coming dining spots. June Hill’s Table sits unassumingly off 52nd in Indio at the Trilogy Polo Club, harboring a stunning views, stylish ambience and tremendous food.

When driving out to June Hill’s Table at Trilogy Polo Club in Indio, it might seem like it is a bit out of the way. But its slight remoteness is actually part of what makes it so special. The distance makes it a destination location, and the views…well, are spectacular. June Hill’s Table is visible before you even enter the Trilogy Polo Club. The building where the restaurant resides also serves as the clubhouse. The triangular white canopies are inviting and bring a feel of recreational grandeur to the resort style core of the club. Having the restaurant so close to the entrance is a benefit for diners, as the sometimes long maze that some other country clubs have to get to their clubhouses can be tiresome, but is absent from Trilogy.                                                    rsz imag1957

Although Trilogy is a 55 an older community, June Hill’s Table is open to the public. Only opened for a little more than a year, the restaurant has received high acclaim. As I sat down in the fabulously designed dining room with restaurant manager Raymond Cooper, I asked him to explain the choice of the name for the restaurant. He expounded on the motivation, highlighting that they wanted to bring a bit of valley history into the restaurant, more specifically, Indio history. They came across Dr. June Hill McCarroll, who was one of our many women pioneers in the Coachella Valley (and yes, woman seriously helped shape our valley).

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One of McCarroll’s prime accomplishments, besides being a much needed physician in the desert back in the early 1900’s, was that she was credited with being the person who came up with making centered highway markings, to provide safe driving practices. Her idea to draw on the road came from her own experience of almost colliding with another vehicle while driving on what is now, Indio Boulevard. After trying to get the local government to put her idea into motion without success, she circumvented their inaction, and literally painted dash lines on the road herself. Through many years of campaigning for the road safety lines to be adopted, it finally was in the 1920’s, and then later worldwide.

Besides all of the amazing community work of McCarroll, she also loved to entertain. Often throwing dinner parties, opening her home up to family and friends. Hence the restaurant’s name, June Hills Table. Guests will find fun drink menu items bearing her name, such as McCarroll’s Marmalade (Mezcal, kumquat, marmalade, soda and Malbec), Dr’s Order’s (fruit infused vodka, pomegranate syrup, citrus, sprite and a berry garnish) and June’s Jam (blackberries, cucumber, agave syrup, ginger beer and lime).

Beyond the lively drinks is their fantastic food at June Hill’s Table. The menu is supported by their goal to offer locally sourced farm to table ingredients, which makes a huge difference. Chef Kevin Land insures that the ingredients are utilized to their upmost potential by making menu items all from scratch (with the exception of their bread which comes from a local purveyor). Once you bite into anything that comes out of Lands kitchen, the taste of his efforts are greatly noticeable, and appreciated.

Upon being seated, I was brought a basket of freshly fried potato chips, served with house made Blue Cheese dressing for dipping, their version of bread and butter. Something I noticed right away was that the chips came out hot and fresh! In no way was there an inkling that those chips were hanging around a heat lamp. It was as if they were just waiting for me to get there, to voluntarily jump into hot oil and then toss themselves in garlic infused olive oil, with a dash of salt and pepper. Presenting submissively in a paper lined basket with a side of cool Blue Cheese dressing. Yes, they were that good…a little too good, bordering on evil.        rsz imag1956 1

To get a taste of different items, Cooper put together a sampler plate for me. The plate had their new Spicy (and sweet) Buffalo Wing’s, which they recently introduced for football season, a BBQ St. Louis Rib, Crispy Brussel Sprouts, Bosc Pear Bruschetta and Shrimp with Ravioli. My review will go down the line, starting with the Buffalo Wing. Of course they use cage free chicken, which comes through in the flavor and the meatiness of the wing. Although the wing had some defined heat, is was sweetly balanced by the mix of honey in the sauce. Next up was the BBQ rib, with its supple chipotle sauce, and tender meat, it was actually lite in texture, absent of that heavy BBQ taste that sometimes accompany ribs.

Then came the Brussels. Oh my, oh my, those Brussel Sprouts were phenomenal! For those of you who have sworn off this vegi, please give these little guys another chance. They are not your moms Brussels. These Brussels were on the crispy side, tossed with heirloom cherry tomatoes, an aged balsamic reduction, parmesan cheese and crispy garlic. The element of the tomatoes with the Brussels completely cut the natural bitterness of the vegi that could scare away any would be Brussel fan. It was like vegi candy. If I could, I would hand them out for Halloween.

I went for the Bruschetta after the sprouts, still wanting to dive back into my green dish of deliciousness. But the Bruschetta was wonderfully smooth, with creamy herbed goat cheese, candied pecans, crispy sage, and roasted Bosc Pear, all on grilled ciabatta. The final item on the plate was the Shrimp and Ravioli. This is one of their signature dishes. The house made ravioli filled with Vadouvan roasted carrots, was served with a sweet basil and sugar snap pea coulis and a pan seared shrimp. The ravioli was so velvety, and with the carrot filling, it was almost like dessert. Amazing!                                                                                         rsz imag1966

And speaking of dessert, they brought some out for me to taste….oh the sacrifice. Staring me in the face were my weight adversaries. There was a Caramelized Apple Cobbler, all cozy in a single portion cask iron pot, and, get this, a Pumpkin Tiramisu. What?? Yes, they went there, all part of their fall inspired menu. The cobbler was piping hot and served with a scoop of Tahitian Vanilla Gelato, which melted lovingly into the cobbler. The bottom of the cobbler housed the caramelized apple and spice goodness. I repeatedly dove into the cobbler, and surfaced my spoon to acquire just enough gelato to gently accent and cool the submersed filling. It was an eye roller to say the least.

The Pumpkin Tiramisu was on planet of its own. Portioned clouds of pumpkin spiced mouse, alternated with espresso cream, with lady fingers kissed with drizzles of Rum and Rumchata sprinkled with cinnamon…ridiculous! Needless to say, my dessert adversaries got the best of me.

June Hills Table changes up their menu every 90 days, to reflect seasonal ingredients. Their menu is the same for lunch and dinner. Offering items from salads, to sandwiches, seafood, steak and appetizing appetizers. They are opened Wed through Sunday, and offer Happy Hour every day from 2pm to 6pm, except for Sundays. On Sunday’s they offer a Brunch menu from 10am to 3pm, with Bottomless Mimosa’s for only $6. For the quality of the food and ambience, their prices are surprisingly moderate. In addition to their main dining area, there is gorgeous outdoor seating on their patio. They also have an upstairs banquet room for private parties with considerably stunning views of the Santa Rosa Mountain’s.

June Hill’s Table is a bright and shiny addition to the East Valley food scene. It is up there with the best of the best, incorporating everything and more of what makes a dining experience memorable. A new found favorite of The Palm Springs Local.

For more information visit www.mytrilogylife/polo/dining.com

Football Fun at The 19th Hole!

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                           rsz imag1949 1 1                                                                             

Now that football season is under way, it’s time to have some fun, relax, watch the game and let someone else do the cooking. The 19th Hole in Palm Desert provides game time enjoyment, perfect for football fun!

Known to regulars as, “The Hole”, it is one of those desert spots that has been around forever. It doesn’t really advertise, or boast, they don’t even have a website. But perhaps they don’t need to. Locals in the East Palm Desert area just know that the 19th Hole is there, and has been for decades. I remember playing around Palm Desert Country Club as a kid, and hanging out in the old shopping center that was there long, long before Albertsons, The Dollar Store and CVS. When the main grocery store was Welty’s, which is now Welty’s Postal Connection. And there in the tiny shopping nook, was The 19th Hole. I recall wanting to enter, but realizing that it was part bar, I just peered in the window as little curious kids do. The old shopping center was torn down, and the modern construction took over. The 19th Hole was resurrected, and although it has morphed slightly since then, the essence of the place is still the same. It is still a local hangout, a neighborhood haunt that long time patrons can count on.

More than a bar, the food is definitely one of the draws at The 19th Hole. They offer what most customers say, are the best Fish and Chips in the Coachella Valley, among other tasty menu items. And now with the kick off of football season, it is a chill place to watch a game or two on a lazy Sunday. Helping to make your Sunday even lazier, is their Bloody Mary Bar. It’s a build your own Bloody Mary scenario, where you are a given a pint glass with your chosen vodka and ice, and then you can choose your mix and different olives/beans or celery from the set up bar. It’s fun, and gives would be bartenders some concoction control.

If a Bloody Mary is not your thing, their full bar is sure to pour you something that is. For me and my boyfriend, it’s a couple of chilly beers and an order of their super delish Chili Cheese Fries. The chili is portioned fairly with beans and meat in a rich sauce, over thin cut fries (thicker fries are available) and topped with gooey cheese (onions are optional). It is a perfect for pairing for a Sunday Funday. And if that doesn’t end up being enough for us, we usually will extend our appetite with an order of their excellent Buffalo Wing’s….which also go fantastic with cold beer.

There are a variety of other menu items that make having a bite at The 19th Hole worthwhile, including weekend breakfast that is offered way past breakfast hours. Daily specials are also offered, and if you see that they have Chili Verde on the board, get it! Their Chili Verde is fantastic, and you can even get is served over nachos…big time YUM!

Prices at “The Hole” are moderate, and they are opened daily. They stay open until midnight on the weekends, when they offer evening entertainment (starting this fall).

With TV’s all around, great drinks, food and an inviting neighborhood ambience, The 19th Hole is the place for football Sunday Funday, or to hang out anytime of the week.

The 19th Hole is located at 42-305 Washington Street, Palm Desert, Ca 92211

760-772-6696

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