CVIndependent

Fri07192019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

What: The cinnamon brown sugar breakfast tart

Where: Wilma and Frieda’s, 155 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; also at 73575 El Paseo Drive, Palm Desert

How much: $4.95

Contact: 760-992-5080 (Palm Springs); 760-773-2807 (Palm Desert); wilmafrieda.com

Why: They’re delicious—and very affordable.

When I heard that Wilma and Frieda’s was going to be taking over the former location of The Falls—one of the most beautiful restaurant spaces in the valley, overlooking the La Plaza area in downtown Palm Springs—I was elated.

For five years, Wilma and Frieda’s, located on El Paseo in Palm Desert, has been serving up some of the valley’s best breakfasts and lunches. Not only was I excited about the fact that one of the area’s most renowned restaurants was expanding to the west valley; I was intrigued by what the owners would do with the large, second-story space.

Well, it seems my excitement was justified: The new Wilma and Frieda’s is gorgeous, and the owners have expanded the offerings at the Palm Springs location beyond 3 p.m.: The bar is currently open until 9 p.m. most nights, and full dinner service is coming soon.

I stopped in one recent Saturday after an early-ish dinner to see the new space and try a cocktail. Since it was after dinner, I was craving dessert … and Wilma and Frieda’s (at both locations) has an amazing selection of housemade sweets, including brownies, bars, cookies, cakes and “breakfast tarts”—you know, like those store-bought frosted pastries that you pop into the toaster, but presumably a lot better.

Being a fan of all things containing brown sugar, I decided to try the cinnamon brown sugar breakfast tart. Not only did it sound delicious; it was only $4.95—and where else can you get a fresh-baked dessert for that price in this town?

The tart exceeded my expectations: It was warm, crispy out the outside and gooey on the inside—and it was yummy.

Welcome to Palm Springs, Wilma and Frieda’s. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Italian ice

Where: Vinny’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard, 190 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $7 as shown

Contact: 760-904-4625; vinnysitalianice.com

Why: It’s a tasty, cooling treat.

By this time of year, even the heartiest desert-dwellers are simply done with the oppressive heat.

We all have our tricks for dealing with the 110-degree-plus temps, ranging from 24-hour pool access to constant near-nudity to diets consisting of nothing but cold alcoholic beverages. Well, my friends, I recently discovered another helpful tool in the battle with the summer sizzle: the Italian ice at Vinny’s, in downtown Palm Springs.

Italian ice is apparently more of an East Coast thing—I haven’t lived farther east than Tucson, Ariz., so I wouldn’t know—that’s akin to sorbet, in that it doesn’t contain any milk, dairy or egg. As a result, it’s less creamy, but healthier—and it’s really, really cold.

On a recent trip to Vinny’s—which also serves house-made custard and gelato, for those of you who like your cold treats with a little more heft—I got a medium-sized cup, which included three scoops. I decided to mix it up with three decidedly different flavors: vanilla, mango and pecan pie. All three scoops were delicious and oh-so-refreshing; the tastiest was the mango, although the pecan pie was the most interesting.

If I have one complaint … it’s that Vinny’s offerings are rather pricey. I get it; it takes time and money to take quality ingredients and turn them into great, house-made products; it also costs money to pay for rent, employees, air conditioning, etc. However, I also understand that when cash is tight, it might make more sense to go to the store and spend $3 to $5 on a quart and a half of ice cream.

When money’s not an issue, and the heat is an issue, I can promise you: I’ll be at Vinny’s enjoying some cold, delicious Italian ice.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Buttermilk Pie

Where: Billy Reed’s, 1800 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $5.25

Contact: 760-325-1946; www.billyreedspalmsprings.com

Why: It’s the epitome of a perfectly rich dessert.

During my first four years of residence in the Coachella Valley, I somehow never dined at Billy Reed’s, the old-school restaurant mainstay in Palm Springs.

About a year or so ago, I finally righted this culinary wrong—and instantly fell in love with the place, with its traditional American menu, its stained-glass bar décor and its reasonable prices.

Lately, I’ve been falling in love with another aspect of Billy Reed’s: Its amazing selection of yummy, house-made desserts.

On one recent visit, I was in the mood for pie, and this description of the buttermilk pie caught my eye: “Lemony with a vanilla undertone. Mysterious, a sweet tooth’s fantasy, hold on to yours, all of them.”

I was intrigued. So what if that description—particularly that second not-really-a-sentence—makes no sense it all? I ordered a piece.

Let me tell you: That description does not do this pie justice.

It’s not much to look at, but, man, a piece of this pie is something to behold once you take a bite of it. The custard-y filling is a little tart, a little creamy, and a whole lot sweet: This is one of the richest pies you’ll find in our valley’s dessert cases. It approaches and tiptoes incredibly close to the “too sweet” precipice—but never quite gets there. Even though “buttermilk” is in the name and is one of the primary ingredients, you’d have no idea it’s there based on the flavor—unless your taste buds are really paying attention.

These days, a Billy Reed’s visit with clam chowder, prime rib and a meal-concluding piece of buttermilk pie is one of my favorite meals to enjoy in the entire Coachella Valley. It’s so, so good.

Published in The Indy Endorsement

What: The Opera Cake

Where: Pastry Swan’s Fix, a Dessert House, 73580 El Paseo, Palm Desert

How much: $8.50

Contact: 760-340-3040; www.pastryswan.com

Why: It’s a dessert with a lot going on.

Epicurious.com tells the story of opera cake like this: “Many believe that Louis Clichy was its creator because he premiered the gâteau (cake), with his name written across the top, at the 1903 Exposition Culinaire in Paris. It became the signature cake of Clichy’s shop on the Boulevard Beaumarchais. However, another pastry shop, Dalloyau, sold a very similar dessert, known as L’Opéra (in honor of the Paris Opera), and some claim that theirs was the original.”

I don’t know who deserves credit for inventing opera cake, but I do know this: The version served al El Paseo’s Fix, a Dessert House, is pretty freaking incredible.

The Fix opened in 2011 and serves the yummy goodies produced by Pastry Swan, long one of the valley’s top bakeries. However, The Fix doesn’t just offer yummy baked goods; it also serves full meals, including pizzas, sandwiches and salads. Plus there’s a full bar!

However, let’s put aside the booze and entreés for now, because The Fix is most renowned for one thing: desserts. It’s in the restaurant name for a reason, after all.

Desserts are exactly what we were looking for on El Paseo one recent afternoon, and The Fix gave us, well, our desired sugar fix. Everything we had was yummy, but the opera, well, took the cake: The almond sponge cake with chocolate, coffee and marzipan notes was fantastic. This dessert is not for the faint of heart: It has a lot going on thanks to all of the varied yet complementary flavors. It’s also quite rich: After devouring a piece of opera cake, you won’t want a second piece right away.

However, you probably will want another the next day. Bon appétit.

Published in The Indy Endorsement