CVIndependent

Sat08242019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Jimmy Boegle

What: The Peking duck

Where: Palm Tree Palace, 79660 Highway 111, La Quinta

How much: $18 half, $35.95 whole

Contact: 760-289-6633; www.facebook.com/Palm-tree-palace-399335637531079

Why: It’s savory nirvana.

As I write this, I’ve just finished my second batch of leftovers from my visit to Palm Tree Palace, a newish Chinese-food restaurant in La Quinta—and I’m ready to declare that Palm Tree Palace’s Peking duck is easily one of the tastiest dishes I’ve ever had in the Coachella Valley.

I stopped in for a late Saturday dinner after reading rave after rave about the place on Facebook. I ordered the wor wonton soup (a downright reasonable $8.95) as a starter, and the half-duck as my entree, knowing full well that this would be too much food for li’l ol’ me, and that leftovers would be involved.

The soup was endorsement-worthy in and of itself. It was perfectly prepared. The broth was flavorful, and none of the ingredients were overcooked; the vegetables still had some firmness, and the meats and shrimp were plump and moist.

As I finished the soup, one of the servers brought out the half-duck … and I instantly realized how truly ridiculous this order was for one person: The half duck was HUGE. As the server began cutting pieces off, she told me this duck was a little larger than normal … but still. After preparing a plate for me, she offered to take the rest to the back to cut up and put in a to-go box; I thanked her profusely.

The duck came with fresh buns, as well as scallions and hoisin sauce. I took a bun and put sauce, scallions and skin-on duck inside; I then took a bite.

Wow. Just wow.

I loved the duck at the restaurant. It was great for dinner the next day … and it was splendid for lunch the day after that.

It’s official: Palm Tree Palace is my new favorite Chinese-food restaurant. It’s so, so good.

What: The French dip with tots

Where: Revel Public House, 140 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

How much: $15.50 at lunch

Contact: 760-325-9464; revelps.com

Why: It’s a perfectly put-together sandwich.

The French dip sandwich, despite the name, is not at all French—it was actually born right here in Southern California, a little more than a century ago, at a downtown Los Angeles restaurant. The exact place of birth is a matter of debate; both Cole’s Pacific Electric Buffet and Philippe’s claim the invention.

While I have no idea which of those two restaurants deserves the credit, I do know that Revel Public House in downtown Palm Springs deserves the credit for having the best French dip I’ve had in the Coachella Valley.

Two things make the sandwich at Revel so gosh-darned good. First, the ingredients are fantastic: Owner Mindy Reed uses McLean’s all-natural roast beef, as well as a particularly tasty Swiss cheese. Second: The sandwich is assembled and prepared perfectly. Rather than just slapping the ingredients between two French-roll slices and throwing it on the plate, the folks in Revel’s kitchen press the sandwich, so it’s easy to hold, dip and devour. The horseradish mayo that comes with it is fantastic; as for the au jus, it could have been a little stronger on my recent visit—although the sandwich was great despite this tiny flaw.

The sandwich normally comes with either cole slaw, fries, roasted potatoes or quinoa, but I recommend forking out the extra $2.50 and throwing the diet (even further) out the window so you can get the tater tots. The Revel kitchen prepares the tots perfectly: They’re crisp, crunchy and addictive. (The tots are also available on their own, topped with cheese and pulled barbecue pork, if you want to completely annihilate the diet.)

I can hear some of you retorting: “A hot sandwich? In the summer? Are you mad?!” No, I just love delicious, well-prepared food—and Revel’s French dip is a tasty, pleasing choice no matter the weather.

One of the great joys of running a modern newspaper—and yes, I am being extremely sarcastic—is dealing with the technical side of running a good, functional news website.

While I am mostly happy with how we’ve done with CVIndependent.com, we’ve certainly faced challenges over the years. One of those challenges involves how we’ve dealt with photo galleries.

For the first three years or so of CVIndependent.com, we posted all of our event photo galleries on Flickr, and embedded them on our site using a plug-in program. (Why? It worked well; it saved disk space. It seemed like a good idea at the time.) Well, at some point in 2015, the Flickr folks changed something (eff you, Yahoo!), meaning the plug-in stopped working. The galleries were still visible on Flickr, but not on our own website … which was kind of a problem. From that point on, we hosted our own photo galleries, and I put the task of going back and fixing the now-missing photo galleries on my to-do list.

Then, well, four years went by. You know how it goes.

I was finally spurred to act when Flickr was sold to a new company, and that new company decided it was capping the number of photos for users at 1,000—unless said users ponied up some cash. Well, I didn’t want to pony up some cash for a service we weren’t really using anymore. So about six weeks ago, I started the process of retrieving all the archived photos from Flickr; sorting all the photos back into their proper galleries (because the mass download from Flickr was just huge files of hundreds of unsorted photos each); resizing the photos for our website; and, finally, uploading the galleries into our website’s archives.

I am about two-thirds of the way through that final step. The process has, been in a word, tedious. (Sympathetic? Free to send bourbon.) However, it’s also been oddly nostalgic. Yeah, we’re only talking about photos that are four to seven years old—but, my, how some things have changed. I’ve teared up upon seeing photos of people who are no longer with us … and I’ve grimaced when seeing pics of people who have been disgraced. (Like those photos of Kevin Spacey yukking it up with Will Ferrell at a charity tennis tournament back in March 2014. Or that piece about then-Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and developer John Wessman appearing together in February 2013 at the beginning of the Desert Fashion Plaza’s demolition.)

This task has reminded me of that old saying that newspapers are the “rough draft of history.” We’re proud of the rough draft of the Coachella Valley’s history we’ve been doing since October 2012 … and we look forward, with your support, to continuing that draft for many years to come. Want to help? Go to our Supporters of the Independent page, and consider throwing us a few bucks so we can continue producing this free-to-all rough draft.

Thank you for reading—and be sure to grab a copy of the June 2019 print edition, on newsstands now. Feel free to send any questions or feedback to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

House of Lucidity Opens in Cathedral City

The House of Lucidity, Cathedral City’s newest dispensary, officially opened with a ribbon-cutting—complements of the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce—on May 1.

The 10,000 square foot facility is located at 36399 Cathedral Canyon Drive. In addition to the gorgeous dispensary—which features black-and-white photos of celebrities including Frank Sinatra—House of Lucidity also has a cultivation facility and an extraction lab.

House of Lucidity is open from 4 to 9 p.m. daily. For more information, call www.houseoflucidity.com.


City of Coachella to Host Cannabis Summit

The city of Coachella is bringing in a lot of big names for its SoCal Cannabis Summit, taking place at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Monday and Tuesday, June 24 and 25.

The summit will begin with a cultivation and dispensary bus tour, followed by a reception on Monday. On Tuesday, the summit will feature speakers including Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin, California Bureau of Cannabis Control Chief Lori Ajax, California Treasurer Fiona Ma, and many other political leaders and marijuana experts. An exhibit hall will also be open to the public with free admission on Tuesday.

Tickets for the bus tour are $50, while summit tickets are $75. For tickets or more information, visit coachellacannabissummit.com.


Marijuana Revenues Disappoint Gov. Newsom

Revenues from marijuana growth and sales are bringing millions of dollars into state coffers—but not nearly as much as the state anticipated.

According to a May 23 news release, the cannabis industry—via the state’s cannabis excise tax, cultivation tax and sales tax—paid $116.6 million to the state in the first three months of 2019, according to first-quarter tax returns, due April 30, which had been submitted so far. That’s up slightly from the $111.9 million paid during last quarter of 2018.

Earlier in May, Gov. Gavin Newsom had to scale back cannabis-tax revenue projections significantly—cutting $223 million from the amount expected to be collected by June 2020.

According to the Associated Press, the reasons for the disappointing sales included the thriving illegal market, as well as the state’s struggles with licensing and regulation.

Newsom also blamed some states and counties for not welcoming legal cannabis into their communities.

“We knew (some counties and cities) would be stubborn in providing access and providing retail locations and that would take even longer than some other states, and that’s exactly what’s happening,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

Now Open (At Least a Little): The Alibi Palm Springs

You’ve probably heard this one before: Owners announce a new restaurant is going to open on a tentative date. That date comes … and goes. A new date is announced; it passes, too. Cycle repeats a time or three.

Such has been the case with The Alibi Palm Springs, opening under new ownership and after significant renovations at the former Azul/Alibi/Georgie’s etc. space at 369 N. Palm Canyon Drive.

The new owners opened the space for the Lesbo Expo Launch Party—bringing in outside food—during Palm Springs Pride last November. In December, The Alibi Facebook page (www.facebook.com/TheAlibiPalmSprings) announced a soft opening would take place on Jan. 25. We don’t know whether that actually happened; we do know signs went up a little later on The Alibi’s front doors, announcing an April opening. Which, of course, didn’t happen.

In recent weeks, The Alibi’s Instagram page (www.instagram.com/thealibipalmsprings) has sprung to life with encouraging photos of things like functional misters and a new jukebox. However, three pics got me really excited: One shows newly renovated glider seats on the patio—and those unique glider seats helped put the old Azul/etc. on the map; another shows meat being grilled; and a third shows a patio view—with an announcement that the patio would be open over Memorial Day weekend. Yes!

According to a subsequent Instagram post, The Alibi, for now, will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight, Thursday through Sunday. Follow that aforementioned Instagram page for more information.


Fire Leads to Temporary Closure of All Aspen Mills Bakery Locations

A fire on May 17 at Aspen Mills Bakery, 555 S. Sunrise Way, in Palm Springs, has led to the closure of all four of the much-loved bakery’s valley locations.

“Our oven serves all our locations in the desert, so every one of our stores will be affected by this setback,” said a message on the Aspen Mills Facebook page. “We hope to be doing what we do best at Aspen Mills as quickly as we can.”

We sent an email to owner Marty Webster asking when Aspen Mills may reopen, but we did not get a response as of our deadline.

Here’s hoping the closure is very short. Watch www.facebook.com/AspenMillsBakery for more information.


Worth Checking Out: Holey Scoops Ice Cream, in Palm Desert

If you’re inclined to support a small business started up by young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs, and you happen to like good ice cream, I recommend trying out Holey Scoops Ice Cream, located at 74600 Highway 111, in Palm Desert.

Siblings Becca and Aaron Brukman opened the shop around six months ago. After growing up in Long Beach and attending the University of Arizona, they moved to the Coachella Valley and decided to open Holey Scoops, using Aaron’s business acumen, and Becca’s experience with people, marketing and customer service.

“We’re a brother and sister. We’re young. We’re trying this whole small-business thing out,” Becca told me.

Holey Scoops offers 16 ice cream flavors (including a no-sugar-added flavor), plus dairy-free bars, chocolate-covered bananas and other treats like cookie pies. If you stop in, chances are Becca and Aaron will be the people helping you: So far, they’re their only employees.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/holeyscoops.


In Brief

Sad news: Three Sixty North, at 360 N. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs, closed on Sunday, May 26. After word started spreading on Facebook that owner Tony Gallardo had decided not to renew the lease, we reached out to the restaurant via Facebook—and confirmed the news. Gallardo and some staff will remain available for catering, however; call 760-797-5733 for details. … Now open: El Patron Crafted Tacos and Drinks, located in the old Starbucks space at 101 S. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. The renovated spot looks gorgeous, and the menu—featuring tacos, burritos, ceviche and all sorts of tequila-fueled cocktails—looks delicious. Get details at www.facebook.com/elpatronpalmsprings and www.elpatronps.com. … Congratulations to Vicky’s of Santa Fe, at 45100 Club Drive, in Indian Wells, on its 30th anniversary! Get more info, including the restaurant’s amazing $29 Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week menu, at www.vickysofsantafe.com. … PS Underground, which has presented an amazing array of themed culinary experiences at venues across the valley over the last six years, now has a permanent home in Palm Springs: 1700 S. Camino Real, Suite 2; that’s the old Appetito space next to Koffi. Awesome! Details at www.psunderground.com. … Now open again: Los Arcos Mexican Restaurant, at 68718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City. It had been in the side space of the old IMAX theater in Cathedral City. However, CVRep needed that space after taking over the building, and Los Arcos closed down for a bit before reopening on the other side of the “downtown Cathedral City” complex, near The Roost Lounge. Welcome back! Get details at www.facebook.com/LosArcosMex.

I asked Jo Anne Worley what the audience can expect from her shows at the Purple Room this Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25.

“A lot of singing—mainly comedy singing,” she replied. “And what I like to do is take a song and do something unusual with it.”

I asked for an example … and, boy, did she respond—by belting out, right into the phone, a few verses from her gluten-free song.

Borrrrr-ing!

It really is boring

It’s kind of like snoring

When you are gluten FREEEEE!

Worley, 81, is a living legend. Her career spans six decades; her first credit on IMDb is The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, in 1960. She’s been in many movies and TV shows; she’s performed on Broadway and enjoyed a well-reviewed stint as Madame Morrible in the Los Angeles production of Wicked.

However, Worley is best known for being a cast member on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. The iconic show, which ran from 1968 to 1973, remains popular thanks to its long run in syndication and its DVD releases; it airs every weeknight on the Decades digital network. Netflix this month released the documentary Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate, which features Worley—wearing the same purple feather boa, given to her by her Laugh-In castmate Henry Gibson, that she says she’ll be wearing at the Purple Room this weekend.

I asked Worley why Laugh-In has retained its popularity.

“Because it’s funny. It’s just funny,” she said. “It’s short and quick, and if there’s something that’s on there where you say, ‘Oh, this isn’t interesting,’ it’s gone in a minute, and then you’re on to something else. So it moves, and it’s funny.”

I asked Worley if she had a favorite role or performance from her 60-year career.

“What pops into my mind is something that I did that is a gift that keeps on giving: I did the voice of the wardrobe in the Beauty and the Beast movie,” she said. “That is absolutely a gift that keeps on giving.”

Worley is a proud lover of animals, and currently serves as the president of Actors and Others for Animals, an organization founded in 1971 that, among other things, funds spay/neuter programs in Southern California. Worley said that she just made a new addition to her family, a Chihuahua named Cupid.

“I’m looking forward to Palm Springs, and I’m bringing my little dog with me. I have a new little dog who I saw on (Los Angeles) Channel 7. He was the Pet of the Week. I was on the phone talking, and I went, ‘Oh, I have to write this number down.’ I went the next day and got him from the shelter.

“I’m very fortunate. His audition was getting in the bag of the purse on my shoulder. He passed that audition, and we went home.”

Jo Anne Worley will perform at 8 p.m. (with dinner at 6 p.m.), Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25, at Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Tickets are $50 to $60. For tickets or more information, call 760-322-4422, or visit www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

What: The al pastor taco

Where: Taqueria Tortilla Factory, 35270 Date Palm Drive, Cathedral City

How much: $2.99

Contact: 760-324-6505; taqueria-tortilla-factory.business.site

Why: It outshined the main course.

Sometimes, the supporting player outshines the star.

Such was the case during a recent lunch I enjoyed at Taqueria Tortilla Factory, located in a busy little strip mall in Cathedral City. I was trying to get over that terrible cold that’s been going around, and I was craving soup—specifically, that fabled cold remedy known as menudo.

I understand that menudo isn’t for everyone—the main ingredient is tripe, aka cow’s stomach—but when it’s done right, I think it’s delicious. I’d never had the menudo at Taqueria Tortilla Factory, and I’d heard good things, so I decided to give it a shot. I ordered it at the counter—and decided to add on an al pastor taco, because, well, tacos are delicious.

The verdict: The menudo was pretty darned good. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had—while the tripe, hominy and other ingredients were perfect, the broth could have been more flavorful—but it was enjoyable, and it was a welcome salve for my sniffles. After downing most of the bowl, I turned my attention to the taco.

Wow.

It was fantastic. The pork meat was delicious and just a little crispy—as good al pastor should be. Some might balk at the $2.99 price; while you can get cheaper tacos in town, those tacos likely won’t come with this amount of meat.

In addition to making its own fantastic tortillas (as the name makes obvious), Taqueria Tortilla Factory cooks up a wide variety of delicious food, from breakfasts to seafood plates to all the Mexican-restaurant standards one would expect. I am not sure what I’ll order on my next visit … but I am sure that I’ll add on an al pastor taco.

Steven Fales has performed his Confessions of a Mormon Boy one-man show all over the world since its debut off-Broadway more than 13 years ago—but the show may never have happened without the support of the Desert Hot Springs woman Fales calls his “Mormon Auntie Mame.”

“She loved me unconditionally,” Fales said about Linda Parkin, who died of ovarian cancer in 2014. “She never had kids, but she always called me her ‘first born.’”

After successful shows at Rancho Mirage’s Desert Rose Playhouse earlier this year, Confessions of a Mormon Boy is being performed each Tuesday in May at Oscar’s Café and Bar in downtown Palm Springs.

The show tells the story of Fales’ upbringing as part of a prominent Mormon family in Utah, and focuses on the realization that he’s gay; his attempts at “reparative therapy”; his excommunication from the church; his fall into drug use and prostitution; and his eventual self-acceptance. While the show contains neither full nudity nor profanity, it should be considered R-rated due to its subject matter.

Fales said the show has always been hugely popular with gay members and former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (disclosure: I fall into the “gay former member” category), but some other audience-goers found some of the show’s content uncomfortable—particularly the portion dealing with Fales’ time as a prostitute.

“We weren’t ready to talk about all of this before marriage equality,” he said. “For the gay Mormons, they were so hungry to be shown onstage. They’d fly in from all over the country to see the show. To my knowledge, I was the first gay Mormon to tell his own story in any mainstream way.”

Fales said that the Confessions of a Mormon Boy script has been updated and refreshed over the years. In addition to other shows, including a cabaret act, Fales has been developing a trilogy—two plays to pair with Confessions of a Mormon Boy, meant to be performed on three consecutive nights. Missionary Position is a prequel, focusing on his younger years, while Prodigal Dad focuses on his battle during the Great Recession to keep his parental rights in not-so-gay-friendly Utah. However, he’s put the other two shows on the shelf for now to focus on bringing Confessions of a Mormon Boy to both audiences old and new.

After the show’s at Oscar’s this month, Fales is going on the road, taking the show to Norway and South Africa, and he has plans to later take the show to Asia and back to New York City. In between, however, he hopes to return to perform in Palm Springs—a place he fell in love with in large part due to his loving and accepting Mormon aunt—in the fall.

“The desert is becoming home,” Fales said.

Confessions of a Mormon Boy will be performed at 8 p.m., Tuesdays, through Tuesday, May 28, at Oscar’s Café and Bar, 125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, in Palm Springs. Tickets start at $44.95, and include a free special cocktail; premium seating and dinner packages are also available. For tickets or more information, visit mormonboyoffbroadway.com.

What: The almond croissant

Where: The French Corner Café, 72423 Highway 111, Palm Desert

How much: $5.50

Contact: 760-568-5362; www.frenchcornercafe.com

Why: It’s pure decadence.

In an area of Palm Desert that has seemingly become overrun by chains, the locally owned French Corner Café continues to stand out.

Since 2007, brothers Marc and Aimeric Davy have been serving delicious French fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner (they take weekday dinners off during the summer)—crepes, quiches, omelets, sandwiches, salads and some intriguing entrées (including rack of lamb on the weekends). But as well-known as French Corner is for its savory food … it’s the baked goods that have put the restaurant on the figurative map. French Corner is a perennial finalist in the Best Desserts category of our Best of Coachella Valley readers’ poll, after all.

They offer pastries. Macarons. Petits fours. And what’s described on the desserts menu as the “best croissants ever.” That may be somewhat hyperbolic … or perhaps it isn’t.

I was in a hurry on my recent visit—rushing from a meeting in Palm Desert to a meeting in Palm Springs—so I got a few items to go, including a piece of ham quiche and an almond croissant. Between the meetings, I scarfed down the delicious piece of quiche, and intended to eat just half of the croissant. Well, somehow, I found the time to eat the whole thing: It was pure, flaky, buttery decadence. It came cut in half, with almond paste spread on the inside, and it was truly one of the best croissants I’ve ever enjoyed.

As I’ve mentioned before in this space, I’ve been trying to cut back on carbs—and the French Corner Café is not helping with this effort. This almond croissant is one of the Coachella Valley’s most delicious sweets—and is definitely worth breaking one’s diet.

After meeting numerous famous and powerful people during almost 25 years in journalism, I’m rarely star-struck or intimidated these days.

In fact, it’s happened to me just twice since I’ve called the Coachella Valley home. The first time was when I met Joyce Bulifant—semi-regular on the classic Match Game back in the 1970s, and co-star of one of my favorite movies ever, Airplane.

The second time was when I met Barbara Keller.

For the life of me, I have no idea why I was starstruck when I met Joyce Bulifant—I love her, but I’ve been left unflummoxed by bigger stars before. But I do understand why I was intimidated by Barbara Keller, when I somehow found myself sitting next to her at an Equality California Awards host committee meeting: I knew I was in the presence of a person who was truly great.

Barbara Keller passed away at the age of 75 on Monday, April 15.

Barbara was as kind and welcoming as a person could be, but I was star-struck by her reputation, her gravitas, her works. I knew how many local nonprofits and charities she supported—with her money and a whole lot of her time. I’d heard tales about her extreme kindness from friends. And I’d known, by seeing her with my own eyes at various events (almost always with her fantastic husband, Jerry), how simply fabulous she was.

It’s common when someone well-known dies for them to be showered with exaggerated levels of praise and accolades. However, regarding Barbara Keller, there’s no exaggeration: She deserves each and every bit of the love and appreciation she’s received. She was truly a giant of the Coachella Valley. Her death is a huge loss to the community.

“This morning we lost our one and only Barbara Keller. The love she brought to the Desert AIDS Project family changed us forever,” said Desert AIDS Project CEO David Brinkman, in a statement on the day she passed away. “She had been our board’s leader, the Steve Chase’s chief and our clients and mission’s ultimate champion. Words fail to express the gratitude I have for having been the recipient of her friendship, love and mentorship. Barbara Keller equals humanitarian.”

My sincere sympathies go out to Jerry and the rest of her family, as well as her work family at Lulu California Bistro and Acqua California Bistro.

We’ll have more on the life of Barbara Keller in the Independent soon. In the meantime, I invite you to pick up the May 2019 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent, hitting the streets this week. As always, thanks for reading.