Posts Tagged ‘palm springs


Palm Springs – Circa 59 at the Riviera Resort and Spa

Seared scallops at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Seared scallops at Circa 59. Lana Maytak photo

I left Vancouver on a rainy Monday a.m., and apparently “it’s cold” there now so I feel like I’ve made the right decision coming here. More or less.

Last night, the first night, we – that is, my photographer and I – were treated to a dinner at Circa 59, the restaurant at our accommodations, the Riviera Resort and Spa (from downtown Palm Springs, by cab a few minutes – I don’t recommend walking it). With high-backed wing chairs, chandeliers that look like they were designed by H.R. Giger and black and white photos of Frank Sinatra and Raquel Welch (doing her lounge act, no less), it’s a funky modern restaurant with a nod to the Riviera’s storied, Old Hollywood past.

Starting with a series of appetizers, we were most impressed with the lobster ginger dumplings (five of them, with a spicy Japanese dressing) and the oysters (komomoro), which my photog described as “the best oysters I ever had” – though she’s from Siberia, where oysters are not available on every street corner, and I suspect that may have had as much to do with the ponzu/spring tomato gazpacho topping as the actual slimy dollops themselves.

Oysters at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Oysters at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

At this point (following the appetizers) Circa 59’s chef de cuisine came out from the kitchen to see who was being so demanding. Ruben Barragan’s former employer was Chicago’s Wit Hotel, where he worked along with Circa 59 executive chef Bradley Manchester, and he explained that much if not all of the food at Circa 59 is locally sourced and inspired.

Ruben encouraged us to try more, so we sampled the chorizo-stuffed medjool dates, a sinfully candy-like flavour combination that immediately took me back to last year’s Burning Man and the less sophisticated delicacy known as “bacon-wrapped Fudgee-Os”. We also enjoyed the seared scallops with a fava bean and potato sauce (pictured above). The spot prawns were too grainy and dry for my tastes; I maintain (as far as that goes) that they are a hardcore foodie’s food.

Chorizo-stuffed medjool dates at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Chorizo-stuffed medjool dates at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

Spot prawns at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

The spot prawns at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

And then the entrees…

I’m not much of a carnivore but the rib eye was probably as good as any I’ve had; just the right amount of rare, juicy, delectable, with a chantrelle mushroom topping and foi gras red wine sauce. (To interject with a brief wine mention: I was happy to encounter my old friend the Chalk Hill Chardonnay, a personal fave since a California wine-tasting a few months ago, and a wine which went well with the…)

The rib-eye at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

The rib-eye with chantrelle mushrooms at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

Halibut. Seared, herb-encrusted, and with a red-pepper sauce, but with the mouth-watering rib-eye taste still fresh in our craws, hard to appreciate.

Halibut at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Halibut at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

Not so with the butterfish (an out-of-season halibut). Two small but juicy slabs served with sides of a campari tomato so delicious it almost caused a death duel between myself and the photographer, with a salsa verde and roasted artichoke hearts on the side.

Butterfish at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Butterfish at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

About the desserts, well, the less said the better – not because the chocolate carmel tart with a scoop of hazelnut ice creamy and the sticky toffee pudding weren’t fantastic but because even recalling their names I am filled with longing.

The chocolate carmel tart at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

The chocolate carmel tart at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

And now we come to the sad relationship part of the story. Because the meal most reminded me of the fantastic dinner shared with the Texas Twister at the Fairmont in Sonoma on our first night there, and how it cemented our love… and how that love is now over, alas, and I’m here in Palm Springs at another fabulous hotel but not with someone I love, or whom there’s anything beyond a platonic relationship (though I for one would like to change that). And I remember that feeling, and I want it back.

Still, I can’t complain – I’m here, with two days (three if you count Friday, the day we leave) of sun, pool and reading left. And, as the saying goes: we’ll always have Sonoma.


master cleanse day iv: hanging in there

Day no. five, and I know where every last morsel of food is located in my apartment. There’s the miniature, blue-foil-wrapped chocolate egg left over from the Easter lying on the floor in my closet. There’s the bag of dried sugary cantaloupe slices I brought back from Palm Springs in the cupboard, along with dried cranberries and granola. There’s the chocolate bar I bought for the Twister, which she never ate, also sitting in the cupboard. (For those of you paying attention, the Twister has landed safely in Zurich.) There’s the bag of raisins in the fridge, also brought back from Palm Springs. Heck, even the cats’ 95% duck food is starting to look good.

Still, the end is in sight. Day 5 is hump day; after this, it’s just a matter of counting off the days ’til the end of this self-imposed sentence. I must be a glutton for punishment although, as I mentioned on Facebook, I’ve lost 80 pounds. (Not really, but that’s what I tell myself to keep going.)

What’s going to make it doubly hard tonight is that my cousin’s coming over for our weekly Movie Nite, which has been on hold for the last couple of weeks while I’ve been traveling. Traditionally, we order a large pizza with artichoke hearts or chicken and spinach or mushrooms and feta to go with the week’s flick, but tonight I’ll be swigging from my cup of cayenne-and-maple-syrup lemonade.

God. Could I go for a pizza right now.


Paige and Rick’s Gallery opening

-Indian Wells, CA

The other night, the Royale Gallery had its opening in Indian Wells. Indian Wells isn’t far from Palm Springs, traditionally an enclave for retired, white, gun-toting* Republicans**. Which raised the question: how much of a market is there in this retirement community for contemporary art?


Run by Paige Moss, an actress with episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 to her credit, has opened the gallery with her partner Rick Royale. Royale himself had a dalliance with show biz: he used to front a rockabilly band in Vancouver, Canada called the Rattled Roosters.

Their previous lives are little in evidence at the gallery, though. Located in a adobe strip mall a few doors down from a day spa specializing in collagen treatments, Botox, and “medically assisted weight loss”, the Royale Projects reflects Rick’s interest in the abstract in sculpture, objects and painting. There was also neon art (the words “Happiness is expensive”), photography, and the winning entry in a competition for interior designers to come up with a dress.


The art was interesting, some of it arresting (I really loved a bronze abstract, heavy on the paint textures), but I was waaaaaay too tired to properly socialize, having spent the day getting from my Eastside Vancouver abode to Indian Wells (car ride thanks to the Twister, plane to Denver, plane to Ontario CA, motorcycle ride to here, for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival). At one point I poked my head in at the Nest, a notorious bar-restaurant (it’s slogan: “after 5, life begins here”) in the same complex as the Royale Projects. The Nest caters to the after-60 set, and I think I looked a little shell-shocked when I returned to the gallery after seeing all those sextagenarians shaking their whithered moneymakers to bouncy tunes from a piano man. (I was so tired I fell asleep almost immediately back at the condo we’re renting. The room I was “assigned” by the team leader of this mission belongs to the son of the owners, and it’s filled with WW1 aircraft replicas. Even the bedsheets have airplanes on ’em.)


But last night I was talking to the owner of another contemporary art gallery in the area, the only other one, according to her. (There’s also a lowbrow gallery, with art by people like cocktail/lounge illustrator Shag.) But the area is starting to see some of the people who were raised here, and who are now in their late 20s and early 30s, coming back “to invest in the community,” according to the gallery owner. I guess they’re the ones buying up the Cheezies-shaped sculptures and expensive happiness.

*For example: there’s a gun counter at a sporting goods store, Big Five. I went in looking for sunglasses, and the sunglasses were near the guns. Go figure. Anyway, a sign on the cash register said, “Due to popular demand, the [some make] 12-gauge shotgun may be unavailable between the dates of…” And I’m thinking, a 12-gauge shotgun? Who’s buying this? That’s like a post-apocalypse, kill-all-the-zombies kind of weapon. Maybe they know something down here we don’t.

**I’m sitting outside in a courtyard surrounded by ranch-style bungalows, and an old dude ambles past. He’s wearing a T-shirt with the U.S. flag on it. Love it or leave it!


Hello, where are the hotties?

I’m in Palm Desert right now, spent the day in Joshua Tree, am heading to Coachella tomorrow. Weather’s beautiful, and the golf’s great (or so I assume).
However. There. Are. No. Cute people.
WTF? Every time I’ve come to the resort where I’m staying now, it’s been full of burly tanned LA dudes clutching their Blackberries and drinking beer by the swimming pool. I mean, every time. Plus, Joshua Tree is where you’re supposed to be able to find ripped rock climbers looking straight out of Outside Magazine, and crazy artist types running around tripping on psychedelics, and…um…the guys from U2? Or similar.
But instead, all I hear is children, and all I see is SNOWBIRDS. AKA old people with white hair who sit at their tables and watch glaze-eyed as the birds steal bread straight out of the bread basket. I feel lost and alone.
Tomorrow I’m going to Coachella, and that’s when I’ll really know whether my world is okay or not. If the polo field (yes, Coachella is held inside a polo field, didn’t you know?) is packed with LA escapees and stoned, happy frat boys and hipsters in search of the Do-Lab tent, then I’ll know that everything’s back to normal. If it’s full of SNOWBIRDS (AKA old people with white hair who etc. etc.), then I’ll know I’ve suddenly slipped off the universal railings and wound up in a peculiar hell straight out of my own twisted subconscious.
Stay tuned.

August 2017
« Nov    

RSS Click by Lavalife Blog RSS

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.