It’s a “back to the future” concept that’s rocking the culinary world and changing the way we eat: farm-to-table dining. And if you want to experience firsthand what the fuss is all about, there may be no better place than the Coachella Valley. It’s one of the largest farming areas in California, and the farm-to-table movement is flourishing there.
From farm to farmers market
Phil Noble and his wife, Juany, own Sage Mountain Farm and Sage Mountain Beef in Aguanga. Until a few years ago, Noble worked in the insurance industry. "I was glued to the computer and the electronic leash, the cell phone," he said. Farming was just his hobby. But he was able to turn it into a business because, he explained, "the demand for fresh local meat and produce was staggering."
The farmers markets are open from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Palm Desert on Wednesday, in Palm Springs and Coachella on Saturday and La Quinta on Sunday.
When you stop by, you can catch a cooking demonstration by Renee Baribeau, whose Cooking Magic classes offer great recipes and unique insights about food, health and happiness.
The bountiful table
No vacation is complete without indulging in at least one gourmet feast, and some of the desert's finest chefs are farm-to-table enthusiasts who also grow their own herbs and serve fish fresh from SoCal waters.
Chef Nyerick at the Grove Artisan Kitchen uses local ingredients for specialties like ahi tuna tartare with avocados, teardrop tomatoes and tiny greens. And Chef Schmidt at Morgan's in the Desert can thrill your palate with his crispy baby artichokes with Temecula olives and almonds.
Other chefs offering the farm-to-table experience include Robert Douglas at Sense, Pierre Pelech at Chez Pierre and Vince Cultraro at La Spiga in Palm Desert, and Tara Lazar at Cheeky's in Palm Springs.
These are just a few of the restaurants offering a farm-to-table experience, but you might even discover your own. In fact, when you strike up a conversation with a fellow shopper at the farmers market, he or she just might be another superb Coachella Valley chef.
– Maxine Nunes, Custom Publishing Writer