Sunday, 8 September 2013

Shield's Date Gardens

A date garden, why can't I have one in my backyard? I would spend all summer snacking on sticky, toffee-like, caramel-y dates all day and everyday. -drools- No joke, residents of Palm Springs/Palm Desert/La Quinta/Indo etc have date trees in their yards and date trees lining the streets and parks. Not. Fair.

Shield's Date Gardens, really, don't miss it!
Right after I took this photo, I immediately ran to the air-conditioned car. That is a forced smile you see, partially at least. The only genuine-ity coming from the fact I bought a bunch of dates.

Just around the corner from our hotel in La Quinta, California, lies the largest date retail store in Palm Springs. -insert angelic voices here- Also the more popular date garden compared to Oasis Date Gardens. Aka the highlight of my side trip number two. This massive sign with a medieval soldier pointing to the store can be seen from a mile away, I think.

If Peanut Crumpet got to go to taunt me with Coconut Glen's then I get payback with the date capital of the world. Mwahahaha!

Size Comparison
What I love about Shield's Date Garden is being able to sample every single possibly variety of date, maybe twice, before deciding on which boxes to purchase and haul home (by hand carry!) 12+ kinds of dates can kind of be overwhelming for a date newbie like me. Nomnomnomnom, Coconut Crumpet just chows down enough dates to keep a sugar rush going for the next three days. Sugar makes you fat? Not of my concern at the moment. -keeps eating more dates-

Khadrawi Dates from Shield's Date Gardens

Khadrawis were on my must-buy list after Peanut Crumpet offered me some back in July. After tasting them at Shield's, the gooey-ness completely finalized my decision. It was all happy-good-times until I brought them back to Vancouver to find that a crusty layer had developed over 99.9% of my khadrawis. No longer soft and juicy? D: Since it was so hot in Palm Springs, and the dates had to survive the heat during the car trip back to Los Angeles, my parents put my babies in the freezer, which may have dried them out. Two slices of bread can only rehydrate them so much... So don't put them in the freezer and just eat them all right away ;)

Soft Medjool Dates from Shield's Date Gardens
Medjools are the 'jewels of the desert' and of course I had to get some of those too. But which kind? I wanted the softest, gooey-est medjools. And the Soft Mejools delievered just that. Mother Nature's caramels, grown by the 200 pounds per branch. However, I have concluded that the medjools from Oasis Date Gardens are superior to the ones from Shield's. Just a tinge less gooey (probably because they stayed on the tree a little longer to further ripen, and naturally dry. Yes, ripe dates look wrinkly. Dates are not 'dried' like apricots and figs. New fact of the day!), sweeter, and the flavour is more caramel-y. I ate one Shield's medjool and it had a strange wine-flavoured aftertaste. Although my mom couldn't taste it, I swear I did. It lingered in mah mouth. At first I was wondered if the date had just gone bad, because wine is technically made from rotten grapes, but my mom said nothing was wrong. And mother knows best, right? (Tangled reference) 

Besides dates, we also picked up some other very random products, still all from Shield's! Vegetable chips, unprocessed coconut chips, white grapefruit gummies (they tasted good, don't judge.), candied ginger... My family left the store with a plastic bag with like ten pounds worth of snacks. I think the fact that we traveled with one hand carry luggage each slipped our minds.

Shield's also serves date shakes, but after my less-than-impressive experience about ten minutes before at Oasis Date Gardens, I passed getting another one. We popped into their theatre that continuously plays 'The Romance and Sex Life of the Date', don't worry it's not rated PG or anything. It's a video about the cultivation and farming of dates, how they collect the sperm from the male plant and spray it on the female know, all that good biological stuff. I would've been very interested to watch it all except it was so stuffy in there. The air con is non-existent in the theatre. 

Shield's also operates a full restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch. Most items are the basic sandwich, burger, fish and chips, and salads you'd find at a cafe but they have some pretty unique items like date pancakes or a date burger on the menu too! They got me at pancakes. Unfortunately, I couldn't convince my mom to have lunch here after her mind was set on Souplantation. Then again, it is all outdoor seating, which is beautiful by the way, but just utterly impossible to enjoy when it is a sizzling 43 degrees outside. No exaggeration used when I say sizzling or 43 degrees. If you are ever curious as to what it would feel like if you sat on a grill or in an oven (on turbo mode), visit Palm Springs during August. Save yourself some pain and I'll just tell you. It's HOT. Thankfully not sticky.

So...after my excessive amount of off-topic rambling in this post, what is my ultimate thoughts on Shield's Date Gardens? The dates are very cheap and of good value; a great place to pick up souvenirs for friends and family that are actually produced by the place you visited. (Who's guilty of bringing back gifts from Hawaii that say 'made in China'? Meeeeeeee~) It's food too, so you can't go wrong. The staff at Shield's are happy to help you find what you're looking for and answer questions about their products or explain what each type of date is like. Besides the two types I brought home, I like the Almond Date Rolls, Honey and Blonde Dates. BUT if you're looking to bring the best medjools home, I suggest driving a few more minutes to Oasis Date Gardens to get some of their medjools. Although the building is more dingy and run-down-looking, Oasis' dates are fresh. Just be sure to get the dates from the bulk section or the large cardboard boxes. Shield's Date Garden is a fun drop-by and spend-half-an-hour-eating-dates kind of activity when you've run out of things to do in Palm Springs. Sounds like a good way to spend the pre-lunch hours. 

Reviews on Yelp

P.S. I'll be very sad when I finish my dates because there ain't no date gardens anywhere near me. Those dry boxed medjools from Superstore are just not the same. Darn, should've bought way more dates home from California. 

P.P.S. If I eat them all, I won't even have any left to use at prom so I can tell everyone I have a prom date from California. Gaaaahhh!!

P.P.P.S. I noticed one of my labels (or tags) on my posts said 'Palm Dessert' instead of 'Palm Desert', hahahahahaha! Obviously my mind thinks of food too often and automatically leans towards the sweets. But hey, would you rather live in a desert or a tub of chocolate pudding? Chocolate pudding, duh. No worries, the label has been corrected anyways.

Love from Coconut Crumpet's Corner ♡

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