Pairs Well With… “Snow in California,” by Ariana Grande, and a pretty amazing interpretation by me and my sister, Sarah
For Christmas this year, my family felt we should do something different, start new holiday traditions. I was 100% for this idea, especially since it meant leaving Minneapolis’ frozen tundra to celebrate our holiday in Palm Springs, Hollywood’s desert playground. I’d never visited the desert before, so this was all very exciting to me. The closest thing to a desert that I was familiar with had an additional “s”, and it’s called dessert. This trip also meant that my better half and I, my new abs, got to spend our first holiday together absorbing the sunshine.
I envisioned Palm Springs to be like this: Palm trees and retirees.
I was right on both accounts.
Upon arrival, my first mission was to snuff out the best eats in the city, specifically Mexican food, table stakes for any trips I take. Friends, take note.
Las Casuelas Terraza: amazing tacos, enchiladas, and tamales
El Mirasol Cocina Mexicana: juicy meats with fantastic flavor
Naturally, any good dinner requires the next meal, breakfast, to be just as fabulous. We found this place named Cheeky’s that had out of this world Huevos Rancheros and bacon flights. Overall, a notable, foodie menu.
Finally, let’s talk dessert. Now, I’m not a big sweets person (say, whhhaaaaaa???!!!). I know, I know. However, we found this ice cream shop, Nitroinfusions Hand Crafted Ice Cream, where they freeze the ice cream right in front of you by using liquid nitrogen. It was a neat process to watch. This process eliminates the ice crystals and air, and no preservatives are added.
I treated myself to the salted caramel sundae. Stop. The. World. It was insanely good, and I almost licked the inside of the cup. I didn’t. I thought about it. A lot.
Me, practicing my side eye – and for good reason! After just having finished my ice cream, I’m sitting outside, taking in the great weather and scenery, when a guy driving a motorcycle had two dogs riding sidecar. RIDING SIDE CAR.
After all this eating, I’m going to be needing to do my ab challenge again in a serious way. (Don’t worry, another one starts soon, and you can join along.) I can honestly say that every calorie was worth it and knew that all the hiking we were about to do would level me out. Any excuse to show off my skin to the sun, with sunscreen of course, and turn pasty into pretty, was exciting. Who says December is too soon to start working on your summer tan?
Waking up Christmas morning, knowing you’re in sunny ass California was amazing! I was as excited as a six-year-old getting a pony ride, and couldn’t contain myself. My morning needed Christmas music, coffee, and a (solo) dance party.
After the dance party, Sarah and I decided to take our excitement to another level: video (probably the best and most genius thing we’ve ever done.)
Once we were done
making a mockery of ourselves entertaining the world, a mid-morning hike seemed like the right thing to do.
Somehow, we ended up deviating from our path (which the park rangers denote by putting white spots on rocks), so we climbed the middle of the hill and scaled what felt like a rock avalanche. There are a ton of great hiking trails in, or around, Palm Springs. Highly recommended.
I could honestly say that given the opportunity, I’d go hiking all the time. Until then, I’ll keep chasing pavements in the flatlands of the Midwest (whomp, whomp).
Now, let’s talk important stuff: CALIFORNIA WINE TASTING. Wine tasting, both for scenic and sensory reasons, is one of my favorite things to do.
We ventured out on a day trip to Temecula where wineries are abundant and the views are spectacular. On the route from Palm Springs to Temecula, you can stop and get a photo with the dinosaurs from the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.
My sister wanted to go inside the dinosaurs (they have lookout points). I had no desire to be looking out a dinosaur’s ass. Nope.
Our first stop was at Callaway Winery, one of the highest rated wineries in the area. A six taste sampling cost $15, and they were generous one-ounce pours. Plus, the wine (and Denise, who served us) was excellent, the views fantastic.
Views from Callaway Winery (Photo credit: Denise K.)
Next up, and my favorite stop on our rendezvous, Thornton Winery
In addition to wine, Thorton also has beautifully crafted champagne flights, my main reason for the visit. I did not expect the level of service I received, nor the outstanding quality and taste of both their wines and champagnes. If you ever stop at Thornton, make sure you request Christopher to serve you. He’s an extremely knowledgeable wine expert who made spot-on recommendations based on my taste preferences.
We stayed for lunch at their onsite restaurant, Cafe Champagne. I enjoyed a delectable pasta with bolognese, which Christopher paired with a brilliant red wine. My meal was complete when he surprised me with a flourless chocolate cake and champagne. He happened to “hear” it was my birthday. And I swear, this time, I didn’t pull any half birthday crap. Seriously.
We closed out the afternoon at Briar Rose Winery, a reservation-only tasting room. The cozy cottage was designed by a former Disney employee and gives a nod to the movie Sleeping Beauty. While the wines weren’t my favorite, the experience to this hidden gem was worth it. Any trip to wine country is always a fun one!
Briar Rose Winery
The last day of our trip was spent venturing around our neighborhood where we found the Moorten Botanical Garden, an easy $4 investment to see some weird looking cacti and other desert plants.
Palm Spring, especially over the holidays, is beautiful. Here’s to hoping I can get my mom to retire there, so I have an excuse to go back. Until then, I’ll be thinking warm thoughts and dreaming up adventures for next year’s Christmas!
Happy 2016 to each of you! May you have a happy and healthy year ahead.
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Photo Credit: Sarah