Speed Dating @ The Date Fest & Riverside County Fair. Listen in Saturday, Feb. 26th at 11AM on KCRW 89.9FM or KCRW.com.
Fair weather at the Riverside County Fair.
I've gone on a few dates in my life, but this past weekend the amount of dates I experienced was through the roof. In fact, there were so many I couldn't even keep track. Let's see, there was Barhi, Halawy, Khadrawy, and, I'll never forget, Honey.
Princess Dunyazade, Queen Scheherazade and Princess Jasmine.
Okay, okay, so I'm talking about dates as in the fruit. Can't a guy dream a little? Anyhow, way out in Riverside County, in Indio to be exact, where the Riverside County Fair is held each year, also is home to the National Date Festival.
So many dates, so little time.
There are so many dates at this Date Fest, you could literally drown in them. That's if you chose to dive head first into a crate full of dates and not come up for air, then you could die of date asphyxiation. Not sure why anyone would want to do that. Just saying.
Variety is the key to dates.
Like most people, I knew of only a couple of variety of dates. Really, I knew of one variety, the very popular date called the Medjool. It's hefty with a nice pliable and semi-soft texture and super sweet. But the other varieties are quite nice too with their own personalities. One of them is very caramel-like while another is reminiscent of black licorice.
The perfect date!
Since I'm a savory kind of guy, I especially appreciated the "Cooking with Dates" demo. Brent Pollock, Executive Chef of Jackalope Ranch, showed the large gathering of date gourmets how to prepare a simple yet sensational appetizer using ciabatta bread, Cambozola cheese, Medjool dates, prosciutto, date balsamic vinegar and wildflower honey. The satiating combination of textures and flavors from this small bite really gives this easy recipe a huge bang for the buck.
Ostrich races: It's NASCAR with feathers.
After feeling a bit inundated by dates, I took in a diversion in the form of an ostrich race. The "race" was more like watching the Keystone Kops trying to mount very large birds or small dinosaurs that didn't want to be ridden by anybody and did everything possible to keep it that way. The camel and "zebra" race had a similar theme. I was pretty much rooting for the beasts to trample their cowboy subjugators.
A drinking date.
Needing to quench a mean thirst brought on by the Coachella Valley sun, I sought out a refreshment that was hyped to me all day long by fair goers and vendors alike — the date shake. Basically, it was vanilla ice cream blended with a date paste. It was nice but nothing to write home about.
Me in front of the Taj Mahal. It's so much smaller in real life.
All these dates can really wear a guy down. Listen to the entire story of my dating life this Saturday on KCRW 89.9 FM in Los Angeles and in the Indio / Greater Palm Springs Area, where the festival is held, listen in at KCRI 89.3 FM. Everywhere else, head to KCRW.com!
Riverside County Fair 2011 & National Date Festival
February 18 - 27, 2011