The weekend before we went to Palm Springs, Jake and I went to the Bacon Fest at the fair. Normally when I go to the fair I have a whole list of things I want to get, one of them being a date shake. Well, if you remember that post then you’ll know I was not able to consume one other thing and was not able to get my date shake.
Then I remembered that dates totally grow in the desert! And that I could probably get a date shake during our trip! And I was totally right. Enter: Shields Date Garden in Indio, CA.
There’s no way you can miss Shields with this giant solider in a suit of armor pointing out the way.
This side of the building is pretty unassuming.
The other side though has got this risque looking sign talking about the romance and sex life of dates.
See what they did they? Dates. Heh heh.
Of course I had to go watch it. OF COURSE. You have to walk through the whole store (which sells a variety of sweets, snacks, and of course dates) to get to the little theater in the back.
It’s a small little un-air conditioned stuffy theater which loops through and shows the history of the date. Dates take an incredible amount of work to reproduce fruit as they are pollinated by hand since date palms are dioecious (they have separate male and female plants). Dates are naturally wind pollinated but most commercial orchards choose to do it by hand since there’s a highly uneven number of female and male plants. Date palms can take 8-10 years to bear fruit as well, so if you’re starting from scratch you’ve really in for the long haul. Date palms need an insane amount of water (equivalent to 104″ of rainfall) and very high heat to grow properly as well. After learning the history of the date, it’s no wonder those little suckers are so expensive. I also began to wonder how they ever even existed naturally in the wild!
After watching the movie and buying a few items in the shop, I was ready to get my milkshake on.
The date shakes at Shields Date Garden are made with Date Crystals, a product that was developed here by the original owner. Date Crystals are kind of like bits of dried dates and can be used as a sweetener in many products. Using the date crystals instead of bits of dates creates a smooth milkshake. I’m used to having to chew my way through a shake so this was a lovely, welcome surprise. All the flavor and sweetness of the date without the chewing – I could get used to this!
The shake was wonderfully thick and delicious. It might be hard to go back to a “regular” date shake, if I can even find another one around here.
In the meantime though, I bought myself some dates and date sugar (just a more finely ground version of the date crystals) so I could make a few date shakes at home until I can get my next fix. Their website includes a recipe on how to make one their date shakes. You can also buy dates, date crystals and date sugar on their website if you don’t plan on making a trip to Palm Springs anytime soon!
Shields Date Garden
80-225 U.S. Highway 111
Indio, CA 92201-6599