Back in January 2020, Jan and I took a trip to Palm Springs. We are a bit embarrassed to admit this was our very first stay in this unique part of California, other than the “drive-thrus” on other trips. We stayed at a mid-century modern boutique motel just blocks off the main street.
In addition to the fine and fun dining, meandering and discovering the area, we were in town for the dates and not just the mandatory date shake. We tasted the first shake with a walking food tour. I was prepared to be underwhelmed since the hype seemed a bit much, but to my surprise, it was delicious and lived up to all the hype.
The second food tour we took focused on the history of the valley. My favorite stop was at a nondescript fruit stand/café out by Palm Desert. Here too we were served date shakes and date bars. But, the very, very best part was they insisted we sample the Barhi Dates.
Dates 101 – there are many varieties of dates, Medjool, the king of dates, being the most common one consumed in the US. Medjool are plump, soft and sweet. They also keep for a long time. However, if you ever have the chance to purchase Barhi, do. They are a mouthful of soft, creamy caramel sweetness way beyond any Medjool you have ever eaten.
Not only did we learn about the different varieties of dates on this food tour we were also presented with some delicious date appetizers.
Stuffed Dates are a crowd favorite and usually the first appetizer to go at any holiday gathering!
My favorite date appetizer is an amuse-bouche (single bite). Cut a date in half lengthwise, fill the cavity with blue cheese, almond or walnut. This is a super simple and tasty treat.
Here are some fun suggestions for date appetizers you can serve this holiday season to wow your guests.
Add layers of flavor to your dates by soaking them for 4 hours to 2 weeks. This is especially useful if your dates have dried out a bit.
Coffee – 6 dates in an airtight container in a single layer. Cover with ½ -2/3 cup of cold coffee
Spicy, Minty – 6 dates in an airtight container in a single layer. Simmer 1 ½ cups water. Remove from heat and add zest from 1 orange (use a vegetable peeler to remove in large strips, ½ cup mint leaves + ¼ teaspoon Aleppo Chile Flakes. Let the water cool to room temperature then pour over dates.
Honey’s Wine – 6 dates in an airtight container in a single layer. In a small bowl whisk 1/3 cup wine plus 2 tablespoons, honey, together until honey dissolves. Pour over dates.
I hope this post inspires you to have fun and get creative this holiday season with these mouthwatering combinations of stuffed dates. They’re easy to prepare and sure to be a hit at your next gathering.