Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Date Shake: Shields v. Hadley

Shields Date Garden - Indio
On a recent trip to Palm Springs, we got to compare at least two different date shakes. Dates, as in the sweet fruit from the date palm Phoenix dactylifera. The Coachella Valley, south of Palm Springs, is the primary date-growing region in the United States and you can’t help but notice places like Hadley (Cabazon), Shields Date Garden (Indio), Oasis Date Gardens (Thermal), or Brown Date Garden (Thermal) which are the places we stopped at (the first two) or knew of. Of the two we tried, we thought the Shields’ date shake was richer and a little bit better than the Hadley shake. Also, the Shields retail area had more a selection of different types of dates. We were partial to the Blonde (exclusive to Shields) and Honey cultivars. Most folks will be familiar with the Medjool cultivar that commonly appears in grocery stores.

Dates were introduced to California in the 1800s but not much happened production-wise until the 20th century when the industry started to take off. Dates originated (they think) somewhere in the desert oases of northern Africa and/or Western Asia. What struck us as we learned about the date palm is that they are found in oases (where there is water) because these palms require a lot of water. Associating date palms with desert can lead you to falsely believe that they are okay with little water. Besides requiring a lot of water, at least to get good fruit production, date palms are a labor intensive crop to produce. The other benefit of going to Shields is that you can learn all of this and more when you go into their old-time movie theater just off the main showroom and watch the very interesting short film The Romance and Sex Life of the Date starring Floyd Shields. You can bring your date shake to the movie.

A Date Shake
A Date Shake at Hadley
Hadley Fruit Stand - Cabazon
Hadley Fruit Stand - Cabazon
Shields Date Farm Samples
Samples At Shield Date Garden

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