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SHIELDS DATE GARDEN

Romance & Sex Life of the Date

text MICHELLE CASTILLO

Define Dates: 1) Nutritious 2) Varying in size, texture, and color 3) I’m going out on a date this Saturday 4) A day in time 5) Try them, you may like it.

As I drove along HWY 111, I wandered into a magical date oasis better known as our Coachella Valley’s beloved and historic Shields Date Garden. The first thing I encountered was a massive knight statue that almost touched our desert blue skies. In 1953, the Knight was put out front by Floyd Shields in an attempt to stand out from all the other fruit stands on the strip. It was a balmy 75 degrees, and the parking lot was filled with cars of curious tourists and local regulars. The shop carried tasty treats from date gift boxes, bizarre trinkets, and an assortment of items made with Shields dates. At the vintage ice cream counter, I found fresh pressed juices, date ice cream, root beer floats and the nostalgic favorite–the famous date shake. I was kindly greeted by the media manager Jessica H. Duenow, and we proceeded to walk into the theater that showcased the ongoing free movie, The Romance & Sex Life of the Date. I sipped on my creamy date shake concoction while I became schooled in the wild and fascinating process of the date life cycle. After the movie and learning more about the history and lengthy cultivation process of nature’s candy, I grew more appreciative of these date palm gems.

I wanted to experience everything, so I followed Jessica through The Walk at Shields that showcases fourteen episodes of the life of Jesus. We came across nopales (cactus), old ladders hooked on to date palm trees and flowers in bloom. Although, I’m not a religious person I was still in awe of the beauty and stillness I found during our walk.

The Cafe at shields caters to California and Mexican cuisine and uses dates on the site for some of their signature items. Chef Jose Arellano brought me some stuffed dates to try, and needless to say, they were mouth-watering. The date had a mélange of cheese stuffed inside wrapped with bacon, drizzled with date caramel sauce and edible flowers. In the cafe, we ran into the current owner who discussed plans for an outdoor amphitheater that would allow them to have family movie nights, art shows and live local music to help promote community engagement.  I’ve been coming here since I was a child, and the place feels just as dreamy as the first time my grandmother took me. Apparently, the recipe for the dates shakes has not changed. Traditional, simple and all natural thick goodness goes into each shake. So, if you are looking for an excellent way to relax and cool off for our upcoming spring and summer months, Shields Date Gardens is a must do!

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