Signs of the Season

Just as snow blanketing fields in a monochrome corduroy signals the start of winter up north, bursts of bright green rows mean growing season is well underway in South Florida. Early crops – Asian greens, French breakfast radishes, cucumbers, green beans – are already in the farmers markets, while strawberries and tomatoes take in the November sun, working on their size and sweetness.

There are other signs of the season in Homestead and the Redland. Robert Is Here – the sprawling produce stand at the crossroads leading to Everglades National Park – is a fixture for locals and tourists, famed for their fruit shakes as much as their local fruits and vegetables and fresh-from-Florida products, including jams, jellies, honey, sauces, condiments and baked goods. Robert himself – who started selling cucumbers from this spot when he was 6 – is holding court with regulars. They’re talking about the qualities of the guanabana (grown in Key Largo) and the size of the pommelos (massive). In the rear, Robert’s son Brandon is coordinating a shipment of sweet Mysore bananas piled in the back of a battered pickup. Other family members are making tubs of guacamole. There’s already a line at the shake … Read More

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Turkey Talk

Consider your Thanksgiving turkey. Fresh? Frozen? Brined? Dry-rub? Kosher? Stuffing? Dressing? Cooked breast-down? Deep-fried? Grilled?

None of those decisions, though, are as important as choosing the turkey itself. Is it a commercial turkey bred to be broad-breasted, so fattened up it has trouble walking, but very affordable? Or is it a pastured organic turkey that has never been fed hormones, antibiotics and growth promoters, foraging and feeding on actual grain?

Above: Pastured turkeys at Twin Oaks Farm, Bonifay

For organic farmer Renee Savary, there’s no question. The taste of her turkeys … “well, there’s nothing to compare it to,” she says. “They’re juicy, flavorful but not gamy, the meat is dense and doesn’t dry out. Even the leftovers are juicy.”

Savary raises turkeys, ducks and chickens on Twin Oaks Farm in Bonifay in the Florida Panhandle, roughly midway between Tallahassee and Pensacola. She sells her organic produce, eggs, honey and preserves at farmers markets in north Florida and online. She’s now bringing her goods – and her turkeys – to Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood.

While Savary has had her working farm since 2008, it’s taken a few years for her to figure out how to raise turkeys. “They’re … Read More

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Key lime time again

Left to right: David Rodriguez, assistant brewer; Luis “Pops” Brignoni; brewmaster Nik Mebane; Otto Othman, chief marketing officer, Pincho Factory; Luis Brignoni, president Wynwood Brewing Co.; Nedal Ahmad, CEO, Pincho Factory; Alex “GMoney” Gutierrez, taproom manager; Mike Kent, packaging ninja.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may have read in our fall issue how Key West rum distiller Paul Menta used tangy Florida key lime juice to create a local key lime rum and the peels for what he calls a lime-oncello.

Now, the tart citrus zing of key lime is surfacing again in a new farmhouse saison ale, the result of a collaboration between Wynwood Brewing Company and Pincho Factory. “We wanted to do something special for our fourth anniversary Nov. 6,” says Nedal Ahmad of Pincho Factory. He got together with Luis Brignoni of Wynwood Brewing Company to come up with the namesake 627 Ale. They agreed to do a saison, an unfiltered golden colored ale, that uses lime instead of the more traditional orange, and coriander, used in Pincho Factory’s burgers and other dishes.

“We don’t use the key lime juice, we use the peel,” says Brignoni. “This way we get … Read More

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Get Growing at GrowFest!

Late October starts feeling like fall here, and there’s one event here that truly celebrates the very best of outdoor South Florida – subtropical flora, pleasant temps, the pastoral beauty of the Redland – and throws in homespun artisan products, edible plant sales and a friendly, laid-back vibe. The annual GrowFest! at Fruit and Spice Park, Oct. 18-19, is organized by Margie Pikarsky and her team at Bee Heaven Farm: “GrowFest! is about connecting the dots between the farm or garden and the dinner table. It’s about providing the knowledge and materials to grow, forage, buy, prepare and eat good, local, seasonal food.”

Every year, GrowFest! has gotten bigger and better, with more vendors and booths. This year, there’s a smart combination of practical (plant clinic, showerhead and lightbulb exchange, plant advice) with cultural (mango poetry, community art on Sunday and the screening of “Hungry for Justice” a documentary about social justice issues for agricultural workers presented by Florida Organic Growers). We’ll be there too, with our brand-new fall issue, so do stop by to say hello and pick up your copy.

Here are some of this year’s highlights:

Backyard plants: Get seedlings – including heirloom tomatoes and hard-to-find … Read More

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First SEED Growing & Thriving

Next week’s SEED Food & Wine Festival – the first plant-based food and wine festival in the country – is generating lots of buzz. Part of it comes from the star power they’re attracting: celebs like actor and author Alicia Silverstone, raw food chef Matthew Kenney, award-winning plant-based chef/restaurateurs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, and retired NBA champ and vegan John Salley, to name a few. And the rest of it comes from a South Florida community that’s really “getting it” when it comes to healthy eating, says co-founder Alison Burgos.

“We’re riding the cusp of this very new conversation in Miami,” says Burgos. “I don’t think this is a fad. It’s the future.”

When Burgos and Michelle Gaber decided to launch SEED in South Florida, they knew “we’re in a community that celebrates excess and indulgence and can be fickle,” says Burgos. “Latins, eat healthy food?” Burgos says she grew up with traditional fare like roast pig and starches. “It would offend the family if I didn’t eat everything on my plate.”

Brendan Brazier

But that’s changing. “Meat is not the star anymore. Health and wellness is a real game changer. People want to be healthy.” Today, she sees … Read More

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Ein Prosit! Oktoberfest in South Florida

  Beer, wurst, schnitzel? Ja! Never mind that South Florida doesn’t have the rich German heritage of the Midwest. Revelers of nearly every cultural background are ready to celebrate the subtropical version of the annual Bavarian festival that begins in September and runs through the first weekend in October. Here are some places to get your dirndl or lederhosen on. Ein, zwei, drei, g’suffa!

Sam Adams Octoberfest (Sept. 19 & 20)

Now in its fifth year, this festival takes over SoHo Studios in Wynwood so it’s undercover and airconditioned – a smart move for South Florida since it’s still rainy season. Festivities include music from the International Polka Band, a “Raise the Stein” Contest  and Miss Octoberfest judging.

German-American Society of Hollywood Oktoberfest (Sept. 27, Oct. 11, Oct. 25)

Those looking for a traditional experience with their bier will get the most satisfaction from cultural organizations, who showcase local folklore groups and entertainment, and include members of the community. You’ll find young and old, many dressed in colorful costumes, enjoying German brews and fare.

20th Annual Coral Gables Oktoberfest (Oct. 2-12)

This event marks two decades of Oktoberfest led by Austrian Harald Neuweg. Held on the plaza of Fritz & Franz … Read More

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Joy of Jackfruit

Jackfruit at Fruit and Spice Park. Photo by Alfredo Añez

Only a few years ago, this massive fruit with its powerful fruity aroma seemed to be a novelty in South Florida, little known except to tropical fruit aficionados and members of the Asian community. Today, you can find fresh jackfruit at farmers markets, on restaurant menus and in backyards with increasing frequency.

“There is definitely more awareness today,” says Dr. Richard Campbell, director of horticulture and senior curator of tropical fruit at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden. “The jackfruit has a strong cultural connection with the people of Asia. Here in South Florida there is a growing awareness of the jackfruit that comes through these ethnic groups. Mango is indeed highly successful in South Florida and is our biggest farm-gate fruit, but jackfruit is also strong and growing. Using the Asian culture and awareness, South Florida farmers and markets have been successful with jackfruit.”

A member of the mulberry family, the jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is native to Asia. Its spiky bright green fruits, weighing upward of 30 to 40 pounds, hang from the trunk. Inside are fleshy arils surrounding large, starchy seeds. Green jackfruit has a meaty quality … Read More

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