Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Plant Miami--Delicious Raw Plant-Based Eatery, Fla.

You don't need to travel to Manhattan to eat delicious raw plant-based food. Instead you can go to Plant Miami located in Wynwood Arts District, Florida. This upscale raw plant-based eatery has its origins in New York but its roots in Homestead at Paradise Farms. It is also part of The Sacred Space Miami, a holistic meditation, community fostering, center located right next to the restaurant.

Plant Miami plant-based eatery, Wynwood Arts District, Miami, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey
The owners bought Paradise Farms last year and use the biodynamically grown vegetables and flowers in their dishes. They also source from several other local farms. This means you are getting the freshest possible raw plant-based food you can. There are no ovens or stoves in the Plant kitchen instead ingredients are sprouted, dehydrated or just served in their untouched nature. This means you get the most living enzymes possible per plate.

Handcrafted Cheese Board, Plant Miami, Wynwood Arts District, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

A friend and I went into eat last December for a Christmas Eve, afternoon meal (Plant Miami was closing early at 4 p.m.). To start we ordered the Handcrafted Cheese Board made up of four sprouted, cultured cashew cheeses.  Their flavors were blue cheese, mixed peppercorn, white truffle and smoked cheddar. The dish also came with pickled vegetables, some fruit, mustard seed spread,  and dehydrated sunflower and pumpkin seed crackers.

I was amazed at how deliciously close the flavors of the nut cheeses came to that of dairy cheeses.  my favorite was the white truffle. The blue cheese, made with spirulina, though missed the mark for me. But I adored the dehydrated crackers and asked for more to finish off the cheese platter.

Harvest Dumplings, Plant Miami, Wynwood Arts District, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Then our next appetizer arrived, it was Harvest Dumplings. These were a type of vegan steamed wonton dumplings although not steamed. They were made with sweet potato, wrapped in a sweet potato-coconut wrapper, and topped with an amazingly ginger foam. The dumplings were a delicious one bite creamy pillow of flavor. My only small dislike was there was too much sesame oil for my tastes.

Moroccan Bowl, Plant Miami, Wynwood Arts District, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Next came our main meals, I ordered the Moroccan Bowl because it contained brown Jasmine rice and lentils. I've never come across a raw plant-based restaurant before that has served either of these items. I was curious to see what the results were like. The dish also came with cumin cauliflower, adobe squash, harissa hazelnut pate, and a mint-cilantro tahini dressing in a bowl at the center of the larger bowl.

I was thrilled with the flavors of this dish and amazed at the tender texture of both the lentils and the rice. This was a hit with my companion as well.

Cauliflower Steak, Plant Miami, Wynwood Arts District, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

My friend got the Cauliflower Steak made through a French cooking method called sous vide. This means the cauliflower was placed in a vacuum sealed bag with seasonings and rested in a warm water bath overnight to infuse it with flavor, at least I think that was what our server said.

The results were a soft tender piece of cauliflower placed onto of smashed golden carrots puree and served with chimichurri sauce.  It was also topped with fresh micro-greens and edible flowers. Actually every course had some form of edible flower in it, all harvested from Paradise Farms.

Chocolate Tahini Tart, Plant Miami, Wynwood Arts District, Fla.
The early Christmas gift dessert
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Then came dessert, we took so long trying to decide between two desserts that the restaurant gave us one on the house. They said it was an early Christmas gift. Our gift was a Chocolate Tahini Tart made with tahini, chocolate, fresh fruit, ginger cream and an almond crust. It was lovely, earthy, creamy, lightly sweetened dessert.

Lady Apple dessert, Plant Miami, Wynwood Arts District, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

The selection we paid for was called Lady Apple. It came in a bowl with three small, chocolate dipped, cardamon cream filled apples, two bark style pieces of raw chocolate inserted with rose petals and pistachio, two edible dark purple/red tinted hibiscus leaves and a soup of purple corn glaze dotted with pomegranate jewels.

It is hard to find words to describe how delicious this dessert was. The tart flavor of the hibiscus leaves balanced out the sweetness of the cardamon cream filled apples. The raw chocolate melted as soon as it hit our tongues and we drank the purple corn glaze like a soup. It was very yummy.

The drive down to Plant Miami was worth it and I plan to visit them again in the future.

If you want to go there here are their details.
You'll find them listed under The Sacred Space Miami, 105 Northeast 24th Street, Miami, FL 33137
Phone Number: (305) 814-5365

They are open: Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.;
Fri. to Sat. 11:30 a.m. to Midnight;
Sun 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Vegan Chocolate Challenges Solved In South Florida

Finding tasty vegan chocolate in South Florida can be hard. But with a little reading through this blog you can find out my three favorite single-origin vegan craft chocolate makers. They all support and work directly with cacao farmers by paying Fair Trade prices. They also all support the environment by only buying from small cacao growers. 

Cao Chocolate Truffle, Coa Chocolates, Miami, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
My three favorites are: Miami-based  Cao Chocolates, Stuart-based Castronovo Chocolates and Ecuador-based Pacari Chocolates.

Ricardo Trillos, owner and chocolate maker of Cao Chocolates,
Miami, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey
Cao Chocolates, established in 2009, became Miami-Dade County's first bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker in the county. Venezuelan born Ricardo Trillos and his wife Anelith, started their venture as a hobby and soon transformed it into a company. They are passionate about their chocolate and their process of sourcing beans to make single-origin vegan chocolate bars (chocolate made with just one type of bean).

Their chocolate bars are certified Vegan, Kosher Parve, and Fair for Life. Their bars are 100 percent gluten-free and contain no soy, no dairy, no nuts, and no wheat. 

They know how to bring huge flavors out in their single origin bars.

You can find their bars and other chocolate items online at

Or you can visit their storefront at: 9800 SW 77th Av Miami FL 33156 (near Pinecrest). 

They are open Mon.-Fri. from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sat. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Their phone number is (305) 879-0281

Their bars sell online for $8.

You can also find Cao Chocolates on Instagram, FaceBook, and Twitter

Amazonas Rare Cacao Collection chocolate from Castronovo Chocolates, Stuart, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen a Lockey
My next favorite is Castronovo Chocolates , established in 2013, by Denise and Jim Castronovo. They became Martin County's first bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker. Their dark chocolate is made without dairy and sweetened with organic, kosher parve sugar. 

They have won multiple awards for their chocolate in both the United States and Internationally in London. 

Denis Castronovo, owner and chocolate maker of Castronovo
Chocolates, Stuart, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey
They also craft milk chocolates but are very careful about keeping their two styles separate. "We have a lot of customers that are sensitive to dairy so we make sure our equipment is very clean, says denis Castronovo.

Their single-origins dark chocolates bring the best of the bean out to your taste buds.

All of Castronovo Chocolates are also Nut-Free and Soy-Free.

You can buy their bars online at :

Or you can go to their storefront location at: 555 Colorado Avenue in Stuart, FL 34994

They are open Mon.-Fri. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sat. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Their phone number is (561) 512-7236

In their store the dark chocolate single-origin bars start at $9. Online their bars range in price from $10 to $14 plus shipping. But if you buy over $75 worth of products shipping is free in The United States

You can also find Castronovo Chocolates on FaceBook, and Twitter.

Pacari Organic Chocolate, Ft. Lauderdale Vegan Festival,
Copyright 2017 by Helen a Lockey
Pacari Chocolate is my next favorite even though they are not based in South Florida. Instead they are an Ecuadorian based organic single origin bean-to-bar craft chocolate company that was established in 2002. But even though they are not based here their chocolates can still be tasted and bought at many chocolate and vegan festivals in South Florida.

Their bars have won numerous chocolate awards here in the United States.

Pacari prides themselves in having their chocolate making factories within a few miles of their source farms in Ecuador. They also love educating their farmer friends in ways to improve their organic processes to improve the flavor of their Arriba Nacional cacao beans (the only bean Pacari uses).

Their bars are certified USDA organic, Kosher Parve, RAW Cacao, Deneter (biodynamic) and Vegan. Their bars are also Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, and Gluten-Free.

You can buy their bars online at

Pacari also produces Raw-Vegan chocolate bars. 

Their online chocolate price ranges from $6.20-$15.00 a bar.

You can also find their bars at select Whole Foods Markets.

You can also find Pacari Chocolate on Instagram, Pinterest,  and Facebook (in Spanish).

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Produce Marketing Association's Delicious Fruit Choices

Fruit is a plant's sweetest gift to humanity. And at the yearly Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention & Expo growers from all over the world come together to show off their fruit and vegetable produce. But the Fresh Summit is not limited to just showcasing produce. It is also about bringing together people from all aspects of the produce industry from the tiniest seed producer to the largest logistics company.

PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

During my most recent year of attendance, in Orlando, I came across several fascinating fruits: HBF International Kiwi Berries, SunBelle biodynamic cranberries, Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit and Frutiryes Golden Berries. Some were grown in North America and some were grown in South America.

HBF International Kiwi Berry, PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando Fla.,
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

The first delicious fruit starts with HBF International Kiwi Berries grown by Hurst's Family Farm, based in Oregon. These fruit, grow on vines, look exactly the same inside as kiwifruit except they are the size of concord table grapes and like grapes they can be eaten whole, skin and all because they have a fur-less skin. Their skin ranges in color from green to one with pink blush on green. When I had them they had been dipped in chocolate. I have found them sold at Whole Foods Markets.

SunBelle GreenBelle Biodynamic Organic Certified non-GMO
cranberries, PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

Next are GreenBelle Biodynamic Organic certified cranberries by SunBelle . These sustainably grown and harvested fruit were real treat to discover especially when I researched what it meant to grow biodynamic produce (beyond organic standards). They were deliciously tart.

Zespri's SunGold Kiwi, non-GMO and certified organic,
PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

Another impressive fruit, grown by Zespri, was a non-GMO SunGold Kiwifruit certified organic. When I lived in Australia I would kiwi fruit whenever I could, they were delicious. But when I came to live in Florida I could not find a single fruit I enjoyed to eat until I got to try the golden ones at the PMA Fresh Summit. They were sweet and refreshing and did not leave my tongue tingling like their greener cousins. These are sold at COSTCO stores.

Golden Berry, a.k.a Cape Gooseberry, PMA Fresh Summit,
Orlando. Copywright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

Then last but by no means least came Golden Berries (Physalis peruviana) also known as Cape Gooseberry. These fruit are in the same plant family as tomatillo, the fruit with an outer papery skin. But Golden Berries are smaller and more delicious, at least according to me. They are grown in Columbia by Frutireyes and other countries, and imported by various companies including SunBelle .

The real delicious property, to me, about golden berry happens when they are dried. They become the tart kings and queens of fruit and pair beautifully with chocolate and ice cream, yum. I found them at Publix Supermarkets and Whole Foods.

PMA Fresh Summit is all about several days of educational seminars, produce trends predictions presentations, parties and exposition floor booth visits that leave participants leave getting a better idea of what is happening in the worldwide produce industry.

I look forward to seeing what the PMA Fresh Summit Convention & Expo has in store for next year's event.