Saturday, February 26, 2011

Swank Farm Tour and Luncheon with chef Dean Max, Loxahatchee, Fla

Chef Dean James Max, of 3030 Ocean Restaurant, proves it is possible to create a knock-your-socks off luncheon using local Florida ingredients. With produce from Jodi and Darrin Swank's hydroponic farm, and donations from area businesses, chef Max cooked an extravaganza of Florida centric dishes for 60 hungry south Florida foodies at $100 a person.

Festivities started with a Swank Shisho cocktail--made with bubbly Francoi Montand wine mixed with shreds of Shisho Japanese basil (grown at Swank's) and micro-marigold buds (also from Swank).

As everyone sipped their cocktails, Darrin Swank how things worked on his farm, from greenhouse to open container field. A self-guided tour of the shade house followed where the guests were treated to several tables heavily laden with fresh veg and dips.

Then it was on to the long white clothed tables at the back of the property. Each was decorated with fresh bouquets (donated by Seed to Bloom), crystal goblets, and shiny cutlery. Chef Max's team sprang to work as the guests settled into their seats. There was something for everyone in the 12 courses served.

For Seafood Lovers:
Creamy, lightly grilled, Togarashi Wahoo (donated by Gary's Seafood Specialties) was served with wilted mustard greens in a citrus dressing. Then there was the amazing Mahi Mahi, again grilled but this time dressed with a thick layer of buttery greens and then drizzled with a Swank vinaigrette.

Fresh tasting farm raised clams from Sebastian Inlet (donated by White Water Clams Farm of Sebatian) cooked in a spicy tomato broth with strips of smoky bacon (donated by Allan Benton Bacon of Tennessee) were served piled high on top of crusty French bread (donated by Old School Bakery of Delray).

Finishing off the seafood dishes was one made with Florida brown rice (donated by Sem-Chi of Belle Glade), and lightly salted, sauteed, Florida Royal Red shrimp from Cape Canaveral (donated by Wild Ocean Seafood Market of Orlando).

For Meat Lovers:
There were juicy Deep Creek sliders (made with grass-fed beef donated by Deep Creek Ranch of DeLand) with a side of pickled vegetables and basil aioli. And Palmetto Creek Pork Chops (donated by Palmetto Creek Farm of Avon Park), set on a mound of fresh potato salad.

For Vegetarians and Salad Lovers:
A Swank Heirloom gazpacho, made with tomatoes and other veg from Swank, came served in large glass goblets. There were also crunchy plates of tempura pole beans with a spicy side of ginger aioli.

The chili marinated cauliflower was too salty for my tastes as were the deep fried Shisito peppers but their crunchiness made up for it.

Two salads finished off the vegetable portions. One was a Swank heirloom salad made of colorful slices of heirloom tomatoes topped with chunks of Burrata cheese, Italian Salumi, fresh basil and L'Estronelli olive oil (all donated by Prime Line Distribution). The other was a rainbow of multi-colored beets and carrots, along with mixed field greens and goat cheese all tossed in a lemony vinaigrette.

For Dessert:
Spicy carrot cake lathered with cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with marigold buds came with a side of chocolate chip cookies. There was also a very fancy lady fingers dessert with fresh cream and strawberries.

For Drinks:
There was a choice of beers from Florida brewing companies: Native, Inlet, and Gordash (donated by Fresh Beer Inc.) And a choice of red or white wine (donated by Pour-A-Sip-Savor) but unfortunately none of it was from Florida wineries.

According to Jodi Swank, Whole Foods Markets donated the water and other incidentals.

Part of the proceeds went to Slow Foods Glades to Coast chapter, a non-profit organization that educates and helps farmers in the south Florida area.

The luncheon with chef Dean James Max of 3030 Ocean was a huge success and many people, including myself, hope it will become an annual event.

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