Friday, June 24, 2011

Dim Sum Done Chicago Style, West Palm Beach, FL

Haos Noodle Asian Cuisine restaurant, W.P.B., Florida finally flew in Chicago chefs to prepare fresh Dim Sum for weekend only service.
I tried some last weekend. I started with a warm tripe dish featuring tender shreds of tripe marinated in a tasty chicken broth, tossed with fresh ginger and chilli peppers, and topped with green onions (see above).

Then it was onto the steamed shrimp dumplings (below). Fluffy pillows of delicate shrimp paste encased in rice flour pasta.

Followed by steamed egg-infused sticky rice with chinese sausage center, all wrapped in banana leaves.

Then sweet steamed red been buns with deliciously light rice flour pastry (behind the sesame seed buns). And finally, crispy on the outside, stick on the inside sesame seed buns.

I love the idea that they are sticking to traditional chinese Dim Sum practices of brunch style weekend only servings. They said they also do to-go dim sum but you have to call ahead by at least 30 minutes because everything is made to order.

Located: 2677 Forest Hill Blvd., West Palm Beach, FL 33408 (Between Florida Mango and Congress Ave, on the north siade of the street and set back in a strip mall)
Phone: 561-641-2665

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ocala Farmer Struggles With Florida Drought

Sylvester Smith, an Ocala farmer, is not sure about the future of his watermelon crop."There's just not enough water with the drought going on," he says.

Smith has a small central Florida farm located on the corner of NW 90th Street and U.S. Highway 301. He grows collard, mustard, and turnip greens, along with beans, squash, peas, onions, watermelon, and other Southern style vegetables.

I met him one, 95 degree plus, day when I stopped to see if he had any Blackeyed peas for sale.

He tells me I am a month late, but he has White Acre peas. He asks if I want a bushel or a half bushel of unshelled or shelled peas. "Oh, half a bushel of shelled will do for me," I say.

He reaches into a cooler at his feet and pulls out a bulging bag of green peas. "I just pulled them from the field. So you want to make sure you let the heat out of them before you chill them otherwise they'll sour," he says, handing me the bag that costs just $11.

He tells me about his 90-something year old mother who tends the front porch of the family house located at the back of the property. "If ever you want anything from the farm and you don't see anybody about, just come up to the house and knock and we'll help you," Smith says, with a warm slow smile. We talk for awhile and then he wishes me well for my trip.

If you have a chance, drop by for a visit. If you don't see him farming then he might be off fishing, his off season activity. But hopefully, you'll see him selling a healthy crop of watermelon, if it rains in the next few weeks.

The farm is located at: 1681 NW 90th Street, Ocala, FL 33475
Or, you can call him at: 352-425-1143.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Florida Lychee Grower Continues Direct Public Sales

Run to Loxahatchee to get your fresh lychees before they're gone. Kenari Groves Inc is continuing to sell their pesticide-free lychees direct to the south Florida public.

Last year they made the switch from wholesale to retail. A late growing season put their crop in direct competition with Mexican and Chinese fruit causing the wholesale lychee price to hit rock bottom.

Rose and U (pronounced 'oo') Khin have owned Kenari Groves since 1997. Mr. Khin tells me many people get confused by his name and call him Ken. But his Burmese name is U Khin, which literally translates to Uncle Khin.

Driving in a golf cart, a short while later, through the back grove with Rose, she points to a large tree covered in bright red Brewster lychees and says, "The bumpy skin shows it is not ready."

She goes on to tell me about ripeness. Sometimes the skins are green from lack of exposure to the sun but this does not mean they are not ready. It all depends on how they feel. Stepping from the gulf-cart, she walks up to a bunch of fresh fruit hanging low on a Mauritius lychee tree and pulls one off. Handing it to me she says, "It is ready when it feels like a balloon filled with water."

I roll the fruit around in my hand and it feels exactly like that. I bite into its red, slightly brittle skin, squirting sweet sticky juice into my mouth. I peel off the remaining skin using both my teeth and my fingers. There is nothing like fresh lychee.

"We are in this business and we want people to try the best," Rose says snipping a bunch of fresh lychees and putting them in the front of our golf cart.

We ride back to the main house via mango trees that line the perimeter of the 20-acre grove. "They are green right now and won't be ready for another few weeks," she tells me.

Back at the house I take a seat next to U Khin and he tells me about Brewster lychees."They have deceptively bright red skin but they are not ready. It will be about the 15th or 16th of July when they are ready."

The Khins are getting selling help from Darrin Swank of Swank Specialty Produce, a hydroponic farm in the Loxahatchee area. Swank includes lychees in orders to his chef clients around south Florida.

Before I leave, I buy 10 lbs of Mauritius lychees at $3 a pound. I'll have to return next month to try the Brewsters.

Kenari Groves will be open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until they run out of fruit. They only take cash.

Their address is listed as being on "D" Road but the entrance to the grove is located at 14404 Trip Raod, Loxahatchee, FL  33470
You can call 561-313-7202 for more details or directions.

You can also see info on their Facebook page