Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fairchild's Mango Festival 2012, Miami, Fla: Sweet Delight

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, Miami, FL, this year celebrated 20 years of mango festivals. There were cooking demos, food vendors, and wines, all using mangoes. I was there to taste, smell, and purchase a wide selection of international mangoes.
Mango tasting at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens'
Mango Festival, Miami, Fla.

I bought 15 varieties of mangoes at the International Fruit market, including Florida grown Kent mangoes.

International Fruit Market, Fairchild Tropical Botanic
Garden's Mango Festival, Miami, Fla.

The festival was a great way to launch my 2012 Florida mango season experience.

To find out more about Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden you can go to: 10901 Old Cutler Rd, Coral Gables, FL 33156   Phone: 305-667-1651
Or Visit them on their website  www.fairchildgarden.org

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Locally Sourced Grits Dish: GA And NC Style

Shrimp and grits are as Southern as Magnolias. During a recent trip, to Georgia (GA) and North Carolina (NC), I bought most of the ingredients for my shrimp and grits (Hillside Orchard Farms, GA) dish with a side of earthy black eyed peas (Ellis Bros. Pecans, GA) and sweet heirloom zucchini (West Asheville Tailgate Market, NC).
Shrimp and grits dish mainly sourced in NC and GA

I substitued Redhawk Sweet table wine from Native Vines Winery (1st North American Indian owned and operated winery, NC) for the sherry. The out-of-country sourced shrimp were cooked with NC grown garlic (Barbee Farms, NC).

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Wedge Brewing Company, Asheville, NC: Flavorful

There's nothing more refreshing than a cold glass of beer on a hot day. The Wedge Brewing Company in Asheville, NC, has the perfect summer treat, a sampling tray of fresh brewed beer. My husband and I recently got to taste these fresh beers ranging from Pilsner style to IPA.
Beer sampler plank, The Wedge Brewery, Asheville, NC

It was a warm when we parked in the nearly abandoned River Arts District at 9 pm. We had been told, by a beer drinker at The Green Man Brewing Company, to look for crowds of locals entering the brewery. There were none.

Then we saw a small group of people walking down the road, a short distance away, they did not seem to notice us. They turned and disappeared into a cluster of trees. We followed and discovered some metal stairs leading down to a lighted beer garden near the river. It was the Wedge Brewery.


The Wedge Brewing Company's retail room, Asheville, NC

The air-conditioned inside retail bar smelled of fresh brewed beer. There was a wooden bar at the back with several beer taps and a chalk board behind it, on the wall, displaying what was available. To the left was a big room filled with steel vats--the brewery.

We bought a beer sampler, four 4 oz glasses of beer served on a wooden plank numbered one to four. It included Julian Price Pilsner (European malt & noble hops & , 5.3 percent alcohol), Payne's Pale Ale (Cascade and East Kent Golding hops, pale malt, rye malt, 5.1 % alcohol), Hellesbock (Hallertauer Mittelfruh hops, 7.1 % alcohol), and Iron Rail IPA (Kent Golding, Cascade, and Centennial hops, Belgium Crystal, and Canadian honey malt, 6.8 % alcohol).

My husband's favorite was the Iron Rail IPA with a citrus smell similar to grapefruit and a rose scented buttery finish.

My favorite was the Hellesbock with an incense and green tea smell and a slightly sweet floral finish.

To find out more about the Wedge you can visit them at 125B Roberts Street, Asheville, NC  28801, Phone (828)505-2792
Or go to their website at www.wedgebrewing.com

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pesto Diva in Winter Park, Fla: Local Sourced

Recently I met the owner of Pesto Diva, Anne Marie Mele, at the Chateau Confections commissary kitchen in Winter Park, Florida. She makes pesto using Miami grown basil and distributes it fresh to all the Whole Foods stores in the state of Florida.

Anne Marie Mele, owner of Pesto Diva, Winter Park, Fla.

"You get to stand-up for your product and make sure it is OK," Mele said about her pesto. She has nine flavors now, all handmade, and preservative free. She goes through 150 pounds of basil a month.

This Staten Island born entrepreneur started her business over three-years ago. She got the attention of the Whole Foods markets by doing cooking demos in the stores.

Her future goals are to, "constantly to strive to meet the constant demands of healthful food and not compromise my product."

You can see her products online at www.pestodiva.com and buy them at any Whole Foods Markets in the state of Florida.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mumbia Masala, Atlanta, GA: Tasty Indian Street Food

Mumbai Masala Restaurant, Norcross, Atlanta, GA, serves authentic tasting food. Under new management by Sandeep Salva, this Global Mall food court booth serves homemade dishes in a Northern Indian vegetarian street food style. Some of the dishes are even made with locally sourced Georgian grown ingredients.

Mumbai Masala Restaurant in Global Mall Food Court,
Atlanta, GA
Salva says people come from all over to try his food especially his Karela kaja, a dish made from bitter melon, because he does not skimp on quality.

The Karela sounded delicious--crispy fried pieces of melon mixed with cashews--but when my husband and I went in for lunch we wanted more to eat. We asked Salva to choose an authentic North Indian dish. He suggested a Veg Thali because it came with a selection of dishes served in small containers, sort of like Indian tapas. We bought two orders to cover more flavors.

Vegetable Thali from Mumbai Masala Restaurant,
Atlanta, GA
The Veg Thali (pictured above) came with Guvak Dhokli (young green beans), Karela Kaju (crispy fried bitter melon & cashews), Baingan Bharta with Aloo (smoky eggplant & potato curry), Dhal (chick pea gravy), lime pickle, white rice, roti (soft unleavened wheat bread), yogurt, sev (tiny, crispy, deep-fried noodles, used to top the Karela), papad (crispy unleavened rice bread with chilies), a sweet tomato dish, and cabbage coleslaw made with carrots, coriander, and apples.

The flavors were bold and spicy with our favorite being the bitter melon. This was not a beginners' Indian food feast because with each bite the spiciness of the meal increased. But it was worth the heartburn because we felt like we had taken a culinary tour of India--one bite at a time.

Mumbai Masala Restaurant is located on the second floor of the Global Mall, 5675 Jimmy Carter Blvd, #775, Norcross, GA  30071
Phone: 770-368-9200

Friday, July 20, 2012

King Of Pops, Atlanta, GA: Frozen Locals

Ever had a blackberry, ginger, lemonade frozen pop made with Georgia grown blackberries? Well I did when I bought a $2.50 handmade pop from the King Of Pops stand in Decatur, GA. It had the right balance of sweet to sour flavor with a nice kick of ginger that increased in power with every lick.

Catherine Wallace at Decatur King Of Pops cart, GA

My husband got an in-season Georgia peach pop made with big chunks of fruit. Both pops were delicious and refreshing (low levels of added sugar).

Catherine Wallace (pictured), an employee of just three months, says the King Of Pops has over 80 flavors with many made with local Georgia ingredients. The company has been in existence for just over two years, according to Wallace, and has several carts around the Atlanta area. They also have carts in Athens, GA, and Folly Beach, SC.

They are a low waste company according to their website. They donate their left over produce to community gardens and recycle as much as they can.

To find out more you can go to their website www.kingofpops.net


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gleaning For Charity: Sarasota, Florida, Style

Gleaning is one of the oldest forms of charity. Farmers allow volunteers from local charities into their fields to remove crops that are too blemished to sell.

Volunteers glean vegetables from Jessica's Organic Farm,
Sarasota, Fla.

Jessica's Organic Farm, Sarasota, Florida, allows gleaners from the All Faiths Food Bank into their fields every Monday morning, during the growing season. They harvest and box produce that will be too old to sell at the Saturday farmers' market.

Volunteers look over gleaned produce from Jessica's
Organic Farm, Sarasota, Fla.

At the end of the three to four hours of gleaning and packing volunteers are encouraged to take what is left.

To find out more about All Faiths Food Bank you can go to www.allfaithsfoodbank.org

Monday, July 16, 2012

David McLean's Trinity Churchside Garden Tour, Fla

David McLean loves collecting unusual plants from around the world. His Fort Lauderdale, Florida, garden center reflects his passion with interesting plants like tropical spinach, and edible red-leafed hibiscus.

David McLean at Trinity Churchside Garden, Ft.
Lauderdale, Fla.

The disclaimer on his advertising flier says,"This is not a normal garden center; this is a nursery for Plant Nuts."  I got a chance to tour the nursery with McLean and 25 members of the Palm Beach Evening Herb Society.  The garden is chemical-free and people are encouraged to sample the edible plants as they tour.

Florida grown Okinawan spinach, Trinity Churchside
Garden, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

McLean pointed to a fleshy plant with green and purple leaves called Okinawan spinach (Gynura crepidioides). He said it grew well in the South Florida heat during the summer and cooked up very well. He added it had a bit of a fishy flavor but I thought it tasted more like parsley.

Florida grown Malabar spinach, Trinity Churchside
Garden, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

He also had Malabar spinach, a fleshy vine-style spinach that also grows well in the South Florida summertime heat. It can get quite large and produce a lot of seeds.

Florida grown Lat Lat plant used in Vietnamese cooking,

There was a Lat Lat plant for sale. The leaves are used in Vietnamese cooking to wrap around ground meat that is then barbecued.  McLean said the leaves tasted terrible if eaten raw.

Wild red-leafed hibiscus at Trinity Churchside Garden,
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

 I spotted some edible red-leafed hibiscus. The leaves can taste like lemon sorrel when eaten raw. McLean said, "You can make anything out of the seeds, they are very hard." 

 All the plants in the garden center are for sale.
The Trinity Churchside Garden, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

The garden is located behind the 11th Street Annex restaurant at 14 SW 11 Street, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It is open on Saturdays from 10-1pm and Weekdays by appointment only.

To find out more call 954-768-0428.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Yum Yum Pops, Local fruit, Winter Park, Fla

I recently got to try the delicious frozen creations of Yum Yum Pops. They were vegan, organic, and chemical free and for sale at the Audubon Park Community Market in Winter Park, Florida.

Organic Yum Yum Pops at Audubon Park Community
Market, Winter Park, Fla.

I bought a Sunshine Daydream ($2.50) made with organic orange juice from Uncle Matt's Florida OJ, coconut milk, ginger and vanilla. It was delicious.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Locally Sourced Pasta Dish: Davidson, North Carolina Style

I was in Davidson, N.C., recently and went to their Saturday morning farmers' market to get dinner ingredients like pasta, garlic, mushrooms, cheese, and zucchini.

Davidson, NC. sourced pasta dish made with Lion's Mane
mushroom, yellow zucchini, tomato pasta, uncured organic
garlic, and farmstead cheese.

I made a delicious pasta dish made with some crisp uncured organic garlic (Coldwater Creek Farms), an earthy Lion's Mane woodlands mushroom (Cris's Culinary Creations), some sweet yellow zucchini (Barbee Farms), a nutty/tangy/creamy farmstead cheese (sold through Coldwater Creek Farms), some tomato & basil pasta from The Pasta Wench, and imported olive oil.

I look forward to visiting the market again and finding more local gourmet ingredients.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Davidson Farmers' Market, NC: Gourmet Food Source

The Davidson Farmers' Market, North Carolina, sells local gourmet food. I bought Lion's Mane Mushrooms, uncured garlic, and creamy, French-style, pasteurized farmstead cheese. 

Cris Herron holding a Lion's Mane mushroom, Davidson
Farmers' market, Davidson, N.C.

Cris Herron of Cris's Culinary Creations sells woodland mushrooms like Lion's Mane ($3 each) and Shiitaki. Herron says the Lion's Mane tastes like lobster when cooked.

I asked if there were any special handling instructions for the Lion's Mane. She said there were holes in the plastic wrap covering the mushroom so it could breath. And she added, "remove it from the paper carrying bag as quick as possible so it does not suffocate."

She grows all her mushrooms on plastic in the basement of an old cotton mill. She also sells potted herbs, wild blackberries, and edible arrangements.

Uncured garlic at Coldwater Creek Farms booth, Davidson
Farmers' Market, Davidson, NC

Coldwater Creek Farms, organic, has some crispy textured uncured garlic for sale. Uncured garlic means it has been picked straight from the field without aging. It has a crsip apple like texture and a strong.

Crackelberry Farmstead cheese at Coldwater Creek
Farms booth, Davidson Farmers' Market, Davidson, NC

They also have a gorgeously delicious pasteurized farmstead cheese from Crackelberry Farms Dairy, selling for $12 a pound.

The cheese is aged 60-days on the same dairy farm where the milk is collected. It has a creamy texture that melts a bit when left out. And a flavor that is both tangy, nutty, sweet, and pungent at the same time. I love the rind.

Cured garlic at Barbee Farm booth,  Davidson Farmers'
Market, Davidson, NC

I stopped by one of my favorite North Carolina farmer stall--Barbee Farms. I bought some cured garlic, extremely juicy Damson plums, and a melon that was so sweet and delicious I wished I had bought two.

I got some donuts and blackberries from two other booths but ate them before I got a photo.

To find out more about this market you can go to their website: http://davidsonfarmersmarket.org/

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Locally Sourced Sandwich: Asheville, North Carolina Style

I bought some wonderful ingredients from the West Asheville Tailgate market to create my open faced sandwich pictured below.

Asheville, NC, sourced sandwich with farmstead cheese,
pastured pork salami, lettuce and handmade sourdough
bread
I used a crusty, Seeded Sourdough loaf from Simple Bread, pastured-pork salami from Hickory Nut Gap Farm, farmstead cheese from Yellow Branch Dairy, and lettuce from an organic farmer.

Farmer Tom Elmore of Thatchmore Farm gave me directions to a store that sold Yellow Branch farmstead cheese .

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ruby Red Grapefuit From Showcase of Citrus, Clermont, Fla

Showcase of Citrus Farm, Florida, has delicious Ruby Red grapefruit. This farm is better known for its u-pick style but in the summer heat all it has to offer is pre-picked fruit. But this does not stop the fruit from being amazing.

Florida grown Ruby Red Grapefruit from Showcase Of
Citrus farm, Clermont, Fla.

I recently stopped by and purchased a quarter bushel of fruit (six grapefruit). They were plump, sweet, full of color and flavor. I wished I had gotten more.

Showcase Of Citrus Parking lot, Clermont, Fla.

They are located of the West side of Disney World on US Hwy 27. You can't miss them.