Friday, November 30, 2012

Taste Of Peru 2012, Miami, Fla, Highlights

The Taste of Peru, Miami, Florida, was entertaining and delicious. Public Relations Coordinator Nikol Seitner said, "We are trying to reach out to all communities. We want it to be the most important gastronomic show in Miami." Organized by the Peruvian American Chamber of Commerce of South Florida this lively event did exactly that.

Chef Javier Angeles Beron of P.A.CH.A and Chef
Jacques Benoit at Taste of Peru 2012, Miami, Fla.
Chefs were there from all over Florida and Peru. Some were famous, like Lima, Peru, based Manifiesto Restaurant owner Chef Giacomo Bocchio. And some belonged to the Peruvian American Chefs Association (P.A.CH.A) like Chef Javier Angeles Beron. They came to participate in chef and pisco competitions, put on cooking demonstrations, and act as judges for the culinary competitors.

Traditional Peruvian dances performed at Taste Of
Peru 2012, Miami, Fla.
There were also many happy yet homesick Peruvians, inquisitive non-Peruvians, restaurant owners, models, musicians, and dancers.

Paternal twin sisters, Melissa and Mariella, modeled traditional Peruvian dancing outfits supplied by Miss US Nation Pageants. They also wore sparkly, crystal jewelry made by Peruvian designer Maritza Guevara Sanchez of Angelica's Jewelry Designs.

The food was overflowing at this year's event with some refreshing new takes on the cuisine. Tira D. Toss a Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant in Doral served traditional Japanese food with a twist. They had a salmon sushi made Causa (Peruvian-style yellow mashed potato) instead of rice. It was quite tasty.

The restaurant opened just over two months ago but according to Sushi Chef Miguel Lopez, "We're doing really well. People like our concept."

Nelly Salinas serves up Rocoto Relleno at Taste
of Peru, Miami, Fla.
Nelly Salinas has been cooking traditional food in her Lince, Peru, based restaurant El Rinconcito Arequipen͂o, for 44 years. She served a traditional Areguipa, Peru, dish called Rocoto Relleno. It was made with mozzarella topped--meat, raisin, onion, and cheese stuffed sweet peppers. The dish was alive with flavor and spicy too. It was accompanied by a cream sauce sautéed yellow potato, also topped with mozzarella.

There were also many booths with ornately decorated plates of ceviche. Mochika restaurant made theirs' with sweet potato, Peruvian yellow corn, lime marinated fish, and red onions.

And some, like Miami based, El Chalán Restaurant had more expected dishes like causa con camaron y quinoa tricolor, lomo saltado, arroz con mariscos, and ceviche.

Chef Javier Florez of Aromas Del Perú Restaurant, based in Coral Gables, had a very colorful and interactive booth with multiple styles of ceviche.

Peruvian desserts finished off the gastronomic tour. There were Alfajores cookies, Pionono (rolled sponge cake with sweetened condensed milk), and Picarones (deep fried pumpkin and sweet potato rings served with a honey syrup).


To find out more about the Peruvian American Chamber of Commerce of South Florida events, you can go to their Spanish language site

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Locally Sourced Steak & Mushroom Dish: Fla Style

I spent my summer drinking lots of brands of fresh beer from Southern breweries. This experience inspired me to incorporate as many Florida beers as I can into this season's Locally Sourced dishes.
Southbound Brown Ale slow cooked grass-fed Sirloin with
 sauteed Oyster Island Mushrooms, 7-greens
salad, and baked red yam.
I used Southbound Brown Ale from Due South Brewing Co. in Boynton Beach, Florida, to marinate the grass-fed beef. The beef and other ingredients came from the Wellington GreenMarket, the West Palm Beach GreenMarket, and a local grocery store.  
The Arrowhead Beef, Grass-Fed Sirloin, was bought from Farriss Farm stand at the West Palm Beach GreenMarket. It was topped with sautéed yellow oyster mushrooms bought from Oyster Island Mushrooms LLC (also at West Palm Beach GreenMarket).
Florida sourced ingredients: yellow oyster mushrooms,
grass-fed steak, edible marigold flowers, broccoli
micro-greens, and cucumbers.
I accompanied this with a fresh six-green and one-flower salad. The Florida sources were: Swank Specialty Produce (Marigolds), Black Fork Specialty Produce (micro-greens), Fong Farm (cucumber), Green Cay Produce (baby spinach and arugula), and my backyard (Thai basil). A Californian farm grew the endive.

The sirloin was infused with the sweet caramel flavors of the Southbound Brown Ale's. It was also extremely tender for grass-fed beef. The mushrooms, sautéed with garlic and shallots, tasted like roasted chestnuts.

And the fresh salad, made of both bitter and sweet greens, balanced out the richness of the meat and mushrooms.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Terra Verde Farm Club Lunch, Clewiston, Fla.

What's better than dinner and a movie? How about lunch on a Florida farm with Francesca's Terra Verde Farm Club. This past summer I got to tour C & B Farm, and taste some delicious Florida sourced food made by club co-owner R. Francesca Golub.
Florida sourced lunch put on by Francesca's Terra Verde
Farm Club owners, C & B Farm, Clewiston, Fla.
Copyright 2012 by Helen A Lockey
I and a handful of club members climbed into a small minivan, rented by Terra Verde staff, on a warm summer morning in May. Then we drove out, past green fields of corn and canals filled with alligators, to C & B's 600-acre property, just south of Lake Okeechobee.
Farmer Charles during tour of C & B Farm, Clewiston, Fla.
Copyright 2012 by Helen A Lockey
We were greeted by farmer Charles Overn who invited us to gather around him so he could tell us the story of farming in his part of Florida. He talked of the challenges NAFTA's free-trade agreement put on his farm especially when it came to tomato prices. The imported ones were so inexpensive this year he could not sell his Florida grown ones.
Francesca Golum shows off fennel plant at C & B Farm,
Clewiston, Fla. Copyright 2012 by Helen A Lockey
Then it was time to see more of the farm. So we piled back into the minivan and drove deeper into the property past manicured rows of fresh herbs. At one stop, members were encouraged to pick as many herbs as they wanted to take home. Francesca showed us how, pulling a large fennel plant from the sandy soil.

Francesca's Terra Verde Farm Club lunch at C & B
Farm, Clewiston, Fla. Copyright 2012 by Helen A Lockey
Soon the tour came to an end. We walked quickly into the break room where Francesca had a gourmet Florida sourced lunch waiting for us. It included sour orange flavored pork, grass-fed beef, sweet white yams, watermelon, tomatoes, lettuce and other vegetables.

The only items that were not produced in Florida were the condiments, burger buns, and spices. Francesca said that someday she hopes to get many more of these types of items from Florida and offer them to her members.

Francesca's Terra Verde Farm Club also has pastured eggs, tropical fruit (sometimes including ginger), ethically-raised meat, citrus, and berries. These items are grown on 20 Florida farms and ranches.

UPDATE 2016: Francesca's Terra Verde Farm Club has now closed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lazy Magnolia's Pecan Beer, 16th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.

Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company makes beer with local ingredients. Based in Kiln, Mississippi, just 30 minutes from Biloxi, this brewery uses ingredients local to its State. At this year Americas Food & Beverage Show in Miami, Lazy Magnolia showcased their pecan beer, made with Mississippi pecans.
Christiana Miller of Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company, LLC
at 16th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.
"We're a full circle brewery", said spokesperson Christiana Miller in reference to the fact that the brewery donates all their mash (spent grain after the brewing process is complete) to local farmers to feed their cows and pigs. And in return when the brewery has a special event, the farmers give back meat from a steer fed on mash, or cheese made from a cow fed on mash.

Their support of the local community does not stop there. They employ locals, and after Hurricane Katrina, they rebuilt the brewery using Mississippi workers. They also support regional business by buying hops from California, Oregon, and Washington State.

"It's not a stereotypical craft beer because it's four point two percent alcohol and very sessionable," said Miller, adding, "we are the first opened brewery in Mississippi since prohibition."

The Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale had a slightly sweet smell and a rich, smooth flavor. There was just a hint of toasted pecans at the end of the sip.

Lazy Magnolia beers have been selling in North and Central Florida for some time. "People love to drink local," Miller said. The brewery just broke into the South Florida market. "The whole southeast has embraced us," she added.

They also have a sweet potato cream stout called Jefferson Stout, made with Mississippi sweet potatoes. Unfortunately, it was not available for tastings at the show. I guess I'll have to wait until it gets into South Florida restaurants.

To find out more, you can go to or check with your local restaurant or bar.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Favorite Chefs List, Nov 2012

My favorite chefs don't over salt their food. I am not against salt I am just against food that only tastes like salt. The chefs listed below know how to salt their dishes so that the flavors of the ingredients still shine through. They are also all farm-to-table chefs. This means they source at least part of their ingredients from local farmers, ranchers, fisheries, and dairies.

Chef Drew Belline, Georgia. I first met Drew at the Floataway Cafe in 2009. I pestered the server so often, to verify I was correct about ingredients I guessed, that Drew came out to greet me after the meal. He sourced 70-75% local ingredients for the Floataway menu. Now he has his own restaurant called No. 246, in Decatur.

Chef Craig Mombert, North Carolina. I first met Executive Chef Craig in 2010, while visiting the Davidson College cafeteria. His favorite expression is, "Salt is not a seasoning, it is a flavor enhancer." I must also mention Dee Phillips, Director of Dining Services, who is the driving force behind the sustainable, green practices of the college.

Chef Dean James Max, South Florida. I first met Dean at Jodi Swank's farm-to-table dinner in 2010. He showed me, through his 12-course dinner that it was possible to source local and still have amazing flavors. I am a fan of his restaurant--3030 Ocean in Ft. Lauderdale. Chef Dean is no longer at 3030 Ocean.

Chef Francesca Golub, South Florida. I met Francesca early in 2010 but I would have to wait until 2012 to try her food. Her company Francesca's Terra Verde Farm Club had a tour of C & B Farm in Clewiston. There she delighted all with a delicious locally sourced meal that included grass-fed beef.

Chef Jeremy Salamon, South Florida. He was just 17 years old when I met him in 2011, at the Wyland Living Green Fair. He prepared the most delicious bowl of pumpkin soup I have ever had. His humble, open style of communicating, and his incredible palette made me an instant fan.

Chef Greg Williamson, South Florida. I met Greg after a 2011 cooking demo at D & D Family Farms, in Stuart. He made low sodium dishes with produce picked that day. "I used to not care how long a distance it took to get an ingredient if it tasted good. Now I want to keep it seasonal," said Greg. D & D Farms closed in 2013.

Chef Tim Lipman, South Florida. I met Tim back in March 2012, when he first opened his restaurant--The Coolinary Cafe. I was impressed by his light salting style. I love his interpretation of food with Florida sourced ingredients. I also like his willingness to try new things like Florida wine.

Chef Dana Johnson, West Florida. I first met Dana at Rosa Fiorelli's Vineyard-to-table dinner in March 2012. He and his culinary students catered the event using local west coast ingredients. I was impressed with the imagination of the dishes. He has a company called Savory Scenes.

Chef Kira Volz, South Florida. I first met Kira at a Mother's Day brunch in 2012, on Paradise Farms. I was impressed by her use of edible flowers in an all vegetarian spread. She said she did not have to use a lot of salt to enhance the flavors of her dishes because her ingredients were so fresh.

Chef Tony Adams, Central Florida. I first met Tony at the Audubon Park Community Market, early 2012, in Winter Park. I bought a delicious Po' Boy roll made with Ft. Myers scallops. He has a food truck called Big Wheel Provisions. His rule is to source at least one local ingredient per dish. Big Wheel Provisions Food Truck closed in 2013.

Chef David A Didzunas, Central Florida. I first met David at an Growing Synergy Open House lunch, Oct 2012, on The GreenH2ouse farm. He is an Executive chef at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, and has been supporting local farmers for five years. I enjoyed his salad made with Florida shrimp.

Updated April 2015

Monday, November 12, 2012

Peruvian Chef Javier Florez at 16th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.

Peruvian Chef Javier Florez, of Aromas Del Peru restaurant, wowed audiences with his dishes. His cooking demo took place on a raised stage in the middle the 16th Americas Food & Beverage Show exposition hall, Miami Beach, Florida.

Chef Javier Florez preparing a Peruvian dish for audience
at 16th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.
Florez's food is influenced by his past. He has one grandpa from Italy and one from the Peruvian jungle. And he has a grandma from Madrid, Spain, and another from Cusco, Peru.

Ceviche made five ways with a
Chinese influenced style in the center
made by Chef Javier Florez,
16th Americas Food & Beverage
Show, Miami, Fla.
According to Chef Florez he loves to make Italian fusion dishes that include flavors from the jungles of Peru to the Andes of Peru. But he doesn't want to do too much mixing or have too many complex flavors in his dishes because it will confuse people. "I no have just Peruvian customers. I have people from all over the world," Florez says.

Peruvian ceviche set in half a pineapple with fried
plantain decorations, created by Chef Javier Florez,
16th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.

The food tastes as good as it looks, and it looks really good. "I love the traditional way to make Peruvian cuisine," Florez says. And his restaurants reflect this by serving more than just ceviche.
Peruvian ceviche made with crab created by Chef
Javier Florez, 16th Americas Food & Beverage
Show, Miami, Fla.

There are four South Florida Aromas Del Peru restaurants located in Coral Gables, West Miami, Kendall, and Hammocks. To find out more you can go to Spanish/English language site


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Native Vines Winery, NC: Native American Owned

Native Vines Winery in Lexington, North Carolina, has some good wines. It is owned by Darlene Gabbard, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, and her husband Nick, who is one-eighth Cherokee.

Started in 1998, this winery was the first Native American owned and operated winery in the United States.
I got a chance to visit them this past summer. The tasting room was located at the end of a very long, wooded drive. It was an unassuming building set opposite the main house. Inside there was an informal tasting area filled with tables and chairs.

They had quite a selection of wines from dry table varieties to sweet, and even some specialty wines made with green tea. Nick said they grew grapes on two separate properties a short distance from the winery.

My favorites wine was the Pinot Noir followed by RedHawk, a sweet Merlot wine that just didn't want to stay dry, according to Nick.

The Native Vines Winery is open for tastings Tues - Sat from 11am to 7pm, and Sun from 1pm to 6pm
They are located at 1336 N. Highway 150, Lexington, NC, 27295
Phone (336) 787-3688
Or you can go to their website

Monday, November 5, 2012

It's Florida Red Grapefruit Season

It's Indian River, Florida, grapefruit season when the blood-red varies are ripe. They are the sweetest and least bitter type of grapefruit Florida has to offer.

Indian River, Florida, red grapefruit
There are four things you want to look for when buying these fruit.
1. Find the one with the largest amount of pink color on the skin. This means the fruit was allowed to ripen on the tree.
2. Lightly squeeze the skin. Does it feel slightly soft like a pillow, or is it hard? You want to get the pillow like version.
3. Test the weight of each fruit. The heavier the fruit, the more water it has which means the jucier it will be.
4. Look at stem area. This is the place the fruit attaches to the tree. Is there any visible stem or is it clean? A clean area means the fruit was picked ripe and will be at the peak of its sweetness.

Have a happy red grapefruit eating time.