Friday, February 22, 2013

Everglades Agricultural Area, Fla. Lettuce

Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), Florida, grown lettuce is unique. The area, located on 470,000 acres of land close to Lake Okeechobee has some of the blackest soil you will ever see. It is made of peat muck. The earth was exposed over a century ago when the Everglades were drained to make room for farm land. 
Everglades Agricultural Area, Fla., grown romaine lettuce
More and more South Florida grocery stores are carrying lettuce grown in the EAA. The way to spot that your leafy green has been grown in this area is to look for coal-like soil at the base of the plant.

Another way to tell is by taste. It will be saltier than greens grown in other areas of the country.

Other crops grown in the EAA are green beans, carrots, potatoes, beets, sweet corn, rice, and sugar cane.

If you want to see the black soil for yourself, take a ride west on Southern Boulevard past the City of Wellington. When you get to the sugar cane fields, stop and look down to see the black gold of the EAA.

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Locally Sourced Chocolate Mousse: Fla Style.

Chocolate mousse is great. But it is even better if some of the ingredients are local and have a low carbon footprint.
Partially Florida sourced chocolate mousse
This mousse was made with Florida grown eggs, milk, and sugar. It was decorated with a Florida grown strawberry.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Osceola Bistro, Vero Beach, Fla: Local Sourcing, Updated

A gorgeous farm-to-table restaurant exists in Vero Beach, Florida. Owner Chef Christopher Bireley is passionate about sourcing local Florida ingredients. Born in Vero Beach, Bireley travelled the world and the United States, cooking as he went, before returning home to open his restaurant in October 2011.

Chef Christopher Bireley, owner of Osceola Bistro, a
farm-to-table restaurant in Vero Beach, Fla.
Some Foodies in West Palm Beach raved about Osceola Bistro and the wonderful food. So, I went to see what all the fuss was about. While there Chef Bireley came out of the kitchen to chat. He was full of smiles and warmth.

“Last year we got peaches from Premier’s farm just north of Ft.Pierce. We had peaches for a month and put them in salads, main dishes, and desserts. It was great,” Bireley said to me as I sat at a cloth covered table in the covered patio area.

There was a water feature a short distance away with colorful pots of fresh herbs ringing it. Suddenly Bireley got up and walked over to a pot of chives. He grabbed a handful and expertly cut them with a pair of scissors. “I use theses herbs and ones from Osceola Organics farm in my food,” he said.

He also grows his own olives from two potted olive trees located on the far wall of the covered patio area. “Last year that one there,” he said pointing to the tree at the back, “produced a huge crop.”

He also sources products from locals like greens from Osceola Organic Farm, and Gibbons Farms Organics, pastured poultry from Crazy Hart Ranch, and seafood from Wild Ocean Seafood Market. “I try to give my guests organic whenever I can. This past month there has been an abundance of organic tomatoes so I’ve included them in my menu.”

I ordered a glass of sweet Florida pink grapefruit juice ($2.50) squeezed that morning by Chef according to the bar tender. Then I got an Osceola Farm Greens salad ($6) with an aromatic in-house-made dressing. It was light, and full of flavor. I followed this with a heavenly delicious bowl of lightly coated deep-fried Florida rock shrimp ($9) served with a bright tarragon aioli sauce.

Osceola Bistro is located opposite the Vero Beach Post Office at 2045 13th Avenue, FL, 32960. Phone: 772-569-1299. They are open every day except Sunday. To find out more go to

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

June Plum Season Is Here: South Fla. Style

It is June plum season in South Florida. Don't start thinking of dark purple, stone fruit because these plums are in the same family as mangoes, cashews, and poison ivy. And at full ripeness they smell like and taste like mangoes mixed with a bit of curry.
Florida grown June plum
The only characteristic they share with their purple cousins is a pit in the center although theirs is bit more branched and fibrous. For those interested the June plum's botanic name is Spondias dulcis and they are a member of the Anacardiaceae family.

Jamaicans like to take green fruit, mash the pulp, mix it with ginger and sugar and add it to water for a refreshing drink.

I bought mine at the Saturday morning Wellington Green Market from a man selling Chinese food. He and his wife have a tropical tree company in Loxahatchee.

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Florida Sourced Beef Shank Mushroom Dish WIth Root Vegetables

It is root vegetable growing season in Belle Glade, Florida. And it is the perfect time to make roasted meat dishes. The dish below was made with Belle Glade grown carrots and creamer potatoes.
Central Florida sourced grass-fed beef shank with Belle Glade grown
root vegetables, and Vero Beach grown mushrooms, Fla.
I bought the root vegetables at the Saturday morning Wellington Green Market, the mushrooms at the Sunday morning Palm Beach Gardens Green Market, and the grass-fed meat at the Saturday morning West Palm Beach Green Market.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Antonio Fiorelli And Florida Wine, Bradenton, Fla., Updated Dec 31, 2013

Palerno, Italy, born Antonio Fiorelli started making wine at age 11. He worked on his grandparents’ vineyard in Casteldaccia, Sicily, gathering grapes with the help of a grumpy donkey. Many years later he and his wife Rosa, came to America and then South Florida. They settled in Bradenton and started their vineyard over 27 years ago. They opened Rosa Fiorelli Winery and Vineyard in 2000, without the aid of a donkey.

Vineyard at Rosa Fiorelli Winery & Vineyard, Bradenton, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Antonio’s first wines were dry and semi dry produced from vines hybridized by the University of Florida and Florida A & M University. Soon he realized his grapes were different than Californian or European ones and they produced a different type of flavor.

In 2012, he put together a farm-to-table dinner, at his vineyard, with the help of Western Florida chefs and farmers. At the end of the dinner I got to chat to him about his wines.

You can taste the wines of Rosa Fiorelli Winery and Vineyard every day of the week except Tuesday. They are located at 4250 Country Road 675, Bradenton, FL, 34211   Phone (941)322-0976

Call for opening hours or go to their website

Update Dec 31, 2013
Unfortunately, Antonio Fiorelli passed away on Dec 28, 2013, at age 66. His family intends to continue making wine in honor of him.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Field Of Beers 2013 Toast, Jupiter, Fla.,

Ted Andrewlevich gave a poetic 2013 toast to all. Field of Beers, held in the baseball dedicated Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, Fla., had 375 attendees made up of foodies, brewers, and chefs. They all came to taste craft beers paired with gourmet food.

Andrewlevich spoke, "This is the fifth year of the Field of Beers and I'll get everybody to hold their glasses up, your cups up."

Then turning, he read, "Did you know this year is number five? And the field of beers is still alive. A beautiful night for the fifth year; so raise your glass and let's give a cheer, to Fran and Tina, the brewers, the chefs, who year after year, have given us their best. Here! Here!"

This was just one of the events of the 7th Annual Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival, Florida.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Farriss Farm, Florida Cheese And Meats, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Farriss Farm started selling aged Florida raw-milk cheese this year. They have delicious raw-milk Farmer's cheese from Cypress Point Creamery (Hawthorne, Fla.) that tastes like an aged Havarti.

Paula Farriss, co-owner of Farriss Farm, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
It tastes as good as European made cheese. And it has a much smaller carbon footprint.
"We want people to have access to Florida cheese," says Robert Farriss, co-owner of Farriss Farm. He and his wife Paula travel to farms in Central Florida, many times a month, to get cheese and several types of humanely raised grass-fed beef, pastured pork, and pastured poultry products.

You can find Farriss Farm selling their cheese at the Sat morning West Palm Beach Green Market (8am-2pm) or at the Sunday morning Palm Beach Gardens Green Market (8am-1pm). They also sell in Ft. Pierce at the Wednesday afternoon market (2pm-6pm).

To find out more about Farriss Farm go to their website