Monday, April 29, 2013

Sweet Corn Fiesta, West Palm Beach, Fla: Fresh, Local

This year's Sweet Corn Fiesta had lots of sweet corn loving visitors. Held each year in the Yesteryear Village at the South Florida Fairgrounds, this event celebrates Palm Beach County's Spring sweet corn growing season and the people who help.
Kimberly Erickson selling corn themed t-shirts, Sweet
Corn Fiesta, West Palm Beach, Fla.
But they were selling more than produce, they were selling smiles, well those were actually free, and happiness, again free. OK, so they were selling mainly corn but in many ways: popped, on a stick, with BBQ meats, and fresh. All of the corn was picked fresh, the day before, near Belle Glade, Florida.

Boxes of fresh picked sweet corn, Sweet Corn Fiesta,
West Palm Beach, Fla.
There were also kids rides, a petting zoo, and chances to meet working farmers. For entertainment there was a live band, a corn shucking contest, and two corn eating contests for amateurs and professionals.

Robert Fong filling bags with shucked corn, Sweet Corn
Fiesta, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Robert Fong, of the Everglades Research & Education Center at the Belle Glade IFAS, was selling sweet corn. In his smooth auctioneer style voice he persuaded people to buy two dollar bags of sweet corn either with husk on or off. "You get more corn in the shucked bags," he said.

The Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau, The Florida Sweet Corn Exchange, Fresh from Florida, and South Florida Fair helped organize the event. Proceeds went to Agricultural education and Glades (Fla.) area food banks.

To see more pictures of the day, you can go to https://www.facebook.com/SweetCornFiesta


Friday, April 26, 2013

Really Good Stuff, Inc: Florida Swamp Cabbage Foods

Really Good Stuff, Inc., uses only Florida farm-grown swamp cabbage. Co-owner, Randy Ford, grows his own swamp cabbage (heart-of-palm) on his farm. He used to be a distributor, cutting 300-400 trees a week to sell to restaurants around the United States.

Cindy and Randy Ford of Really Good Stuff, Inc., Fla.
Now, he uses his trees for his own products: relish, pickles, and salsa. He has been canning for 32 years and believes strongly in using Florida produce. This means all his jams, jellies, and fruit butters are also local and seasonal.

"I just sell in Henry County," he says, as I hand him 10 dollars for two-jars of pickled swamp cabbage, and adds, "You have to refrigerate them after opening because we use all natural ingredients."

To find out more, you can call Randy Ford at (863) 675-4768

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pescado Unidos Food Truck, Miami, Fla: Local Fish & More

Miami, Fla.--Pescado Unidos Food Truck sources local Florida fish and produce. "We get our vegetables from a farm just one mile from our house," said co-owner Georgianna Dreifuss at a recent Food Truck Invasion night at the Wellington Amphitheater.

Pescados Unidos Food Truck, Food Truck Invasion at
Wellington Amphitheater, Fla. copyright 2013 by Helen
A Lockey
Peering in the food truck window I saw a twenty-something looking chef with tattoos, a good sign that the food would be exceptional, and it was. I bought a plate of fish ceviche ($10) made with local Florida grouper, creamy coconut milk, tart lime juice, mild chilies, and carrots. It came with a side of crispy plantain chips.

Florida grouper fish ceviche, Pescados Unidos, Food
Truck Invasion at Wellington Amphitheater, Fla., copyright
2013 by Helen A Lockey
To find out where they will appear next you can go to their FaceBook Page
https://www.facebook.com/pescadosunidosfoodtruck

Monday, April 22, 2013

2013 Black Gold Jubilee, Belle Glade, Fla.

The Black Gold Jubilee celebrates the rich black soil around Belle Glade, Florida. The April 13th festivities started at 7:45 am with a 5K run/walk and ended with nighttime fireworks. There was a Green Market this year featuring locally grown products in a farmers market, and cooking contest.
Mary Orsenigo, Sara Phillips, and Maud Vereen of
Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce Tent, 2013 Black
Gold Jubilee, Belle Glade, Fla.
A happy bunch of Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce volunteers worked the Farmers Market tent. They were selling Florida grown produce like romaine, tomatoes, yellow zucchini, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and rice.

Mary Orsenigo said, "My son, Paul, grew the romaine, cilantro, and lettuce."

The farmers that contributed to the tent were: Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, TKM Bengard Farms, Orsenigo Farms, Growers Management, Sem Chi Rice, and Florida Crystals.

Proceeds of the tent went to the Belle Glade Chamber of Commerce.

Cooking contest judges trying dishes that required corn,
2013 Black Gold Jubilee, Belle Glade, Fla.
The cooking contest was broken into two divisions both with a mandatory ingredient of either sugar or corn. Cheryl Stein, whose family came to Belle Glade in 1918, organized the event.
Pineapple corn muffins, 2013 Black Gold Jubilee, Belle
Glade, Fla.
One of the corn dishes had delicious tangy flavor--Pineapple Corn muffins, baked by First Place winner Sarah Mielke.

There was also corn-on-the cob served in a surprising way. It was wrapped in bacon, dipped in batter, and deep fried.

Overall it was a tasty, locally sourced day, and well worth the hour drive from West Palm Beach.

Check out their FaceBook page to learn more details of the day:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Grandma's Just Plain Country Preserves, Belle Glade, Fla.

Grandma's Just Plain Country makes preserves with Florida-grown ingredients. They also raise money for the JPC scholarship fund. I met them at the Black Gold Jubilee in Belle Glade, Florida. They had towers of glass jars filled with guava jelly, bread & butter pickles, and pickled okra.
Grandma Yvonne Guerri and daughter Donna Cohick
of Grandma's Just Plain Country at 2013 Black Gold
Jubilee, Belle Glade, Fla.
"The guava juice came from our guava tree. It has produced 900 jars of jelly this season. The pickles came from Homestead produce. And the okra came from our backyard," said Donna Cohick, co-owner of Grandma's Just Plain Country.

Their products are very popular even though they do not have a website or FaceBook page. The first 400 jars of guava jelly sold in just two-weeks through word-of-mouth sales. They still have a few more hundred available.

Cohick said, "All proceeds go to the JPC Scholarship fund in honor of my son, John Presley Cohick, who died two-years ago in a car crash. It is for students who want to attend either an Agricultural School or Technical College."

If you want to help out with the scholarship or buy some of these seasonal preserves then call Donna at 561-261-1892 or email her at jdcohick@aol.com

Or you can call her husband, John, at 561-261-9790

"Our products are very seasonal. The next batch of guava jelly won't be available again until August."

 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chef Rita Romano's Raw-Vegan Vegetarian Dinner Club, Lake Worth, Fla.

Raw-vegan vegetarian food, called living-food, is more manipulated than cooked. Chef Rita Romano hosts a private raw-vegan vegetarian food dinner club each month at her Lake Worth, Florida, Institute for Culinary Regeneration. There she manipulates raw, uncooked, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and legumes into gourmet dishes.

It's Italian night at Chef Rita Romano's raw-vegan vegetarian
private dinner club, Lake Worth, Fla.
Last month it was an Italian themed dinner. Forty or so friends and guests gathered to talk about why they had just switched to the raw-vegan vegetarian lifestyle or why they had been living this lifestyle for some time.

Many guests were former Hippocrates Health Institute employees and/or patients. Some were veg-curious, attending their first raw-vegan vegetarian meal. All were hungry to see what Chef Romano had created for their $40 per person reservation.

Sprouted raw-vegan vegetarian salad, Chef Rita Romano's
private raw-vegan vegetarian dinner club, Lake Worth, Fla.
What followed was a typical American style meal with appetizers, a choice of soup or many salads, a choice of main dishes, bread items, and dessert. Most of the vegetable ingredients were sourced from QV Farms in Loxahatchee, Florida.

Raw-vegan vegetarian Macadamia nut pesto slathered
tomato appetizer, Chef Rita Romano's private
raw-vegan vegetarian dinner club, Lake Worth, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
For the appetizers there were melt-in-your-mouth macadamia nut pesto slathered tomatoes, and spinach stuffed dehydrated mushroom caps.

Raw-vegan vegetarian zucchini marinara pasta dish, Chef
Rita Romano's private raw-vegan vegetarian dinner
club, Lake Worth, Fla.
There were serveral main course choices including a pasta dish made with long strands of zucchini spagetti topped with a spicy, fresh tomato sauce.

Raw-vegan vegetarian pizza, Chef Rita Romano's
private raw-vegan vegetarian dinner club, Lake Worth, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
For guests craving bread-like items, there was a choice of crackers or pizza. Raw-vegan vegetarian cooks, sometimes use dehydrators, which heats ingredients from 104 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, to make more complex items like pizza crust or crackers.

Tiramisu made the raw-vegan vegetarian way, Chef Rita
Romano's private raw-vegan vegetarian dinner club,
Lake Worth, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
And then dessert arrived. Chef Romano served a semi-raw vegan vegetarian tiramisu made with maple syrup, coconut oil, fresh coconut, and an espresso soaked almond pulp crust. A drizzle of raw-strawberry puree sauce and fresh berries completed this delicious dish.

These are just a few of the dishes prepared at the dinner. If you want to experience this raw-vegan vegetarian dinner club food for yourself, contact Chef Romano at 561-324-5794 or go to her website http://www.rawkitchen.com/

Monday, April 15, 2013

2013 Field Of Beers Culinary Night, Jupiter, Fla.

What do you get when you mix beer and gourmet food on a ball field? Well if you are in Florida with 374 people at the Roger Dean Stadium and it's January, then you get the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival's Field of Beers food pairing event. Fran Andrewelch, of the Tequesta Brewing Company, organized this tasty affair with help from ChefCorp.
Field of Beers food pairing night, Roger Dean
Stadium, Abacoa, Fla.
A scent of caramelized meat floated on the breeze. Conversations mingled with background music as people lined up to fill their glasses and their bellies.

There were brewers from all over but I was interested in the 12 from Florida. It was like a bubbly map of craft micro-brews stretching from Miami to Jacksonville.

SOUTH FLORIDA

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant's pork shoulder,
2013 Field of Beers, Jupiter, Fla
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant's Gordon Biersch Pale Ale (Miami), was served with slow roasted and smoked pork shoulder. It was marinated in mango chipotle “Rincon Heat” and served over a jicama apple slaw.
Big Bear Brewing Co.'s de-constructed chocolate
cheesecake, 2013 Field of Beers, Jupiter, Fla.
Big Bear Brewing Company's Decadence Chocolate Stout (Coral Springs), was served with de-constructed Belgian chocolate cheesecake. I fell in love with the flavors the Valrhona chocolate in the stout but it overpowered the Belgian chocolate of the cheesecake.
Brewzzi's wagu beef sliders, 2013 Field of Beers,
Jupiter, Fla.
Brewzzi’s Saint Reinaldo’s Ale, Belgium Dubble (West Palm Beach, Boca Raton), was served Wagu Beef sliders with fried Vidalia onions.
Inlet Brewing Co.'s Florida Heirloom tomato bisque,
2013 Field of Beers, Jupiter, Fla.
Inlet Brewing Company's Monk in the Trunk’s Belgian Amber Ale (Jupiter), was served Florida Heirloom Tomato bisque with artisan melted cheese. It went very well with the brew.

Tequesta Brewing Co.'s Oceano coffee rubbed pork,
2013 Field of Beers, Jupiter, Fla.
Tequesta Brewing Company’s Rushing Stout (Tequesta), was served with Oceano coffee rubbed braised pork rib served on polenta, and drizzled with gravy and breaded and fried onions.  

CENTRAL FLORIDA
Florida Brewing Co.'s beer batter cider beignets, 2013
Field of Beers, Jupiter, Fla.
Florida Brewing Company’s (Melbourne) Gaspar’s Porter served with delicate pillows of beer battered cider beignets and a salted apple caramel dip.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Barrel And Grain Local Taphouse, West Palm Beach, Fla., CLOSED

Local farm-to-table dining has come to West Palm Beach, Florida. The Barrel & Grain Local Taphouse opened March 22, 2013. “I think people are interested in where their food comes from. I believe in an open kitchen and openness in food. It is the new trend,” said Executive Chef Kevin Preble.
Executive Chef Kevin Preble of Barrel & Grain Local
Taphouse, W.P.B., Fla.
Preble was very chatty when I asked him why farm-to-table and why here?

“A few years ago the catch phrase was organic and it was huge,” Preble said stretching his arms out as wide as they would go, “Now it’s local.”

We were sitting inside at the pink granite bar.

“I like to talk to guests and educate them,” Preble said, “I like to educate young cooks. Many of them come from kitchens with bagged sauces.” He wants them to learn the skill of small batch cooking so they can carry the experience out into the industry and change it.

“I pride myself in balanced seasoning. I like bold flavors but from the product and not from salt,” said Preble.


Florida farmer sourced salad at Barrel & Grain Local
Taphouse, W.P.B., Fla
I agreed with his practice. My low-salt salad was alive with flavors. The ingredients were sourced from farmers at the Saturday morning West Palm Beach Green Market. There was Red Orach from Swank Specialty Produce, and heirloom tomatoes from Farmhouse Tomatoes. There were also delicious chunks of oversized croutons and crispy bacon bits made in-house.

Illinois born Prebel came to Florida at age one and so considers this home. He spent some time in the military, and then backpacked through Central and South America. He also cooked in Peru, France and Europe before settling in Miami to work at The W South Beach Hotel.

He moved to Palm Beach County to take care of his ailing mother, his biggest fan. Unfortunately she died. But he stayed on, and worked for Park Tavern (Delray), and RACKS Downtown Eatery & Tavern (Boca Raton) before opening the Barrel & Grain for owners Chase Woolard, Sam Abdelkader, and Mahmud Shihadeh.

He met them in Miami, “I never knew people so passionate about local and doing the best for customers," Preble said with a smile.

He really believes in buying products from many farmers. “The challenge of being a Florida chef is you have to be really creative because the climate is so extreme. It goes from freezing to heat waves,” said Preble.

He buys products from Swank Specialty Produce (Loxahatchee), Teena’s Pride CSA (Homestead), and Palmetto Creek Farms (Avon Park).


“Without these amazing farmers we would not be able to do what we do today,” Preble said.


The Barrel & Grain Local Taphouse also sells small batch wine and spirits, and over 250 varieties of craft beers.

“I think it is the right thing to do, bringing local food and beverage to people without cutting corners. It is long hours but it is worth it,” said Preble.
The Barrel & Grain Local Taphouse serves artisan fusion cuisine for lunch, dinner and brunch (weekends only) at 125 Datura Street, in downtown West Palm Beach, FL 33401,
Phone 561-833-2767



Monday, April 8, 2013

Flavors Of Wellington, 2013: Florida Ingredient Touches

Wellington, Fla.--The 10th Annual Flavors Of Wellington showcased western community restaurants. Organized by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, this wine and food event was held at The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on April 5th. It attracted a whole table of food critic judges and a sea of foodies.

10th Annual Flavors of Wellington, Wellington, Fla.
Nestled between booths of restaurants, caterers, gourmet markets, and country clubs there were some standouts companies that sourced seasonal Florida-grown ingredients for their dishes.

Universal Living Sprouts booth, 10th Annual Flavors
of Wellington, Wellington, Fla.
Universal Living Sprouts, Inc., came served a freshly sprouted certified organic green salad. They grew their ingredients in West Palm Beach, Florida, just minutes from the event.
Sprouted salad from Universal Living Sprouts Inc.,
10th Annual Flavors of Wellington, Wellington, Fla.
They gave guests a choice of sprouted Aduzi beans, Mung beans, Garbonzo beans, lentils, or Fenugreek. They also had a selection of three dressings, I chose a creamy dill.
White Horse Catering booth, 10th Annual Flavors
of Wellington, Wellington, Fla.
Next was White Horse Catering LLC. The Executive chef said he really liked supporting local farmers.

He buys vegetables from Bedner's Farm (Boynton, Fla.) during the season and tomatoes from Teena's Pride CSA Farm (Homestead, Fla.) during the summer.

White Horse Tavern Catering Asian Duck dish,
10th Annual Flavors of Wellington, Wellington, Fla
He served an Asian duck breast over a sweet potato hash accompanied by blood orange sauced carrot ribbons, and shelled edamame beans. It was topped with fried noodles. I liked the dish but my noodles had not been fried long enough and were very hard.
Johnson's Custom Cakes and More's First Prize
winner dessert, 10th Annual Flavors of Wellington,
Wellington, Fla.
Johnson's Custom Cakes and More's owner Jennifer Johnson said her company uses Florida sugar, honey, strawberries, and key limes in their products. She won first place in the dessert category for her white sour cream almond cake topped with passion fruit mousse, and chocolate genache. It was served with a side of brandied tropical fruit salsa, and almond brittle.

Napolitano Cucina's Florida beet plate, 10th
Annual Flavors of Wellington, Wellington, Fla.
And finally, Napolitano Cucina restaurant had a Florida-grown roasted yellow beet slice topped with goat cheese, walnut, and balsamic brown butter. Unfortunately, the staff were not able to tell me which farm they sourced the beets from.

If you want to support restaurants, in the western Palm Beach County communities, that support Florida farmers, then contact these places and eat their food.

To find out more about the Wellington Chamber of Commerce you can go to www.wellingtonchamber.com

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bold City Brewery, Jacksonville: Greening Florida One Beer At A Time

Jupiter, Fla. — Bold City Brewery has a wonderful green policy for their waste. I met them at the January, 2013, Field of Beers culinary event featuring fresh craft beers from Florida and other States paired with gourmet food. 
From left to right--John "Juan" Peters, Brian Miller, and Cody Cassidey
Of Bold City Brewery, 2013 Field of Beers culinary event, Jupiter,
Fla.
Bold City served Roxy’s Finest—Imperial Cream Ale with a New England baked & stuffed quahog clam mixed with smoky, crisp bacon.

Brian Miller, co-owner of Bold City, said, “All our waste goes somewhere. The yeast is sent to a company for compost. It increases the rate of composting by 45 percent. The spent grain goes to local livestock farms. The trube, protein buildup in the whirlpool, goes to area farms for feed. The cloth grain bags go to the school board of Jacksonville, and the water even gets recycled through the system.”

He also said that they were producing so much spent grain that they had to switch from a barrel system to a truck system.

They have an arrangement with Hillard Farms (the farm that takes their spent grain) where they pay the farmer, in the form of gas money, to pick up their waste. In return, every six months or so they get to pick out a steer or pig from the farm for slaughter, and all they have to pay is the slaughterhouse fee.

To find out more about them you can go to http://www.boldcitybrewery.com/home.php

Or visit them at 2670-7 Rosselle Street, Jacksonville, FL  32204
Phone 904-379-6551

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Savor The Avenue 2013, With 1100 Friends, Delray, Fla.

Delray Beach, Fla.--This year's Savor the Avenue had over 1100 people eating in the street. It was advertised as the largest table in Florida, stretching from Swinton Avenue to 5th Avenue (about a quarter of a mile). It was really several tables, served and decorated by 20 restaurants, all arranged in a single line.

2013 Savor The Avenue table at the intersection of Atlantic Ave
and 1st Ave, Delray, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
The event was started five years ago by the Delray Beach, Boca Raton Magazine and the Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

Five dollars from every ticket sold is put aside for the Office Depot Foundation. This year $5000 was raised.

Salt 7, First place winner at the 2013 Savor the Avenue,
Delray Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Several tables, decorated to the max, participated in the Table Decor Contest.  Salt 7 Steakhouse won first place with their transparent encased orchids, transparent table, transparent chairs, and transparent plates.

Union, third place winner at the 2013 Savor the Avenue
event, Delray Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Union restaurant came in third with its lavish floral decorations over vases filled with water and live fish.
Guests at the Sundy House restaurant table, 2013
Savor The Avenue, Delray, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
I sat at the Sundy House restaurant table, for $85 a person, headed up by Chef Linsay Autry. After welcoming comments, speeches by Delray Beach City officials, Table Decor Contest winner announcements, and an opening toast, the four-course dinners began.

Sundy House mango cocktail, 2013 Savor The Avenue,
Delray, Fla.
Mango Caipirinha, a Cachaca (Brazilian rum) cocktail was served as the Welcoming drink at the Sundy House table. It was overflowing with fresh chunks of fruit.

Sundy House salad stuffed Swank Farm lettuce leaf,
2013 Savor The Avenue event, Delray Beach, Fla.
The hors d’oeuvre course was shredded chicken and vegetables served in Swank Farm lettuce leaves. It was accompanied by Champagne Delamotte Brut, which got a bit lost in the flavors of the lettuce cup.

Sundy House ricotta gnocchi at 2013 Savor the Avenue
event, Delray Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Next was an appetizer of creamy, ricotta gnocchi served with crisp sugar pea pods, pea tendrils, celery tops, Shiitaki mushrooms, and a super crispy piece of bacon-like meat. This came with a glass of Louis Michel & Fils Chablis Premium Cru “Vaillons.” The dryness of the wine balanced out the creaminess of the dish.

Sundy House cobia fish dish at 2013 Savor the
Avenue event, Delary Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
The entrée was a moist piece of Cobia fish on top of tomato farratto, a pea puree, and wilted, sprouted greens. It was served with an unusual choice of wine: Mahua Pinot Noir, Central Otago, NZ 2009. I thought the wine was a bit heavy for the fish dish.

Sundy House lemon pound cake with goat cheese
frosting at 2013 Savor the Avenue event, Delray
Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
Dessert course was a lemon pound cake with whipped goat cheese frosting, orange marmalade, fresh citrus, toasted almonds, a chocolate swirl and an edible flower. It was served with a lovely dessert wine called Royal Tokaji “Mád Cuvée” 2009.

32 East, second place winner at the 2013 Savor the Avenue event,
Delray Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2013 by Helen A Lockey
I'm glad I went to the Savor the Avenue event because it was a wonderful way to raise money for charity and meet 1100 new friends for dinner.
If you get a chance to partake, rush at it. To find out more you can go to:

Monday, April 1, 2013

2013 Easter Supper, Florida Sourced, 100 Percent

It's always great to have lamb for Easter supper. It is even better when it has a low carbon footprint like my Florida sourced grass-fed meat from R & R Katahdin Ranch in Defuniak Springs, Fla. I bought a boneless lamb shank from Farriss Farm (Palm Beach Gardens) at the West Palm Beach Green Market.

My 100 percent Florida sourced Easter supper
My family barbecued the lamb with Belle Glade grown creamer potatoes, and sweet corn. I grilled some QV Farms grown (Loxahatchee) sweet peppers until their skins blistered.

Our rich meal was balanced out with some crisp, spicy salad greens and plump cherry tomatoes, grown on Kai Kai Farm (Indiantown).

And it was all washed down with a frothy glass of Monk In The Trunk Organic Amber Ale (by Inlet Brewing Co, Jupiter).