(Photo Credit: Melissa Sosa of Zak the Baker)
Nothing grows in Miami through the hot summer months. The concept of farm-to- table becomes an impossibility in South Florida, and we all have to turn to South America, the Mid West, and California for “good” produce…. Right? That’s what everyone says…
But, nothing could be more wrong! Summer is a great time to get more "in touch" with our local produce, and the amazing, unique, delicious varietals that grow in South Florida. Sourcing locally through this time can make a more dynamic dining scene in Miami. True, some farms close for the summer as they recover their land and give the soil a break. These farms typically specialize in greens, herbs, night shades, and root vegetables. But, as these ones close for summer, there are farms and groves that flourish, teaming with beautiful fruits, roots, and interesting herbs and spices. The unique flavors of our tropical climate explode!
On May 31st, farmers, foragers, chefs, cooks, restauranteurs, and others interested in farm to table cooking and dining, joined to learn, taste, and discuss summer flavors available through the summer. The educational event, put on by the Slow Food Miami Chef Alliance, was held at the Wynwood Yard, tying in della’s own backyard garden to the discussion.
Adena Ellenby and husband, Walter, of LNB Groves, brought a truckload of ripe jackfruit to sample, showing off the variety of flavors of the different trees. Mamey, Canistel, Tropical Banana varieties, Yucca were also sampled and discussed. The grove also specializes in growing organic ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass, among other unique tropical fruits. Who knew jackfruit was the original inspiration for juicy fruit gum?! (The Ellenby's- that's who!)
Muriel Olivares, of Little River Cooperative, led the group through the gardens, which LRC oversees, explaining the varieties that grow right in Wynwood through the summer. Pointing out the everglades tomatoes, moringa trees, okra varieties, Cuban oregano, lemongrass, cranberry hibiscus, purslane, amaranth, and more as she went. Tiffany Noe, Muriel’s partner, also showed off a bunch of fun ingredients to smell, sample, and discuss, including nopales, tamarind, papalo, kafir lime, lemon bay, bettle leaf, curry leaf, sweet potato leaf, and geranium. Although the LRC doesn't run their CSA through the summer, they are still growing for a handful of restaurants, providing some of these interesting varieties that still grow through summer, and of course managing lots of gorgeous gardens like ours.
Last but not least in the line-up was Emily Rankin, with Local Roots. Emily’s operation recently expanded into South Florida, now covering foraging through most of the state. She focused on the proteins available through the summer, highlighting brown shrimp and popper shrimp, and discussing local sustainable seafood varieties, egg sources, fruits, etc. Emily is passionate, inspiring, and a wealth of knowledge when it comes to local sourcing in any season of Florida. She told the group she was actually quite boring, because all she cares about is food and local sourcing. (Emily, for the record, we don't think that's boring- we think it's extraordinary!!) Local Roots sends out a weekly list of availability, and provides foraging and delivery services around Miami and throughout the state. To get on the distribution list, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We enjoyed seeing an array of faces attend this event at the yard, including Chef Allen Susser (Café at Books and Books); Chef Venoy Rogers III (Essensia); Elad Zvi and his teams from The Anderson, Broken Shaker, and 27; Nicole Votano (Dirt), The team from "26 Sushi and Tapas;" Eleanor Hoh (the Wokstar); Chef Melissa Sosa from Zak the Baker; the team from Tequiza; and several board members of Slow Food Miami. Thank you to jugofresh and Chris and Paul of Per’la Specialty Roasters for the refreshments, to Julie Frans and Slow Food Miami for putting the event together, and to the special farmers and foragers for sharing the delicious flavors of summer in Miami with us all.
Join us at della test kitchen to savor local Mamey from LNB Groves in our new mamey custard dessert, available daily. Our monthly Shabbat dinners through the season will feature as much locally grown produce as possible, like the jack fruit lettuce wraps, roasted okra, green papaya salad, and turmeric curry tubers featured at our May Shabbat. This Friday at Shabbat, guests will enjoy BBQ Jackfruit wraps, local watermelon salad, and arancini served with a della’s garden salad. Watch for our special iced tea blend, made with herbs and produce from our very own garden, coming soon!
Farm-to-table does not have to stop in the summer months in Miami… actually, it can only get better! By tapping into the interesting, unique-to-Florida ingredients, through the knowledge and experience of our local, talented farmers and foragers, we actually can reach new heights in flavor profiles and exciting preparations.