You just had to say MMMM at the annual Tropical Brunch that Les Dames d’Escoffier held recently at the lushly landscaped Schnebley Redland’s Winery. Celebrating local agriculture was the theme this year, and there was quite the assortment of fresh vegetables at the salad table. The highlights were large colorful heirloom tomatoes from Teena’s Pride, and a variety of edible flowers along with small heirloom tomatoes from Paradise Farms.
Several dishes were taken from MMMMiami: Tempting Tropical Tastes, a cookbook authored by food writer Carole Kotkin. She held court by the gazpacho table, where you could get a cup of the chilled soup that included Florida oranges as one of the main ingredients.
Another tasty dish was the Shrimp Citrus Ceviche. In Carole’s book the recipe called for scallops, but it worked well with shrimp. Also featured was Tropical Couscous Salad, flavored with orange juice and studded with bits of ripe papaya.
At the dessert table, I located another goody from MMMMiami. The Roasted Plantain Cake with Toasted Coconut Topping tasted like super intense banana bread, and who can go wrong with coconut? But biscotti baked by president Ariana Kumpis stole my heart. They were light and crispy, and studded with bits of tart red fruit. She caught me red handed as I wrapped a handful in a napkin to take home.
The heart of the brunch was the lavish silent auction. So many amazing things were available. I saw bottles of wine, gourmet baskets, golden serving dishes, Breville small kitchen appliances, and even jewelry to bid on. Money raised by the auction will help fund nutrition and cooking education for local kids, and support school vegetable gardens.
The large chickee hut was full of contented guests, and I’m guessing at least 200 attended. I had fun meeting old friends and making new ones. And, I got my copy of the cookbook signed by both Carole and Ariana (she has a recipe for ajiaco). Members of Les Dames worked for months to make the event a success. Believe the buzz, the event is that that good.
(MMMMiami: Tempting Tropical Tastes was published in 1998, and is unfortunately out of print. There are a few used copies available online, but you’ll have to search for them. Carole said a paperback edition might be released next year, maybe.)