Posts Tagged ‘Ariana Kumpis’

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.

Colorful heirloom tomatoes and edible flowers from Paradise Farms.

Author Carole Kotkin with a copy of her cookbook MMMMiami: Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere.

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.

Shrimp citrus ceviche.

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.

Winery owner Peter Schnebley and Dame Ariana Kumpis

La Diva and DJ Nevah Late dig in.

Maggie Sibley looks forward to sinking her teeth into fresh salad.

Sink your teeth into Guava Glazed BBQ Ribs served by Lucy Duran. Chef Adri Garcia was everywhere with a helping hand.

Hard working students from MAST Academy made and served pancakes.

Students from Robert Morgan Educational Center made omlets under the watchful eye of Chef Tony Staravaggi.

Chef Cathy Lucas (center) at the dessert table with her students.

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.

So many treasures, so little time!

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.

Leticia De Mello Bueno of Gastronomisti, and Annush Fernandez, lifestyle and (occasionally food) blogger.

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.)

Sheah Rarback and Lance Tucker danced to the easy tunes of Jukebox Joe Tunon.

Le menu

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Let them eat pie! The heart shaped strawberry tart took first place.

For the second year in a row, Slow Food Miami held its pie baking contest. This year there were a few changes. The event moved to the historic Barnacle House in Coconut Grove, and your ticket also got you a fried chicken dinner prepared by Sustain restaurant, with sides from Whole Foods. But the heart of the event stayed the same — to choose the best homemade pie made with local (Florida) or home grown ingredients.

Jan Anderson Treese and her grandson baked the blueberry-lemon curd-cookie crust pie.

Sixteen contestants rose to the challenge and brought unique, delicious pies filled with avocado, guava, and muscadine grape, to name a few. Jan Anderson Treese and her grandson made the lemon curd-blueberry-cookie-crust pie. “I used local eggs and lemons and butter,” she said, and sourced Florida grown blueberries. “My biggest thing is local food and fresh food. I’m a chef and I’ve preached that all my life.”

Even the judges were local. Food celebrities Lee Brian Schrager (founder of South Beach Wine & Food Festival), Hedy Goldsmith (executive pastry chef, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink), and Ariana Kumpis (president, Les Dames d’Escoffier Miami) had the really tough job of grading pies on appearance, filling, crust, and overall creativity. And of course, judges had to keep entries to the rule of using “a main ingredient that grows in Florida.”

Blueberry-lemon curd-cookie crust pie!

In last year’s competition, some entries had used non-local main ingredients (chocolate and apple don’t grow here), and there had been some grumbling as to why those pies weren’t disqualified. This year the pendulum swung in the other direction. There was a moment of controversy about the rhubarb pie, whether the filling was local or not, and should it be disqualified. But that contestant claimed she did manage to grow rhubarb in her garden. (Who knew that rhubarb can grow this far south?)

Controversy aside, two of the the three finalists used the ever beloved mango. Third place was mango ginger, and second was mango crumb. The winner was a strawberry tart with a heart shaped crust — definitely scoring points for appearance and creativity!

All the contestants posed for a group picture with their prizes.

Each contestant received a Breville pie maker, and the three top finalists won additional kitchen appliances. After the prizes were awarded, pies were sliced up so guests could get a taste. This is always the best part of the event, to sample pies and make your own decisions on which were best. Slices and slivers of the winning strawberry pie just flew, and by the time I ambled up for a taste, it was all gone, just crumbs left in the pan.

Avocado pie (foreground) and scorecards.

Slow Food Miami did a good job with this year’s competition, which is maturing and evolving. Including lunch was smart. It kept hungry guests from mobbing the pies. The raffle was also new this year. If you bought extra tickets, you got chances to win a food basket from Whole Foods, or one of several pie makers.

And to complete the circle of eating local, two local growers and one vendor — Bee Heaven Farm, G.R.O.W. and Seriously Organic — brought fruits and veggies, sprouts, eggs and honey.

Slow Food members did a lot of work to make this event better, and it showed. Looking forward to next year!

Elke Zabinski of Seriously Organic

Thi and Bill Squire of G.R.O.W.

Sampling monstera fruit at the Bee Heaven Farm Tent, with Sara Willoughby and Margie Pikarsky.

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