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Posts Tagged ‘Chef Adri Garcia’

(Part 2 of 2)

Two Sundays ago, the second day of GrowFest!, I took a break from selling seedlings at the Bee Heaven Farm tent to stroll around and visit some of the vendors. It wasn’t all plants at GrowFest!. There was plenty to try and buy, much like a farmers market.

Melissa’s new book is available for pre-sale.

The first tent I saw when I entered the park belonged to Urban Oasis Project, one of the event sponsors. Had a chance to chat with Melissa Contreras, founder of the local non-profit. She is extremely knowledgeable about growing food, and spent the last year writing her new book, Organic Gardening in South Florida, and Marty Mesh wrote the foreword. It will be published by the University of Florida Press in February 2013, and is available for pre-order for the reduced price of $25 at the Urban Oasis web site.

Organic farmer Gabriele Marewski (left) at the Paradise Farms tent with some of her flax crackers and organic herbal teas.

Since I have limited space for growing plants on my Balcony Farm and didn’t want to get too many, I was more interested tasting local food and drink. And there was plenty of it on hand, almost all made using locally sourced ingredients. Paradise Farms Organic had an assortment of flax seed crackers called “jump food,” (a play on “junk food”) but their dried oyster mushroom snacks were very popular and sold out before I could nibble on a crumb. Farmer Gabriele Marewski also offered a line of herbal teas made from dried herbs and flowers grown on her certified organic farm.

Grower Sal Santelli with samples of his candy-sweet organic mamey. Bet you can’t eat just one bite!

Got to savor the sweetest mamey grown by Sal Santelli of Health and Happiness Farm. Hope he didn’t notice that I sampled more than one piece from the tray he had set out. Sal was quick to point out that he’s the only commercial grower of certified organic mamey in South Florida. He also had avocados, sunflower sprouts, pea shoots and arugula for sale. (Bee Heaven Farm CSA members have gotten his sprouts in their shares the past season.)

Salt farmer Midge Jolly with samples of salts, spices and sponges.

Nearby was the Florida Keys Sea Salt tent, where salt farmers Midge and Tom offered tastes of different kinds of salt harvested from seawater gathered from a flowing channel between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Midge told me that they’re the only artisan sea salt farmer south of Charleston. Each package of salt is labeled with the date and celestial event/holiday when it was harvested. Midge explained that the season and weather have a great deal of influence on how the seawater evaporates, and what kinds of flavor nuances and texture the salt develops. She also brought buttonwood smoked salt (my favorite), gomasio, and seaweed-flax crackers. Brought home a packet of her newest product, an incredibly aromatic spice blend called Kopan Masala that is sure to liven up anything I’ll cook. You can find their salts at various shops in the Keys, several farmers markets, or order online. (Florida Keys Sea Salt is also available as a Bee Heaven Farm CSA share add-on.)

Miguel Bode has a wide assortment of local and Florida honey.

Two beekeepers, Miguel Bode and Rigo De La Portilla aka the Tattooed Beekeeper, were selling their honey. Miguel Bode keeps hives at Bee Heaven Farm and Paradise Farms, among other local spots. His wildflower honey (which I have been buying for years) is available to Bee Heaven Farm CSA members either as part of their share or as an add-on.

Rigo De La Portilla, The Tattooed Beekeeper, and his wife Eliza with honey, lip balm and other handcrafted bee products.

Rigo gave several demos on backyard beekeeping on both days, and brought sample hives. Over at his tent, along with different size bottles of wildflower honey, I found candles and balms and other beeswax products which his wife Eliza makes. I smoothed on a rich, honey-scented lip balm with propolis that immediately soothed my lips, and sniffed the delicate scent of honey and goat’s milk soap. Eliza aka The Tattoooed Beekeeper’s Wife has a wide assortment of bee products that can be ordered online at her Etsy shop.

In the Battle of the Sliders, the reigning champs: grass-fed beef sliders prepared by Chef Adri Garcia.

Several people were selling juices and water, but the best drink of all was a lightly sweetened, aromatic allspice tea at the Urban Oasis Project tent. The refreshing tea with the spicy, addictive flavor was brewed from leaves of a plant grown by Melissa. “I grew the allspice myself from a seedling purchased from the UM Gifford Arboretum about eight to10 years ago,” she said. “The tea is a popular item at our potlucks. I have also made it into a homemade soda — tropical root beer!”

In the Battle of the Sliders, the contender: grilled crab cake prepared by Jason Mira of Native Conch.

My eating and drinking tour concluded at the “food court” of several prepared food vendors and picnic tables. Over at the lime green and pink Native Conch trailer, Jason, George Mira’s son, made me a grilled crab cake made from lump crab meat mixed with panko crumbs. It was tasty but I still love their conch salad. The line for falafel wraps and jackfruit curry (which sold out quickly) at Hani Khouri’s tent was a mile long, but I was too hungry and impatient to wait.

Took my growling stomach to Chef Adri Garcia’s tent to get some Florida raised grass-fed beef sliders seasoned just so. They were topped with sauteed onion and peppers, and served with a local mixed greens salad from Paradise Farms, dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. Not bad for festival food! For dessert there was Roc Kat Ice Cream, a recent addition to the local food scene. I had hoped for a scoop of pineapple brown sugar ice cream, but it had sold out. Roc Kat sells handcrafted ice cream all around town, so look at their site to track them down.

Farmer Margie with the last serving of jackfruit curry. But I got a taste and it was good…

What’s a festival without music? Around the corner from the food court the music tent was set up. On Saturday, kids from the Robert Morgan Education Center String Chamber Ensemble played. The talented teens were really quite good! On Sunday, local singer-songwriter Grant Livingston sang his original playful and witty songs about life in Florida, including my favorites “Homestead” and “Armadillo.” Oh-ee-oh-ee-oh!

Robert Morgan Education Center String Chamber Ensemble

Singer-songwriter Grant Livingston

(Additional vendors and exhibitors not listed earlier in the vendors post, or mentioned above, were Edible South Florida and Tropical Fruit & Vegetable Society.)

Cuckita “Cookie” Bellande and her husband. Their Rochelois Jams are made from locally grown tropical fruit, and the flavors are worthy of a happy dance. Try monstera, jakfruit, and calamondin.

If you missed GrowFest! this year, it will be back at the Fruit and Spice Park again next year. “Yes, we’ll do it again,” Margie said. “This will be the ‘go to’ place to gather what you need to grow and garden. Next year, we can plan on even more types of seedlings (or seeds) and plants, fertilizer, garden tools, pots, etc.” If you missed out on getting tomato and vegetable seedlings from Bee Heaven Farm, “we’ll have some starts when we return to Pinecrest in December,” Margie added.

To see more pictures, check out the GrowFest 2012 album on my Facebook page, and the Bee Heaven Farm’s Facebook page.

At the Bee Heaven Farm tent.

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Saturday, November 5, 2011
6:00 -11:00 pm

Losner Park
104 N. Krome Ave.
Homestead FL 

A brand new local food festival launches tonight in the heart of historic Homestead. Called Homestead Al Gusto, the event is the brainchild of Adri Garcia, executive chef of Greenrocks Foods. She brings together a number of different elements of the local food scene to this free, family friendly fest.

Participating at the event: the Food Truck Invasion, local farmers and food artisans, a Children’s Corner presented by Atala Montessori School with lots of fun kid’s activities, live music, and a Chef’s tent where Chef Adri Garcia and friends will give cooking demos.

To add to the excitement, chefs from the Food Truck Invasion will compete for best in show in a Chef’s Challenge issued by local farmers in Homestead. (And farmers are a tough crowd to please!) The chefs will pick up a basket of local produce containing in season vegetables and herbs from Redland, and make a dish using their particular style of cooking. The results will be judged and a prize will be awarded.

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Slip sliding away

Chef Adri Garcia

It was lunchtime and I was hungry, prowling Pinecrest Gardens Green Market for something to eat one Sunday last month. Came across Chef Adri Garcia at the west end of the market. She was cooking up sliders made with grass-fed beef raised on a farm in rural Northwest Florida near the Georgia-Alabama border.

Now I don’t usually eat beef and didn’t think I missed it. But Adri insisted this was different. Grass-fed, not corn fed. Cows roaming in bucolic pastures, none of this chemical feedlot nonsense. She recommended the sliders, and her dad Carlos Garcia was at the grill and quickly whipped some up, accompanied by seasoned potato morsels. The meat was seasoned nicely with “four secret ingredients” that Adri refused to divulge. (Garlic might be on of them.) The meat was  chewy and had texture but wasn’t tough, and was lean, not too greasy. A really nice beef flavor came through and I had a moment of food bliss.

Then I came to my senses and asked for grilled onions. Took another bite, oh so good. Reminded me of burgers that I ate when I was a kid — only better. Adri suggested adding her quick pickled cucumbers with onions and red pepper. Sure, why not, load ‘er up. They added a pleasant sweet-sour bite. A Real Coke with real sugar (none of that fructose stuff) from Mexico completed my trip down memory lane when food was, well, real.

Yum! Sink your teeth into this!

The grass-fed meat was sourced from Arrowhead Beef, a co-op of family farms in Chipley FL that raises Parthenais cattle, an heirloom breed which originated in France in 1893. The cattle ranges freely on open pasture eating grass and forage, and is never given antibiotics nor hormones (according to the farm’s brochure). The beef is restaurant quality and wet aged for 28 days.

Adri is the South Dade distributor for Arrowhead. Order your cuts and come pick them up at the market on Sunday morning. Contact her at 786-368-3479 or adrigar2003@yahoo.com for prices and ordering information. Prices are 25 to 35 per cent less than Whole Foods. Free delivery for orders of $100 or more.

Chef Adri will be at the Pinecrest Gardens market through May. As for her prepared foods, she has added Asian tacos with tri-color sesame slaw, hoagies made with Italian style sausage, peppers and onions, and homemade piraguas (Puerto Rican snowcones) to the menu.

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