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Posts Tagged ‘Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink’

The dinner table is perhaps the most powerful and delicious place to plant the seeds of change; the return to simple truths, change, and wisdom all go hand in hand. Our first step toward change can be to pause when we take our first bite and think about our connections with food. Aha! Understanding this connection is the essence of the Earth Dinner.
– Theresa Marquez, founder of Earth Dinner

Earth Dinner is a new holiday tradition meant to celebrate Earth Day. It was started four seven years ago by Organic Valley and Chefs Collaborative as a way to gather friends and loved ones around the table for a fresh, seasonal meal made of local ingredients. The focus of the Dinner is to have a meaningful conversation about the food — where it came from, how it was grown or harvested, and who grew it. So it was only natural that farmer Margie Pikarsky and grower/chef Robert Barnum would organize their own Earth Dinner,  held the weekend after Earth Day.

Earth Dinner at Possum Trot Tropical Fruit Nursery.

Call it extreme locavore. The challenge was to source all ingredients — except for flour and olive oil — from what was available locally. And so the hunting and foraging began. Chef Michael Schwartz  donated wild boar he had hunted himself together with local fisherman George Figueroa of Trigger Seafood, who donated cobia. Hani Khouri provided cheese and milk from his goats. Large beautiful heirloom tomatoes came from grower Teena Borek. Callaloo came from Three Sisters Farm, and a variety of herbs and vegetables from Bee Heaven Farm. Winemaker Peter Schnebly donated two kinds of local fruit wine. And a plethora of fruit came from Robert’s own grove.

At the wood smoker, Weber bastes wild boar and Sadie checks multi-color potatoes.

Margie and her crew volunteered to help clean and cook, and Robert’s friends pitched in. Preparations took days and went up to the last minute. When I arrived an hour before dinner, a plume of blue smoke chugged from the wood smoker outside the house, as wild boar and multi-color potatoes cooked inside. Both kitchens were humming with activity as helpers chopped, stirred, snipped and tossed. In the dining room, two long tables were covered with white linen and glittered with fine china, glassware and silver. Centerpieces of mixed flowers — food for local bees — from Bee Heaven Farm graced the tables. Glass goblets were stocked with braided breadsticks that had been baked in the wood oven and looked like branches plucked from the grove. Even the sea salt was local, produced by a small company in the Florida Keys.

Donna and James Patrick smell crushed bay rum leaves.

While there was still daylight before dinner, Robert offered guests a short tour of his 40 acre property. Everything he grows is useful in some way. He pointed out bay rum, lemon bay and citronella outside the house, and invited guests to crush leaves and smell different scents. Jaboticaba was nearby, with small, unripe berries growing on its trunk. It bears fruit three or four times a year. Robert harvests the berries for wine, of which we got a taste later in the dinner. Guests strolled through the grove and saw macadamia, mango, and lychee trees (to name just a few of the edibles that I recognized).

<< to be continued >>

Robert Barnum holds up a jaboticaba fruit.


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Roots in the City Farmers Market in Overtown

Just west of new luxury high rises on Biscayne, a row of white tents sprang up on the corner of NW 2nd Ave. and 10 St., smack dab against a patch of young collard greens. Underneath the tents, farm fresh fruits and vegetables were arranged on tables. The newest farmers market was launched on Wednesday in Historic Overtown, one of the oldest and underserved neighborhoods in Miami. If people couldn’t come to market to get much needed produce, well, the market was going to come to them. There hasn’t been an actual farmers market in downtown for decades.

Locals checking out and buying from Redland Organics.

Two local growers were at the Roots in the City Farmers Market. Farmer Margie from Redland Organics put out a colorful display of radishes and white Asian salad turnips, carrots and celery, Asian greens, loquats, canistel and black sapote. Under the next tent, farmers Teena Borek and her son Michael from Teena’s Pride Farm brought tomatoes, red bell peppers, white eggplant that looked like bowling pins, and bunches of greens.

John Lealand Laundry likes celery.

The market was open from 1 to 4, and there was a fairly steady trickle of curious neighbors wandering over. A lot of looking, a bit of curious sniffing and tasting, but mostly people were excited that a farmers market suddenly appeared on their street. People bought a few things, choosing carefully. One resident told me that there are several groceries in the neighborhood, including a Winn Dixie on the other side of I-95, but produce is very expensive.

Market tokens

Some neighbors paid with cash and some were happy to find out they could use food stamps. That was the best part, the most amazing thing. The Roots market is set up to accept food stamps (also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP). Even better, the Roots market has implemented a Double Value Coupon Program that would double the value of a person’s food stamp purchases. For example, if somebody bought five dollars worth of veggies, they would get that equal amount in tokens they can then use to buy more food at the market.

This bit of shopping ingenuity and the Roots market came about from the collaboration of many entities. The Wholesome Wave Foundation has set up similar “Nourishing Neighborhoods” programs at over 80 farmers markets around the country, and provided leadership, training and seed money. Health Services Coalition handled the actual SNAP transactions, acting as a go-between the farmers and the buyers, and is putting the word out in the community. Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink enlisted Margie and Teena, the first two local family farmers to participate, and helped with fundraising and promotions. And the Roots in the City community garden (which is raising nearby collards, and has two acres of garden in the immediate area) offered space for the market, and added its produce to sell.

People from HSC on hand to handle SNAP sales and manage tokens.

The Roots market will have a dedication ceremony in two weeks, on Wednesday April 7. Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado has been invited, and there will most likely be other dignitaries attending. The market will run for four weeks, with maybe an extension for four more, and is scheduled to resume in fall.

Listen to Low-cost produce comes to Miami’s Overtown, the WLRN report by Joshua Johnson, here. The Genuine Kitchen has posted the press release (with lots of good information) here. And Mango & Lime posted her report on the market opening here.

Miss Sarah tells it like it is to the media.

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