Posts Tagged ‘Upper East Side Farmers Market’

Got mangoes? Photo by Serge Penton.

Got mangoes? Photo by Serge Penton.

This time of year mangoes are everywhere. There’s plenty to be had from Art’s tree, and the fruit is on sale right now at his Upper Eastside and Southwest Farmers Markets. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to chance upon a roadside stand with people selling off their backyard excess. And sometimes friends bring me mangoes. Last week, my co-worker Serge had his car stuffed with sacks and buckets of mangoes, picked from his tree. “Take as many as you like,” he told me. I scurried off with a bag full of Zills — then came to my senses — I can’t eat all these!

So every summer, the challenge remains, what to do with all those mangoes?

This summer (mostly because it’s been so hot) I decided to make mango ice cream. Non-dairy, vegan ice cream. Don’t worry, I’m still am omnivore, more or less, but lately dairy has dwindled from my diet. Coconut everything is all the rage, so how about… mango-coconut sherbet?

A quick search online came up with a very simple recipe: mango, coconut milk, sugar, lime juice. Serge suggested adding cinnamon, and I also added some ginger. The online recipe called for toasted flaked coconut, used as a topping, but I didn’t have any.

Mango-Coconut Sherbet


3 cups peeled, seeded, cut up mangoes
1 12 oz. can coconut milk
sugar, lime juice, ginger, cinnamon


In a blender, puree mangoes together with coconut milk. Add lime juice, cinnamon, ginger and sugar to taste. When you like the flavors, pour the mix into the ice cream maker, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes one quart.

Donvier ice cream maker, from the 1980s. Still works!

Donvier ice cream maker, from the 1980s. Still works!

My trusty, 20 year old Donvier ice cream maker was pulled out of the pantry and put into back into service. It is super simple to use. Freeze the large cylinder overnight, and chill all the ingredients. Then pour the mix into the cylinder, insert the paddle, put the lid on, and attach the turn handle. This is an all-manual operation.

Almost done.

Almost done.

The liquid will freeze in contact with the cold cylinder. Every three minutes, turn the handle, which turns the paddle, which scrapes the frozen mix off the inside wall of the cylinder. Make one turn, then wait three more minutes, then do it again. If you wander off and come back 10 minutes later, you’ll discover it’s impossible to turn the handle. That’s where a butter knife comes in handy, to break up the frozen mix. Don’t break the paddle! Keep turning every three minutes until everything is frozen. The ice cream (or sherbet) will be of soft serve consistency. Pack it into containers and freeze it for at least an hour to firm up.

If you can’t find a Donvier, take a look at the Cuisinart ice cream maker which goes for about $70-80 on sale. Like my all manual Donvier, it has a cylinder that needs to be frozen overnight. For the added price, you get a motor that turns the paddle for you. How easy can it get! Now, to mix up another batch of mango sherbet…

Mango-Coconut sherbet

Mango-Coconut sherbet

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The tents of Upper Eastside Farmers Market, at Biscayne and 66th.

Used to be that local farmers markets closed down in summer, or brought produce in from elsewhere. Isn’t anything growing, I’ve heard. Too hot. But that isn’t necessarily so! Quite an abundance of local and seasonal produce (and other local foods) has been available at the Upper Eastside Farmers Market, which has stayed open through a second summer and is still going strong.

Look, they have mamey! And dragonfruit!

You can count on lots of fruit during the summer. In the last several months I’ve seen lychees, canistel, dragon fruit, mamey, longans, white sapote, Thai guava, jackfruit, starfruit, monstera, mango, avocado, mamoncillo, red guava, sugar apples (anon), bananas and plantains as they come in (and go out) of season. The market also offers eggs, callaloo, collards, both sweet and hot peppers, herbs, french sorrel, potatoes, carrots, eggplant, tomatoes, okra, squash, boniato, calabaza, snake gourd, allspice berries, katuk, honey, Art’s pickles and whatever else is available. You won’t go hungry in the summer!

Market manager Art Friendrich (or his assistant Olga Gomez) makes rounds of dozens of small local farmers and gardens every week, gathering produce for the market. Everything is fresh, and some picked to order. And everything is labeled clearly if it is organic or pesticide free, sustainably or conventionally grown, and which farm it came from. Upper Eastside is one of three markets run by Urban Oasis Project, a non-profit dedicated to bringing fresh and local food to underserved neighborhoods. “UEFM is our only year-round market, and in peak season we run or sell at other community based markets,” Art said. All markets run by Urban Oasis Project accept EBT (food stamps) and doubles dollars — $10 of EBT funds will buy $20 worth of food.

Serving the Community

Art and Olga employ Youth L.E.A.D. apprentices and train them in sales, service and the details of local produce. “They are placed for 6 month periods, and we have had about 6 different apprentices over the last 12 months,” Art said. Judith Fucien has been working at the market for about eight months and enjoys it. “I like meeting new people and exposing them to fruits and vegetables,” she said. Since she started, she has gained experience about food and people. “I learned that all fruits and vegetables are not from here, that not all people are the same, they’re very different in many ways, and there’s lots of friendly dogs.” Judith comes in the morning to set up tents and tables, stays all day helping customers, and at closing helps pack everything up. Market volunteer Miss Shirley sang Judith’s praises. “I admire her because she’s very faithful, very committed to her job,” she repeated.

Youth L.E.A.D. apprentice Judith Fucien (right) rings up a sale.

Customers can close the food loop by bringing back their raw fruit and vegetable scraps for composting. Right now, the scraps are going to Art’s compost heap, but that wasn’t always the case. Recent Youth L.E.A.D. graduate Terry Perman would take a full bin of scraps for composting to the nearby Earth N Us urban farm. But grant money ran out and Terry moved on. Founder Erin Healy has applied for grant money from the Health Foundation to resume this project. She wants to buy an adult tricycle (with a big basket to haul a compost collection bin) and pay a monthly stipend to the compost gatherer. Composting is just one of many programs and events run by the non-profit. According to Erin, “Youth L.E.A.D. is an emerging food justice organization that educates, empowers, and employs underserved youth to eat healthy, local diets while increasing access to healthy, local foods in their communities.”

Visit With the Vendors

Every time I chat with Yorkys of Bodhi’s Garden Delights I learn something new. She grows herbs in raised beds in her back yard and at Wynwood on the Green, then pots them up to sell at market. This past weekend, she offered Cuban oregano, aloe, culantro, thyme, rue and papalo, along with less typical varieties of basil. Each plant comes with a little card indicating what it’s good for and how to prepare it. Ask her a question, and Yorkys will share her knowledge of cooking and self-care. She also sells cooked vegetarian food, seasoned with her herbs.

Yorkys sells herbs from her garden to yours.

At Novae Gourmet Jerky you’ll meet lively and talkative Helen Cole, the artisan who makes small batches of jerky with Angus beef and chicken. She sources clean meats that are hormone and antibiotic free, and seasons them with her own blends of spices and herbs. Beef comes in teriyaki, BBQ, honey coryaki (sweet or hot) and penang chili (hot) flavors. Chicken jerky comes in teryaki and now penang chili flavors, and is incredibly popular. Some varieties are sliced thick and chewy, and others are thin and crispy like chips. Helen calls her customers “jerky junkies” and for good reason. Try one piece and you want another. Next thing you know the package is empty, and it’s time to get more.

Helen Cole dishes out a taste of jerky.

A sunny day at market can be wicked hot and requires a stop for refreshment at Nature Boyz where Clive makes fresh juices. You’ll find him in constant motion behind his bamboo stand — feeding stalks of sugar cane into a large boxy juicer that presses sweet cane juice (guarapo) into a container, or cutting up fruits and loading the swirling blender, or pouring and serving drinks to thirsty customers. Every drink starts with a base of sugarcane and you can choose pineapple, mango, passion fruit or carrot, or design your own blend. If you need a pick me up, ask for extra ginger. Other choices are fresh coconut water straight from the nut, or a shot of fresh-squeezed wheatgrass. Clive also offers a small assortment of tropical fruit, which he sources from growers in Homestead.

Some of the other vendors at the market are Proper Sausages, Copperpot’s Jams, Hadaya Spices, Crackerman, Asha’s Orchids, Massud’s Roasted Corn, and Akete’s Jamaican Fritters.

Market manager Art Friedrich weighs mushrooms for a customer.

The market is open on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. It located next to the NET office on Biscayne and 66th St. (They moved in March from their old location on a windy, noisy corner of Biscayne and 79th St.) Parking is very tight, as people jostle for a handful of spaces. Almost every weekend there’s a close call (and sometimes a fender bender) in that cramped little lot. Best to turn from Biscayne onto 64th St., go east one block, turn left, go one short block and leave your car in the Legion Memorial Park lot. The walk through the park to the market is safe, pleasantly breezy, and not very long. If you pass by early enough, there’s a free yoga class of about 20 students that meets every Saturday morning at 10 am in the shade of live oak trees.

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A two foot long jakfruit split open.

Last Saturday I shopped at two markets, one small and friendly, and one big and corporate. First, I stopped by to see what was new at the Upper Eastside Market, and it was loaded with good things to eat. Who says it’s too hot to grow anything here in the summer? Over at the Nature Boyz juice stand, Clive had a couple of good sized jakfruit available. They are starting to mature this time of year. Further down the row of tents, I found locally grown okra, collards, calabaza, lemongrass, fresh akee and annona fruit. You could get callaloo and plantains from Three Sisters Farm in Redland, sweet potatoes grown on a small farm in Kendall, and loads of starfruit from a garden just down the street in Miami Shores. The eggs were from hens kept somewhere in North Miami, shhhhh! They even had bags of white and brown organic rice grown and milled in Belle Glade. Almost everything at this market is local — sourced either from Miami-Dade County or somewhere in Florida.

Local avocados grown for Uncle Matt’s.

My next stop was Whole Foods in Aventura. I’d heard there was local fruit in the stores, and wanted to see for myself. I easily spotted a nice heap of shiny and fresh green avocados carrying the Uncle Matt’s brand, and grown locally by Murray Bass. Nearby were medium sized mamey from Health and Happiness Farm, but their pints of longans had sold out.

The fruits looked pretty good, but specialty items were another story. Packets of allspice leaves and berries from Bee Heaven Farm were starting to look a little brown. Bunches of wilting garlic chives, also from Bee Heaven, were piled in a shallow basket in an open cooler. They were starting to wilt, and looked in desperate need of a mister. One shelf up were boxes of extremely perishable edible flowers from Paradise Farms that looked flat, dried up and inedible.

Overall, I have to give Whole Foods credit for making a good effort to support local growers. They are doing an OK job of sourcing local fruits this summer. But, by the looks of things, their produce people could use training on how to handle delicate specialty items. And of course, there’s just no comparison to shopping at the neighborhood farmer’s market, which has plenty of extremely fresh, locally sourced items!

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Two grower supported farmers markets got local press this month. Upper Eastside Farmers Market and South Miami Farmers Market have each been written up in the area’s free weekly papers. The Miami New Times picked South Miami as the best farmer’s market of 2011 in their Best of Miami issue that came out this week. The Biscayne Times ran a cover story on Upper Eastside in its June edition. Not bad for two little markets that burst upon the scene just this past winter! Both markets will be open through the summer, so go take a look at what’s growing now and good to eat!

By the way, I’ve discovered that both markets will accept your compost. Save your fruit peels, vegetable trimmings, juicer pulp and coffee grounds in a bag in the freezer, then drop it off at market. (For an urban condo dweller like me, without a yard to dig around in, this is a great way to make sure that my uncooked food scraps get turned into compost.) At Upper Eastside, give your green gold to Art. At South Miami, they have a convenient collection bin.

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Upper East Side Farmers Market is located on the north west corner of Biscayne Boulevard and 79 St.

The newest grower-supported farmers market has opened at the Biscayne Plaza shopping center in northeast Miami. The Upper East Side Farmers Market is managed by Melissa Contreras and the Urban Oasis Project, a local non-profit which is also involved with the Liberty City Farmers Market.

Red leaf butterhead lettuce

The market is small (only four tents) but carries a wide assortment of seasonal fruits and vegetables. All the food is locally grown (within 150 miles of Miami) from several farms and market gardens, and most of it is organic. The selection changes from one week to the next, and some things sell out quickly — so come early for arugula and callaloo. (Those sold out early two weeks in a row.) Some of the produce available last Saturday was sweet starfruit, stubby forked carrots, beautiful red leaf butterhead lettuce that looked airbrushed, bunches of dill and parsley, massive purple-top turnips, kale, and black sapote, just to mention a few things.

In addition to fresh produce, the market offers a wide selection of prepared foods, which also vary from one week to the next. Art Friedrich, co-founder of Urban Oasis, brought quart jars of brine-cured sauerkraut, and zucchini bread to die for. Oval loaves of artisanal bread lay in a basket next to local wildflower honey and Hani’s Organics baba ghanoush. On the next Saturday, bagged worm castings and bottles of worm tea (natural fertilizer) were available from Fertile Earth Foundation. The most surprising discovery was one-pound bags of rice, both white and brown, organically grown in Florida (in rotation with sugar cane) south of Lake Okeechobee.

Friends hanging out at the market.

I visited the market on the first two Saturdays it was open, and each time it was busy with a steady stream of customers. Melissa Contreras, co-founder of Urban Oasis, guess-timated that they had at least 100 shoppers on the first Saturday. Prices at this new market are a bit lower than what you might expect to see at a farmers market, plus they accept food stamps and match EBT purchases up to $10.

“The point of this market is to bring the communities together,” said Kelliann McDonald, spokesperson for Terranova, the center’s developer. She pointed out that the location is right between an upscale neighborhood and a poorer one. She envisions the market becoming common ground for both groups.

For several hours on Saturday, people shopped, tasted fruit, hung out for a little bit and told stories at this brave new market. Whether it will become a community hub remains to be seen, but one can only hope the people in the area, both rich and poor, will embrace the farmers and their bounty.

Look for the Upper East Side Farmers Market in front of Payless at Biscayne Plaza Shopping Center, located on the northwest corner of Biscayne Blvd. and 79 St. in Miami. Open on Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm until May 28, 2011.

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