Springing Beyond the Buns: a Knaus Berry Farm Weekend at Harry’s Pizzeria

We are celebrating the official first weekend of spring as Knaus Berry Farm showers Harry’s Pizzeria with produce and more! Chef de cuisine Danny Ramirez took his back of house crew on a field trip to one of our favorite places in Homestead on Tuesday to harvest tomatoes, zucchini, scallions, strawberries, and greens to highlight on Harry’s regular menu this weekend.

Danny has been going to KBF since he was about 5 years old, but this was his first look behind the scenes. Danny says, “I never thought I would ever be in their elusive Back of House. I didn’t realize how many acres they have. They grow a lot more than those delicious strawberries. As a chef, being able to expose my guys, young cooks, Chris Cantu and Miller Celestino, to what real, good food is was so rewarding. They got a chance to see what really drives me and all our chefs at TGHG.” They spent a morning harvesting in the fields with Herby. Herby runs the field and Thomas runs operations, Danny explains, “I grew up with KBF strawberries and sticky buns and having a chance to meet their team and see the entire operation was like coming full circle. And as a local guy trying to make and leave a mark on my city this is what it’s all about, foraging these relationships and sustaining them so that my kids and their kids can see and taste South Florida for what it is.”

Visit the restaurant in the Design District from Friday, March 20 through Sunday, March 22 to partake in the fun and welcome a new season in South Florida!  There’s something sticky in the dessert section, too, and we bet you can guess what it is!  A special thanks to head Baker Thomas Blocher for the treats (always!) and the idea.

The Dishes:

KBF Roasted Grape Tomatoes with Stracciatella and KBF mint pesto

KBF Scallion and Zucchini Salad with zucchini blossoms, KBF parsley, botarga and lemon vinaigrette

BLT Pizza with creamed KBF spinach, KBF tomatoes and bacon

KBF Strawberry Soda

Panna Cotta with KBF strawberry compote

We are very excited for these fresh dishes and can’t wait for you to try them, see you this weekend!

 

 

Field Report: A Spring Farm Run in The Redland

On Sundays and Wednesdays at 9:00AM an email is sent out to some of the best chefs and produce junkies in Miami.  I was lucky it was a Wednesday when I found myself poking around the walk-in cooler at Farm to Kitchen HQ.  While owner Chris Padin finished up the morning’s transmission, I became acquainted with the fridge, a snapshot of spring’s arrival in South Florida.  There were passion fruit the size of ostrich eggs, a box of rosy-rooted watermelon radishes and a crate of bright green sapote, the kind of gems that conceal the real treasures just beneath their skins — sweet tart seeds jeweled bright orange, pink and green rings to make even Saturn jealous, and sweet flesh tasting of chocolate custard with the color and texture to match.  Mesmerizing.  Losing the feeling in my fingers was my cue to exit.

Chris had just hit send as he explained, “I update the email blast twice a week. It lists the farms, their products, price and classification. Then, the chefs have about a day to call me with their orders.” I peeked and counted about 10 farms with a long list of veggies, dairy products, greens, herbs and fruits.  Chris and partner Aleli Lauria-Padin operate Farm to Kitchen, and I think they have the best jobs on planet Earth. Picking up the good stuff from all over South Florida and dropping it to some of the best restaurants in Miami.  Currently, Farm to Kitchen works with 12 – 15 farms and supplies about 30 restaurants.  Both numbers are steadily growing branching out from Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink to all the TGHG restaurants including The Cypress Room, Harry’s Pizzeria and Restaurant Michael Schwartz.  The couple is careful to expand at the right pace with the right people, and now includes some familiar names as well as new kids on the block from Eating House, 27 Restaurant and Vagabond, to Proper Sausages and Fooq’s.  But today was about the farms, five farms to be exact: Verde Gardens, Teena’s Pride, Knaus Berry, Corona and Bee Heaven all in Homestead — a world away from our home in the Design District.

On the 40 or so minute ride down, we passed farm after farm, but not the type I was expecting.  Fields of palm trees, hedges, and other ornamentals, all neatly arranged in rows fanned out beside us.  These landscaping nurseries were all cool to look at, but, as Chris was quick to remind me, they all could be growing food instead.  Our first stop was Verde Gardens, a 22-acre farm staffed and operated through the Urban Oasis Project whose goal it is to teach formerly homeless families how to run a farm. Every available patch of green is utilized. Chris and I walked through two of the largest plots, and I listened intently as he rattled off the names of all the greens and herbs. We stopped at some for a closer look. I was stuck on the rainbow chard and its richer than rich reds, yellows and oranges. Chris suggested that we take a look at Verde Gardens’ tropical fruits tucked away behind a barn, and sure enough, my mind was blown. A giant banana flower hung inconspicuously in the sky. It was about the size of a football. I had never seen such a thing! As far as I was concerned, bananas grew on trees and were yellow, sometimes green. But this flower, and flowers like it in various stages of growth, were completely exotic to me. On our way out, I met Chuck, one of the farm managers. Chris and Chuck started talking about orders, the impending close to the season and loquats. I quickly Googled ‘loquats’ – but more on that later…

Next up, Teena’s Pride. One thing I noticed, everything is bigger at Teena’s. The Borek family has been operating this 500-acre farm for many generations. There are tomatoes as far as they eye can see, and then some. Every kind of heritage and heirloom tomato occupy rows at least a mile long. While Chris and I were inspecting some pancake-sized nasturtiums, Chef Niven called. He wanted an update on the tomato ‘situation,’ and Chris filled him in, reporting that “they have lots of greens, and there are a few cases with some great color on ‘em, good variety.” And it was done. Chris ordered 30 cases for Niven to be delivered the next morning. There are tomatoes growing in fields and in greenhouses; there are tomatoes on giant trays with their own irrigation system and growing in cooling houses. These tomatoes could survive the apocalypse. Having all this space allows Teena’s to test out crops. They had a few new heirloom varieties in the grow house, Chris explains, “if they make it in the grow house, and people like the taste, then they get moved to the fields and from there to Niven at the restaurant.”

Unlike the other farms, Knaus Berry Farms was busy entertaining the public – and on a Wednesday morning!  We walked into a market area with signs for milk shakes, strawberries, cinnabuns and veggies. There were loads of people walking up and down the u-pick aisles outside. KBF has strawberries for miles, and, as we were told inside, that wasn’t even half of their crop. This place has a cult following, and I’m the newest recruit. The strawberries sat in perfect rows, peeping out from the white plastic sheeting, there to protect them. They are plump, perfectly ripe and bright red. As Chris and I were leaving, we met by the Bald Baker, Thomas Blocher, who runs the bakery at KBF and supervises the creation of hundreds of trays of cinnabuns every day. He recently started blending his own coffee, deftly called “Bald Baker’s Blend”– which we sampled. It is delicious! Chef de cuisine Danny Ramirez is taking the Harry’s Pizzeria kitchen crew on a field trip to Knaus later this month, so more on them to come.

We had to pick up some sugarcane for our booth at the Sprung! event Harry’s and Michael’s Genuine Home Brew participated in last weekend, so Chris and I rode over to Corona Farms / Martha’s U-Pick. Right off of Krome Avenue is this perfectly self-contained stand offering some of the best Southern Hospitality I’ve seen in South Florida since moving here from Charleston, South Carolina. Within moments of our arrival, Chris handed me a coconut with a straw poking out of it. I look up to see him hacking away at another coconut with a machete. A tiny puppy roams around like he owns the place, and he’s got it made. There are bananas on display and every color pepper you could imagine. This stand had bins of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and a variety of lettuces. The whole place is electrified with color. If you look out behind the stand, you can see the farm, completely green and lush with a sugarcane perimeter. Not only was this convenient, but incredibly beautiful.

Bee Haven Farm was like a secret garden. As we wove our way through tropical trees, Chris plucked leaves and greens for me to try. He crumbled up an allspice leaf in his hands and told me to sniff.  The smell was biting! We walked up to a few rows and Chris stopped me from going any further, as he pointed to the sign ‘BEES AT WORK.’ I saw about 10 filing boxes stacked on top of each other. Yup, they were filled with bees. There were also a few loose chickens wandering around, and more in little coops strategically placed around the farm. Permaculture is a theory of farming that makes full use of all the benefits the crops have to offer. Here was permaculture at work: The chickens graze and provide manure, while the bees pollinate and bounce from plant to plant. The farmers rotate the crops, moving certain flowers to attract different bugs and monitor growing rates. Hidden in this hide away oasis, we found pencil mulberries, black tomatoes, tamarind and loquats.

 

Loquats at Bee Haven Farm

Loquats at Bee Haven Farm

Loquats are a fruit native to the East, often called a Chinese plum or Japanese plum. They are high in sugar and acid and are commonly used to make jam. These new crops are always exciting for the farmers and for Chris, as well. He thinks these would be a big hit for the Farm to Kitchen Buying Club. Every Saturday, people like Jackie trek up to 54th Street to the Farm to Kitchen warehouse to pick up their boxes of fruits, veggies and greens. You can sign up at ali@farmtokitchenmiami.com. Each week, FTK compiles small ($35), medium ($45), large ($55) and extra large ($75) boxes of goodies for families to cook with at home. FTK also offers great add-ons, like chicken and duck eggs, raw local goat’s milk, and avocado honey. The FTK Buying Club was created to soothe frustrated chefs. On his deliveries, Chris had encountered so many chefs who got great produce in the restaurants and yet cooked with lesser products at home. So, Chis started delivering personalized boxes of produce to the chefs with their regular deliveries. When Chris and Ali cook at home, they use ingredients from the farms and their garden, so they believed that if better products were available — more families would want to cook with these great ingredients too.  The Farm to Kitchen Buying Club was born. Now, you can see Chris & Ali every Saturday when you pick up your box of goodies and enjoy the freshest, local ingredients Florida has to offer. Thank you Chris & Farm to Kitchen!  For up-to-date information on our go-to food sources for the restaurants visit our Sourcing pages.

Thank you Chris, Ali, Verde Gardens, Teena's Pride, Knaus Berry Farms, Corona Farms and Bee Haven Farms!

Thank you Chris, Ali, Verde Gardens, Teena’s Pride, Knaus Berry Farms, Corona Farms and Bee Haven Farm!

 

Currybest | Buck’s Beer Garden & Bonfire, Take One, in Pictures

Did you know that currywurst isn’t a type of German sausage made with curry, but rather a perfectly grilled brat served with a heaping squeeze of curry ketchup and sprinkle of curry powder?  This was one of my revelations under the full moon last night at Buck’s Beer Garden & Bonfire’s inaugural event, where we played sponge for all things German thanks to guidance from helpful countrymen (that’s you, Frank!)  The right amount of sauce is also when you think it’s too much.  You’ll use every bit of it until the last bite of linked meat in crusty roll is gone.  The story dates back to 1949 Berlin when Herta Heuwer obtained ketchup (or possibly Worcestershire sauce) and curry powder from British soldiers in Germany.  She mixed these ingredients with other spices and poured it over grilled pork sausage and currywurst was born!  Street food in Germany was never the same again!  We can’t wait for our next food history lesson, or pick up game of ping pong on March 19, our second and last event of the month.  You won’t want for sauce, Wynwood brews to your heart’s content, nor ping pong balls! And don’t forget to try the Schwenkbraten, a delicious cut of pork (neck) bathed in paprika-oregano’d onions, served with a side of cabbage. It was a knockout, and cooked to perfection on the Schwenker grill.  Click here for last night in pictures. Prost!

Genuine Cayman Legacy | Camana Bay Hosts 4th Annual Slow Food Day

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Next Friday, Hedy, Thomas and I are jetting off to a far away land full of familiar faces for Slow Food Day in the Grand Cayman Islands. Slow Food Day celebrates local farmers, seasonal ingredients and farm-to-table cooking. These ideals are extremely important on the rock, where an off season vegetable has to cross an ocean to end up on a menu. This year, Slow Food asked each chef to conceive their dishes based on a female chef who has inspired them. I asked Thomas and Hedy who they would choose and they both immediately started to rattle off names, some I had heard of and some that were new to me.

Thomas narrowed it down to two, April Bloomfield and Alice Waters. Thomas first met April at an event in Grand Cayman and was immediately drawn to her affinity for high quality meats with heavy seasoning. During a trip to New York City, Thomas ate at The Breslin and had April’s famous Scotch Egg. They have remained friends ever since and her cuisine continues to inspire! Alice Waters’ ideal of using fresh, seasonal ingredients at their peak has influenced many chefs, Thomas especially. When he first took the helm of MGFD Grand Cayman, he held himself to Waters’ standards and made those ingredients the focal point of the menu. In honor of April and Alice, Thomas is preparing a Scotch Egg with Mustard Greens Sauce – using a traditional English recipe with fresh island ingredients.

Hedy chose Maida Heatter, whose cookbook she credits with changing her life. Hedy’s adventures in baking started early, perfecting her Easy-Bake Oven brownies for her mother’s discerning sweet tooth. At Hedy’s first restaurant job, she was given Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts. Diving into the book every night, perfecting, practicing and baking. Maida’s East 62nd Street Lemon Cake was one of the first recipes from the book that Hedy mastered. A few years later, Maida took Hedy to lunch in Miami and introduced her Michael. And the rest was history.  As a tribute to Maida, Hedy will be creating a bounty of desserts, all featuring lemon and other citrus notes.

Slow Food Day begins Saturday morning at the farmer’s market. Thomas will be showing off his Scotch Egg while Hedy and I peck at the produce. In the evening, Hedy is closing out the show with her dessert booth which will be overflowing with citrus treats. Don’t worry, Thomas and I will taste test them all! I am so excited to visit our Grand Cayman outpost with Thomas and Hedy, I promise to report back and take lots of photos!  You can purchase tickets here. And to follow along with Hedy @hedygoldsmith, Thomas @chefttennant, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Grand Cayman @mgfd_gcm, Slow Food @slowfoodusa and me @honeyitstmoney. See you in Grand Cayman!

#SOBEWFF Reflections and a Recipe: The Chicken & The Egg Together at Last

This past week was filled with food and fun at the 14th annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival.  In true Michael Schwartz fashion, The Genuine Hospitality Group participated in a few genuine ways. There were the pre-parties — our two pop-up dinners unaffiliated with the festival but tied to it in spirit and in genuine people like Chris Cosentino and his motley crew (Jonnatan and Zach!) at Harry’s for Cockscomb Pizzeria. There was the amazing human Richard Betts and his Carla, to keep us on our toes with wine, tequila and mezcal at The Wine Room, and a pool game or three at Club Deuce.

Then we participated in two festival events, the first of which was Michael’s at the Perez Art Museum Miami with Cobaya, Zimmern & Co., and of course more San Francisco shenanigans. Then Hedy closed out with Death by Chocolate on Saturday night, as sweet a finish as it gets with Dallas, Devin and Kump, all documented by Tess. Saturday night was also our last unofficial festival activity at Taquiza, a taco stand for the purists. Ellie Groden, former TGHG all-star summed it up best with her Instagram:

step 1. ask some of the best chefs in miami to make a taco.
step 2. show up with @chefmschwartz and all the chefs send you their tacos
step 3. eat all the tacos.
I think I ate them all twice. @midtownchinese was my fave. thanks @taquizamiami #tacoheaven #sobewff and thanks the rest of you for already having dinner @tamazonn @thebillyharris @jackiesayet @jen_davidsonnyc @ericsaltz

Now you can make Roel’s guest taco at home, with the recipe below. And visit Taquiza, too, for housemade tortillas from blue masa, ground daily using responsibly sourced Masienda landrace corn from Michoacán, Mexico.  We like it fried up in Totopos with guac and a pint of Gringolandia Super Pils from 5 Rabbit Brewery.  Oh, those beautiful baby blues.

Roel’s Chicken Adobo Tacos with Egg Salad

makes 12 tacos

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 pound Chicken Thighs, bone in and skin on
1 large Spanish onion, sliced thin
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 fresh bay leaves
1 star anise
2 large organic brown chicken eggs
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, shaved
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Shaved radishes for garnish
Cilantro for garnish
1 dozen Corn Tortillas for serving

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oil so it thinly coats the bottom of the pan. Season the thighs with salt and pepper. Just as the oil begins to smoke, add the chicken skin side down and sear until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and add onions, garlic and tomatoes. Let them sweat, cooking until the onions are translucent but not browning, about 5-7 minutes. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, star anise and 1 cup of water and gently simmer for 1.5 hours or until the chicken is tender and the liquid reduced until mostly evaporated.

While the chicken is braising, make your egg salad. Fill a 2 quart pot with water and bring to boil. Gently lower the eggs into boiling water. After 7 minutes use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs into an ice bath and allow the eggs to cool. Softly tap the egg against a counter to crack the shell and carefully peel. If the shell is supremely stuck, run the egg under cold water to loosen. Pass the eggs though a metal strainer to slice. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the eggs, tomato, onion and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

Remove the thighs with tongs to a plate to cool, then shred and mix the tender chicken back in with the braising liquid. To assemble the tacos, place a ½ cup of the chicken on a warm tortilla top with egg salad mixture and garnish with radish and cilantro. Enjoy!