Pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith serving up goat’s milk yogurt panna cotta with date leather and pickled dried fruit at Best of the Best on Friday night at the Fontainebleau on South Beach.
It was quite the eventful weekend with South Beach Wine & Food Festival making its annual splash drawing talent and visitors from across the globe, but the fun doesn’t stop there. For us, it’s all about the local events over the next month, celebrating our farmers close to home in the field and on the plate.
You already know about our March pop-up with Bill Telepan (for the kids, baby!) and we’ll have that menu posted here tomorrow, but today is all about sharing some of the other happenings that may have snuck up without you knowing. See you out there!
Slow & Steady Wins the Race: When Michael was awarded Miami’s first Slow Food Snail of Approval in 2010, he was honored to be recognized for stewardship of all things local, but more exciting was the notion that in bringing the brilliant Snail program launched in New York to South Florida we had tipped a domino and set in motion a movement in which more and more awards would go each year to new chefs and restaurants that saw the bright future and value in a fresh, simple and pure approach to food and drink. Further sustaining the support of slow foods and the farmers that make them possible for years to come was the hope. Fast forward to Friday, March 15 and the wish has been realized. Under the thoughtful watch of convivum leader Renee Frigo Graeff, the era of Snail is alive and well with its second annual Tasting Party honoring 2014 nominees Chef Kris Wessel of Florida Cookery and Chef Matt Hinckley of Boxpark from 7 – 10:00 p.m. at The James Royal Palm Hotel, South Beach. After the event, the party continues from 9:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. hosted by Florida Cookery honoring our white chocolate slow-roasting, 2013 James Beard semifinalist, Hedy Goldsmith. Click here for tickets!
Genuinely Swank: We source their amazing baby veggies and greens for Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami, as well as 150 Central Park’s farm-to-ship menus aboard Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas (and soon to be its sister ship Allure!) As if it didn’t make it quick enough to your plate already in our restaurants, their freshly-harvested product will hit tables in the field on their turf when Michael joins pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith visit for one of their “Swank Table” luncheons on April 7 from 12 – 4:00 p.m. at Swank Farms Specialty Produce in Loxahatchee. A short hour drive from Miami, this hydro-natural farm is in full production mode right now. Calling on the best of our state’s farmers, ranchers, artisanal producers, micro-brewers, and organic wine makers, we’ll roll out a memorable, multi-course meal with what’s fresh and in season on the menu. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit the James Beard Scholarship Foundation. Get them now!
Slow Food Day started off fast. A 6:50am wake-up call got me going, Jackie driving us off quickly into the soft morning light towards the Grounds. There we found the early bustling of the farmers’ stalls, the chefs’ stoves igniting, and the smell of cast iron heating intermingled with the fresh-from-the-earth smell of produce.
The morning heated up, the island breeze working harder to cool us as the market filled with curious shoppers big and small, with eyes wide and minds open to tasting local ingredients prepared in ways both familiar and new by our five participating chefs. We raised money for Feed Our Future, a local non-profit connecting hungry kids in Cayman’s community with nutritious meals by raffling a Cayman Airways round trip ticket to Miami. Picnic tables filled up, and the produce in the stalls cleared out.
Our team rolled back over to the Camana Bay beach where the pit was dug and Michael and Hugh had the goats on the spit. The wood was stacked for the Caboos smoker that Roel would cook the chickens on, Kyle was on salad with its delicious boiled dressing and passed hors d’oeuvres, and Thomas’s snapper station was all set to go. Details were falling into place, our Cayman restaurant team making everything look easy. The sun sat low in the horizon as the chefs ran through a quick pre-service meeting before guests started to arrive. Passed appetizers commenced, welcome cocktails were shaken not stirred, and the guitar and violin players each echoed the waves crashing with harmonic melodies.
After the sun set the main course was served. Soon after, the party was in full swing. Eric could be seen passing back and forth from the water’s edge discouraging bottles of sparkling. The chefs chatted with guests who I heard on more than one occasion confirm that this was the best event the island had ever seen. I couldn’t have agreed more, granted it was my first event on Grand Cayman, but it was special. All this and it wasn’t even 9 o’clock. So in the end, Slow Food Day ended nice and slow.
Thanks again to everyone who helped make #SFD13 such a success. See here for the day in pictures, and we hope to see you again next year!