Let the Farmer Exchange Begin Continue

(Left to right) Chefs Thomas Tennant, Michael, and Michel Nischan touring East End Garden with owner/grower Patrick Panton in January. A farmer exchange was germinating.

One thing we know about farmers is they’re good at sharing. There are tangible things like seeds, seedings, and clippings — even land.  But the most valuable of them all may be knowledge.

So in keeping with tradition, it should be no surprise that Homestead organic farmer Margie Pikarsky said she was interested when Michael proposed flying her down to Grand Cayman for a couple of days to meet with some of the local farmers from whom we source for the island restaurant.  It’s the first of what we hope to be many farmer exchanges between South Florida and Grand Cayman.  The timing works well because, while the growing season still has some juice left, our main farmers markets here in South Florida are winding down.  That means some of Margie’s precious time gets freed up!  Many markets here, like the Roots in the City, depend on her always colorful and bountiful display to sustain business.

Margie will be in Grand Cayman April 28-29 to meet, work with, and learn from her Caymanian counterparts including Joel Walton of Plantation House and Patrick Panton of East End Garden. As a longtime valuable source of high quality produce for our Miami restaurant, she has a lot of expertise to offer including her experience growing organic in a similar tropical climate on small farms, working with restaurants like ours, and also bringing product to market.  You may recall how she has successfully worked to bridge the gap between small, family farmers and chefs, sourcing out seasonal produce beyond her own Bee Heaven Farm and getting it to where the demand is. It’s all part of our effort to support local agriculture and promote responsible, slow food sourcing on-island.

Also kicking off next week, on Saturday, April 30 at 6:30 p.m., Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Camana Bay is partnering with Slow Food Grand Cayman on a series of monthly Farm-To-Table Dinners celebrating these farmers and their seasonal ingredients.  For the first, executive chef Thomas Tennant will present a family-style dinner offering a real taste of Cayman in four courses, priced at CI $50 per person (CI $45 for Slow Food members) exclusive of gratuity, and with wine pairings by sommelier Eric Larkee for an optional supplement of CI $20 per person. Reservations will be limited to 45 people.  All guests will be greeted with a welcome cocktail before sitting down to Saturday’s first farm-to-table dinner.  Menu follows:

First Course

Fried okra with horseradish aioli

Assorted local pickles

Tuscan kale salad, warm anchovy vinaigrette, shaved piave vecchio

Second Course

Local fish “cioppino” made with local tomatoes, local fish, mussels, clams

Seared local Wahoo with shaved local vegetables, herbs, preserved Meyer lemon

Third Course

Spicy beef salad with marinated baby bok choy

Crispy Caraway pork belly with stewed local eggplant, crispy local sweet potato

Wood roasted local pumpkin

Dessert

Warm doughnuts with assorted local tropical fruit jams

We will also offer regular a la carte dinner service during the evening of the event, with reservations suggested.  The restaurant is located at 47 Forum Lane, Suite 4103, Canella Court at Camana Bay and is open for lunch and dinner daily. Happy Hour features drink specials, Monday through Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.   Call 345.640.6433 or go online at www.michaelsgenuine.com to book a reservation.  Follow the restaurant on Twitter @MGFD_GCM and on Facebook.

If you don’t live in Grand Cayman, reasonable daily flights (40 minutes from Miami!) and other gateway cities can be found with American Airlines and Cayman Airways.  For accommodations, visit the websites of Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and the Cayman Cotton Tree.

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