The Lychees Have Landed

Roland Samimy with about 10 pounds of fruit, making a special run to his grove for us yesterday.

It’s a special time of year for us in South Florida. With the main growing season out on tippy toes, nature gives us a parting gift that somehow makes it all ok.  The lychee fruit.

It happens each year, but never seems to get old.  We have our two months of juicy goodness, peeling and slurping them from their bumpy prehistoric wrapping by the handful, and then they’re gone for another 10.

Michael has been getting his lychee for years, since his Nemo days, from Roland Samimy.  Friend Jen Karetnick wrote an excellent piece for New Times back in 2001 about Roland and his family’s operation. Read it (really, please do) here.  The first story I wrote on Michael, before working for him, also happened to be concerning the seasonal grand entrance of this perfumed milky white gem onto the Michael’s Genuine menu.

Roland grows two varieties of lychee, which Michael proudly corrected me on yesterday as we handed off the batch pictured above to the producers of The Great Food Truck Race who shoot their final scene of Season 2 today.

“It’s the Bristol and the Marucious!” I proclaimed.  Actually it’s the Brewster and the Mauritius, the latter maturing first, followed the the former a few weeks later in the season. We’ll be harvesting Brewsters this coming Saturday when we visit Roland’s grove. The Mauritius right now are bigger and sweeter, with reddish green skin, smoother than the Brewsters.  Those are a deep, bright shade of red, with more tiny textured peaks.  Brewsters eat like a big, wet Sweet Tart.

Lychee is cultivated in China, Thailand, northern Vietnam, and northern India, South Africa, and the United States (Hawaii and Florida.)  The Caribbean does not grow Lychee, so for now, it’s just our Miami restaurant where you will enjoy the likes of lychee soda, local shrimp ceviche with lychee, avocado, citrus, & cilantro, and crispy soft shelled crab with lychee & avocado salad.

This morning, an email transmission from another one of our farmers, Margie at Bee Heaven, signaled good news for customers who want a share of the summer season goodies at home.  She writes “The start of Lychees and mangoes are harvesting now. (Avocados are looking good, and should be ready in about 3-4 weeks.)”  Pick up at her farm or at Joanna’s Marketplace near Dadeland, beginning  Saturday, June 11, along with eggs, honey, Hani’s cheese, hummus and baba ghanoush, assorted herbs, and even a couple of veggies. Margie will also launch an online store, through which summer orders can be placed.  For more information visit the Bee Heaven Farm ~ Redland Organics website.

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