Sea Grapes & Royal Red Shrimp for Slow Food Ark of Taste Dinner on Thursday, November 29


As growing season arrives in South Florida so does our annual event celebrating native ingredients with Slow Food Miami: the Ark of Taste Fundraising Dinner.  The Kampong plays host for the second year in a row on Thursday, November 29, and Michael, Bradley and Hedy are up to the challenge of creating a menu around the unique ingredients being nominated for 2013: the Florida Sea Grape and Royal Red Shrimp.  All proceeds will benefit both Slow Food Miami’s Edible School & Community Garden Program and the Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden.  As Slow Food Miami’s largest fundraiser of the year, the annual Ark of Taste Benefit Dinner is an elegant evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails featuring Snail of Approval winner Grey Goose Vodka and hors d’ouevres under the stars and overlooking the same lush grounds Dr. David Fairchild and his famous visitors once enjoyed. A seated multi-course dinner follows, celebrating South Florida’s Sea Grape and Royal Red Shrimp, sourced from Florida’s own Bee Heaven Farm and Wild Ocean Seafood (respectively.) A special selection of wines available at Whole Foods Market – Coral Gables will accompany the evening.  Click here for the menu and the following links for 2011’s and 2010’s events in pictures!

The US Ark of Taste is a catalog of over 200 delicious foods in danger of extinction – – threatened by industrial standardization, the regulations of large-scale distribution and environmental damage. Only the best-tasting endangered foods make it onto the Ark, in an effort to cultivate consumer demand—key to agricultural conservation. This year we are excited to be celebrating two versatile and delicious South Florida foods – the Sea Grape and the Royal Red Shrimp. By promoting and eating Ark products we help ensure they remain in production and on our plates.

Sea Grapes typically ripen between July and October. They make an amazing, light jelly, and can be used in wine and other ways. The most common way to eat sea grapes is as like all other grapes – rinse and pop in your mouth. Indigenous to coastal areas of South Florida, the West Indies and tropical America (Central America and northern South America), sea grapes are wonderful edible landscapes which many people already have growing. Most Floridians do not know that sea grapes are edible and delicious!

Royal Red Shrimp are a deep-water species whose taste is as unique as its appearance. Most importantly, several pockets of them are found off Florida waters making them a viable Florida fishery/resource. As with most domestic product that has seen its imported counterpart (ninety percent of all shrimp consumed in the United States are imported), Florida shrimp have consistently seen a decrease in value, its shrimping fleet and culture.

“The Ark of Taste Benefit Dinner is a chance for us to champion our native ingredients. We are honored Michael Schwartz and his team are preparing the Ark menu for the fourth year. We are excited to support our local farmers, fishers and foragers who keep these foods and their traditions alive. This event will help us fund 120 Edible School Gardens this fall as well as support the biodiversity growing in the Kampong National Tropical Botanical Garden.” said Renee Frigo Graeff, Slow Food Miami President.

Tickets are $250 per person and can be purchased here.  The Kampong of the National Tropical Botanical Garden is located at 4013 South Douglas Road in Coconut Grove, Florida. The Kampong contains a fascinating array of tropical fruit cultivars and flowering trees. The garden is named for the Malay or Javanese word for a village or cluster of houses. Heritage collections from Indo-Malaysia, Southeast Asia, Central and South Americas, the Caribbean, and other tropical locales create a cornucopia of exotic fruit, including over 50 varieties of mango. Numerous species of palms, cycads, and flowering trees are studied by scientists from the world over. The Kampong serves as the mainland campus for the NTBG’s educational courses, as a living classroom used by universities and colleges for botany and horticulture courses, and is a popular spot for plant enthusiasts of all ages. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.