Florida peach season is in full swing. You might not know this — we sure didn’t until we did a little tooling around on the internet — but peach farming is not entirely new to Florida. The Lakeland Ledger reported last year that although growing peaches is usually associated with Georgia, Florida farmers claimed about 5,000 planted acres of peach trees in the early 1980s. After a devastating freeze caused a drastic drop to about 500 acres by the end of that decade, the University of Florida’s Department of Horticultural Sciences in Gainesville began work on several “low chill” varieties that don’t require as many cold days to produce fruit like the Georgia crops do and can survive Florida’s mostly subtropical climate. In part due to this R&D, as well as Florida citrus growers wanting to spread risk on their land, peach farming started to pick up again about a decade ago according to Mercy Olmstead, an extension specialist for stone fruit production with the University. The article reports that today, there are more than 1,000 planted acres of peach trees, mostly in Central and South-central Florida, compared to 240 acres reported in 2007 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Georgia has about 12,000 acres. More for us, more for you. Here’s where you can find peaches in our neck of the woods, and the many ways to eat them savory and sweet, although we like plain just the same!
The Cypress Room — Our new elegant American dining room will have peach ice cream on Hedy Goldsmith’s dessert menu, and chef de cuisine Roel Alcudia’s ever-changing tasting menu takes the classic galette to another level with peaches and hazelnuts, popped with creamy, whipped goat cheese and cut with the freshness of peach salad.
Harry’s Pizzeria — A couple of summers ago then Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink chef de cuisine Bradley Herron created a delicious monster in a peach salad with frisee, shaved radishes, basil and toasted almonds in a champagne vinaigrette. It basically went viral in the recipe sharing world online, and then morphed to an equally popular honey crisp apple version in the winter that a customer wanted so bad to make at home that they asked the Sun-Sentinel to get it for them! Our pizzeria to the west adopted the salad last summer with its own spin of hazelnuts. This year, the one and only peach salad is back with a makeover we love: bacon, mixed lettuces and pecans.
Restaurant Michael Schwartz — What a peach she is. Hedy Goldsmith is mounding the peaches high for pies, and slicing them on the side tossed with blueberries for Lemon Meringue Bread Pudding. Michael’s Whole Spatchcocked Chicken in the Extra Large section of the dinner menu is butterflied and flattened on the grill alongside this seasonal stone fruit and red onion, hitting the plate quartered and tossed with arugula.
Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink — Chef de cuisine Niven Patel is pickling peaches which landed on a smoked pumpkin swordfish sandwich the other day at lunch. Also visit the bar for a market special, changing daily and recently featuring peach with honey and basil!