Going MAD to Stay Sane & Planting Seeds for New Beginnings

Screen shot 2013-08-26 at 12.06.55 PMIt’s back to school for the youngsters, and with it a rush of new beginnings and inspiration. In Copenhagen this weekend, the third annual MAD Symposium engaged chefs, cooks and farmers in a platform for idea-sharing, collaboration and learning. A catalyst resulting in grassroots change with global purpose. You can follow along and view past videos on the MAD website and blog. Today, California chef David Kinch presented on how restaurants can set up their own farms. Bravo to the organizers for bringing important conversations to the table, stimulating our own creativity and challenging us to think differently.

Here at home, South Florida farmers are readying for the upcoming winter/spring 2014 season, and for the first time The Genuine Hospitality Group chefs are working with forager Chris Padin to identify new heirloom ingredients to grow with them.

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Summertime. And the Garden is Solarized.

IMG_0532Yesterday was a great day for solarizing.  The rain poured all morning soaking the soil, then the sun came out giving us the better part of the day to get the Phillis Wheatley Elementary Edible School Garden weeded and covered for the long hot summer. And their tasty reward for getting down and dirty in the snail, centipede and bug filled soil: the Science Club came to Harry’s Pizzeria to enjoy the last of their harvest!  Long green eggplant, Thai basil, callaloo, green zebra and other heirloom tomato varieties all topped pies that the fifth graders got to learn about making. See here for the full flickr set.  IMG_0476

BIG THANK YOU’s to Margie Pikarsky of Bee Haven Farm who has donated her time, energy and seemingly endless knowledge to the 2013-14 Phillis Wheatley Edible School Garden, as well as Nicole who came from the farm to help, Harry’s chefs Manuel Sulbaran and Steve Martin, Harry Schwartz who came to play, Phillis Wheatley Elementary Science Coach Kelly Garcia and Math Coach Myriam Ordaz, and chef Bill Telepan who helped us raise the funds for next years garden!

Have a great summer everyone!

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Harry’s Pizzeria Panna Cotta Goes Round the Mulberry Bush

It’s springtime, and Hedy Goldsmith is in love with a berry!  Here in Miami it may not be the cold and frosty morning from the nursery rhyme, but our executive pastry chef is frolicking in the short mulberry season.   She pickled the pencil variety from Bee Heaven Farm’s Margie Pikarsky to pair with chocolate-blood pudding for Cochon 555.  She’s baking pies at home with them.  But what about us?!

Hedy’s looking out and has planned a change for Harry’s Pizzeria’s panna cotta.  Meyer Lemon & Buttermilk with Local Mulberries, pictured here, is on beginning tomorrow at our lil neighborhood joint.  Enjoy!

Growing Season’s Crystal Ball: The Forecast is Cloudy, with a Chance of Bananas.

Word on the street from MGFD forager Chris Padin is we have a few more weeks of South Florida heirlooms.

If you’re a public radio junkie like me, you’ve been hearing a bunch of NPR reports on WLRN/91.3 FM about how dramatic the changes in weather are this year across the globe.  Here in the United States, the National Weather Service is reporting a record-breaking warm winter with more than 7,700 daily highs busted last month, on the heels of the fourth warmest winter on record. March was so hot in Iowa with temperatures hitting 84 degrees that oats are now running ahead of schedule, with 58% percent of the crop planted up from 7%.  Experts are divided as to if this is good news for farmers, extending the season’s productivity, or dangerous, since crops could still get hit with frost as late as May.

Closer to home, in the midst of our growing season winding down here in South Florida, farmers appear to be optimistic.  The feeling from the warmer winter, less dramatic than up north, is less growing pains and more dazed and confused than anything else. We tapped farmer Margie Pikarsky, our trusted source who not only has a handle on what’s going on at her Bee Heaven Farm in Homestead, but many others across central and South Florida, for the outlook on upcoming summer crops.

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#GenuineCayman in Photos

Chef Thomas surveys Patrick Panton's spread at the weekly Camana Bay Farmers Market for greens, soursop, eggplant, and more.

Margie found indian cucumbers at Wednesday's market and may try growing them next season at her Homestead farm.

Happy Birthday to Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink Grand Cayman which turned one on Thursday, June 16.  To mark this milestone, a quick update on some things we’re working on which I experienced first-hand when Michael and I were on-island this past week.  Our continued effort to work with local farmers and their product has manifested in a TV pilot called Genuine Cayman which we shot with producer Emma Gladstone for local station Cayman 27.  Hosted by Michael, each episode will take viewers out into the field to source a particular ingredient and meet the people behind it, culminating in the kitchen with a recipe using that ingredient. Bee Heaven Farm’s Margie Pikarsky came down again, continuing her Farmer Exchange and consultation on Camana Bay’s chefs’ garden project.  She also foraged just-about-ripe-for-drying dates from the decorative palms in front our restaurant in the The Crescent, and chef Thomas is figuring out how to work with them. It is going to be a big harvest if Michael can get the nets he wants! Continue reading