Thursday, March 13, 2014

Freshly Wrapped: Comings and Goings on Paradise Farms

How is it mid March already? 

How did we already blow through 3 amazing Dinners In Paradise with another directly in the wings (and sold out!) this Saturday? Time flies when you're busier than swarming bees.

We began Farmer's Market season in an exploratory stage and eventually planted our roots in two very different styles of markets that have been entirely too much fun:

Every Saturday 8AM - 2PM: Coral Gables Farmers Market
Is it always beautiful in downtown Coral Gables? Yes, yes it is. This market has such a wonderful variety of vendors and it really is a family affair with lots of happy curious kids and fuzzy puppies.

Every Wednesday 11AM - 6PM: Sunset Harbour Shops, 1900 Bay Road, Miami Beach
We're smack dab in the breezeway the sweeps by Panther Coffee and Icebox Cafe. The community has been overjoyed to have access to local organic produce and the timing is really perfect -- you can just pop through for some good lunch salad fixings or pass by right after work to pick up some healthy flavorful dinner ingredients.

We've had some really unique produce to share - like the ultra spicy black spanish radish, the enigmatic egg fruit, and delicate purple scallions. Kale, kale, and more kale has joined the usual suspects on the table like salanova lettuce (perfect heads!) and a plethora of microgreens. Come on out!

Have a look at photos from Dinner In Paradise. If you haven't made it to one yet, we only have a handful more in this final season with Gabriele. Our remaining dinners feature some heavy hitters in the Miami culinary scene, so expect a satisfied mind and belly:

Photos: December 8, 2013 Dinner In Paradise
Photos: January 12, 2014 Dinner In Paradise
Photos: January 26, 2014 Dinner In Paradise

Posted by Kelly Samardak, resident photographer, social media manager, and random doer.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Posada In Paradise

As we emerge from the vibrant holiday season,  we wanted to share beautiful smiles from our Mexican posada we held on Paradise Farms Organic. The sun set on our farm and the bees that usually buzz around the property were replaced by scampering children. A fresh buffet was piled with cool ceviche, guacamole, black beans, rice, tamales and other edibles that stuffed our bellies. Before eating, however, the whole group assembled to reenact the described journey of Mary and Joseph as they looked for shelter. This writer is not fluent (not even a little bit) in Spanish so observing this tradition was such a gift. And by the way, while I can give you an account of what I observed, this page is a great resource!

The group wound their way through the moonlit farm, candles in hand. They were split in half - one group "inside" and one "outside" where "outside" sang imploring entrance. They were denied entrance by those "inside" with a sung response. Eventually the "outside" group was allowed "inside" and everyone gathered to celebrate over our meal. Chef Caryl remarked on the comfortable silence that falls when everyone settles into dinner, sharing a meal together. This silence was quickly broken when the pinata was revealed and nearly all of the kids took a good whack at it. A tree may have been accidentally whacked at all, but he was a sturdy leafed fellow. Of course there was dancing! Of course there was tequila! But we can't reveal every secret of our Mexican posada!

South Florida is so culturally diverse and opportunities abound to experience others' traditions. Take those opportunities when they appear and share your own, you won't regret it.

Safe and Happy Holidays everyone! - Kelly

Monday, December 16, 2013

This Is Why We Do Farmer's Markets.

There is something wonderful about being part of a larger Farmer's Market. Especially when the venue is the lush Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. When you're part of a bigger market, you meet other farmers, vendors, chefs, entrepreneurs, people working hard on a Saturday to get their produce and products in front of people - farm direct to YOU. This Saturday's market was our first with Fairchild and we'll be back every Saturday from 9AM - 2PM. The location is such a nice handshake - eat some farm fresh foods for breakfast, pop into Fairchild's Butterfly explosion to indulge in a snack for your eyeballs, then come back and start harvesting from the market! [lots of photos are on our Facebook page]

Scoop up some delicate microgreens like Paradise Farms Organics arugula. Those tiny little greens bite back, but in the best way. Pluck up some of our watermelon radish, edible flowers, buttery avocados and purple topped scallions for your afternoon guacamole snack.

Snatch up a mushroom and mozzarella empanada from The Empanada Lady (not pictured, that's the Empanada dude).

Say hello to Hani over at Hani's Mediterranean Organics. Not only is Hani named "Miami's Best Cheese" of 2013 in Miami New Times, but he's also our cheese guy!

You can even find the perfect dessert over at Sweet Armoire Cakes. All of this and more in the middle of a tropical masterpiece. Culture and the fruits of agriculture all in one spot.
There is also something really special about setting up your own Farmer's Market - well, farm stand, really - smack dab on the front lawn of your farm. It brings the neighbors by. It opens the farm up to the community. It's a great opportunity to ask Farmer Andy how he tames his beard.

In that blazing humid sun (it looked like it might rain today, didn't it?) we met a college student back in town for a few weeks (from Missouri, I think?). She laughed about how her sorority sisters were jealous that she was running off, bikini in hand. We met another neighbor who was excited to embark on a diet with her husband, after the holidays of course.

We met Nelson from down the road. Nelson does property management at Ocean Reef Club and he grabbed some of our goodies for his friend; a chef aboard a yacht that "travels all over." We met the twosome with their lips wrapped around their Robert Is Here smoothie straws. What a perfect Homestead Sunday - goof around with some emus at Robert Is Here, nab a shake, and sidle up to our farm stand. It's a nice little slice of what South Florida is all about. Note: we are no longer holding a farmer's market at our farm

Yeah, I know, I'm biased, but I wouldn't be here if I didn't love the place - and I know you will, too. Come see us either day - we'll be happy to load you up with organic goodness.

Bonus: If Chef Caryl is working the market you can ask her for advice on what to do with carambola and other delicious recipe tips. Maybe ask her about things to do in Mexico, too. If I'm there you'll probably be immortalized on our Facebook page!

Posted by: Kelly Samardak, resident photog and storyteller

Edit: We are no longer participating in the above farmer's markets, but we ARE at 2 new markets!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

From Ocean Reef To Paradise

Chefs Philippe, Santiago, and Damien visited Paradise Farms Organic today for some inspiration. More photos to come!

Photo by Kelly Samardak

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Florida Keys Chefs Find Dinner In Paradise Inspiration On The Farm

This little bee is working hard on African basil
Last week Paradise Farms Organic hosted some very special visitors. Making the trek from the Keys to agricultural gem Homestead, FL were Executive Chef Jouvens Jean and Chef De Cuisine Joe Wiktorek of Pierre’s Lounge & Restaurant at Morada Bay. They, along with Executive Chef Richard Smith from Cheeca Lodge & Spa, George Patti from Taster’s Grill, and Senior Director of Culinary Philippe Reynaud of Ocean Reef Club round out of Keys focused Dinner In Paradise on December 8, 2013. We were also joined by Pooky, the sweetest farm dog you’ll ever meet.

Farmer Gabriele and the Chefs confer while Pooky entertains the girls
Chef Joe brought along his daughters who may have entered the farm picky eaters, but left having tasted Cuban oregano, African basil, tongue tickling mustard greens, and the green bean flavored sun hemp. When Chef Jouvens arrived, the group paused in their tour for a freshly prepared snack of avocados sprinkled with Florida Keys Sea Salt and a squirt of Meyer Lemon, sliced starfruit and fresh herbal tea. With each new edible flower, plucked green and veggie discovery the chefs began brainstorming their dishes.

Chef Jouvens and three happy chayote
Chef Jouvens lit up when Farmer Gabriele led him to the chayote. “In Haiti,” he explained while turning the light green rippled produce in his hands, “chayote is used in a stew called legume. Simmered with eggplant, it’s delicious.” Chef Joe was equally pleased with his trip to Paradise and it was obvious the creative ideas for his Dinner In Paradise menu were brewing.  Chef Joe and his girls left with quite the haul: avocados, the mosaic skinned Monstera, Cuban Oregano for planting at home, and a banana flower.

Purchase tickets to join us for Dinner In Paradise on Sunday, December 8, 2013 and experience what our Florida Keys Chefs concoct to satisfy your bellies under the stars:

A beautiful plate of avocado and starfruit
Roselle is not just beautiful, it's useful: leaves can be used fresh, they have a lovely lemon flavor

Pooky, the regal sentry. See also: wild woman.


Hibiscus. Beautiful and wonderful in teas (or just in your mouth)

Sun hemp has a taste similar to green beans.

The Chefs begin brainstorming dishes for Dinner In Paradise.

Farmer Gabriele and a banana flower, which drips a pretty albeit staining purple liquid.

Photos by Kelly Samardak,

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Brunch in Paradise

We wrapped up this year's Brunch in Paradise series with a beautiful Mother's Day brunch. We loved how much love was in the air! Smiles radiated from all! The Mother's Day brunch always hails a sweet finale to the BIP series! Until next year! Below are photos: 

Paradise Farms originals - edible flower arrangements


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The power of flowers (and how to use them!)

A flower is nature’s way of offering the miraculous cycle of rebirth. It is often the most delicate part of a plant, fragile due to the amount of energy being dedicated to it. From seed to plant to flower, it is this peak energy that we are nurturing our bodies with when we choose to eat flowers. Not surprisingly, they are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

They say that the food on your plate should reflect a host of colors, indicative of the nutrients and vitamins you are about to eat. Some food for thought: borage flowers are one of the few naturally occurring blue food items! Borage flowers have a faint cucumber taste and go great atop gazpacho soup (a tomato based soup).

You can get as creative as you want, but flowers make for a stunningly beautiful garnish. Green salads suddenly pop with color and the flowers can be used to enhance to or imbue flavors ranging from the subtle to the surprising. For instance, nasturtium flowers can be found in a vast range of colors from rich ivories, bursting yellows, intense oranges, to deep mahogany reds, and they have a spicy, peppery taste, most similar to arugula. Their bright and spicy bite is a wonderful kick to any salad. Regardless of your tastes, you cannot go wrong adding edible flowers to salads – flowers already naturally look so good with green!

Another way to use flowers is by stuffing them; squash blossoms are an excellent choice to be stuffed and/or fried. They also have a creamy quality, making them an excellent milk/cheese substitute if you want to make a dish vegan. Lastly, flowers add an incredible dimension to desserts. The delicate qualities of both are a perfect combination. On the farm, we refer to the flowers of ginger root as ‘velvet ginger’. They have large, dreamy white petals with an iridescent sheen that just sparkles. To the touch, they feel velvety smooth and the flavor of them is silky smooth, fresh, with a crisp ginger flavor. Absolutely delicious.

Flowers elevate any dish. They showcase nature at her best and add an elegance and beauty that is unmatched by any other garnish. They are rich in nutrients and they bring life to a dish. Afterall, flowers are key for nature’s rebirth cycle!