Thanks to the folks at Driscoll's (thank you, Alicia and Kim!), I tried something completely new. It was sheer coincidence that I ended up having dinner at Paradise Farms, a 5 acre certified organic farm in Homestead, Florida. I was skeptical at best when, upon my arrival, I saw the handpainted "no cigarettes, no meat" sign at the farm entrance, but I ended up having a beautiful evening despite the fact that I was leaving my worldly comforts behind.
Paradise Farms sells their bounty only to local chefs. They grow edible flowers, vegetables and fruit using no pesticides. Upon our arrival, we were treated to an assortment wines from Schnebly's Redlands Winery. I had been to the winery before- and was looking forward to tasting the sparkling lychee wine again. It is semi-dry with a tropical perfume nose. There were a few beautiful displays laden with Driscoll's berries, and it was all I could do not to dig in, but I didn't want to ruin my dinner. Driscoll's displayed the most incredible raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries that I had seen.
Back to the farm, we were treated to a tour of the farms and grounds and an explanation of the use of the composting toilets. Here are some of the amazing fruit trees and vegetables I saw growing as I walked along the path:
Paradise Farms' Dinner in Paradise series takes place monthly. This month, in conjunction with the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, the event was also part of The New York Times Dinner Series, and was sponsored by The Food Network, Driscoll's, The New York Times, Paradise Farms and Whole Foods. What a line up! Chefs Jeremy Fox, Andrea Reusing, Michel Nischan and Michael Schwartz all produced Hors D'Oeuvres, Four Courses and Dessert. Hedy Goldsmith created cookies, candies and confections for dessert as well. Her soft pomelo gelled candy was one of the most heavenly things I have ever eaten.
First Course: Paradise "Farm to Fork" Leaves, Herbs, Flowers, Roots and Shoots with Panisse (Jeremy Fox). With Chenin Blanc 2006 Heller Estate, California (100% Certified Organic Grapes)
Second Course: Heirloom Tomato Salad with Shiso and Shallots. With Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Mason Cellars, California (100% Certified Organic Grapes)
(Photo by Ian)
Third Course (my personal favorite): Ancient Grain and Root Vegetable "Risotto", Golden Chioggia Beets, Rainbow Carrots, Purplette Onions, Micro Greens, Roasted Almonds. With Chateauneuf-du-Pape, LaBernardine 2005, Michael Chapoutler, France (Biodynamic Farming)
Fourth Course: Pan Roasted Local Tilefish, Spiny Lobster Panade, Saffron Nage, Micro Cilantro. With Pinot Noir, Estate 2006, Bouchaine Winery, California (Sustainable Farming)
Dessert: Paradise Farms Basil Infused Panna Cotta with Strawberry Consomme. With Riesling, Graacher Himmelreich Spatlese 2006, S.A. Prum, Germany (Sustainable Farming). Hedy Goldsmith's Cookies, Candies and Confections.
(Photo By Ian)
I am certain that this is the freshest food I have ever eaten, and I have to admit I could taste the love and effort along with the unique flavors of everything! I especially enjoyed the grain and root vegetable "risotto" third course, which had the advantage of being something hardy, refined and absolutely bursting with enormous flavor. With the exception of the cilantro, everything else was indeed unique and fantastic. Seeing as Driscoll's was a sponsor of the event, I was curious as to why berries weren't more prominently featured on the menu- they are so versatile and can add much to savory dishes. Nonetheless, it is hard to complain about Dinner in Paradise! It was such a lovely experience. I highly recommend the dinner series- step outside your comfort zone and step into a little piece of paradise...and the eggs.