Last weekend I attended the Whole Foods Grand Tasting Village, one of the many events surrounding The South Beach Wine and Food Festival 2014. I have been a few years in a row, but this year I had an absolutely amazing time. Once you enter, you step into a world devoted to sampling the cuisine from Miami’s top restaurants, stylish wines, creative cocktails, and interactive activities with world renown chefs. You stroll down the big tents to an unending array of scents, corks popping, and yes... drunk people.
I did enjoy sipping cocktails and tasting new wines, but that’s not why I had a great time. In the years that I have attended, this is the first time that many organic or sustainable brands have been present. Also, people seemed to be more receptive to “organic” than before. This time around, people did not look at me like I just landed from Mars when I asked if their products or foods are organic. I chatted with many food vendors and visitors, and we all agreed that the food scene in Miami is improving and the demand for local and organic food is increasing. We may not be up there with super green Los Angeles or New York yet, but we are definitely going in the right direction.
Unfortunately, no organic restaurants were present, but Lokal Burgers and Beer was representing the eco movement as the “Most Green Restaurant” in Miami. There was definitely a big presence of organic wines and spirits, drinks, and some food vendors. Below are some of them:
Food:Lokal Burgers and Beer - If you if like burgers, you must check them out in Coconut Grove or in their upcoming location in Wynwood. They only use 100% Florida grass-fed beef and free range chicken, and source from local farms. They are the first restaurant in Miami-Dade County to use 100% clean, renewable energy sourced from wind and solar power. How green is that? Check out their menu here.
Certified Piedmontese® - Their cattle are raised free of antibiotics and growth hormones, they roam happily on a land managed in a sustainable manner in Nebraska, and the beef can be traced from “farm-to-fork”. As Billy Swain, brand manager for Certified Piedmontese, puts it “Customers today are more educated than in years past, they want to know where their food comes from and how it was raised”. You can shop online here or enjoy it at restaurants like Market 17 or Seasons 52.
Non-alcoholic Drinks:Havana Coffee & Tea Company - Based here in Miami, they make their own coffees and teas and specialize in Caribbean flavors of tea and espresso coffee. The owner expressed her love for everything organic and that love can be translated into their teas. With flavors like watermelon and mojito I am sure this will be a hit. Their downtown location is opening soon but in the mean time you can order online.
L’ Eau Rouge - An infusion enjoyed by pharaohs for their myriad of health benefits, it can be enjoyed cold or hot. It hails from Switzerland and it is made with only 3 ingredients: water, hibiscus and white grapes. It is a tasty and refreshing drink that is certified organic and fair trade. Talk about “flower power”!
Wine and LiquourMionetto - America’s favorite Prosecco brand has an organic version. The grapes for this wine are from a certified organic winery in Treviso grown without synthetic chemicals and fertilizers. This dry but richly fruity Prosecco is delicious and a tremendous value. (Yes it is my favorite) Why wait for a special occasion to drink bubbles like champagne when you can make any day special by drinking prosecco? Well, that’s why I say. You can find it at the Whole Foods conveniently located in front of my apt in Sobe or at all their other locations.
Limoncello di Capri – Take a whiff of this liquor and you will be immediately transported to l’isola di Capri: Sun, beautiful tanned people, pasta ai frutti di mare. The lemons are organically farmed with no chemicals or pesticides with a strict control to know where the lemons came from. Made in small batches, no colorants or preservatives are added to this versatile liquor that can be enjoyed after a meal, mixed with prosecco as a cocktail, or mixed with tonic water for a cooling effect while you are under the sun...in Capri.
Veev - The World’s First Açaí Spirit it’s also the 1st carbon neutral spirit. The acai is sustainably harvested and 1% of Sales goes to to preserve the rainforest. One of the best ways to introduce yourself to VeeV is to serve it on the rocks. It is slightly tart with a sweet side accented by acai, prickly pear and acerola cherry. Use it instead of vodka for savory cocktails – click here for recipes and here to find retail stores or restaurants that carry Veev.
Harvest Vodka – A crisp, surprisingly smooth and easy-drinking, vodka that is certified organic! It works well on ice or in cocktails. It is made in small batches from organic winter wheat grown on a family owned and sustainably managed American farm. Click here to find a store or restaurant near you that carries Harvest.
Qupe Wines – Qupe has made a commitment to sustainable and biodynamic farming. They treat their vineyard as a self-contained, living organism that excludes the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. They produce fine wines like Syrah, Chardonnay, and Viognier. Click here to find the stores and restaurants that carry Qupe wines.
That was some extensive list! I hope you discovered something new to stock your kitchen or bar with. When you choose organic, you are choosing a product that is not only good for you, but for the planet, and you also encourage traceability. Like Chef Jose Andres said during his cooking demo “People of America know where your food comes from”. Wise words my friends.
PS: You may also want to check out: Eating Healthier and Endlessly Organic