Tuesday night I attended the Tropical Fruit Dinner hosted by 15000 and Paradise Farms. The menu for the evening was birthed from a conversation between Paula DaSilva, executive chef of 15000 [at the Eden Roc Miami Beach] and Gabriele Marewski founder of Paradise Farms. It goes without saying that Chef Paula DaSilva and team did not disappoint but for me the exciting part of the evening was finally getting to meet Gabriele Marewski.
In my book, the Food Lovers’ Guide to Miami & Fort Lauderdale I paid much tribute to The Redlands and all that make up this wonderful agricultural community; so to meet the grand dame of this district was quite a big deal for me. The warm and gracious Gabriele spoke with such pride and a comfortable familiarity about her Paradise Farms that not only made her engaging to speak with but there is no doubt she could sway any adamant carnivore over to the organic fruits and vegetables aisle. I on the other hand did not need any swaying I have been juicing for 3 months now and was beside myself excited about being able to try the likes of Jackfruit, Dragon Fruit, Lychee, Guava, Longan, Passion Fruit, Mamey, and Sapodilla prepared in a variety of different ways from cocktails to salads to a gratin.
Those of you who read my site regularly know I’m not a fan of sweet and savory, I do not like combining the two; it’s a personal palate thing, it just doesn’t work for me. So I was a bit hesitant about the menu in general but nonetheless was open-minded enough to eat and not just “taste”; this sweet and savory convergence of mine had a lot to do with the fact that Paula DaSilva, and Sous Chefs Adrienne Grenier and Tony Velazquez had equal parts in creating the menu and I knew there would be an artistic balance. In their own right each are justly talented and as a team they are undoubtedly a culinary force to be reckoned with. Proof of that is this Tropical Fruit Dinner.
The entire menu was tropical fruit influenced, each menu item was made with or enhanced with a tropical fruit from Paradise Farms. The evening began with passed hors d’oeuvres that were served with two cocktails, a Mango Cucumber White Sangria and a Lychee Ginger Caipirinha. The Caipirinha was outstanding in flavor and balance and was my favorite cocktail of the evening. The welcome reception canapés were,
Avocado Soup Shooters
Grilled pineapple Skewers with Benton’s Smoked ham
Green banana Chips with Ahi Tuna Ceviche
Fruit Jam Glazed and Grilled Quail
Our dinner started with a spicy grilled Watermelon Fruit Salad with feta cheese, red onions, and a mint vinaigrette. Watermelon being a relatively passive fruit with its neutral flavor made this particular preparation ideal and intriguing to the palate. This course was paired with a Passion Fruit Pisco Sour
For the seafood course DaSilva and team prepared a Seared Florida Wahoo served with compressed dragon fruit, a crispy rice rake, and mango puree. I sat at a table of eight and without speaking, each of us tried the items in this course separately then we started eating in combinations. The flavors and textures were reminiscent of a rollercoaster ride, not quite realizing when the exciting drop is coming so you just hold on and ride the ride. This course was paired with a Dragon Fruit Sake
My favorite course was the Charred Skirt Steak with a mamey gratin, wild greens and a spicy green papaya slaw, paired with a Papaya Rosemary Margarita. Hands down we all agreed the mamey gratin was brilliant, none of us had ever had mamey prepared that way; as a shake at El Palacio De Los Jugos yes as a creamy rich gratin no. It was the spicy papaya slaw that converted me; not all sweet and savory dishes are created equal and some are rather exceptional.
For the final course we had a Quad of Desserts, because obviously a Trio isn’t enough. The fruit fest of desserts included Banana Cream Pie, Pineapple Upside down Rum Cake, Mango Cheese Cake and Passion Fruit Mousse served with an ice cold Mango Peach Batida
The concept of a Tropical Fruit Dinner was intriguing and executed in an exemplary fashion as one would expect from the likes of Team DaSilva. The buzz around the dinner table was questioning whether there will be another? Yes there will be other special dinners as far as a Tropical Fruit Dinner, I don’t know; when asked, DaSilva and Marewski politely laughed. I’m sure if enough people call to inquire, they might be persuaded to do an encore. Click here to view the photos from the dinner.
Paradise Farms 19801 SW 320th Street Homestead, Florida 33030
15000 at Eden Roc 4525 Collins Avenue, Miami, Florida 33140