Farm to the Table – An Evening at Sustain with South Florida Foodies

This past Sunday, my DH (Daring Husband) and I had the chance to meet up with a group of fellow foodies (South Florida Foodies @SFLFoodies) for an evening of local, sustainable fare from Chef Alex at Sustain restaurant + bar in Midtown. All produce for the evening was donated by Swank Farms and the caviar was provided courtesy of Caviar and Caviar.

My DH and I already knew we were in for a treat, having dined at Sustain previously. (see my review on Foodie In Miami)

Luckily, we thought to bring one of the cameras and my DH was able to get quite a few nice shots of the evening’s offerings.

Sustain restaurant + bar
@SFLFoodies Menu

@SFLFoodies Menu


cocktail and bites

Old Smuggler
Cocktail aftermath

‘old smuggler’ aperol/cocchi americano/martin millers gin/orange/blossom water

This cocktail presented an interesting mix of floral/citrus notes. I enjoyed the sweet orange fragrance; my DH not quite as much. He thought the drink was overly floral; I liked that it didn’t taste like straight alcohol or sugar and thought it was the perfect pre-dinner beverage for a warm spring-going-on-summer evening.

Mmmm... chicken chicharrones..

‘tanglewood farms’ crispy chicken skins

Ok, so maybe I now have to say I don’t entirely hate chicken skin (after all, I ate it in Vegas without even knowing and again somewhere else very recently with relish), maybe just 95%. This was great–lightly citrusy from a bit of lime zest; lightly spicy from a dusting of unidentifiable heat. Kind of like chicken pork rinds–deep fried and delicious. These were a big hit with the diners, too, and were devoured almost immediately upon being brought out.

Fried chickpeas

fried chickpeas with herb oil

Not as big a hit–the taste was nice, but these were under-crispy (I prefer mine more like corn nuts), almost impossible to eat politely (no chip or spoons were provided for easy scooping) and were on the greasy side. Not the best of the bunch, by far.

Padron peppers

‘swank farms’ padron peppers a la plancha

Awesome. I think most people were scared that these would be hot, and I was too at first, but they weren’t at all. Almost sweet, smoky and deeply ‘green’ tasting, this was my favorite appetizer. I could have happily polished off a bowl all by my lonesome.

first course

‘surf + turf’

Surf

‘cape cod’ petite oyster/ local lychee jelee/ ‘caviar + caviar’

Turf

‘hudson valley foie gras torchon/ challah toast/ local mango jelee

Holy crap, this was great.

Turf: I have had foie in things and on things, and now having had it prepared simply with the mango as a perfect foil for the creamy fattiness, I have to say I now get it. I understand what drives people so crazy about this particular ingredient. Foie is great on a burger or steak and all, but it’s even more amazing on toast. Geese be damned, this was frickin great.

Surf: The oyster was briny and perfect: the caviar was salty and delicate and the lychee gave a silky almost richness that tied the whole bite together perfectly.

I have the sneaking suspicion that the guys at Caviar and Caviar have created a mini-monster. This was the first time my DH had tried caviar as a stand-alone (he ate his separately from the oyster and lychee), and he now can’t stop thinking about it or wait to taste it again. This was also his first raw oyster, and I’m happy to say he enjoyed it quite a lot.

second course

Tomatoes, Tomatoes!

’50 mile salad’ with local heirloom tomatoes/ ‘swank farms’ purslane/ ‘hani’s’ feta/balsamic drizzle

This is not the same 50 mile salad from the menu–this version was tomatoes, tomatoes, more tomatoes, purslane, feta and good quality balsamic. Did I mention tomatoes? I loved the dish–late spring in a bowl–my raw tomato-hating DH, not so much. He gamely ate a portion, but just couldn’t get through a bowl of straight tomatoes, no matter how heirloom in variety they were. I loved them immensly, though a few were a bit under-ripe.

third course

Tartare-ish

‘swank farms’ eggplant capponata/ sous vide short rib tartare and wasabi foam

This was fantastic. The color of the short rib juxtaposed against it being cooked sous vide was a great contrast. The meat was velvety and soft, looked raw, and tasted of pure heaven. The capponata was a nice touch too, bringing needed sweetness to the dish. The meat when eaten alone was a bit on the peppery side, but when combed with the wasabi (which I think my have been fresh–I got a nice hit of actual horseradish in the back of my mouth) had a great balance. A big hit with the table, too.

**The foam on this dish was not wasabi, it was watercress.**

fourth course

Porchetta!

‘4 arrows’ porchetta

What can I say other than holy crap? This was amazing–a thick rind of crispy, crackly pork skin over possible light sausage and a succulent pork loin roast–porky goodness at its finest.

Better than a picnic fried chicken

‘tanglewood farms’ fried chicken

Well prepared fried dark meat with honey on the side.

***Can you believe neither of us remembered to take a picture?! I can’t either!!***

‘wet fries’

These are the fries from the menu–fresh french fries slathered in bone marrow gravy– oh yeah, you heard me: bone. marrow. gravy. The gravy gave a nice shellack to the fries, and it was all that I could do not to stick my face into the dish.

It's a green, so it's healthy, right?

‘swank farms’ creamed kale

Decent. I prefer my kale with a little bite to it; this was pretty indistinguishable from spinach. Spinach is great, but I like my kale a bit different from it.

dessert

Not your childhood banana split

‘banana split’
1 scoop cookies and cream/1 scoop vanilla/ local apple banana/ housemaid oatmeal & graham cracker crumble/ florida peach compote/ chocolate drizzle/ florida blueberry compote

This was a decent finish. Not my favorite, but I wouldn’t kick it out of bed, and I happily ate every bite. In a slight menu variation, the blueberry was replaced with strawberry and the peach was replaced with I think pineapple, but maybe it was just weird peach on second thought. This was all on some sort of shortbread cookie that looked kind of like a banana peel. Nice, but no foie, caviar, porchetta or wet fries.

All in all we were more than pleased with the meal and appreciated having the opportunity to taste something amazing from a great Chef. My DH and I also enjoyed getting to talk ‘food geek’ with some interesting people and look forward to many more ‘South Florida Foodies’ evenings of gastronomic debauchery to come.

What To Do With A Box Of Vegetables: CSA Box #11

CSA Box 11

3 South Carolina peaches
1 lb. strawberries
6 oz. local Florida blueberries
7 Fair Trade bananas
3 ears local Florida corn
3 portabello mushrooms
5 oz. baby arugula
2 slicing tomatoes
2 Vidalia onions
4 zucchini
10 red potatoes
2 heads broccoli

How I Used My Share

I sauteed the portabellos with zucchini, garlic and a shot of balsamic vinegar for a sandwich

I ate the peaches out of hand

I turned the strawberries and blueberries into a jam with oregano and balsamic vinegar

My DH ate the bananas

I ate two ears of corn with fresh Italian sausage

We ate the other ear of corn with vidalia onion, arugula and potatoes in a roasted potato salad

I ate the tomatoes on sandwiches for lunch

We ate the broccoli on hummus pizza

My Favorite Recipe From This Box

Roasted Potato Salad with Bacon, Corn and Arugula

1 Year Ago

1 pound strawberries
6 oz. local Florida blueberries
7 Fair Trade bananas
1 Tommy mango
3 peaches
3 ears local Florida corn
2 local Florida yellow squash
1 bunch spinach
2 slicing tomatoes
2 Vidalia onions
2 large cucumbers
6 red potatoes
2 large heads broccoli
1 head garlic

What I Made: Roasted Potato Tacos with Corn; Malaysian Curry; Thai Salad; Squash and Egg Stir Fry; Vidalia Onion, Spinach and Toasted Broccoli Risotto Topped with a Fried Egg; Mango and Pepper Rice with Cucumber

***
This will be my last CSA-related post until November. I have made the decision to switch from a buying club-style organic focused CSA to a more local CSA that produces all of their fruits and vegetables in a small urban garden less than 5 miles from my house. This CSA runs from November-April and should provide more than enough veggies to feed the two of us well each week.

The decision comes hard, as I love thinking of new and exciting things to do with the vegetables I get with each share and new ways of wringing every last bit of goodness from each box. I will miss having year-round convenience, but it’s a small trade-off to be able to support a local garden.

The particular CSA I have been partaking of is an organic produce buying club, and while certainly worthwhile, there have been a number of smaller, more local-focused farmer’s markets and CSAs that have cropped up in the year and a half since I first joined the CSA. That, and frankly, since the CSA I joined has been growing leaps and bounds (and expanding way out of Florida), the quality and variety have suffered. Partially from this year’s drought, frost and flooding and partially because the CSA has grown so quickly. Organic is lovely, but I’d much rather support someone right in my backyard producing varieties of produce that aren’t farmed with longevity in mind. I’ll take taste over shelf stability any day.

I will continue to post my favorite recipes (maybe even more often!) and what to do with a box of vegetables as I am able. I have a year and a half’s worth of info to share—maybe even in cookbook format–if I can find the time and/or lazybones motivation.

Roasted Potato Salad

Ok, so I totally forgot to take a picture of this recipe. Here, have a Vidalia onion instead 🙂

Roasted Potato Salad

1/2 lb. small red-skinned potatoes
Canola oil to toss with
1 ear corn, kernels removed
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1/4 lb. your favorite bacon
3-5 oz. baby arugula
1/4 extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. dried cumin powder
1 Tbsp. dried chipotle powder
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Big pinch red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Chop the potatoes into 1/2 inch or so pieces, toss in a little canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast approximately 25 minutes or until browned and cooked through.

While the potatoes are cooking, slice the bacon into 1/4 inch thick batons (or however you like) and crisp over medium heat. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain.

Add the onion and corn to the bacon fat and kick the heat up to medium high. Cook 10-25 minutes or until browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine potatoes with the corn mixture and 3-5 oz. baby arugula in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cumin, chipotle powder, mustard and red pepper flakes. Taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking.

Pour over potato mixture and toss to coat. Taste again and adjust seasonings to your liking. Add bacon to finish and serve.

Serves 2 for dinner or 4 as a side.