The event started with a reception and presentation by Hunter Reno, Slow Food Board Member, about school gardens. School gardens are Slow Food Miami’s pet project. Slow Food Miami has started school gardens at Alexander Montessori School, Nautilus Middle School, Fienberg Fisher K-8 Center, Bob Graham Educational Center, and Richmond Middle School.
Beautiful garden and herb installations were set up throughout the Sagamore lobby and restaurant. These installations were designed by Thi Squire of C & B Farms. Guests were invited to smell and taste the fragrant herbs.
For dinner, we chose our seats at the Whitehall Restaurant (formerly The Social). The tasting portions on the five-course tasting menu were created by Whitehall chefs Manuel Mattei and Ezequiel Zingoni, along with Slow Food members and chefs Rachel O’Kaine and Adri Garcia of Mise en Place Catering.
All of the ingredients were donated by mostly local producers, including Rock Garden, C & B Farms (herb growers/distributors), Green Railroad Organic Workshop (GROW), Redland Mediterranean Organics (goat milk ice cream), The Market Company (which organizes many of our local farmers’ markets), and the local distributor of Gaucho Ranch, a purveyor of grass-fed beef from Uruguay. The wines paired with each course were donated by Indigenous Selections, a distributor of Italian wine.
I have a sweet tooth, so my favorite wine was the La Spinetta Moscato Bricco Quaglia, which came with our dessert course. Thus it follows that I also enjoyed the strawberry goat milk ice cream tremendously. Redland Mediterranean Organics was selling their goat milk ice creams at the Pinecrest Farmer’s Market this year, and I hope to see them again next season.
Of the savory dishes, I had two absolute favorites: I loved the veal osso bucco with homemade fettuccine and crispy artichokes, as well as the grass-fed beef filet with Parmigiano-Reggiano fonduta and wild mushrooms. The fonduta was just what it sounds like-a rich cheese sauce. Both of these dishes were unctuous and hearty. Although the portions were small, they were also satisfying. For anyone who thinks Slow Food is all about picking at leaves and ending a dinner hungry, think again.
After dinner, Charles Coiner, who is the founder of Rock Garden Herbs, spoke about the Green Railroad Organic Workshop. This project that reclaimed an ugly dead zone located by airport warehouses and turned it into an herb garden replete with lemon verbena, bee balm, Thai basil, chocolate mint, and edible flowers.
I always meet interesting new people at these dinners, which live up to the Slow Food aim of “conviviality.” There aren’t usually assigned seats, which can be intimidating at first, but people are generally welcoming and friendly.