(New to food blogging, I was unaware that there were such things as food blog events — basically you’re given a task, be that creating a recipe, experimenting with a cooking technique or whatever challenge the event host dreams up. Should you choose to accept, you must post an entry on the theme in question by deadline. By pure chance I came across Food Destinations 2, an event hosted by Maki of I was just really very hungry, and I loved the concept. Where, she asks, would you take a foodie if he/she came to visit? For food destinations # 2, the theme is local green markets.)
Miami to visitors is well-known for South Beach, Miami Vice, celebrity sightings, shopping and clubs, but for its food markets? No. Not really. It’s not like Seattle with its Pike Market or Barcelona with La Boqueria. Food-wise, Miami may be known for a vibrant restaurant scene and good Cuban food but I have yet to hear one visitor ask, even out of curiosity, about its food markets — maybe I need more foodies to come visit me. That’s what made this event so appealing: it gave me a chance to highlight a part of Miami where I usually wouldn’t take any of my visitors.
I asked two friends, one of whom took some of the pictures in this post (thanks Ryan), to join me at the Coconut Grove Organic Farmers Market. The market is located in a lot on the corner of Grand Avenue and Margaret Street in Coconut Grove, about a 10-minute drive from Downtown Miami, where it has been operating for 26 years under the shade of beautiful oaks.
The market is small by comparison to other food markets I’ve visited but you shouldn’t let its size fool you. In that small space, you find a wide variety of foods, from fresh produce staples, to the tropical varieties, — mango, papaya, avocado — organic herbs, nuts and grains.
Much of the produce is grown at Glaser Organic Farms in Miami which puts on the market every Saturday. Whatever isn’t grown there is bought from organic farmers locally or abroad. The farm, which was founded by Stan Glaser, who is always at the market talking to customers and letting them try some of the foods, also specializes in raw foods. It is these products that I find make the market a fun destination for visitors.
The products are made at Glaser Farm and they’re quite interesting. I spend a good amount of time just reading the ingredient lists of many of these treats, which you don’t find — at least to my knowledge — in many places in Miami.
Near the nuts and grains section, a row of boxes with Glaser’s “dehydrated savories,” as they call them, a variety of breads, crackers and croquettes — all raw — can give you a good idea of what I’m talking about. There are so many different foods, you almost feel like buying them all just to get a little taste of each. Take their Curry Nori Crackers, a mix of sprouted almonds and sunflower seeds, garden fresh herbs, celery, fresh garlic, fresh lime juice, sesame, curry, Celtic sea salt, nori and cayenne, dehydrated at low temperatures. Or their Chickpea Carrot Croquettes, round orange wafers topped with sesame seeds, which they recommend with salads or for dipping. Other goodies that piqued my interest in this section were the Ginger Maple Pumpkin Seeds, Golden Flaxseed Crackers and the Chocolate Fudgy Brownie.
Oh yes, I skipped right over those crackers and breads and went straight for the brownies. Also raw, they’re made with hazelnuts, almonds, figs, walnuts, currants, raisins, medjool dates, coconut, raw cacao powder and whole organic Tahitian vanilla bean. Very rich and nutty indeed. So rich, in fact, that a small bite satisfied my craving and I was able to enjoy it for a couple of days.
Here, you’ll also find organic teas, rice, lentils, nuts and spices. I was swayed by the soothing fragrance of the Alfalfa and Mint tea, which I bought for the first time and loved it. Other ready-made products I spotted are called “rawies.” These are small round cakes of blended dehydrated tropical fruits and nuts. You can choose from soft (chewy) or hard. Flavors include: Banana, banana oat, strawberry, papaya, mango and mango oat. I haven’t tried these either, but they seem interesting — I’m telling you, go hungry so you can try a little bit of several things.
As you move from the fresh produce and dried goods, you pass by tables stocked with organic butters — walnut, cashew, almond, macadamia, peanut — and vinegars and oils. Glaser also makes prepared organic vinaigrettes — Mango Passion Lemongrette, Red Raspberry, Tomato Basil, among them — sauces, patÃ©s and a variety of hummus.
Finally, we get to my favorite part of the market, the deli. I like that I don’t actually have to wait to get home to eat my food. I can have some right there. The market has tables where you can sit and enjoy their deli foods. It offers fresh salads with fresh ingredients like seaweed, cucumber and tomato, avocado, corn, fruit. They also serve Giant Nori Rolls (I haven’t tried them but judging from the long line to order them, they must be good.) And for dessert, try their vegan ice cream or raw Tiramisu, Strawberry Shortcake, or Pineapple Carrot Cake.
On that sweet note, a note of caution before we finish our tour: if you’re visiting in the summer, no amount of oak shade is going to keep you from dripping in sweat while you buy your produce, so be prepared. The mint lemonade with honey I picked up really helped refresh me on that sweltering Saturday Miami morning — and that gave me an idea. If during your visit you find it difficult to trade a day at the beach for a visit to the market, try squeezing in a quick stop after you tan. Lemonade goes well with sunny beach days.
Coconut Grove Organic Farmers Market
3300 Grand Avenue
10:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Other Miami markets:
Lincoln Road Farmers Market
600 block on Lincoln Road
9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m
Normandy Village Farmers Market
900 71st Street
9:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m