On April 24th and timed perfectly around Earth Day, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden was transformed into an homage to healthy and seasonal local eating as it played host to Slow Food Miami's Snail of Approval Awards.
My husband and I spent several months a few years ago living in Umbria, Italy and what we loved the most was the food and the way it tasted. We wondered why? We learned that in Italy they typically only eat the food that is sourced locally and enjoyed seasonally. We came back with a passion for good, tasteful food and found out about the slow food movement here in the United States.
What is the slow food movement and how did it begin?
Slow Food is an international movement founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986 in Piedmont, Italy. The organization was born as a result of the resistance to the opening of a McDonalds near the Spanish steps in Rome.
What is Slow Food Miami?
Slow Food Miami is a non profit organization with 100% volunteers dedicated to planting a fresher future for children with edible school and community gardens that they plant to encourage foods that are local, seasonal and sustainably grown. This program started in 2010 and is in its 4th year.
What is the Snail of Approval Award and Program?
The Snail of Approval program is designed to guide Miami locals and visitors to food that is at the root of the slow food movement. The nominees are a group of chefs and purveyors that are honored for sourcing food that is high quality, local in origin and sustainable to the environment. Initially nominations were solicited by Miami-Dade farmers, now nominations come from the general public and all nominations are vetted by the Slow Food Miami Snail of Approval Committee.
It is easy in an urban setting to forget where your food comes from and to think of Florida as simply oranges and grapefruits. The Miami Botanical Gardens were a perfect backdrop to so many restaurants, caterers and farms demonstrating dishes that have been sourced locally. Miami’s environmentally conscious chefs lent their talents to raise funds and were in turn celebrated for their “Snail of Approval” recognition, made possible by their contribution to the quality, authenticity and sustainability of the food supply of Miami.
The celebratory evening honored 2014 – 2015 Snail of Approval winners: Meat Market; Basil Park; Blackbrick; Khong River House; Café at Books & Books at The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts; Oolite Restaurant & Bar; Zak the Baker; Daddy Brews; Siena Tavern; Vagabond Restaurant and Bar; Seagrape; and Bianco Gelato. A returning lineup of past Snail of Approval winners included: Harry's Pizzeria; Chef David Schwadron Catering and Event Design; jugofresh; Edge Steak & Bar at The Four Seasons; 3030 Ocean; The Dutch; Lido Restaurant & Bayside Grill at The Standard Hotel; and The Naked Bite.
The 4th annual event also spotlighted the key players on the Slow Food Miami movement – local farms Verde Gardens; Three Sisters Farm; LNB Groves; Swank Farm; FARMfreshMIAMI; and garden-makers Ready-to-Grow.
This year, guests awarded Chef Alex Chang of Vagabond Restaurant and Bar the “People’s Choice Award” for the evening’s “best bite” – his dish; Cobia Tartare with yuzu, avocado and quinoa.
The evening also featured a “Best Bite of the Night” awarded to Chef Paula DaSilva of 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale for her Florida Rabbit Taco with Swank Farm slaw and fermented pepper sauce.
For more information and to find out how you can get involved in Slow Food Miami visit http://www.slowfoodmiami.org/home.htm where you can sign up to be on their mailing list.
( Photo credit goes to Brett Hufziger )