Chef Allen Susser's Farm to Table Dinner Series
There was an unseasonal chill in the Miami air, but the heaters were blazing along Lincoln Road as we took our seats along two long communal tables set up at the Café at Books and Books for this past Thursday’s James Beard Award-winning chef, Chef Allen Susser’s monthly Farm to Table Dinner.
The 5-course, vegetarian dinner is $30 pp (with all the wine you can drink for an $18 additional cost) and features a different menu each month. The menu is sourced using local produce from Homestead’s Paradise Farms and Teena's Pride and from Davie’s Marando Farms.
Chef Allen circulated throughout the dinner explaining the dishes and answering questions about the preparation, while the soft sounds of a guitar and persussion duo set the stage for a relaxing evening.
The dinners, which are also held every Monday at the Farmer’s Market at the Arsht Center and monthly at the Café at Books and Books in Coral Gables, have been bringing fresh local vegetarian cuisine to locals and visitors alike for over a year now and many of the 25 or so attendees are happy regulars.
On this night, the menu had a bit of a Middle Eastern influence to it and featured a Quinoa and Swiss Chard pancake topped with fresh tomatoes and feta cheese. The pancake seasoned with nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar was slightly sweet and was a nice balance to the tomato and feta.
This was followed by Zaatar roasted Cauliflower steaks topped with a creamy Cashew Tahini, red bell peppers, and Cilantro. One of the advantages to communal dining is meeting new people and on this evening, we met two lovely young women from Turkey. Both were students at UM, one in the Law School and the other a Ph.D. student in Biochemistry. They regaled us with stories of Turkish food and were excited with these first two dishes, as it felt a bit like some of the home flavors they so missed.
The next two dishes featured favorite Miami local produce items like Spaghetti Squash, Avocado, Celery, Butternut squash and mixed greens.
Served with White Beans or French Lentils, these were filling and good.
Dessert was a Chocolate phyllo-wrapped Baked apple and Walnut Baklava with a decadent chocolate sorbet. A sweet ending to an alfresco dinner. Maybe it was the wine, or maybe the interesting company, but I barely noticed the temperature had dropped to 50 degrees.
And, if you don’t want to wait until next month’s dinner on Lincoln Road (Thursday, February 15), mark your calendars for Market Mondays at the Adrienne Arsht Center as Chef Allen hosts his Farm-To-Table dinners, many with special themes, every Monday night at The Market Monday Farmers Market presented by Urban Oasis Project.
The weekly dinners, which may feature anything from pre-dinner talk on opera to pre-dinner yoga class, are held in the plaza outside Cafe at Books & Books at the Arsht Center with ample free parking. And take advantage of the fresh produce and fruit stands and food vendors offering conch salad, ceviche and Indian samosas and chutneys bordering the plaza to do your weekly shopping before or after the dinner.
A very special evening is in store on Thursday, February 8 in the main center plaza of the Arsht. Join Chef Allen and Chefs Sean Brasel of Meat Market and Cesar Zapata of Phuc Yea for CHEF ALLEN’S HOOK, CATCH & COOK:AN EVENING OF SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD as part of its 2018 Seasonal & Sustainable Original Dinner Series. After fishing for the days catch with Captain Mike Puller and Pubbelly’s Jose Mendin, the creative and sustainable menu will be set and presented to the lucky diners. Tickets are $82 pp with a portion going to Captain Puller’s nonprofit, The Fishing Experience. Tickets are available on Eventbrite link thru http://booksandbooks.com/event/chef-allens-sustainable-seafood-dinner/
Or join Chef Allen in Coral Gables on Tuesday, January 30th for the monthly Café at Books and Books dinner. The Plant-based Menu is posted online where reservations can also be made.
Details, Menus, and reservations for all events are available on the calendar tab online at http://booksandbooks.com/events/
Bring your friends, support local farmers and markets and dine al fresco with James Beard Award-winning Chef Allen.