I have always wanted to visit Paradise Farms, just out of curiosity. It’s only sixteen miles from my house but somehow I never got to it. Then an invitation for brunch appeared all of a sudden and I couldn’t be happier; finally a taste of paradise in a beautiful and peaceful farm.
Well, I was hoping that the food would be good. Many of the restaurants I have visited source their produce from Paradise Farms so the food coming from here had to be good, right? There was no meat on the menu, so that was worrisome for a professional carnivore. Where is the beef? I asked myself. I like fruits and vegetables too so I had a thoughtful chat with my stomach and we agreed to give it a try – if the food was not delicious, it would be al least good for the bloodstream.
Paradise Farms was founded in 1999 by Gabriele Marewski. She grew up in Maryland on a 40-acre farm. The lot was originally an abandoned avocado grove and Gabriele decided to buy it. The love of nature and the land was in her heart since childhood and she thought that she could do something unique with this five-acre space. Once she bought the property, she enlisted the help of local architects and artists to create a sacred place to honour Mother Nature and nurture the generous gifts that spring forth from the earth. Gabriele has been a vegetarian for about twenty-five years and no meat (or cigarettes) are allowed on the farm. There is a wholesome vibe on this land, a benevolent energy.
Before brunch, all the guests gathered for a tour. To give us energy for the walk, we were offered Homemade Pineapple Coconut Granola with Fresh Fruit and a cup of rosebud tea. Granola is something that I am not especially fond of but of course, I had to try this one – it was so beautiful, garnished with rose petals, basil and lovely blue flowers. I was in love after the first bite, so many textures and flavours mixing and mingling and conniving to conquer the taste buds. I surrendered to this granola, on my knees, hoping that the contents of the cup would not ever finish. I have never eaten granola like this in my life.
Gabriele gave us a tour and talked about edible flowers and encouraged us to pick and taste them as we walked. They were mostly pleasant and delicate with the exception of the nasturtium, which had a peppery sting reminiscent of a mixture of mild black pepper and wasabi. She also explained the process of growing oyster mushrooms and the special care it entails, among other things.
As I was getting over the granola-coma, I was wondering what surprises the next course would bring. My little one was with me and was ravenous. Once we arrived at the beautifully appointed table, we were promptly served Blistered Tomato, Baby Kale and Egg Scramble. Was it the walk from the tour that made this apparently simple dish taste so enchanting? It was just scrambled eggs, tomatoes and kale after all but there was something decidedly remarkable that made this humble dish stand out. Each component of the scramble was carefully prepared and seasoned. One bite, with a little egg, a little tomato and a little kale was all it took to make us smile with satisfaction.
The Brassica Green Salad with Shaved Radishes was very refreshing and hit the spot after all the lovely eggs.
The pièce de résistance was the Risotto with Oyster Mushrooms, Fennel and Fresh Pesto. The mushrooms were hearty and substantial, firm to the bite. The rice itself could not be creamier. The special touch in this dish was the squash, which added a bright, sweet, smoky and smooth note to this risotto.
The menu said that the Fresh Banana Bread with Sunbutter was for the kids. I thought that this was utterly unfair as such a fine-looking dish should be shared by all – sliced banana bread was topped with thick slivers of fresh bananas. In the centre of the plate, a sea of purple flowers. On the side, a dark and unctuous sauce they called “sun butter”. As the waiter served the kids, I kept staring at him with a sad-puppy face, hoping that this would melt his heart. The ploy worked and our table was served the leftovers. Oh, joy, what wondrous banana bread it was! And the sauce? I had no idea what was in it, but whatever it was, it was good – very, very good.
The Lemon Coconut Rounds were just as delightful and were quickly devoured. We were also served drinks, a Gingered Pineapple, Celery and Salanova Juice and Mimosas with Nasturtium Flowers. The juice was a little too healthy for me: I could feel it cleansing my veins with each gulp, the ginger punching me on the tongue with each sip. The Mimosa was pure bliss; it was so nice to taste the peppery kick of the nasturtium once again.
Paradise Farms offers brunch and dinner on a regular basis and Gabriele Marewski engages different local chefs to participate in her events. Each of them adds their personal touch to the menus. On the day we visited, the brunch was designed by Chef Sabrina Dora López, who performed magic with the flavours that were presented to us.
Did I miss the meat? Not really. I can become a vegetarian if Chef Sabrina decides to cook for me and make her granola for breakfast for as long as I live.
19801 SW 320th St, Homestead, FL 33030