America’s Winter Breadbasket

Unearthing food the way it should be in The Palm Beaches, Florida

When I was a little girl, the best part of New England winters wasn't the ski trips to Vermont or cozy nights by a fireplace. No, for me the best part of winter wasn't winter at all. It was the family vacation to The Palm Beaches, Florida. Sand and sun provided a welcome respite from snow that I looked forward to year after year.
 
But as I’ve grown, I’ve come to learn that this region’s mild winter temperatures are better for more than just me. Here, farm-to-table is a year-round guarantee, and a way of life.
 
A prolific grower of seasonal produce—micro greens, lettuces and vegetables, pick-your-own tomatoes and strawberries, and more—The Palm Beaches shows that eating locally is not just a trend. It's an ongoing standard.
 
To appreciate the full bounty of South Florida, a foodie tour of The Palm Beaches is in order. Follow my weekend itinerary below—the perfect way to taste it all between sun-filled sessions at the beach and pool.
 
Saturday

9 a.m.: farmers market breakfast:
You can appreciate the variety that The Palm Beaches has to offer when it comes to fresh produce and locally made artisan foods by visiting the local green and farmers markets. There are a number of farmers markets on the weekends from October to May, but my favorite is one of the largest and longest running. The West Palm Beach GreenMarket takes place every Saturday in October through April from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Since this one is popular, it's best to get there early for choice picks.
 
You’ll find everything from local fruits and vegetables from Mrs. V's Organics to grass-fed meats from nearby Farris Farms. I make a pit stop for a quick pick-me-up with a hand-bottled cold-brew coffee from Jupiter's Pumphouse Coffee Roasters. Day, kick-started.
 
1 p.m.: lunch
For a quiet lunch with a serious tropical vibe set along the lush coast of the Intracoastal Waterway, I find my way to Guanabanas, an exotic jungle oasis where tables are set among giant Banyan trees with low-slung limbs covered in moss and orchids. Aside from feeling like an island paradise, the restaurant feels good for the soul with its sustainable, local seafood sourcing. Guanabanas serves food from ocean to plate—100 percent of the seafood they serve is from Florida waters.
 

Restaurants on the Beach

This allows executive chef Vinny Trupia the opportunity to make a big impact on the preservation and conservation of local fisheries while also educating guests on the type of fish available to them—fresh and local (in other words: delicious). My favorite dish is a macadamia- and coconut-crusted fresh catch of the day sautéed with Guanabanas own mango-pineapple salsa.
 
6 p.m.: dinner
For tonight’s dinner, I head to Sons & Daughters Farm and Winery in Lake Worth. Although it's a great spot to visit during the day, the best time is in the early evening when the sun sets over the crops. A little later, owners David and Teal lead guests on a moonlit tour through their 15-acre organic farm before serving dinner and drinks to the sound of live acoustic music performed by a talented array of local bands and solo artists.
 
The campfire nights are held every Friday or Saturday on a large covered patio, an open format dinner where guests order from resident chef Oliver Frost, owner of Pizza Paradise. His specialty: customizable, gourmet pizzas baked to artistic perfection in a 900-degree, mobile wood-burning oven. Each one is topped with ingredients sourced directly from South Florida farms and local artisan food suppliers, which he uses to prepare an ever-changing menu of rustic, Neapolitan-style pies.
 
My favorite is the Honey Pie, a combination of spicy soppressata, Florida honey, Maldon sea salt, homemade mozzarella made from nearby Heritage Hen Farm's raw dairy, and San Marzano tomatoes. They pair perfectly with Sons & Daughters herbal honey wines or kombucha flavored with fruits and produce grown on the property, all served on tap from the tasting room and outdoor bar. I'll be sure to stop by in late January, when the farm is ready to serve their version of Florida wine, a neon-pink fruit wine made by fermenting the flowers of a tropical hibiscus plant. With a delicate floral aroma, soft bubbles and tangy-sweet taste, it's a specialty libation you won't find anywhere else.
 
Sunday
 
11 a.m.: brunch
From West Palm Beach to Boca Raton, brunch is all the rage these days, and a number of my favorite establishments are dishing out crazy-sounding breakfast creations alongside bottomless mimosas for sipping on in year-round seasonable temps that allow you to relax outdoors from sun up to sun down.
 
Rebel House in Boca Raton is best known for its eggs Benedict, one of their dishes that changes seasonally. Right now, it's a New Orleans take: poached farm fresh eggs served over goat cheese-infused biscuits with pickled heirloom tomatoes, locally caught Key West shrimp, mustard greens and topped with a savory Creole Hollandaise. Just make sure to wash it down with a Dirty South Bloody Mary, stacked high with house-made charcuterie and pickled vegetables.
 

Breweries in West Palm Beach

3 p.m.: brewing right
I remember the days when there wasn't a single bar serving craft beer in South Florida. Now there are 12 breweries in Palm Beach County alone—and four more on the way. While some, like Palm Beach Gardens’ Twisted Trunk, are best known for their local scene, others are distributed statewide.
 
You can find a little of both in Delray Beach, where Saltwater Brewery serves up to a dozen flagship and specialty brews. I love them for their active conservation efforts, exemplified by the slogan "explore the depth of beer," a statement its Floridian founders use as part of their mission to advocate for local marine conservation. The "edible" six-pack rings are 100 percent biodegradable, constructed from barley and wheat ribbons left over from the brewing process, making them the first environmentally friendly packaging in the beer industry (and sea turtle safe!). One other way Saltwater’s passion for the planet shows is through its sea-inspired names, like the earthy and fruity Screamin' Reels American IPA and the Sea Cow Milk Stout, which features chocolatey aromas and a roasted malt balanced with a slight sweetness.
 
7 p.m.: dinner on the farm
On my final evening of this trip, I’m going for some of the best farm-to-table fare South Florida has to offer, and I stress "best" because it doesn't get much more farm-to-fork than when you're actually forking the food into your mouth on the farm where your food's been grown. That's what you'll get at Swank Specialty Produce in Loxahatchee, a farm that hosts monthly dinners.
 

Greenmarket

Imagine a dinner set beneath the canopy of stars, surrounded by views of a 20-acre organic farm on a mild South Florida winter evening, a warm breeze wafting the scent of clean dirt, ripening vegetables still on the vine, and the tantalizing aroma of whatever the local and/or nationally known chef of the evening is preparing. You've just imagined an al fresco Swank Table dinner, one of many hosted by farm owners Jodi and Darrin Swank. Now in its third year, the Swanks' seasonal farm-to-table dinner series has become one of the area's most popular dining events—even the top area chefs hope for a slot on the schedule.
 
For me, it’s all about enjoying food in its natural state prepared by artists of the craft in a beautiful environment.
 
It’s hard to leave back to New England knowing so many of these specialty dishes, drinks and foods can only be found here in The Palm Beaches. Of course, cravings make it easy to plan my return trip to get my local, farm-fresh fix.
 
Pamper your palate in The Palm Beaches.

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