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Archive | Winter 2014


A Passionate Pioneer



Through the last four years of publishing Edible Sarasota, certain individuals and memories have become permanently engraved in my mind and in my heart. One particular memory is the day that I met Antonio Fiorelli of Rosa Fiorelli Winery. His calloused, purple-stained hands, his skin bronzed by decades in the sun, and his welcoming smile I will never forget.

On a very hot and humid summer day, I spent an afternoon walking his vineyard—sipping wine, picking grapes off the vine—and became inspired by the purity of his dream. His belief was that hard work was the path to success, and he had the hands to prove it. Antonio shared his passion for winemaking with everyone from his grape-growing peers to the thoroughly untrained. He was the president of a local grape-growing chapter that offers classes and seminars in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Lincoln Middle School now has a small vineyard, where Antonio contributed vine cuttings and time to foster the fledgling viticulturists. Keiser Community College culinary students have assisted during the harvest to learn firsthand the science of the vine and the artistry of winemaking.

Antonio passed away on December 23, 2013, the 39th anniversary of his marriage to Rosa, after whom the family business was named. Thank you, Antonio. You changed many lives and your love of the vine will continue to grow.

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American Diabetes Association



The American Diabetes Association (ADA) offers this frightening statistic on its web page: “Someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with diabetes every 17 seconds.” The association also warns that diabetes is America’s fastest growing disease. Diabetes is a disease that centers on the body’s production of insulin. The Mayo Clinic defines the two types of diabetes as follows: “Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. The far more common Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin.”

Type 1 used to be known as juvenile diabetes and Type 2 was known as adult-onset diabetes. This terminology has changed, largely because a rise in childhood obesity has increased the diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in children and young adults even though historically the disease has been more likely to affect adults over the age of 45.

Type 2 diabetes has been shown to be largely preventable and manageable through a course of treatment and lifestyle changes that read like a particularly ambitious set of New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Eat healthy
  2. Exercise regularly
  3. Quit smoking
  4. Practice good oral hygiene
  5. Drink in moderation
  6. Manage stress

Diabetes can lead directly to heart disease, neuropathy (nerve damage), kidney disease, gingivitis, blindness, high blood pressure, and amputation.

My high school boyfriend had Type 1 diabetes and his mother was always terrifi ed that his cigarette smoking would accelerate the harmful eff ects of his disease. I remember watching with the same squeamish unease when he would light up a Marlboro Red as when he would stick a needle into the fl esh of his fi nger to test his glucose.

I have a friend who developed Type 2 diabetes as a young adult and has since lost 100 pounds and stopped drinking in order to manage his incurable disease. I worked with a woman whose mother had her foot amputated because she developed gangrene as a result of her Type 2 diabetes. states that “More than 60% of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.”

Diabetes is an insidious disease that affects millions of people and there are many millions more who are undiagnosed and have what is known as prediabetes. Prediabetes is mostly asymptomatic and often leads to type Type 2 diabetes if it remains undetected and untreated.

Th e treatment for prediabetes and the best way to prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes according to the ADA is by “losing 7% of your body weight (or 15 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds), exercising moderately (such as brisk walking) 30 minutes a day, fi ve days a week.”

We at Edible Sarasota believe that a healthy lifestyle is paramount to a long and enjoyable life and we believe that it is important to educate ourselves and each other about the dangers that excess and apathy can cause. We support the ADA in its continued eff orts to “fi ght against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fi ghting for those aff ected by diabetes.”



Melissa Ann Brochu Parsons is the manager of fundraising and special events for the American Diabetes Association and as such is the driving (or cycling) force behind the annual Tour de Cure Event. Melissa has been personally affected by diabetes in that her grandfather developed Type 2 diabetes later in life, despite being an active and healthy man.

Melissa took time out of her hectic day of working to save lives to chat with us about this incredible event. Melissa has managed the Tour de Cure Event for three of the past four years that it has been held in Lakewood Ranch. Tour de Cure is the ADA’s signature cycling event and is the largest cycling event for diabetes in the country. Tour de Cure is held in 80 cities nationwide and is dedicated to changing the future of diabetes.

The 2014 Southwest Florida Tour de Cure will take place on March 30. This exciting and inspiring event attracts both novice and experienced cyclists and welcomes anyone who wants to take the ride of their life to help save lives. The funds raised by Tour de Cure support diabetes research, education, and advocacy in support of the American Diabetes Association.

The routes range from 10 to 100 miles and all riders are invited to a celebration after the ride on Main Street in Lakewood Ranch, which includes lunch and live music.

Join the fight to stop diabetes!



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Hooked on Greens



I have a thing for homegrown greens. It started several years back, on Mother’s Day, when my daughters and I helped my mother plant a garden in her backyard.

All summer, we shared in the harvest of fresh herbs, tomatoes, collard greens … oh, the collards! They grew higher than my then-toddler. Mom taught me to cook them Southern- style—flavored with vinegar and sugar and bacon grease—as her mother had taught her. I was hooked.

Soon after, I planted a garden of my own, crammed into my small suburban backyard. Each season it grows a bit larger (it spread to the front yard this year) and a bit more diversified. But there are always collards! Every spring, every fall, seeds or starts go in the ground. And with little effort, they mass produce. One summer I grew so many collards, I was giving them away in bunches, swearing I’d never plant them again.




In the Garden: As I’ve mentioned, this dark-green, leafy vegetable grows well here nearly year-round. Plant collards in the fall for a high-quality crop, and again in the spring for a high-yield crop. The standard variety for our area is Georgia, which can be grown from seed or transplanted right into your garden. When your plants’ leaves are full, harvest them from the bottom up, and the greens will keep on giving (growing new leaves from the center) all season long!

In the Kitchen: A member of the cabbage family, collards are loaded with disease-fighting beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, as well as decent amounts of calcium and fiber. Aside from simmering them in a pot Southern- style (my recipe follows), try using the leaves raw as a wrap, or blanch them and roll them up, stuffed with a rice and meat mixture (think stuffed pepper filling), then bake at 350° for about an hour.

But I do. In the fall and winter garden, they grow among many other leafy greens, including kale, a wide variety of lettuce, and various mustard greens. All make their way into my kitchen, where they are simmered, chopped, or massaged into something delicious and nutritious!


Healthy, Southern-Style Collard Greens

Massaged Kale Salad

Tatsoi, Basil & Feta Quiche

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Through Chiles Eyes


Eric Geraldson and Ed Chiles at Gamble Creek Farm


Ed Chiles’ eyes widen as he peers through his office window at Anna Maria Island’s shoreline.

“I look out at what we’re sitting on out here and I just keep thinking, ‘If I could only make this as good as that,’” he says, alluding to his waterfront eateries.

The eco-minded owner of the Sandbar, BeachHouse, and Mar Vista Dockside restaurants (all under the Chiles Group umbrella) is committed to preserving the island’s past by greenly enhancing its present. That revolution begins with the Earth.

For years, Chiles has been a leading advocate of the locavore movement, which encourages diners to consume locally grown, non–genetically modified food and to understand its story. To this end, Chiles recently signed a lease with the Florida West Coast Resource Conservation & Development Council to re-launch and run Gamble Creek Farm in Parrish, which had been inactive for more than a year.

With the aid of veteran Manatee County farmer Eric Geraldson and supervision from Robert Turnello of 3 Boys Farm in Ruskin (the first USDA-certified organic hydroponic farm in the country), Chiles plans to grow 15 acres of crops and hydroponic vegetables.

Left: Locally sourced ingredients proudly listed at Sandbar Restaurant;
Right: Fresh from the farm salad.

The aim is to pick the fresh produce in the morning and serve it later the same day at Chiles’ three waterfront restaurants. This would be a huge coup for the Chiles Group, not to mention Manatee County’s culinary scene. It would set an example of food integrity and inspire nearby locales to follow suit.

“We are fortunate to have so many natural resources here in Manatee County,” Chiles says. “It’s important to me that we utilize them in a sustainable way that is both good for us to live around and good for the environment.”

Chiles’ second environmentally conscious plan is to host a bottarga caviar operation inside a kitchen at Gamble Creek Farm. This is a business partnership with Seth Cripe, an Anna Maria native and the owner of LOLA Wines in Napa Valley, Calif. Cripe started Anna Maria Fish Co. in 2007 (the first plant in the United States certified to process bottarga). Currently, more than 1,500 pounds of Cortez bottarga is made there through a process of sun-drying and salt-curing local mullet roe sacs.

Bottarga is Cortez’s top export, and it is shipped to Asia for $6 to $15 a pound, only to be prepared and resold locally as a delicacy at more than $100 a pound. Why not keep the production in-country (and in-county) and collect the monetary rewards? That would be an irrefutable win-win, Chiles says. Delving even further into the seafood market, Chiles is seeking out more local options like red snapper and gray striped mullet—two Gulf fish that are equally indigenous and flavorful. This concept is especially important to Manatee County because of its potential, much like the bottarga initiative, to bolster the fishing trade.

The entire effort has been informally dubbed the “Heritage Seafood Project” and its hope is to take native products, educate the public about them, and serve them in an innovative way. Instead of throwing away seafood portions in Chiles’ restaurants, why not make baby-back ribs out of swordfish and tuna, or fry snapper skin like fried chicken breast? Get American patrons jazzed about snapper collars.

Front view of the Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Fish Company Bottarga and Caviar

Left: Ed Chiles tasting a fresh strawberry at Gamble Creek Farm;
Right: Stone Crab Mac & Cheese, a local favorite at the Sandbar Restaurant.

Inform patrons about the health bonuses in gray striped mullet, like the high omega-3 fatty acids, and prepare the fish deliciously smoked, fried, grilled, or blackened. With less waste and new, exciting tastes, the planet and the people in it will stay happier. That’s Chiles’ idea.

“Mullet is who we are. It’s integrated in our culture from the Indians, from before the explorers got here. It’s really not appreciated and it should be appreciated,” Chiles says. “I want to make sure it is more appreciated.”

Once the perception of products like mullet drastically shifts, Cortez and Manatee fishermen will see a boom in demand, Chiles says.

Their fished leftovers will also be shipped to Gamble Creek and buried 18 inches below the surface of the soil to create crop-enhancing compost— a perfect, Earth-friendly cycle.

As the food production takes a more sustainable slant, the décor in Chiles’ restaurants is paralleling the change. Timeworn designs are being modified to efficiently bring the buildings into the future, without getting stripped of their natural charm.

“We’re achieving the look that’s inherent to Anna Maria Island. Its landscaping differentiates us from everywhere else that has that manufactured, cookie-cutter look where they use too many pesticides and fertilizers,” Chiles says. “That’s the pure Anna Maria I love and know from my first memories, from before I can even remember. We want to stay true to that.”

The Sandbar, which is nestled on the north end of Anna Maria Island, has been a generational staple for decades, reeling in regulars for the famous grouper sandwiches and grouper reubens. The address was the first in the Chiles trio to undergo a total design makeover with salvaged terrazzo bar counters, wooden beams, and local art.

The BeachHouse at the island’s south end, just west of the Cortez fishing village in Bradenton Beach, was the second on the redo list. Its overhaul was completed in the winter, and now patrons are back to relish their crab cakes, stuff ed tilapia, conch fritters, and sesame-seared tuna in a fresher, greener atmosphere.

Mar Vista, on the bayside of North Longboat Key in the center of Longboat Village, was originally constructed in 1912, endured a hurricane in 1921, and is now considered one of the 12 oldest surviving structures on the Key. Soon it will receive a facelift (with integrity, no doubt), and boaters can pull into Intracoastal Mile Marker #39 on Sarasota Bay for their Caribbean grouper, steamer pots, and scallops Rumaki.

“We’re fortunate to live where we live and have all these God-given resources we have, so let’s do the best job we can to protect them and enhance them. That’s how I see it,” Chiles says. “I’m just a steward of these places. I have a responsibility to make them the best I can make them. I’ve watched so many generations dine here and I take that stewardship seriously. It’s what fuels me.”

The Sandbar Restaurant: 100 Spring Ave, Anna Maria Island; 941-778-0444;

The BeachHouse Restaurant: 200 Gulf Dr N, Bradenton Beach; 941-779-2222;

Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub: 760 Broadway St, Longboat Key; 941-383-2391;


Stone Crab Mac & Cheese

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Photo by Chad Spencer

January thru March

Bok Choy
Brussels Sprouts
Celery Root
Chinese Cabbage
English Peas
Green Onions
Snap Or Snow Peas
Swiss Chard
Sweet Onions


Tartine Gauguin

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Bob’s Train, the Greatest Chow on Earth

The Flying Wallendas and Flying Cortes family— Robinson Cortes,
Alida Wallenda-Cortes with their three children and sister Aurelia Wallenda-Zoppe,
owner Bob Horne, and “Sarasota’s own” Chuck Sidlow.


Bob Horne is the ringmaster of the culinary railcar.

He is the man behind Bob’s Train—a restaurant inside an antique transport that once belonged to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Guests at the tucked-away eatery find Horne whipping up bacon-wrapped lamb chops with sweet potatoes before relaying tales of Sarasota’s big top history.

Horne, who locals know as the former owner of Bob’s Place in the Rosemary District, is the train’s chef, host, and charmer.

“Today I had a ladies’ group for lunch in the back of one of the railroad cars and I told them the history of the Ringlings. When the doors open, I’m there. I’m in the kitchen and I’m also a host,” Horne says. “People have fun. There’s good food and lots of history.”

The past president of Showfolks of Sarasota (a nonprofit club for those in the local circus industry), Horne learned about the Ringling legacy through his wife’s late grandfather and circus treasurer/board chairman, Rudy Bundy. In 2007, Horne converted a 1960 Pullman that once carried performers cross-country into a dining room and bar, as well as a veritable circus museum with hundreds of photos, posters, and memorabilia.

He knows the anecdote behind each one. Horne also salvaged a 1917 Pullman called the Jomar that, in its heyday, was John and Mable Ringling’s home on the road and the apex of luxury transportation. Volunteers labor from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday to restore this car to its original opulence, in hopes that it will one day be a traveling venue for soirees and shows.

Bob Horne, standing in front of John Ringlings Pullman car “JOMAR”

Private dining section in Bob’s Train

“We want the train to be done in 2017, by the time it’s 100 years old. It will look exactly as it did in 1917 with all the pastel colors,” Horne says. “We rebuilt the roof. I found the stained glass windows in an old horse barn—two of the originals. We’ll be able to restore all stained glass windows to their 1917 condition.”

In 2004, Horne paid to have the rusted, abandoned car (then owned by a law firm) relocated from behind a cement plant north of downtown to an old lumberyard at Third Street and School Avenue. Horne moved 1947 and 1957 Pullmans to the same area.

Together, Horne’s railcar collection is called the Sarasota Suncoast Railroad, and the red, white, and blue Pullman is the main car. The site is located at 2211 Fruitville Rd.—a fairly hidden address that can be found by taking the Fruitville exit from Interstate 75 west toward downtown Sarasota, and then making several detours, twists, and turns.

Clockwise: Aurelia Wallenda-Zoppe enjoying the chocolate spaghetti, a signature dish;
Chuck Sidlow serving up some comedy; A local volunteer working on restoring the train;
One of the many vintage circus posters hanging in Bob’s Train.

“‘Oh my’ is said a lot here when people see the car and all the photos on the wall and taste the food,” Horne says. “The problem is, nobody knows where it’s at. Once they find it, they come back and bring their friends. It’s definitely an experience.”

Sunday brunch features omelets with 30- plus fillings. Lunches are rife with specialties like the M.O.O.S.E. Burger with homemade horseradish sauce and mozzarella cheese, and the marinated artichokes and mandarin oranges with melted Danish bleu cheese. There are also sauerkraut- and-cheese dogs, ham reuben sandwiches, roasted romaine salads, and pesto burgers.

“I try to use food from local farmers and work with local businesses everywhere I can,” Horne says. “Instead of regular tomatoes, I prefer vine-ripened tomatoes. The idea is to make food with the best things that are available.”

Horne recently collaborated with Drum Circle Distilling to use the company’s Sarasota- based Siesta Key Gold Rum in one of his desserts. He saturated a carrot cake with the spiced rum and paired it with hot, spiced peaches and vanilla ice cream. Another decadent idea of Horne’s was to host eight-course, old-fashioned, private railcar dinners.

“This is a chance for people to go back and have something like it happened many years ago,” Horne says. “I’ve even done a private dinner for two where a guitarist played live music for a couple. There was champagne and red roses, and the night ended with an engagement.”

Horne mixes the romance of circus lore with lip-smacking homemade cuisine. Who needs a tent when you have a train?

Bob’s Train hours are 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday (brunch), 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday (lunch), and 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (dinner). Bob’s Train: 2211 Fruitville Rd, Sarasota; 941- 321-5643;;



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Making it Happen on Main



A conversation with Ambrish Piare—whether about his former high-powered corporate career, his current trio of Main Street hotspots, or where he’s traveled and what he’s tasted— always ends on a poetic, philosophical note that far transcends small talk.

Piare is the driven Dutch businessman behind Jalea (previously Sangria), Café Americano, and Ivory Lounge—three swank locales in downtown Sarasota over which he took ownership in December 2011.

Ask Piare about staff management and he’ll delve into the kind of motivational prose that could lift any employee out of deep disgruntlement. Talk to him about food and he’ll describe dishes he has sampled on each continent, with a language so textural and rich it feels like relishing a virtual, vicarious meal.

“I’ve eaten in every restaurant,” Piare says. “I’ve lived a lot and I’ve seen a lot.” Now Sarasota is reaping the benefits of Piare’s worldliness, his palate, and his vast entrepreneurial vision.

When he was only 17, Piare (originally from Utrecht in the Netherlands) began his first company, importing and exporting fruits and vegetables from Asia, South America, and Africa to Europe. He ran the wholesale and distribution operation in Europe and had three shops in which he peddled his products.

Chef Juan Eduardo Gomez from Cafe Americano serving a traditional italian dish.

At 22, he sold the company and ventured into the information technology (IT) industry. After serving as the IT manager for Shell Benelux, he became the vice president of IT in Europe for TKE, a multinational company, in Germany. He maintained that position until 2011, all the while managing other small businesses he had started (enterprises in the fruit and vegetable trade, the catering field, the Indian clothing market, and the IT sphere). “In October 2011 I decided it was time for a change and to enjoy my family more, as I had been traveling six days a week with my job,” Piare says. “I sold all my businesses and gave my notice at TKE. If you’re in the third-largest company in the world, the pressure is 24-7. You become numb. If you have the ability to disable your emotions, that becomes very dangerous. I was too absorbed in what I did.”

So he stopped. His family (wife, Jose, and children Jay, now 13; Ezra, 11; and Sela, 7) was living in Kapelle, the Netherlands, at the time. They had been visiting Southwest Florida for eight years before falling in love with the landscape and deciding to put down roots.

“Our house and all of our stuff is still in Kapelle,” Ambrish Piare says, adding that he and his family recently made a home in Lakewood Ranch.

Ambrish greeting a couple at Café Americano

A selected bottle from Jalea’s wine list

Bartender & manager Silvio Tassotti pouring one of many specialty
cocktails at the Ivory Lounge

Table set at Jalea for a dinner reservation

Gina Rutigliano, manager at Café Americano greeting guests

Dinner specials at Café Americano

On the business front, Ambrish Piare scooped up and re-imagined three addresses along Main Street. He turned Sangria into Jalea in July 2013, enhanced the menu at Café Americano, and made Ivory more sophisticated with a 650-gallon fish tank and a lineup of coveted global entertainment. Jalea became a hub for modern Peruvian fare, with dishes inspired by ingredients from Lima, as well as traditional Spanish tapas. Sangria, which had been a longtime fixture in Sarasota, merged with the local Peruvian favorite Maemi. With a niche Peruvian-Spanish menu brought to life by Executive Chef Ricardo Jara, as well as a remodeled interior, Jalea began drawing larger crowds and wowing new taste buds.

“Sangria was here for eight or nine years and there was no chef, just cooks. Now we have Ricardo who used to work at Maemi and Darwin’s on 4th,” Ambrish Piare says. “That made all the difference, and you can taste it.”

Some of the famed menu items include the Leche de Tigre (a creamy, savory ceviche with a cilantro kick, served in a wine glass); the signature Jalea (breaded mixed seafood with marinated onions, tomato, and corn, served with fried yucca and Peruvian tartar sauce); Chupe de Camarones (shrimp bisque with egg and vegetables); and Antichuchos (beef tenderloin or chicken brochette with Aji Panca, fingerling potatoes, and homemade green sauce).

Café Americano, under Executive Chef Juan Gomez, serves casual Italian eats such as classic frittatas, hot-pressed panini, organic salads, homemade pastas, locally caught fresh seafood, and more than 300 wines. The Speck e Scamorza (sautéed wild mushroom with speck and Scamorza cheese); the Vitello Saltimbocca (veal medallions with prosciutto, sage, mozzarella, and mashed potatoes); and the Lasagna Bolognese (with béchamel, meat sauce, and mozzarella) are among the favorites.

Ambrish Piare, Diego Malatesta, and Masa Ganaja in front of Jalea, Downtown Sarasota

And of course, after dinner at either nearby spot, Ivory caters to the posh partiers and A-listers. The upscale nightclub—reminiscent of South Beach with its chic, modern décor— pulses with progressive urban beats and well-dressed clientele. “Cream Thursdays” feature drag queen revues, and on the week ends resident DJs spin as VIPs pop champagne bottles. Keeping the morale and goals high in a world of exhausting nocturnal revelry can be a challenge, so Ambrish Piare ensures that his employees are always at the top of their game.

“The people who work for me need to be motivated. At one point, I wanted to reach double what we were doing at Ivory. When the staff reached that goal, I surprised them with a trip to Vegas,” Ambrish Piare says. “We had 12 rooms at Caesar’s Palace, three cabanas and VIP service. At that age (many of the people in the service industry are fairly young), they all need a little bit of coaching. They need to believe in themselves and to be pushed. This was a great lesson for them.”

Even with all this on his plate, Ambrish Piare still has bigger dreams for his new home city. He is also financing “Vaudeville,” a variety show that will grace the Sarasota Opera House in the spring with world-class professionals and local acts.

Ambrish Piare’s scope is always expanding. He has left the stresspacked, rapid-paced world of constant travel and corporate demands to connect with his family, be his own boss and live in full color.

“Many people are not able to stop what they are doing in their careers, even if they want to. If you can’t answer the question of why you’re doing this, then it’s time to stop,” Ambrish Piare says. “I was able to stop. I feel sorry for those who don’t know how to stop. The key really lies in simplifying everything.”

That’s where the flavor is.

Jalea: 1532 Main St, Sarasota; 941-955-8272;

Café Americano: 1409 Main St, Sarasota; 941-365-1026;

Ivory Lounge: 1413 Main St, Sarasota; 941-388-7869;


Lomo Saltado

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O’Brien Family Farms

Tom, Leanne, and Shannon O’Brien


On the surface, O’Brien Family Farms seems to be your typical roadside farm stand. Crisply painted white rocking chairs line the porch of the big red barnlike building that serves as their retail area. The front room proudly features classic farm stand staples: The shelves are lined with jewel-toned pots of jams and jellies and Mason jars filled with amber- hued honey.

You can browse the cold case featuring specialty items from local dairies while you wait for a handcrafted milkshake or your madeto- order strawberry shortcake made with homemade yellow cake smothered in tart, freshly macerated strawberries and piles of luscious whipped cream.

Continue through the swinging doors, and you’ll be presented with mounds of produce, most of which is grown on-site and handpicked daily. There’s a little bit of everything on offer. You can browse through earthy carrots and radishes; flavorful corn and Florida sweet onions; leafy red and green lettuce and kale; zesty cubanelle, poblano, jalapeño, bell, and banana peppers; crisp celery and cucumber; autumnal zucchini and yellow squash; sweet watermelons and cantaloupes; luscious eggplants and tomatoes; cruciferous cauliflower in white and violet and orange hues as well as the romanesco variety; and, of course, strawberries as far as the eye can see.

Farm manager, Raul Vasquez inspecting tomato plants

Tomatoes ripening in the tomato tunnel

Hydroponic Verti-Gro system

It’s a stunning selection, especially when you learn that about 98 percent of it is grown right on the farm (everything else is locally sourced from nearby growers—except the garlic, which comes from Georgia).

The diversity of the produce stand becomes even more impressive, though, when you learn that all of this produce is grown on a mere five acres of land. This is where O’Brien Family Farms really begins to set itself apart from other rural farm stands. They use a state-of-the-art hydroponic Verti-Gro system that maximizes their growing power:

The stackable system enables them to grow up to six acres worth of produce on just one acre of land. And the innovation doesn’t end there: They’ve recently installed a tomato tunnel, which encloses their crop in a carefully calibrated greenhouse. This protected tunnel system ensures that they can produce perfect, vine-ripened hothouse tomatoes for the entire seven-month growing season, even when everyone else is frozen out.

Freshly picked strawberries packed and ready for market

But even though the O’Brien family has embraced new farming technology and techniques, it is still very much a family operation.

The O’Brien Family Farms has its roots (so to speak) in another business. Inspired by his father’s vision, Tom O’Brien founded a wholesale produce distribution company called C&D Fruit and Vegetable Co. in the late 1970s. He still runs that business, alongside a team that includes his brothers David and Steve and his brother-in-law John.

In 2011, Tom put his decades of produce knowledge and experience into practice and opened the O’Brien Family Farms next door in order to serve both as a retail farm market and educational center: Tom’s wife, Leanne, oversees the day-to-day operations there and their daughter, Shannon, assists them with marketing when she’s not busy with her own business. Leanne’s parents both work in the retail area: Her dad, Gray, monitors the retail area and keeps the market well-stocked with eggs from local farms and milk and cream from the nearby Dakin Dairy Farms, while her mom, Donna, warmly greets regular customers and rings up their produce.

But the O’Briens aren’t the only family behind this family business. Raul Vasquez is the farm manager, and not only does he seem to fit right into the O’Brien family with a friendly, easy camaraderie, he also has family members of his own in the business. Raul’s brothers Danny and David run branches of the farm in Ruskin and Parrish respectively. For his part, Raul is incredibly dedicated to the farm. He can tell you everything about the produce for sale, from when it was picked to how it was grown to where it was sourced if it’s one of the few items not grown on-site.

Clockwise: O’Brien Family Farms Honey for sale in market; O’Brien family,
with Leanne’s parents, Gray and Donna who also work in the retail market;
rows and rows of strawberries in Verti-Gro systems;
red leaf lettuce; trimming tomato plants in the tomato tunnels.

He’s a passionate advocate for the Verti-Gro system—in fact, he often helps set up home gardeners with their own systems. He firmly believes there should be transparency in the market, and that everyone should know where their food comes from whether they grow it at home or purchase it at the farm stand.

The family-friendly vibe seems to be contagious. O’Brien Family Farms is a huge draw for local families thanks to their U-pick operation, which contains over 56,000 plants.

You can pluck most of their produce right from the pot or off the vine, including their world-famous strawberries. The educational center inside also has plenty to entertain families as well as the frequent tour groups from nearby schools and senior centers.

There is a bee colony right on-site, where the O’Briens get the honey they sell in the retail market and kids and parents alike love peering through the glass to find the queen bee nestled in among her workers. Their commitment to eco-friendly initiatives also translates into great learning opportunities: They use rain barrels to avoid water waste, and kids love filling a bucket and watering the plants.

The O’Brien Family Farms is really a place like no other. While their use of modern farming techniques and pristine retail area express a level of sophistication, at the heart of it they are all about three things: food, family, and community. They don’t grow produce just because it’s a livelihood; they are all committed to helping people eat fresh local produce because it is better for the environment and doesn’t lose micronutrients after being shipped from across the country. They didn’t set up the farm stand just to sell their produce; they genuinely care about educating people about where food comes from and facilitating ways for even the most novice gardeners to begin growing their own food.

Logistically speaking, the O’Briens have quite the empire on their hands. But at the end of the day, they built it so they could all work together day in and day out doing something they believe in. Be sure to stop by and visit them. They’ll welcome you into their family, too.

The O’Brien Family Farms is located at 16505 E State Road 64 in Bradenton. The farm stand will remain open throughout the growing season 10am–5pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 9am–4pm on Saturdays, and 10am–3pm on Sundays. They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, call 941-896-4811 or visit


Kristine’s Balsamic Citrus Spice Strawberry Reduction

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Bradenton Farmers’ Market Blends Tradition and Innovation



Over the past few years, downtown Bradenton has been quietly going through a renaissance.

Historic buildings like the Pink Palace have found new life through renovations that bring them into the modern era while still maintaining the historical elements that make them special and unique. The Riverwalk has transformed the shoreline of the Manatee River into a functionally designed community gathering space full of public art, beautifully integrated natural components, family-friendly gathering spots, and entertainment venues including a pavilion and an amphitheater.

And at the center of everything is fantastic local food, thanks in large part to the hidden gem that is the Downtown Bradenton Farmers’ Market.

Though the Bradenton Farmers’ Market has been around off and on for almost 30 years, it has recently gone through a rebirth of its own. This year John Matthews of the Suncoast Food Alliance (an endeavor dedicated to meeting the demand for locally grown products) and Realize Bradenton (a nonprofit organization committed to preserving and promoting the culture of the downtown area) have joined forces to bring this wellloved market to a whole new level. In a way their efforts mirror the changing downtown area: They are preserving beloved traditions while bringing modern twists with multi-generational appeal.

The Bradenton Farmers’ Market currently features about 40 vendors, though that number is growing by the week. People like the folks at Sheppard Farms, who have served homegrown produce like okra and hand-shelled peas at the market for 17 years embody the venue’s proud history, while newer growers like urban farmer Michelle Silva at Passion for Produce represent the ever-evolving innovation found in the sustainable food scene.

The market has strict guidelines for its farmers: They must produce 60 percent of what is displayed in their booth, and any other wares must be sourced from area growers within 50 miles of the vendor’s own farm. All vendors must be able to identify not only the product they sell, but also the farming practices used and the date of harvest.

This level of scrutiny is not meant to discourage potential vendors; it’s merely about ensuring that the produce found at the market is of the highest possible quality, and promoting and strengthening the economy both locally and in the surrounding rural areas. In fact, the minds behind the Downtown Bradenton Farmers’ Market pride themselves on being all-inclusive: They welcome vendors to set up for just one week if they have only a limited-quantity product or if they want to test the waters before committing to the season. They also work carefully to ensure that they have a wide diversity of vendors in order to provide a full and well-rounded experience.

Most of what you’ll find at the market is fresh, local produce. While there are some pre-prepared foods and goods for sale including traditional pastries from Old Heidelberg Bakery and zesty condiments from OMG Sanchez Sauces, the powers that be shy away from having too much in the ready-to-go food department. They prefer to point their customers in the direction of the acclaimed, locally owned restaurants in the area like Havana Cabana, Pier 22, and Soma Creek Side. In fact, many of the chefs from these restaurants get produce for their businesses at the market and perform special cooking demos for shoppers on the weekends featuring fresh produce.

If you’re worried that the rainbow of fruits and veggies on display won’t be enough to keep your family entertained, don’t worry: There’s plenty going on to dazzle all the generations. Most Saturdays, Spaghetti the Clown is holding court and entertaining the kids, while parents enjoy live music by an impressive lineup of musical guests (including past American Idol contestants). But ultimately, the organizers really want it to be all about the food. After all, it’s what binds us all together throughout history and across generations.

The Bradenton Farmer’s Market is open seasonally. This year it opened on October 5 and will continue through May 31, 2014. You can find it every Saturday 9am—2pm on Old Main Street in Downtown Bradenton. Visit for more information and to see scheduled events.

Bradenton Farmers’ Market: Old Main St(12th St W), Bradenton;

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Chart a Course to Delicious Dockside Dining

Ophelia’s on the Bay’s sesame blackened big eye tuna with butter poached lobster tail.


Twenty years from now you will be more
disappointed by the things that you didn’t do
than by the ones you did do. So throw off
the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
—Mark Twain

We feel privileged to live in the City of Sarasota, buffeted by warm breezes and surrounded by white sandy beaches. We love traveling the curve of Mound Avenue and taking in the tranquil beauty of boats with white sails bobbing in the bay; cycling over the narrow bridge that leads to Casey Key; rollerblading along Gulf of Mexico Drive towards Holmes Beach; stopping to admire the reflection of the clear blue sky in the cerulean water that laps against the bridge at Coquina Beach. Of course, there’s nothing quite like taking a leisurely boat trip around paradise. And so we’ve come up with a definitive guide to the restaurants along the way that are “worth the sail.”

“Zero Miles to Happiness” at Casey Key Fish House


Casey Key Fish House has formed its own waterfront entertainment destination on a quiet little cove at the entrance to Casey Key. It features an unpretentious atmosphere and a seasonal specials menu that reads like the menu board at a swanky, white-linen ballroom. There’s nothing like docking your boat at Mile Marker 32, eating a decadent bowl of bouillabaisse, and then wandering over to the much-lauded Tiki Bar to listen to live music (Friday through Sunday) and enjoy a tropical drink mixed up by a friendly bartender. You’ll soon be feeling like an extra from the movie Cocktail and the ready smile of owner Jim Von Hubertzo only adds to that mystique.

Casey Key Fish House: 801 Blackburn Point Rd, Osprey; 941-966-1901;

“Nester” Shrimp & Crabmeat Salad in a potato basket at the Crow’s Nest


“As the crow flies” is an idiom meaning the shortest distance between two points, and in the case of the Crow’s Nest in Venice the shortest distance between hunger and pleasure is the short walk from their 200-foot base dock to the stunning view and tasty fare available from the upstairs dining room. Passing through the cozy dark interior of the downstairs dining room I am reminded of an inn from a bygone era serving whiskey and hearty stews to the likes of Ernest Hemingway. The contrast is striking from the hustle and bustle and convivial atmosphere downstairs to the soothing, tinkling music and large windows upstairs, facing the sparkling waters of the Venice Inlet Channel. The beautiful deck offers outdoor dining and the dinner menu changes to reflect seasonal specials.

Crow’s Nest Marina Restaurant: 1968 Tarpon Center Dr, Venice; 941-484-9551;

Great white shark hanging in front of Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar is a Sarasota landmark.

Renting a Duffy electric boat is the perfect way to enjoy an afternoon or evening at the Crow’s Nest


Check your nautical chart for Channel Marker 6 at the south end of Longboat Key and you’ll find yourself at Dry Dock Grill, a casual indoor-and-outdoor dining experience on ritzy Longboat Key. The fresh seafood is sourced locally and the restaurant’s airy, open dining room boasts unobstructed panoramic views. Dry Dock has a core of devoted regular clientele as well as seasonal rotation of visiting characters—and the staff is as loyal as the customers. Shamron has been working at Dry Dock for over a decade and she’s ready with a recommendation for sinful lobster bisque or the simple perfection of a good grouper sandwich, as well as a wealth of local knowledge. She gestures around her with an expansive smile and shrugs, “This place is the best.” We can’t help but agree as we take in the only live entertainment Dry Dock has on offer: playfully cavorting dolphins.

Dry Dock Waterfront Grill: 412 Gulf of Mexico Dr, Longboat Key; 941-383-0102;

Sunset view at Marina Jack


We’d be remiss if we didn’t include Sarasota’s premier waterfront dining destination, Marina Jack. Located in the heart of downtown Sarasota, Marina Jack affords visitors three different dining options—all with stunning views of Sarasota’s sunsets, which are as unique and exquisite as individual snowflakes but far more colorful. Baskets of tortilla chips and addictive fresh, sweet salsa paired with margaritas and island music conspire to re-create the feel of the leisure deck of a fabulous cruise ship island hopping in the Bahamas. Marina Jack offers dining cruises, private dinner boat excursions, live music, and two restaurant docks located at Mile Markers 8A and 10. Besides all of their private slips, Marina Jack also provides 20 transient slips that can be booked ahead of time for those who want to spend the night in our fair city.

Marina Jack: 2 Marina Plaza, Sarasota; 941-365-4232;

Tuna with Asian noodles at Casey Key Fish House


Ophelia’s on the Bay features a seasonal menu, heavily reliant on fresh, local ingredients, served in an environment that harkens to a simpler, more elegant, time. From the moment you surrender your keys to the solicitous valet drivers and make your way into the cozy interior of this Old Sarasota icon, you’re transported. Wandering through the dark intimacy of the bar and then back out through the dining room and onto the outdoor dining terrace, we can’t help but feel like an honored guest at a private home belonging to a Jay Gatsby or, more likely, a John Ringling. Arriving by boat only adds to the feeling of belonging to another era and increases the already-fragrant aromas of romance and mystery that seem to waft through the air as you sip a handcrafted cocktail and take in the picturesque calm of the bay.

Ophelia’s on the Bay: 9105 Midnight Pass Rd, Sarasota; 941-349-2212;

Relax and unwind with ocean breezes from the Gulf of Mexico at Marina Jack’s Portside Patio


A sign in the water just past Mile Marker 72 warns passersby to slow down for manatees, and the houses situated along the creek can tell you that the peaceful creatures have been spotted here and there over the years. Phillippi Creek Village is home to two of Sarasota’s favorite waterfront dining locations: casual staple Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar and the more upscale, relative newcomer, The Table. Phillippi Creek’s popular menu of fried and grilled fish platters and classic appetizers such as Beer-Boiled Shrimp and Oysters Rockefeller has only been improved by the addition of intriguing, flavor-forward specials such as the Grilled Snapper Tacos, which make Phillippi Creek a good choice for seafood purists and more adventurous foodies alike. There are slips available for both motorized and nonmotorized crafts, so be sure to stop by for a bite as you kayak up the creek.

Phillippi Creek Restaurant & Oyster Bar: 5353 Tamiami Tr, Sarasota; 941-925-4444;

Pull up a chair and enjoy the fun and sun at the Casey Key Fish House Tiki … Read More

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Southside Elementary Celebrates the Harvest

Maria and Wes watering their Earthboxes.

Larsen showing off his cherry tomatoes.


Little green thumbs are growing strong in the Southside Elementary School Eco Garden. They are harvesting fresh produce and—with every shovel of Sarasota soil—digging deeper into what sustainable living truly means.

Located west of the school’s cafeteria and adjacent to the first-grade classrooms, this 6-year-old garden helps students learn experientially about food production and nutrition.

There are 10 plots; about 20 blueberry bushes; crops such as sugar snap peas, chocolate mint, watermelons, and pineapples; as well as rain barrels and composting supplies. Jennifer Verhagen, a Southside mother of third-grader Kaes and fifth-grader Kean, became the garden’s chair last year. In December, she helped coordinate an event with teacher John Freeman’s class and restaurateur Sean Murphy (of the Beach Bistro and the three Eat Here restaurants). The Southside students created a sit-down dinner at Eat Here Siesta Key using ingredients from their garden, and Murphy’s team prepared the meal.

“In an effort to teach our kids a deeper meaning of the phrase ‘farm-to-table,’ we worked with Sean to organize a special dinner for Mr. Freeman’s class. Sean had done this at Anna Maria Elementary and he wanted to see how it would work at Southside,” Verhagen says. “We invited the children’s families to come have the meal for the evening. Like Sean said, the kids will remember this for the rest of their lives.”


The “Garden Supper” menu included a light green salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuces in a house vinaigrette; tomato soup with brochette and olive tapenade; free-range chicken dressed with rosemary and served with garlic chive mashed potatoes and sautéed Brussels sprouts with bacon; and vanilla ice cream topped with caramelized brown sugar crisp for dessert.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn where their food comes from and how to create a more sustainable lifestyle,” Murphy says. “That’s what we’re all about at Eat Here.”

Eat Here and the Eco Garden promote the same idea: to bring food production back into local hands. So why not start with the small ones?


Clockwise: A watermelon starting to grow; Maria and Anna harvesting an eggplant; John Freeman with Jen Verhagen, Dianne Banyard, and his fourth and fifth grade class; Elizabeth tending to her cauliflower plant; Aidan tasting his fresh basil.

“Children’s faces light up when they see a beautiful bud beginning to grow. They get excitement from seeing the colors of the tomatoes and eggplants emerging from the greenery,” Verhagen says. “Children who have never tried broccoli before begin to chew on fresh florets straight from the garden.”

It is an equally inspiring experience for educators like Freeman.

“I really try to inform my students about nutrition by making them more aware of what they put into their bodies,” Freeman says. “I feel this garden will play a big role in creating a society that is more eco-conscious and healthy.”

Eat Here: 240 Avenida Madera, Sarasota; 941-346-7800;

Southside Elementary School Eco Garden:





From top: Kean and Anna sharing their bounty
with Chef Peter Arpke; Enjoying some tomoto soup;
Nick tasting the appetizer; Owner Sean Murphy
presenting the local menu.


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With Norah Jones Holiday playing softly in the background, the perfectly rehearsed lunchtime routine played out like a graceful ballet: Each independent 4-year-old at Church of the Palms set her or his place in anticipation of what homemade meal would be unveiled.

And in an age of rushing, texting, and busyness galore, there was simplicity, love, and thoughtfulness in Miss Ali’s classroom as each child paused to be thankful. Thankful for the sun, for their families, for sharks (of course), and for their food. Food that was prepared fresh, mere hours before, by Sous-Chef Will in the kitchen of Simply Gourmet Catering. Carrying out a passion that was passed down to him from his grandmother, whom he revered as “the best Eastern European cook I’ve ever known,” Chef Larry declares that “perfect food is our passion.” Simply Gourmet Catering specializes in corporate events and special occasions, drawing on Chef Larry’s 25-plus years of culinary creativity and with wife Jamie’s professional, easygoing presence and expertise guiding the way. In between mouthwatering details of savory sauces, Chef Larry explains, “We think of each event as a show … my wife is the producer, I’m the director and the food—the props.”

As Chef Larry chats about the visually stimulating pairing of red and gold and a stunning crudités platter with a feta cheese he likes from Greece, Sous-Chef Will thickens a roux that will complete the festive-looking lunch he is preparing for the preschool just up the road. With obvious respect for the youngest patrons in our community, Chef Larry enthusiastically shows me the nutritious lunch menu he had created, which sustains more than 80 children daily.

With such offerings as Chicken ala King, Meatball Stroganoff, and Vegetable Sauté Pasta, he explains how kids enjoy learning about and trying new foods, especially in a group setting. Then, focusing on his evening menu, he passionately covers topics from the aromatic goodness of his goat-cheese pillows with raw shallots thrown in for a pleasant surprise crunch, to his inventive “tequila spray” offered right before guests pop Caribbean shrimp in their mouths. His love of food knows no bounds.

In addition, they specialize in Green Weddings, promoting that you can “celebrate your dream day without leaving a major footprint on our environment.” Vowing to keep the simplicity of flavor and committed to always evolving and constantly trying to improve, Chef Larry explains how he is always coming up with food formulas. Catch him dishing out his secrets the second Tuesday of the month with Chef Judi on ABC. Be it garlic crostini complemented with a martini or, for the younger set, chicken fried rice with Asian spice, Simply Gourmet has set the stage for its motto: “When you love what you do, it shows.”

Simply Gourmet: 4783 Swift Rd, Sarasota; 941-929-0066;





Snuggled up next to Gilligan’s Island Bar on the main drag of Siesta Key, LéLu Coffee Lounge looks and feels like a longtime island fixture. Surfboards dangle from the ceiling and local art lines the walls. Just down the way you can rent kayaks or paddleboards, in case you’re ready to tackle the great outdoors now that you’ve had your coffee (or your second Bloody Mary).

The door opens at the eye-rubbing hour of 7:30 a.m., while happy hour at the martini bar lasts until 9 p.m., so no matter when you want your buzz, at LéLu it’s always the right time. It seems an ideal island hangout like LéLu would have been standing there when the island rose out of the bay. However, just under six years ago owner Jennifer Smith was slinging shots—strictly espresso at the time— from a single-window kitchenette behind the Rhino Room. (Spoiler alert: Smith eventually flipped the former bar and turned it into the official home of LéLu.)

Smith always had a taste for coffee. Growing up in Tallahassee, she drank it at her grandparents’ breakfast table. A penchant for the earth-brown bean followed her through college studies in dietetics as she bent over class notes at her favorite café.

While she pursued a successful career selling medical supplies, one fateful visit to Sarasota changed everything. “As soon as I got to Siesta Key, I thought, ‘This is it,’” Smith says.

“When I left here just after a week of visiting, I felt like I was leaving home.” She adored the beach and the island community. Ever the coffee devotee, Smith also felt the sea breeze could use a hint of dark roast.

“I went home and I resigned,” Smith says. Six weeks later she was living in Sarasota, and after months and months of tending bar, she felt ready to share her love of coffee with the sleepy islanders. She sourced quality used equipment from the same Tallahassee coffeehouse where she once studied every day, and she stocked a fridge with bagels, cream cheese and Salsalito turkey for her sole menu item. It’s still featured on the much-expanded current menu, which features wholesome “samiches,” “smashed” omelets and all the local ingredients Smith can haul back from the Siesta Key farmers’ market.

Ask any small business owner and they’ll readily allow that eating, sleeping, and breathing your enterprise is key to keeping it afloat. So it makes more than sense when Smith admits that, yes—she is LéLu. The café has Smith’s prints all over it, from the carrot cake made from her mom’s secret recipe to Smith’s own longboard hanging on the wall. LéLu Coffee Lounge has inherited Smith’s laidback attitude, her sunny disposition, and her tenacity most of all.

Lelu Coffee Lounge: 5251 Ocean Blvd, Sarasota; 941-346-5358;




Healthy produce is now feeding some of Sarasota County’s hungriest residents.

This year, All Faiths Food Bank’s newly launched mobile farm market called Sprout plans to deliver 64,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need. It is a blessing to the undernourished, as well as a testament to the local organization’s commitment to nutrition-based good will.

“We are committed to providing healthy food and nutrition education to the families we serve,” says Sandra Frank, executive director of All Faiths, which distributed 6.2 million pounds of food (equating to 5.2 million meals) through 195 pantries, soup kitchens, churches, community centers, and programs last year. All Faiths is a member of Feeding America and the heart of the hunger relief system in DeSoto and Sarasota counties.

And its pioneering Sprout is growing fast. The first of its kind in the area, the custom-made, climate-controlled market is equipped with refrigeration, food storage, display shelves, and a remote-operated awning that provides shade in parking lots.

Clients, who would otherwise have limited access to garden-fresh groceries, can use vouchers to choose free fruits and vegetables for their families. In essence, when members of the public cannot get to the produce, Sprout brings the produce right to them.

A tasting table lets clients sample a dish prepared with the day’s featured produce, and a free recipe that incorporates the ingredients teaches them to make the dish at home. The … Read More

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foodThotWin14It’s a new year, and with that we celebrate our 20th issue. It is a milestone not just for us but for the entire Sarasota, Charlotte, and Bradenton area community. Reflecting on the past 19 issues, quite a bit has happened. The journey of the last four years is your story.

This has all happened thanks to you, the people and organizations who have dug in, cooked, fished, organized, and sown the seeds for a better and more sustainable food future for our community and, in turn, our world. Local food deserves our attention but also offers cultural, environmental, economic, and health benefits—and did I mention that it tastes better? In each issue of Edible Sarasota we hope that you will be inspired to try new recipes, visit local businesses, and become an active, or more active, member of your local food community.

It’s that time of year for the Local Hero Awards. Here’s your opportunity to recognize the hard work your favorite food and farming organizations and businesses have put into championing farm-fresh, locally produced food in your community. Edible Sarasota’s annual Local Hero Awards are “people’s choice” awards, nominated and voted on by you, our readers, which make these awards all the more meaningful to the recipients. Visit our website to learn more and cast your votes. The winners will be profiled in the Spring issue of Edible Sarasota.

This issue is loaded with inspiration to start your new year. One of the most powerful experiences for me was watching the fourth- and fifth-grade students from Southside Elementary School share a meal with their families at Eat Here Restaurant on Siesta Key. As I looked around the room, I watched families gathering around the table to reconnect and to enjoy local alternatives to fast food. Young students learning about where wholesome food comes from, celebrating their harvest, and exploring new flavors. Cultivating a passion and dedication, strengthening local economy through food culture was at the top of the agenda.

We need to teach more children how to grow, prepare, and share fresh food and in turn become active participants in their food choices. Each recipe celebrated the flavor of the delicious varieties of fruits and vegetables all grown at their school garden. A big thank you to Sean Murphy, owner of Eat Here, for hosting these families for such a special evening.

So as we celebrate our 20th issue, we say thank you—to our readers, writers, photographers, friends, advertisers, partners, and others—for joining us at the table.

Here’s to a delicious new year!

Tracy Freeman–Editor

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Our hearty thanks to all of our advertisers for their continued support in helping to grow and sustain Edible Sarasota. Please make a point of supporting these businesses and organizations.


Suncoast Motorsports
5005 S Tamiami Trl


C’est la Vie
1553 Main St

Heavenly Cupcakes
6538 Gateway Ave

Heavenly Cupcakes
5212 Ocean Blvd

Jim’s Small Batch Bakery
2336 Gulf Gate Dr


Elixir Tea House
1926 Hillview St


Food Network South Beach
Wine& Food Festival

Forks and Corks


White Oak Pastures
Po Box 98
22775 Highway 27
Bluffton GA


Sarasota Farmers’ Market
Main St & Lemon Ave

Phillippi Farmhouse Market
5500 S Tamiami Trl


Cutting Loose Salon
8429 Honore Ave

Cutting Loose Salon
1950 Main St

Cutting Loose Salon
5820 Ranch Lake Blvd #112
Lakewood Ranch


Get Fit Fuel
2063 Siesta Drive

Get Fit Fuel
8327 Market St
Lakewood Ranch


The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota
1111 Ritz Carlton Dr


1477 10th St


Ringling Museum
5401 Bay Shore Rd


The Sarasota Manatee Originals


Jonathon Abrams
Michael Saunders and Company
5100 Ocean Blvd


Anna Maria Oyster Bar
6906 14th St W

Anna Maria Oyster Bar
6696 Cortez Rd W

Anna Maria Oyster Bar
1525 51st Ave E

Beach Bistro
6600 Gulf Dr
Holmes Beach

Beachhouse Restaurant
200 Gulf Dr
Bradenton Beach

Bijou Cafe
1287 1st St

Blue Marlin
121 Bridge St
Anna Maria Island

Café Americano
1409 Main St

3900 Clark Rd

1944 Hillview St

Cosimo’s Trattoria & Bar
5501 Palmer Crossing Cir

Drunken Poet Café
1572 Main St

Eat Here Anna Maria Island
5315 Gulf Dr
Anna Maria Island

Eat Here Sarasota
1888 Main St

Eat Here Siesta Key
240 Avenida Madera

Euphemia Haye
5540 Gulf of Mexico Dr
Longboat Key

Flavio’s Brick Oven
5239 Ocean Blvd

239 S Links Ave

Jack Dusty
1111 Ritz Carlton Dr

1532 Main St

Javier’s Restaurant
6621 Midnight Pass Rd

Libby’s Café and Bar
1917 S Osprey Ave

Lolita Tartine
1419 5th St

Madfish Grill
4059 Cattleman Rd

Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant
760 Broadway St N
Longboat Key

Mattison’s Bayside
777 N Tamiami Trl

Mattison’s City Grille
1 N Lemon Ave

Mattison’s Forty-One
7275 S Tamiami Trl

Michael’s on East
1212 East Ave

mi Pueblo
8405 Tuttle Ave

mi Pueblo
4436 Bee Ridge Rd

mi Pueblo
530 US 41 ByPass S

Pier 22
1200 1st Ave W

Polo Grill & Bar
10670 Boardwalk Lp
Lakewood Ranch

Sandbar Waterfront Restaurant
100 Spring Ave
Anna Maria Island

Square 1 Burgers & Bar
1737 S Tamiami Trl

Square 1 Burgers & Bar
5239 University Pkwy

Tequila Cantina
1454 Main St


Big Water Fish Market
6641 Midnight Pass Rd
Siesta Key

Morton’s Gourmet Market
1924 S Osprey Ave #100

Whole Foods Market
1451 1st St


Beagle Bay Organics
4501 Manatee Ave W #105

Sapore Della Vita

Vom Fass
1469 Main St


Global Organic Specialty Source
6284 McIntosh Rd

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