It started with an incredible NYC experience at Blue Hill Restaurant (helmed by Sarasota native and James Beard award-winner Chef Trevor Kunk) with friends Margaret Wise and BJ Creighton, continued on with my ABC7 tasting at VEG in Gulf Gate, and ended with a romantic dinner in Sarasota at Indigenous. Last week, I truly was captivated by fresh, farm-to-table experiences that left me wondering why they're not part of our everyday eating. Not the 13 courses I ate at Blue Hill Restaurant and Farm, of course, but the deliciousness of a freshly sliced radish or a bite of lettuce lightly dressed with lemon, sea salt and a crisp single snap pea--as sweet as nature intended.
I am not advocating anything other than how my generation grew up—fresh tomatoes in the summer; hearty squash in the winter. Why do we seem to have the need for everything immediate? Other countries do not eat what is not in season, nor do they eat hormone-injected chickens with unnatural breasts as large as footballs. Why, for goodness' sake, do we genetically modify wheat when so many are developing gluten intolerance? Did our grandparents get their children sick by eating fresh-baked bread and just-picked peach pie? Why must we fly in raspberries from Peru when they are out of season in the U.S.?
Now, I am NOT a granola bar. In fact, you all know I love a big, juicy burger and a bowl of pasta with pomodoro sauce. Yet as I dined at Blue Hill, shut my eyes and tasted the purity of fresh-roasted beets with yogurt and grains, and felt amazement over house-made bologna—yes, bologna, with grain mustard--I took a moment to pause and acknowledge the simplicity of the ingredients: Delicious vegetables, pure pork belly and almond cake with blueberry crumble and whipped cream.
And back in Sarasota, I felt the same way at Indigenous: There was simplicity of the shiitake syrup that dressed the grilled salmon, the fresh, crisp bite of the kohlrabi salad and the bursting blueberries in the quinoa salad with lavender hone, reminding us all to literally stop and smell the rosewater.
I'll stop here, but I raise a cup of ginger tea to Chef Dan and Chef Trevor at Blue Hill, and thank them for reminding us all how truly fresh food can be not just delicious, but in fact a James Beard award-winning experience.