|Wake up, taste buds! You won't need a rod and reel for this zesty Mushroom Ceviche from plant-based Temple Kitchen in South Miami.|
Last week, a seed was planted in Miami that will hopefully grow into a big tree, spread roots all over town and yield abundant fruit.
The first annual Seed Conscious Plant-Based Food and Wine Festival celebrated all things vegetarian, vegan and organic through a variety of activities, including a dinner hosted by health advocate Alicia Silverstone (you might remember her as the blond from the film Clueless) and a day-long festival in Midtown.
Since I've recently embraced a plant-based diet -- I hesitate to even call it a diet since it's by no means restrictive -- I ventured out to Saturday's festival not quite sure what to expect. The last time I attended the South Beach Food and Wine Festival, or as I like to call it -- the people-watching orgy -- I felt jaded and unsatisfied.
Not so with this gang of plant lovers.
Seed's one-tent wonder was full of enthusiastic folk with contagious energy. Smiles beamed. No 86 on happiness at this unpretentious event. Many of Seed's vendors were local mom-and-pop business owners who manned their own booths and offered samples of fine product.
And by product, I don't just mean food. If you are what you eat, then natural beauty was definitely on the menu here. My friend was drooling at the site of so much eye candy. I almost wiped his chin with a napkin. Oh wait, that was soursop gelato ... never mind.
|Two of the ladies who run Lunchology, a Miami-based gourmet food delivery service. When you eat clean on the inside, you look great on the outside.|
|To be fair, I couldn't get my hands off this hot guy's vegan "pop," either. Who can resist that smile? Filippo from Eccolo Pops brings Italian ice and gelato tradition to his shop in Downtown Miami.|
But back to the drinks and grub.
To my surprise, there were more businesses advocating healthy eats in Miami-Dade and Broward than I imagined -- a great discovery in a town with agricultural roots. Before urban development pushed plows down to Homestead, South Beach was a fruit plantation. Allapatah was farmland.
The festival's tent was only deceptively small. I thought I'd be there for two hours. I ended up staying five and still didn't try everything. I missed the wine, talks and cooking demos.
What I did thoroughly enjoy were some delicious bites that made me want more. That's right: a culinary tongue tease. For the bed, leave something to the imagination. For the table, leave something for the appetite.
|Spaghetti squash, lentils and curry from Lunchology. All food made fresh daily.|
|The brand name tells it like it is: Pure Brazilian Coconut Water. It's raw with a brief shelf-life. I'll never drink carton or canned coconut water again.|
|Live in a condo? No excuses. Grow herbs in these stylish wine boxes. How? Contact Urban Gro in Wynwood.|
|Basil Park had run out of utensils, which was just as well. This marinated mushroom, water chestnut and cilantro iceberg lettuce cup with homemade sriracha was finger lickin' good.|
|Marcel had me at his exuberant hello. Or maybe the biceps. Definitely the flavor of Badass vegan artisanal cookies, made with spirulina and chock full of bounce-off-the-wall energy. Created by Badass Vegan founder John Lewis.|
|I've always wanted a monk in the trunk.|
|Fruit and Spice Park showed off their exotic specimens. Pay them a visit to see the amazing variety of plants grown in South Florida.|
|Fennel-icious faux meat Italian sausage and dairy free mozzarella from small-batch delicatessen Atlas based in Hollywood.|
|Worth a drive to Fort Lauderdale: Green Bar Kitchen's Walnut Taco (served in an orange bell pepper) and spicy Coconut Soup.|
|The line was long to sample Beyond Meat. I'll have to buy some at Whole Foods.|
|South Florida-based OnJuice makes cold-pressed juices for cleanses that also work well as cocktail mixers or refreshing alternatives to soda. Ginger freaks, try the Lemon Aid.|
|KIND bars was giving away pay-it-forward flowers.|
Seed confirmed for me what I've lived in the flesh the last two months: cooking up a riot of vegetarian alternatives in my kitchen, eating well and abundantly yet shedding pounds. I always loved fruits and vegetables. Now I know they're loving me.
And that's a seed I'd like to see grow not just for me but for the rest of the community.
Seed was presented by Whole Foods. For a complete list of vendors who participated, click here.