Roads to Recovery

The region's organic small farms try to bounce back after Irma.



Irma aftermath:

Most of Florida’s sugar cane crop was knocked down, making it difficult to harvest, while the state’s citrus farmers are expecting losses anywhere from 30 to 70 percent. In our own organic, small-farm backyard, Zenn Naturals in Eustis took a hit to their two high poly tunnel greenhouses, used to protect crops and speed up production, and most of their gardens were demolished in the storm. Co-owner Jenn Schaffner says their micro-greens and tomato starter plants are gone, but “The goats and chickens are fine, and our house is intact.” Their GoFundMe campaign is active now.

Jessica and Jordan Cooper of Sugar Top Farms in Clermont are also raising funds to abate some of the damage from Irma. Their large poly tunnel was also destroyed, as well as almost all of their field crops. They are anticipating returning to the Winter Park Farmers Market on Sept. 23, with produce from their smaller, relatively undamaged tunnels.

Fad Food

You’ll be seeing my overview of new trends in the October Food Adventures issue, but here are a couple of fads hitting the online consciousness that I just can’t resist.

We’re in the midst of Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and even though they occur every year (5,778 of them so far on the historical calendar), suddenly the Internet has discovered Jewish food. There are honey recipes galore (honey signifies a sweet new year as well as the fabled Orlando signature dish), and much about braised and saladed veggies, and breads—oh so many breads! Foods that have surreptitiously slipped into popular cuisine without people realizing their Hebrew roots—like foie gras and French chocolate, stuffed zucchini flowers and noodles, sponge cake and fish and chips—are suddenly recognized and very post-worthy. Reminds me of my menu for Thanksgivukkah a few years ago, when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fell on the same night. Stuffing matzoh ball soup and horseradish mashed potatoes were some of my finest moments.

The other hot topic is soup. But not just any old broth … what’s being called “drinkable soup. Companies like Fawen, Tio Gazpacho and ZÜPA NOMA are marketing smoothie-like bottles (smoupies?) of veggie-loaded concoctions that have become the latest incarnation of juicing. I can’t help thinking of the legendary Jeno Paulucci’s answer to leftover celery in Sanford: the invention of Chun King Chinese food and Pizza Rolls. Too many vegetables? Make soup!   

Tasteful Travels

I was fortunate enough to find three great books that combine exotic travel, fascinating facts, enticing visuals and amazing food, and I feature them in the September issue of Orlando magazine. The books, Katie Parla and Kristina Gill's Tasting Rome, Naomi Duguid's Taste of Persia and Susan Feniger's Street Food are filled with recipes and stories that take you on a journey of the senses and imagination … and now you can have one of them! We’re offering a book giveaway on social media every other day, starting with Tasting Rome today. Simply click here go to our Facebook page, then like and comment on the current giveaway post and you’ll be entered in the random drawing for that particular book. Winners of the three books will be announced in my Savor Orlando column on September 28.

Stay in touch with Joseph at joseph.hayes@orlandomagazine.com. You can access a comprehensive list of his reviews here!

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Savor Orlando

From fine dining to local hot spots, the latest restaurant news, reviews and more.

About This Blog

For the past 20 years, I've made my living as a features, food and travel writer, playwright and jazz producer. I collect odd facts about Central Florida's food scene, such as College Park once being a pineapple plantation; or where to sample local mead (hint: it's in DeLand). I'd rather eat small tastes than a big meal, and my go-to food is noodles.

Find out more at jrhayes.net

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