Mango season has arrived, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden will celebrate the fruit at its 25th-annual International Mango Festival this weekend.
The fest, whose theme this year is "From Wild to Table," will offer several educational events about mango varieties and the fruit's impact on the culinary world. Noris Ledesma, Fairchild's curator of tropical fruit, is the driving force behind the festival.
"The concept was to celebrate the mango and its diversity, versatility, and international appeal," Ledesma says. "This event has been held each July for the last 25 years, during the height of the mango season in South Florida, and has evolved into a highly recognized annual event. We have over 1,000 mango trees, and more than ten unique mango cultivars are offered for sale. The curator’s choice program features cultivars found nowhere else in the world."
The Mango Brunch, scheduled for Sunday, July 2, at 11 a.m., will offer mango-centric dishes from various South Florida chefs. Mark Militello, one of the four original members of the Mango Gang, will prepare "mangomisu," a mango vanilla bean tiramisu made with mascarpone cream, coconut-and-dark-rum-soaked ladyfingers, and caramelized mango. The brunch costs $100 per person for Fairchild members and $125 per person for nonmembers.
The Mangoes of the World display, billed as the world's largest mango collection, teaches guests about the many varieties, colors, shapes, and aromas of the fruit and how they vary by region. Rare specimens will be available for purchase during an auction held at the end of the festival.
Ledesma notes that mangoes are grown in many parts of the world, including Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Indochina, Indonesia, the Pacific, the Indian subcontinent, and the Americas. "We also showcase exciting new cultivars that hold promise for revolutionizing the mango export industry."
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If it's an education you seek, be one of the first to acquire a mango master's. To earn this coveted degree, you'll participate in a special tasting led by Ledesma that pairs mango, wine, and cheese.
Other highlights include a mango taste test ($2 per person), where guests can vote on their favorites, and the premiere of Mango Gose, a German-style wheat ale created for the festival.
Attendees can also visit Mangoville, a mango-centric haven with lectures, cooking demos, and growing tips. "We have featured mangoes from the far reaches of the world — each location with its own unique genetic mix, particular look, flavor, and texture," Ledesma says. "We celebrate not only the fruit, but the culture."
International Mango Festival 2017
9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 1, and Sunday, July 2, at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables; 305-667-1651; fairchildgarden.org. Admission costs $25 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 and up, and $12 for children 6 to 17; Fairchild members and children 5 and younger get in free. Visit fairchildgarden.org/mango