Thighs and Pies and Slow Food Miami Bring Earth-Friendly Comfort Food to the Barnacle

We don't know her personally, but it's safe to say Mother Earth believes eating locally grown foods is preferable to munching on stuff picked before it was ripe and shipped 2,000 miles.

Slow Food Miami, a chapter of Slow Food USA, is on her side, encouraging people to eat greens harvested in South Florida. This Saturday, September 10, Slow Food Miami will host Thighs and Pies. The event will feature fried chicken and a pie contest -- in which the main ingredient in each dessert must be a fruit grown in Florida. The use of other elements from community gardens, including native plants and honeys, is encouraged.

The organization has hosted this contest for the past few years. After outgrowing its former home at the Merrick House in Coral Gables, these earth lovers made their way to the Barnacle Historic State Park, where they also have a garden.

President of Slow Food Miami, Renée Frigo Graeff, says, "We try to connect our community with good clean fair and local food." This is done through planting gardens, affordable education, and highlighting growers at its events.

The pie contest is open to everybody from grandparents to kids. Each participant makes two pies -- one for judges to taste and one to sell. The money raised goes to Slow Food Miami Edible School Garden Program. Says Frigo Graeff: "Right now, we're building 44 gardens in 45 days." The volunteer-run organization is also refurbishing another 37 gardens and really needs money for starts and seeds. Extra profits will go toward fixing up the Barnacle's garden.

This year, they've added a professional category for pies from pastry chefs, bakers, people in the food industry, and cooking school instructors. The judges are big names in Miami's culinary world. Though one is anonymous, the other three include South Beach Wine & Food Festival founder Lee Brian Schrager; Michael's Genuine Food & Drink's executive pastry chef, Hedy Goldsmith; and president of Les Dames D'Escoffier Miami, Ariana Kumpis.

"We wanted experts, and these people love pie," Frigo Graeff notes.

For fans of savory cuisine, there will be more than just thighs. A ticket will get you fried chicken (Tanglewood Farms) made by Sustain Restaurant + Bar and sides -- including macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and drinks -- pepared by Whole Foods Coral Gables.

Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band will play "lively folk" from noon to 3. Frigo Graeff assures, "Kids love them, and adults love them too." Winners will be announced at 1 p.m., and everyone who enters a pie will walk away with something from Breville Appliances.

Get your chicken and pie while thanking your environmental matriarch at Thighs and Pies September 10 at the Barnacle Historic State Park (3485 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove). Tickets are $35 for adults, $15 for children ages 5 to 15, and free for children under 5.

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