Any chef in Miami who claims to use the freshest produce in his or her kitchen has at least heard of Paradise Farms. As of last year, owner Gabriele Marewksi said 20 local restaurants regularly ordered from her. Some eateries get only their microgreens and edible flowers from Paradise Farms, but many rely on her to regularly deliver veggies, fruits, and other items. Dewey LoSasso is one of the latter. His regular menu even offers a side labeled "sautéed Paradise Farms oyster mushrooms," so he's full-on committed.
Marewksi greeted us with bowls of fresh, fragrant lychees -- probably the last of the season's stash - -and then gave us a tour of the entire property. We learned about the unique environment where the mushrooms are grown, why she hangs CDs in the greenhouse (you'll have to ask her directly if you want the answer), and what she plans to do with all those jars of dried petals and leaves. (Tea time!)
When it came time to go potty, those of us who had never used a compost toilet were also in for a lesson. A "Bathroom Etiquette" sign was posted near the entrance to the loo: "Pee goes in the little hole. Poo goes into the big hole, followed by one scoop of mulch." Wow. This gal is serious about her farming.
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As far as we know, Paradise Farms is open to the public by appointment only, but guests can sneak in for Brunch in Paradise and Dinner in Paradise, and they can also stay at one of the guest houses -- as long as they keep the meat, cigarettes, pets, and kids at home. And if you ask nicely, Marewksi might even let you swim in her pond.
Now that we sniffed every fruit, tasted every leaf, and asked the staff members so many questions they were probably ready to see us go, we thanked Marewksi, piled back into our vehicles, and headed to Robert Is Here for some serious milkshakes.
Check back tomorrow to learn more about our favorite fruit stand and the place in Homestead serving the best intestine and tongue in town. Seriously.