Farmer’s market sprouts weekly at Arsht Center

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Local farmers, restaurant pop-up favorites and food artisans have a special place at the Downtown Miami’s Arsht Center on Monday evenings between 4 and 8:30 p.m.

The weekly Farmer’s market, located next to the Books & Books Cafe at 1300 Biscayne Blvd., features a variety of the freshest locally grown produce, breads baked just before the market opens, and naturally made pet food.

Also there are prepared delicacies from inspired by cuisine from the Netherlands, Vietnam, India and Argentina — yet made here in Miami.

At this time, the Verde Community Farm and Market offers fresh dragon fruit, starfruit, mangoes and all kinds of fresh herbs. There is a versatile fruit called the jackfruit.

“Jackfruit tastes like a mixture of pineapple, banana and mango,” said Danny Keira of Verde. “It has these pods surrounding these seeds. The pods are what you eat, but you can boil the seeds, too. They will have a taste like peanuts. Plus, around the pods, the jackfruit contains these threads that can be used in vegan recipes for pulled pork.”

The Verde Community Farm and Market specializes in bringing fresh exotic fruits to the area — fruits like the jackfruit that “don’t exist in stores.”

Lilly Casillas from Laura’s Produce was on hand to talk tomatoes. There were large, beautiful tomatoes called “beefsteak” tomatoes on her table.

“Beefsteak tomatoes are more for serving with your mozzarella cheese on toast and on sandwiches,” she said. “Your vine-ripened tomatoes are juicier and are better for cooking.”

She had a gorgeous spread with red onion, beefsteak tomatoes, peppers, papaya, turmeric and other items from her family’s farms. The ginger was large and looked appetizing.

“The ginger comes from our backyard,” Casillas said. “My mother-in-law just throws it into the soil and six or seven months later pulls it out. She talks and sings to the plants, and believe it or not, it makes a difference.”

Local favorites like Keez Beez Honey and Zack the Baker had items for sale also.

Naomi and Sandro Freira of Dutch Amore were preparing delectable and sweet Stroopwafels from the Netherlands. They recently moved to Miami with their bakery and their pastries are prepared right at the market.

“We put the dough in the machine and press it,” Naomi explained. “Then, we slice it thin so we get very thin waffles, and then we spoon the caramel between them.”

The waffles were thin and crispy and held the caramel within two pressed together.

“Everyone needs a little sweetness in their lives,z” they said of the stroop, which means syrup in Dutch.

“The market even has something for the pets. Marian Boaladan spoke of her enterprise, Nancy’s Bakery.

“Nancy is my dog. She is really sensitive,” Boaladan said. “I tried to make her treats that she would like, plus would be healthy.”

She uses 100 percent natural ingredients in her dog treats. The treats are 80 percent meat and the rest whole grain and herbs like turmeric and flax seed. They all are dehydrated at very low heat to preserve their nutritional value and taste.

The Market Company was on hand to answer questions and to assist however possible. Always prepared, Frances Brown supplied the guests with insect repellent and answers to questions about honey. She had a table with Keez Beez products.

“Their honey is raw honey,” she said. “The hives are placed in areas where they have certain plants where the bees pollinate. For example, this citrus variety of honey comes from the area around citrus plants. There is a different flavor to each type.”

There are dinner tables arranged for enjoying the night air, some Spanish guitar by Carlos Andrade and a glass of one’s favorite beverage.

Free parking is available across the street in Lot C on NE Second Avenue between 12th and 13th streets.

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