Where do you live?
We live in Palmetto Bay.
How long have you lived in the area?
Palmetto Bay for 4 ½ years and Coral Gables before that for 10 years – and The Roads and Brickell before that. I’ve lived in Miami Dade for 35 years.
Where are you originally from and what brought you to town?
I was born in New York city and grew up in many places including overseas and South America. I was brought to town by Rob.
Rob is a physician and had just finished his training. His dad was a physician in Miami for many years, and the idea was for Rob to let his dad have a one-year sabbatical. I had one year left of law school and was admitted for my last year to University of Miami with my degree from Columbia.
It turned into forever because Rob’s father was diagnosed with cancer. We never ended up leaving. Rob took over his father’s practice, we got married, raised two children and love it here!
How did you meet Rob?
We were both living in Atlanta at the time. We had a mutual friend, of Rob’s sister, and she suggested he look me up. Our first date was roller skating in the park.
Please share about what you do for a livelihood or what keeps you busy during the week?
Well, it’s a calling. I am County Commissioner for Miami Dade County, District 8– which covers from Palmetto Bay to Homestead, and west over to Kendall and most of the Redland. It is a beautiful district. I call it the bike district.
We have an initiative called South Dade More to Explore. We have agriculture, national parks, wonderful county parks, great cities, neighborhoods and schools in our district. The only thing we are missing is more jobs in the area, so people don’t have to commute so far for work.
And, of course, your farms are in my district!
How often do you come to the market?
Every chance I get! I love the Pinecrest farmer’s market and I get to see all my farmer friends from South Dade. In addition to LNB Groves – there is Living Color Nursery and Margie from Bee Heaven.
I come to get my produce. I love the ceviche, the bakery, and the ceramic league. I always end up buying some ceramics in addition to the food.
Do you have a market ritual? If so, please describe.
I try to come early and get a spot as close as I can. I always wear a big hat for the sun and hope that I am not too late to get some of Zak’s bread. And, I always hang out with my friends.
What’s your favorite thing to buy at LNB Grovestand and why?
The smoothies are fantastic and refreshing. You’ve got all the tropical fruits and know just how to mix them.
Also, I come for the interaction with you both and Walt’s father. I get a little rabbinical lift, a little spiritual infusion, along with my juice.
(A+W) Many of you know Walt’s dad as a rabbi and poet. Our favorite is when he shares ‘faith fruit’ – the recently harvested fruit you must have ‘faith’ in that they will ripen.
A favorite activity I enjoy with my kids?
My kids are now 29 and 31 and don’t live in Miami anymore. I have a new grand-baby, who’s 6 months old, and lives in DC. I cannot wait to take her to the market when she comes to visit. I know she will love it – the colors, the sights and sounds. She’s going to go crazy from the explosion of sensations at the market.
The best deal at the market is:
We’re not going for the cheapest price, we’re going for the quality. I really enjoy the fresh cheese and items you can’t get elsewhere.
I wish the market had:
I think it’s crowded. There are so many people and so many stands. Crowded is good because it means a lot of people are out and it’s very social – but, I think a few more feet so people could be accommodated more comfortably. Other than that, it’s perfect!
Favorite market story:
Sometimes, at the market, there are social causes. Somebody was there educating about the constitution. They said, I was your intern! Of course, I was drawn to the table because it was about civic activism. It was great to see someone I had helped along their civic journey continue their path.
Most-frequented local restaurants and what dish to order:
In South Miami – No Name Chinese has fantastic tastes. My Ceviche – it’s part of a chain but really good and fast. Old Lisbon for Portuguese food. And, Marhaba for Arabic food.
For special occasions, I go to:
In my district, we go to a wonderful Italian place called Alaine’s Osterilla on 168th and Old Cutler.
Do you have a family recipe that you would be willing share?
I’ll share a specialty of my husband’s family. It’s a Turkish dish called Bamia – which is Okra. You can make the same dish with string beans. Of course, get them fresh at the market.
My mother in law had 5 brothers and each of them grew up with the same Turkish style of cooking. They were competitive about whose Bamia was the best.
Start by sautéing lots of onions, then add tomatoes and let them simmer. After it cooks for a while, add the okra. Let it go for a long time, over an hour – so it comes out more like a stew. Add lemon and serve with rice for a meal. Also, a secret is to add a little sugar when it’s cooking.
What’s the area’s best-kept secret?
South Dade is truly unique with more to explore. There’s the Redland Tropical Trail – that leads you from one great place to the next – from orchid farms to Schnebly’s Winerery.
My favorite local park is the Fruit and Spice park. They have all the tropical fruits native to our area and from other countries. You can eat whatever you find. As food is love, this park is all about tropical love.
On the way to the Fruit and Spice park, is an adorable family place called Phil’s Berry Farm – they have picnic tables under cover where you can play games and there’s even a petting zoo. Sometimes they have planting activities as well.
I am doing a ‘friendraiser’ at Phil’s Berry Farm on April 21st in the afternoon. We invite you to come down and enjoy a fresh fruit shake and cinnamon bun.
A worthy splurge:
I’ll use splurge in terms of time. A worthy splurge is going to Everglades National Park – going all the way down to Flamingo – and taking time to rent a canoe, to go out to the islands, and walk the Anhinga trail. We spend so many of our family together times in the Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park. We’re the only county in the country with two national parks – which is just an incredible bounty.
It’s worth it to take the time and make the drive. On the way, we like to stop at Robert is Here for a shake and the taco stands along the way.
One of the things that I enjoy is making things with shells. On the west coast, Sanibel – Captiva – Fort Myers area, there are more shells than on our beaches. I like to find shells, beautiful rocks, pine cones and other things and decorate boxes. I glue them and spray with shellac. I have made these as presents and it is a fun activity with children of all ages.
The most romantic spot around:
Biscayne Bay in a boat at sunset.
Do you own your own business or offer a service? Would you share a pitch about yourself or company with the community?
I am a late bloomer in politics. I have spent my life trying to build stronger families and communities. I had the opportunity to run for office and could not be happier to serve in elected office. It’s been a blessing to pass legislation that protects the environment, that helps families, promotes women’s equality, gun safety, and bike safety.
I am taking the things that I have spent my lifetime advocating for and putting them into action.
And, I am up for reelection in August and I look forward to hopefully being elected for a second term.
Is there a question that you would like to ask the LNBs?
I’ve been reading your newsletter portraits. They are very enjoyable, and you are building community. I’m excited about your new venture and opening your store. I’d love you to come share with people what you’ve learned and how you are creating value added products. That is certainly the future of keeping our agriculture community thriving. So, my question is: Will you come to an event to talk about your experiences and encourage and inspire them?
A+W: Absolutely! We would love to.
Is there a question or advice that you would like to share with the community?
I have a mantra that I give people about how to be responsible citizens – and not leave your citizenship on the shelf. I offer it as a daily, weekly and monthly dose.
Daily – Keep up on the news. Really know what’s going on and get your daily news from reliable sources.
Weekly – Do something in the community to deepen your connection and understanding of those around you. It could be a fun cultural event or participating in a cause – whether for animals, children or seniors. Find something that helps you know your neighbors and community better.
Monthly – Take action. Use your voice to let others know what you care about. Write a letter, call an elected official or go to a community meeting or hearing where you can speak out. Take your passions and put them into action.
Of course, if you are eligible to vote – Vote.