Barbara & Steven

Where do you live?
Coconut Grove

How long have you lived in the area?
28 years

Where are you originally from and what brought you to town?
Barbara was born on Miami Beach and I was born in Japan – while my dad was in the service.  I moved here from Boston to marry Barbara.

How did you meet?
We met at the La Varenne cooking school in Paris.  She was a student and I was a translator for the French chefs. French literature was my major and in a funny way how I got into this crazy business.

Please share about what you do for a livelihood or what keeps you busy during the week?  
I always have a lot of different activities going at once.  I am a writer and host of several TV shows.  I have a new grilling book coming out called Project Fire. I have another book coming out in Italian in the summer – based on a TV show we taped in northern Italy last Fall.  I am working on another book for next year – on brisket of all things!   We start taping the new TV show, Project Fire, in two weeks.  

How often do you come to the market? 
Whenever we are in town.

Do you have a market ritual? If so, please describe.
If we come with our grandchildren, we usually start with the bubble man.  We bought the kids bubble wands to use at home, but somehow the bubble man does it better. 
Then, we usually make a bee-line for you guys to get smoothies. I am delighted to see that you now have rainbows – because, it’s always so hard to decide which one to get.

We stop at Bee Heaven. We stop at Zaks, and then we cruise through and see what else is interesting to see. 

What’s your favorite thing to buy at LNB Grovestand and why?
The smoothies and whatever tropical fruit you have in season – I like that it changes week to week.  We are really looking for what’s in season. I love what you guys do.  Keep it up. 

What have you made with ingredients bought at LNB Grovestand?  
We always leave the market with the best intentions, but we usually eat our haul by the time we get home. 

Over the years we’ve made lots of things like mango and exotic fruit salsas and grilled bananas with Thai caramel sauce (a riff on something I once saw in Bangkok).

What’s your favorite thing to buy at other stands at the market?  
Anything that Margie at Bee Heaven Farm is selling.  

The best deal at the market is:
We don’t look for deals. We look for local, fresh and beautiful food. I think, one thing that has tripped America up, in the way we approach food, is thinking that it should be cheap and driven by price rather than the quality. So, I would say ‘deal’ is not an issue for us – Quality is the issue for us.

Favorite market story:
Reminiscing with Marc about the early days on the farm.   We met the Ellenbys (LNBs), Marc and Kiki, back in 1990. I was researching for a book (Miami Spice) about the new Floridian cuisine and profiled LNB Groves.  Marc and Kiki became great friends.   I remember Marc pulling up to our house in his truck.  He had brought us a mango tree, a lychee tree and a loquat tree – a little piece of Redland for Coconut Grove.

I remember after Hurricane Andrew – there was a complete communications black out. Of course, that was before cell phones. We knew Homestead was hit the worst. We called Marc and Kiki – and couldn’t get through so finally we got a bunch of groceries and pampers, and baby supplies and we drove down and found them. When we saw the destruction, it really hit me. Thank god they were OK.

Most-frequented local restaurants and what dish to order:
Michael Schwartz is our most serious chef. We like what Michael does because he is really committed to local ingredients – and for me especially, he is really committed to live fire. All his restaurants have wood burning grills, and I think he has been very successful in delivering wood grilled flavor in his food. When you eat his food you really know that someone was burning logs in a grill. We like Fi’lia his new Amara.

We also like, The Petit Mason – Barbara especially likes it because it is so ‘adult’ and has white tablecloths. And, there are no television sets in the dining room – which is hard to find in Miami.  They serve a baby chicken marinated in preserved lemons and garlic and grilled over a charcoal burning grill that’s fantastic. 

You’ll also find us at Stubborn SeedPlant + Food, and Kyu in Wynwood.  

What’s the area’s best-kept secret?
The rye chocolate brownies at Madruga Bakery.  Naomi does something very interesting baking.  She starts with organic grain and mills it at the bakery.  It’s a level of freshness and authenticity you just don’t find at most bakeries.  And, she adds about 10% whole wheat flour to her baguettes and her croissants – which adds more flavor than you ever thought possible.   I rank Naomi as one of the best bread bakers in the country.

Rainy-day activity:
Smoking a brisket. 

The most romantic spot around:  
Whenever we have a free day, we like to go kayaking in the Keys. 

Do you have a family recipe that you would be willing share?  
Buy my books!   You’ll find a few thousand of our favorite recipes there. 

Do you participate in any community or philanthropic events that you would like to share? 
I do dozens of PBS fund raisers across the country each year. My shows are on PBS and it’s a nice way to thank them.

Public television is largely supported by the public.  Some congressman demonize PBS — giving the impression that it consumes as much of our national budget as the Defense Department –  while it’s actually only a minuscule amount.  So, the rest has to be made up by the viewing public and fund raisers.

Why is PBS important to you?
First and foremost because it’s non-commercial.  I try to make my shows educational. I want to give people actionable information that enriches their lives.   A lot of commercial television seems so mean-spirited these days – people get screamed at, abused, voted and kicked off shows  – I’m not interested in that. I like to celebrate food and I like to teach people interesting grilling and smoking techniques. Of course, I want it to be entertaining, but above all educational.  That’s the PBS mandate.

Do you own your own business or offer a service? Would you share a pitch about yourself or company with the community?
I don’t own a business per se.   I’m a writer and I have a new book and TV show coming out in May—both called Project Fire.   Their goal is to go beyond traditional grilling – using alternative methods like leaf grilling, grilling in hay and pine needles, grilling on salt slabs, and directly on the embers.  I grill dishes you might not normally think of (like breakfast and cocktails), so it’s really about expanding your grilling horizons. 

For the Project Fire book release, I’m doing a signing at Books & Books on May 16.   

Is there a question that you would like to ask the LNBs?
How’s the lychee season looking?  

A+W: There are a few flower buds on some of the trees, so we are hopeful! The last three years have been devastating. Hopefully we will get lucky this year. 

Is there a question that you would like to ask the community?  
Not a question, but a request.   Please keep supporting farmers markets, local farmers, and local fisherman.  When you dine at restaurants, ask if the food is local, ask it’s food is organic.  It’s really up to us, as consumers and restaurant-goers, to support the efforts of people like the LNBs and raise the bar of our local food purveyors.

If you would like readers to be able to contact you, how should they get in touch?
stevenraichlen on Facebook