My name is Ray

Where do you live?
I live in Hialeah

How long have you lived in the area? 
I’ve lived in Hialeah all 30 years of my life. I have traveled around, but my home base has always been East Hialeah.

Please share about what you do for a livelihood or what keeps you busy during the week?
For the last 14 years I’ve been a professional tattoo artist specializing in Irezumi (traditional Japanese tattooing) although I can do other styles as well. I dropped out of school to become a tattooer. It was a rough road, but somehow my unorthodox approach worked out in the end. I work from home, I have a private studio, and I select clients by referral only. I don’t have a website, nor do I hand out cards. My work sells itself. Traditionally tattooing was done in secret and by word of mouth. I like to think that by doing this I’m preserving old traditions which are disappearing fast in today’s world. And, it adds a level of intrigue that I couldn’t get being out in the open. Plus, it’s nice to not have a morning commute and to be your own boss! Almost forgot, as a side job I draw underground comic books. But that’s more of a lifelong hobby.

How often do you come to the market?
I go to the market every Sunday early in the morning just before it opens. 

Do you have a market ritual? If so, please describe.
My ritual consists of getting my girlfriend and her mom some chocolate chip cookies from Zak the baker, and stopping by LNB Grovestand for tonic and smoothies of course! Occasionally I’ll get a couple breakfast sandwiches from Babe Froman. But I’m usually in and out. 

What’s your favorite thing to buy at LNB Grovestand and why?
Although I absolutely love the smoothies (my favorite is Sapodelicious) my absolute favorite thing from LNB Grovestand hands down is the turmeric tonic. The swelling in my lower back and hands have drastically reduced. I especially notice a difference after I’m done tattooing for the day. I’m so thankful to not be in pain all the time. You have a customer in me for life! 

What have you made with ingredients bought at LNB Grovestand?
I’ve made turmeric rice on occasion. I’ve also made punch with the roselle concentrate that I have also used as syrup for pancakes. Also I really like to julienne the papayas, mix them with carrots and make a butter coleslaw. And I roast a nice chicken over a wood fire to enjoy with the papaya coleslaw. 

What’s your favorite thing to buy at other stands at the market?
My other favorite things to get are bagel sandwiches from Babe Froman and Bulgogi Bap rice bowl from the, I suppose, Korean rice bowl stand. Shamefully I can’t remember the name! It’s almost at the end near the BBQ stand.

I wish the market had:
I wish the market had organic raw chicken. I like to barbecue a lot of poultry. And also, firewood. Cooking poultry and fish with specific types of wood is another one of my hobbies. 

Most-frequented local restaurants and what dish to order:
Well I’m a pretty serious sushi eater and I frequently go to Sakura on US-1 and LeJeune Road. They have a large selection of great rolls but I always order Nigiri only. Which is usually raw fish over rice. I like the salmon belly, toro tuna, lean tuna and eel. I also suggest their excellent shrimp tempura. My next place is a Thai restaurant called Thai Suvi on NW 36 St in Miami Springs. I order the Ginger Snapper and fried rice. And on occasion I’ll also have the Royal Thai Duck. For dessert I suggest the Thai doughnuts. They’re light and fluffy.

For special occasions, I go to: 
My girlfriend Bianca and I like to go to Graziano’s market in Hialeah to buy meats and we just barbecue for special occasions. We’re kinda boring but we really enjoy cooking at home a lot. 

What’s the area’s best-kept secret?
The area’s best kept secret for me was Epicure. Which sadly no longer exists thanks to hurricane Irma. I used to buy a lot of pastries and cakes for birthdays there. A lot of hot foods there were gourmet quality, that unusually, got better with time. I say unusually because when I purchase hot food from Publix for example, it goes bad in a couple days in the fridge. Epicure would last over a week and taste better with time! That place was an institution. I went there almost my whole life. I’m still sad that it’s gone.

A worthy splurge:
A worthy splurge for me is going way out of my way to have ice cream at Dairy Queen. There used to be a Dairy Queen a few blocks away from my house that had been there for almost 40 years! And from one day to the next it was gone. So now I drive almost 30 minutes out of my way to Griffin Road in Broward to have Dairy Queen. I don’t always do this, but there’s a Waffle House next to the Dairy Queen that I’ll eat at first before I have me nice Blizzard. Talk about splurge. And I almost always need a nap after that culinary adventure! Haha!

Rainy-day activity:
Rainy day activities consist of drawing comics while listening to my old vinyls and watching old VHS tapes like Cape Fear or Dune. I especially like to watch Glengarry Glenross or Blade Runner. I’m a weirdo, I just like VHS better. I’m not a fan of DVDs or BluRay. VHS tapes are grainy and I like that old quality to movies. Makes me feel nostalgic I guess.

If you would like readers to be able to contact you, how should they get in touch?
If you’d like to contact me for tattoo inquiries, it’s best to text me at 786-973-1111. I’m always open to discussing ideas about what you’d like to get and if I’m not the right person for the job I can gladly point you in the right direction. I’m here to educate and help not hinder and discourage. Information is half the battle, so think of me as a tattoo mage of sorts. I work Monday through Friday from 7am to 11pm. Please text before calling. I never answer numbers I don’t recognize. Thank You!!!!