Sweets & Treats
Ice-cold cocktails and sun-kissed shores that stretch on forever along a crystal-blue ocean. Miami. It’s an alluring vice made up of one part sunshine, one part fantasyland and two parts damn good food. Having lived this picturesque life for 13 years, I know the city well. And I found myself missing my old friend as the gray days weighed above New York City like a bad hangover.
I missed her warmth, yes. But more than anything, I missed the way she greeted me with churros and a cafecito in the morning. How at busy traffic lights she’d offer up a bag of fresh fruit for a good price – that is, if I were lucky enough to catch a red light. Ripe mangoes or lychees, maybe a bag of mameys. At twilight, a classic rum and coke made for a solid, go-to cocktail.
It seemed appropriate to dedicate the fourth issue, which rounds out Island and Spice Magazine’s first year, to the city that always has a sweet treat at the ready.
Our journey begins in Homestead, Fla., a farming town about an hour southwest of Miami Beach. We find ourselves nestled in the middle of a tropical orchard and completely seduced by the sweet aroma of guava. The pink-fleshed fruit, which is kind of like papaya, became our inspiration, our obsession, really, for the issue.
We spoke with Frank Martinez of A.R. Produce, who has seen an uptick in guava sales over the last 20 years. Mr. Martinez credits millennials for the renewed interest in the fruit. He says they’re more adventurous than older generations when it comes to food. Chefs are also giving the pink variety, which is native to the Americas, more attention.
Folks who grew up eating guava may think that there’s nothing new to say about the fruit. And maybe they’re right. But for the story, we look at how guava shifted from being a backyard fruit to being something that is largely imported. A large amount of the guava we consume these days comes from places like Mexico and Brazil. This is a shame since Miami’s tradition of homegrown guava dates back more than 100 years.
Folks we spoke with are trying to tip the scales back in favor of local guava. Whether customers are noticing it or not, fresh and local guava is showing up in their cocktails, their ice cream and their pastries.
We head back east to downtown Miami to speak with Luisa Santos of Lulu’s Nitrogen Ice Cream, a tiny shop that serves made-to-order ice cream. She works with about a dozen local businesses in order to have the freshest local ingredients. She even adopted a local cow, which she aptly named Lulu. (Stay tuned. This story to publish later in the week.)
Lastly, we whipped up a recipe of our own, a marbled guava-and-cheese popsicle. It’s our homage to the classic pastelito, which is a stuffed, croissant-like pastry. For our recipe, we used fresh guavas right out of Homestead. The guavas were peeled, cubed and boiled just past tender. For the cheese, we mixed cream of coconut, cream, goat cheese and milk. This sweet treat will surely have you swooning for cool days and warm nights.
As I write this letter, temperatures in New York are barely peeping into the 60s. And I am waiting, patiently, for the sun to give the Northeast its full blessing. In the meantime, I offer up this issue as a sweet respite.