Drawn to a tomato picked right from the vine, a small girl breaks its crimson skin with her teeth, its earthy scent and tart-sweet flavor imprinting forever on her mind. This childhood memory of her family's garden inspired Sheila to establish SW Ranches Farmers Market, where shoppers can nibble on samples of the day's harvest just as Sheila did as a little girl. The produce on display is all grown sustainably and without pesticides, whether it is cultivated by Sheila and her crew or brought to the site from local farms.
Patrons can suss out the available options on the market's website in order to plan meals or find something that fits in a factory-defect cornucopia. Shoppers stock pantries with other organic options when available, including cereal, flour, seasonings, meats, and fish. Some summer nights, the market shows outdoor movies with a focus on healthy foods, such as the documentary Forks Over Knives.
Flamingo Road Nursery owner Jim Dezell is used to the surprise on people's faces when they come to the nursery for the first time. "People commonly come in and say, ?Wow, I never knew there was a garden center like this,?" he says. Maybe they're wowed by the park-like landscaping, complete with display gardens designed to inspire shoppers with ideas for plant combinations. Maybe they're blown away at the fountains, statues, and thousands of pieces of pottery. Or maybe they've just seen the pond surrounded by colorfully painted "shops" and palm trees. It's a "true experience" that's as much about shopping as it is about creating "memory and traditions", wrote Today's Garden Center in 2011, when it picked Flamingo Road Nursery as the most revolutionary garden center in the nation.
In addition to helping shoppers navigate the selection of flowers, trees, and other plants, the knowledgeable staff can also help them complete landscaping projects with outdoor artwork, waterfalls, and more. "It's professional advice here," says Jim. "We really try to understand our customers' needs and offer solutions that will both excite them and provide long-term enjoyment." He even recommends people bring in dimensions and photos of their space so the staff can get a better idea of what will grow well there. Flamingo Road Nursery offers delivery and complete installation services. Other garden-centric items, such as fountains and colorful adirondack furniture, give customers more chances to enjoy their outdoor living spaces.
The nursery also hosts an on-site Farmers Market shop, which hosts a large assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, and artisan foods?some of the produce is even picked at the nursery itself. On the weekends, a beekeeper visits the store to explain how bees make honey to visiting kids, using the in-store observation beehive as a teaching tool. On Saturdays and Sundays, authentic southern BBQ including pulled pork, sausage, chicken, and ribs that have been slowly smoked for 5?10 hours are served under the giant tiki hut. The nursery holds seasonal celebrations as well, including an annual fall festival with pumpkin patch and a Christmas festival replete with sleigh rides, Santa visits, and a Christmas tree forest.
John and Danielle Moore made spines the family business. After seven years in practice together in North Carolina, the husband-and-wife chiropractic team relocated to Florida, bringing along an expertise gained from treating thousands of patients. At Live Well Chiropractic, the Moores utilize a whole-person approach to seek out the source of discomfort and bring about full-body wellness or bottom-half jigs.
Ocean Market Seafood's fishermen cast their lines and nets in the sea every day to snag the fresh mahi-mahi, shrimp, and tuna that crowd the market's enormous display cases. Customers can fill bags or 28-gallon hats with spiny Florida lobster ($12.99/lb.), or line white platters with wild-caught red snapper ($7.99/lb.) and live blue crabs ($5.95/lb.) for patriotic feasts. Friendly staffers also pile lunch plates ($6.99+) to curb midday hunger, and oysters on the half shell ($8.50/dozen) make ideal hors d'oeuvres or platforms for Barbie-doll dioramas of The Birth of Venus.
In 1954, Gino's Italian Market's founder, Anthony Paparella, moved from the teeming fisheries of Bari to Hoboken, New Jersey, where he married a fellow Italian and worked as a builder for nearly 20 years. After retiring to South Florida in '73, Paparella brought a taste of his homeland stateside by opening a bustling bazaar filled with fresh produce, succulent meats, and sweet desserts.
The market's commitment to tradition and family can be found in all of its business practices, from its catered feasts of traditional baked pastas and rib roasts, to e-mail correspondences from the resident Nonna that contain expert advice on party planning, recipes, and optimal angles for cheek-pinching. Shoppers consult Nonna Anna and handy recipe guides to concoct rich sauces and tasty entrees from the store's bountiful selection of cheese, wine, ripe tomatoes, and imported Italian goods.
In addition to rounding out dinner plates with house-made prosciutto bread, fresh chicken, and juicy cuts of beef, Gino's graces weddings, desserts, and banquets with custom cakes and pastries.
The Seminole Hard Rock Wine & Food Festival is a new tradition—it started in 2010—but its creators hope to make it a lasting part of South Florida foodie culture. Amidst cuisine from renowned local eateries such as Tatu and Council Oak, guests can relax in several different lounges, from a spa area for women to a men's lounge with a big screen TV. The Caribbean lounge surrounds festival goers with assorted rums and tropical rubs, all cooked up by Chef Creole. Sponsors include NBC 6, Lite-FM, and the Miami Herald, and a portion of the profits will benefit the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Foundation.