Monday, January 28, 2013

Girls Getaway to Sarasota - Berries, Dairies & Vino

The next morning was an early one as we traveled to the Sarasota Farmers Market to stroll through the stands of locally farmed produce and crafts.  We all loaded up on some fresh coffee and grabbed a bite to eat to get our day started.  We found there is something for everyone as this market is a weekend ritual for locals and visitors alike.  

We then visited O’Brien Family Farms, a diversified company that engages in both the retail and wholesale agricultural operations that has been in the agriculture business since 1946.  They grow yellow
squash, Florida sweet onions, golden zucchini, zucchini, melons, cucumbers, sunflowers, eggplant, tomatoes and specialty peppers such as cubanelles, poblanos, jalapenos, banana peppers, strawberries, blueberries and more. They hand-pick the crops daily and sell them in the on-site retail location.  They provided a tour of this family-owned operation,  a sample some of their strawberry shortcake and an opportunity to pick some fresh berries.

Our next stop, during our argitourism tour, was Dakin Dairy Farm.  As a multigenerational Florida dairy farming family, the Dakins produce superior quality, wholesome, farm fresh dairy products from healthy cows using environmentally sustainable practices and state-of-the- art methods.  They also offer farm tours that provide a unique experience and memories that will last a lifetime. Visitors learn "Where Milk Comes From," get to watch milk travel from the cow to the bottle, and taste fresh Dakin milk.  Kids love the hay ride, corn maze, petting zoo area, picnic/playground, fossil dig and pig races the Dakins have on site. 

After our morning spent on the farm, it was time for lunch to savor some of the agricultural products we had seen.  The Forks & Corks University Wine Luncheon took place at Michael’s on East where four courses were designed and prepared by local, independently-owned restaurants and paired with wine from around the world.  Our palette was tantalized by the Root Beer Braised Short Ribs served over Cheesy Stone Ground Grits presented by Crow’s Nest, the Seared Scallop with Chipotle Slaw finished with Grilled Pineapple Relish presented by Bijou Cafe, the Mini Crab Fritter and Cactus Salad with Queso Blanco presented by Savory Street and Tres Leches presented by Ceviche as the Grand Finale!    

Following lunch, we attended the afternoon educational session sampling and learning about the "BIG Reds” from the most popular growing regions of the globe for the “Big, Red & Beautiful” panel discussion and tasting.

After a lot of wine, Amber, Megan and I wanted to visit Siesta Key Beach.  Famous for its white sandy beaches, clear warm waters and authentic beach town feel, the 8-mile, barrier island of Siesta Key attracts visitors as a favorite place for barefoot sunsets.  We just had to put our toes in the sand of what Dr. Beach named the #1 Best Beach for 2011.

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