October 20, 2013

Fruit & Spice Park and Miami Dolphins Game

This weekend we checked out GrowFest at Redland Fruit & Spice Park and attended our first professional football game.  Both experiences were fun, but could have been so much better with cooler weather. 

GrowFest kicked of the growing season here in South Florida and was held at a 37-acre park which according to Wikipedia contains more than 500 varieties of fruit, nut and spice trees.

That includes 80 banana varieties, 125 varieties of mango, more than 40 varieties of grapes, 70 bamboo varieties plus guava, jackfruit, canistel, sapodilla, longan, lychee, mamey sapote, coffee beans and other exotic edibles.

By far the strangest looking fruit we saw was growing on South African sausage trees.  The fruit hangs from rope-like stalks and grows 2-feet in length weighing 15 pounds! 

It's widely planted as ornamental trees in tropical areas outside Africa, however I've been told the falling fruit can severely harm people or damage vehicles. Chris and I were also mindful of the coconuts which littered the ground and hung heavy in the trees. 

Sausage tree fruit is inedible to humans but is often used as in ingredient in making beer, as it is said to speed up the fermentation process. Also, many animals such as monkeys, elephants and giraffes really enjoy munching on the fruit.
GrowFest had many heirloom tomato and vegetable seedlings for sale, as well as fruit trees.  We have no plans to buy a house here, but it was still fun to imagine a yard full of avocado, banana, mango, papaya and star fruit trees.

I was really tempted to buy some seedlings to grow on our balcony, but unfortunately two little plant munchers named Merlot and Chianti make that too difficult right now.  However, screened-in balconies are uncommon here, so I'm guessing they won't be roaming free at our next place and I'll be able to start a small container garden next year.  I miss basil most of all and the ability to easily make pesto.

GrowFest also had food trucks and Chris got to try conch fritters, which are a Key West speciality he didn't get to try during our recent visit there.  He thought there was too much breading but otherwise he liked them.  I found myself wishing they were fried cheese curds which don't exist down here.

Don't let hit sausage tree smile fool you, Chris was not impressed by the Fruit & Spice Park.  However, I reminded him a couple times that I had agreed to a football game in exchange.  We each thought each other was getting the better end of the deal.

We were able to attend today's game thanks to Chris' company which has four season tickets.  Free parking and tickets is an ideal way to attend a game because it helped us not feel guilty about spending $36 on two frozen drinks. 

Frozen drinks were essential due to crazy hot weather today (heat index of 99 degrees).  I can say that because even the locals were complaining about the heat. 

We were excited to tailgate until we arrived and realized almost everyone had a canopy except us, which was essential in blocking the sun.  We looked like weirdos, but we ate our grilled black bean burgers in the car with the air cranked.  Chris made our favorite guacamole (Alton's recipe) to have with chips and that completed our short but tasty tailgating menu.


  1. It snowed here this morning.

    That's all I have to say about that!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. The park looks great to me! You know now probably isn't the best time to get sympathy for being hot, while we all try to get our winter skins on. Though I do remember a positively miserable day in Houston--hot, humid beyond anything I could have imagined, overwhelming everyone's air conditioning (and yes, you can do Houston from Milwaukee on a day trip), that gives me some ability to sympathize. Unless you throw in exotic fruit; then it's all gone again.

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