Sunday, March 30, 2008

Green Plantains Restaurant

Today after church, my wife and I tried Green Plantains, a newly-opened restaurant in Gainesville and found a fusion cuisine that was just as tasty as it was well-conceived. Billing the restaurant as "Nuevo Chino Latino cuisine" I must admit their description made my head swim with fears of over-revved globalization, too many styles in one place.

We were very, very pleased with our Sunday lunch meals. My wife had their Grilled Churrasco Special Combo with yellow rice and a salad with white balsamic vingarette. Her skirt steak was very tender, more so than the ones I make (darn it) and perfectly seasoned. Her entree portion was generous with two moderately sized steak pieces served on a square Asian-style dish. The yellow rice was home-made and rich in flavor, not like the bagged yellow stuff available in many grocery stores.

I ordered the Mojito Chicken Special Combo. I must admit that this style of cooking chicken may be my very favorite, a recipe I first had at a Latin restaurant chain in Orlando, El Pollo Loco. The chicken is marinaded with spices and garlic and lime juice before being grilled. I will not sleep until I master a recipe for this Mojito chicken.

My sides included a mini Mofongo, which appeared to be a espanada with seafood inside. The salad and vinegarette was average, but lent a refreshing balance to the meal. A serving of Hispanic red beans and rice was served beside a a seafood patty made with lobster, shrimp, and crab meat. Very flavorful and not overwhelming. My meal was served in an Asian box type of plate that I have seen in local Korean restaurants.

The restaurant is casual in a new shopping center on 34th St. just north of the Williston Road. One orders at the front counter before seating yourself in an attractive room decorated with Miami art deco colors and sophisticated lighting.

Green Plantains serves lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Priced at $4.95, they should prove popular and tasty. Dishes such as Ropa Vieja, Mojito Chicken, and Bourbon Boneless Ribs are served with a side of rice and beans. Nearby student apartment dwellers and Oak Hammock residents will want to frequent GP's at least once a week.

Green Plantains restaurant is a gem in a sea of chain restaurants. They serve a fusion of three world cuisines effortlessly with meals both tasty and affordable. Give them a shot, you won't be disappointed.

For more information, check out their web site at

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fresh is Best: Buying From Local Farmers Makes Economic Sense

A recent article in the Gainesville (FL) Sun, "Area restaurants fighting inflation" cast a new light on reasons why shopping at Farmers' Markets is a smart buy.

Area restauranteurs are fighting spiraling commodity prices that are pushing up their costs of doing business and alarming customers who forego their optional dining budget in favor of putting gasoline in their cars.

Chef Bert Gill of Gainesville has long advocated patronage of local food vendors. In the Sun article, he pointed out as he has many times that, by buying locally, he saves money on shipping, uses foods with a longer shelf life, and has better, fresher foods to serve in his restaurants.

These same reasons, along with avoiding loss of vitamin power due to long-distance shipping and the benefits of keeping food dollars in the community, make purchases from local farmers a sensible and cost-effective decision. In these times of high fuel prices, shopping locally makes abundant economic sense for local restaurants and individual consumers who want high quality foods at lower cost. In short, fresh is best.

Alachua County has a number of farmers markets within reach where you may easily patronize area farmers. A listing may be found at Many of the listed markets have their own web sites and they are listed there. Patronize one of these markets and support local agriculture.