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Getting Fresh (and Local!) at Market 17

Brother and sister sommeliers Aaron and Kirsta Grauberger are giving Fort Lauderdale one of its hottest new restaurants by doing what a lot of the best chefs in Texas are doing – seeking out “partnerships” with passionate farmers, fishermen and meat raisers, and thanking them by name in the menu. Last night’s dinner menu at Market 17, for instance, thanked no fewer than 24 specific purveyors for making my meal possible, with probably 95 percent of them within a mango’s throw in Florida.

Chef Daniel Ramos wasn’t born in Florida, as we love to say in Texas, but he got here as quick at he could. He made the move from the Bronx at age 7, and hasn’t left the Sunshine State any more than work has taken him ever since. He has personally visited many of the farms and farmers that keep his menu bursting with bright fresh flavors. After one of the best snapper dishes I’ve ever tasted – made with lane snapper, since Ramos insists “you have to find your snapper” as though the fish were bliss – he followed up with this incredible hanger steak. With access to so many Florida farms, this chef seems to be saying “Eat your vegetables” even when you’re busy eating your meat.

Last night’s dessert at Market 17 started out as the famous “monkey bread,” a kind of twisted cinnamon roll. But it traveled from there with both bananas and banana ice cream, not to mention those banana chips you see blowin’ in the wind. Aaron and Kirsta started me off with an Oregon pinot noir, then moved me to a Stag’s Leap cabernet for the beef entree (and actually, there was another plate of their wonderful bison on the side of that). And then they sent out a sweet ice wine from Canada with dessert. After my dinner at Market 17, I’m thinking maybe all brothers and sisters should become sommeliers!

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About John DeMers

I've been a journalist and author forever. My favorite single word in the English language is "foodandwine." This spirit drives my 45 published books and my weekly radio show heard in Houston, Dallas and Austin.

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