Vagabond Market Dinner - Miami
OK, not actually dinner AT the Vagabond Market, rather, dinner FROM the market. We stopped by today and got to spend a little more time. Confirmed that all the produce is Florida grown. The lady set up at the front of the indoor area had a nice selection - 3 different kinds of eggplant, green beans, a few different kinds of hot peppers, several herbs (rosemary, thyme, mint, sage, cilantro, lemongrass), some lettuce mix, sorrel ... There was also another guy set up selling local-grown tomatoes, w/ a few different varieties - grapes (sweet enough to just eat out of hand), romas, and smallish round ones (resembled a Holland tomato). The mozzarella guy was set up there, as was the Uruguayan steak guy, and it all started looking like a meal to me.
We bought a couple beautiful eggplant (a purple & white striped variety) and bunches of a few different herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage) for $5, 4 tomatoes for $1 (!!!), a mozzarella for $10 (that seemed pricy), and a couple of the grass-fed strip steaks (12 oz steak for $12) and brought our loot home for dinner. Eggplants sliced thin and sauteed, layered w/ some sliced tomatoes and mozzarella and baked; steaks sprinkled w/ some smoked salt and quickly pan-seared and sliced tagliata-style; herbs chopped and blended into some butter to top the steaks. All really good stuff.
The steaks - Uruguayan grass-fed beef from "Gaucho Ranch" - were really full of flavor. They do taste more meaty and minerally, maybe even "tangy," than your average corn-fed beef. You do need to be careful about overcooking them, I found about a minute less per side than I usually do worked fine. I didn't find them tough at all which is an occasional complaint about grass-fed beef. I guess I can understand why some people are put off by grass-fed beef but if you don't mind your beef actually tasting like something, you'll probably enjoy them.
Went to Vabagond Sunday, didn't get to UES (which is only open Saturday) this weekend so I can't really compare head-to-head. From past experience, UES right now has more options. Usually UES has at least one vendor, sometimes more, who brings in a lot of fruit and veg (which is not all local-grown) which significantly expands the selections, and also probably has a greater variety of folks w/ prepared foods - Vagabond only has Raja's, UES has had an empanada stand, another guy w/ arepas, empanadas and papas rellenas, a ceviche stand, someone that does a bunch of different flavored hummus, rib guy, baked goods from Casa Toscana, etc. But as noted above, I was able to put together a very nice dinner from what was available at Vagabond. I did not note above that Le Cafe (formerly Cafe Glacier) also had a table set up and was selling baked goods at Vagabond.
What might well make sense is for UES to do Saturday and Vagabond to do Sunday, but I think the Vagabond owner is hoping to eventually make the space a full-time market. Which would be awesome if it happened but seems like it will require a significant buildup of "critical mass" both of vendors and customers.