On January 14th, I joined 17 other Sunday Supper tastemakers and social media influencers at the gorgeous Trade Winds Resorts Guy Harvey Outpost in St. Pete Beach for a berry fun weekend learning all about yummy Florida strawberries.
I was so excited to arrive at the resort and catch up with my Sunday Supper fam favorites that I hardly slept the night before. I’m sure some of you can relate to that!
We started off the day by heading over to the Florida Strawberry Growers Association in Dover, Florida. We met Strawberry Sue and staff members.
They greeted us with the most delicious mimosas made with Florida strawberry puree and some sweet snacks including a to-die-for strawberry pizza.
Florida Strawberry Picking
After our morning snack, it was back on the bus and off to the strawberry fields in Plant City to see what Florida Strawberry Picking was all about!
This small town is the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World and the community is brought together by their love of this juicy berry and all of the strawberry fields.
It was here that we met Mark Harrell, Strawberry Sue’s husband and a farmer who told us all about his strawberry fields. He even let us walk through the rows and taste some of his berries.
Farmer Mark not only grows strawberries on his farm, but other things as well, such as onions.
How Florida Strawberries are Picked
Our last stop before lunch at Old Towne Pizza, a Plant City favorite, was at Grimes Produce Company.
Did you know that when strawberries are picked, they are put directly into special clamshell packages and rushed to the cooling facility in large trucks? Then they are sent off to grocery stores, usually that same day.
I had no idea so much went into getting these berries into my local Publix! This tour was an eye-opener for me and makes me appreciate the entire strawberry growing process a lot more.
One of my favorite stops of the day was at the University of Florida Research and Education Center. Here, we met with Dr. Vance Whitaker who told us all about how strawberry plants start growing in the nursery before they are transplanted to the field in male/female pairs.
Each plant has a “runner,” also called a stolon, which is essentially a stem that comes out of the plant. The runner eventually develops roots and turn into a clone of the original plant. This is how strawberry plants multiply.
We toured the strawberry fields here and learned that they teach and research more than just delicious Florida strawberries at the Center.
By the time we were done learning about strawberry breeding, my tummy was getting hungry for dinner. As we were heading to our berry-filled dinner at Oggi Italian in Tampa, FL, we decided to make a pit stop for some fresh strawberry shortcake and vanilla soft serve at Goodson Farms.
Goodson Farms is a cute little market that sells fresh, local produce, jams, and sauces as well as Florida strawberries.
But the best part of this stop? The humongous strawberry shortcakes! The base of the shortcake was a buttery biscuit and it was topped with huge dollops of vanilla soft serve and whipped cream, and of course Florida strawberries!
I knew it probably wasn’t the best idea to have dessert before dinner, but YOLO! It was definitely worth it. I had to stop myself from finishing the entire thing or I wouldn’t have eaten my dinner at Oggi. If you are ever in Plant City, you absolutely must visit Goodson Farms for the shortcake!
When we arrived at Oggi for dinner, we were greeted by Florida strawberry cap-wearing staff. The menu for the evening was created especially for us and included plenty of strawberries!
The waitstaff served everyone family style and it was a treat being able to taste every dish.
My favorite was the pistachio chicken! By the time dessert appeared, I was very, very full. Side note, did you know everyone has a second stomach? It’s called the dessert stomach and it is reserved solely for that after-dinner treat.
Once you set your eyes on the finale of your meal, no matter how full you are, there is always room for dessert. At Oggi, we got to enjoy mini cannoli. I may or may not have had two of them. They were so yummy!
We spent the rest of Saturday evening back at the resort and I happily climbed into the comfy bed for some much-needed shut-eye after enjoying a night-cap of the most beautiful and delicious chocolate-covered strawberries that were waiting in the refrigerator.
On Sunday morning, I woke up early to catch a St. Pete sunrise from my balcony. Watching the sunrise and drinking a cup of coffee was a very enjoyable way to start the final morning of the weekend.
After breakfast, it was time to make the short walk over to the Trade Winds Resort. Our first session of the day was with Chef Aaron from RumFish Grill. He showed us how to make a Key West Shrimp and strawberry ceviche.
I’m pretty sure I could have eaten the ceviche and nothing else all day and been perfectly happy. Chef Aaron gave us a copy of the recipe and I can’t wait to recreate it at home!
A strawberry-filled lunch at Bermudas followed which included watermelon, strawberry, and feta salad – another favorite eat from the weekend because it was just so refreshing.
My sandwich choice was the grouper, soooo good!
Dessert was zabaglione atop fresh strawberries.
Once we had our fill of lunch, it was back to more sessions. We met Anthony Ciecalone, a mixologist at RumFish Grill who made strawberry mojito martinis for us.
We also learned how to take our photography to the next level with Jeremiah from Jeremiah Khokhar Photography. The afternoon ended with Strawberry Sue showing us how to make adorable chocolate covered strawberry footballs on Facebook Live.
Sunday night, we enjoyed strawberry s’mores on the beach while the sun was setting over the Gulf and then we enjoyed more strawberry cocktails and appetizers.
Dinner followed at RumFish and Chef Aaron and his staff went above and beyond by preparing us a delicious meal and dessert.
I think my favorite part of the evening was sitting by the huge fish aquarium that was featured on the TV show, Tanked. Of course, like everything else I ate that weekend, dinner was pretty tasty too!
I’m so grateful I was able to spend the weekend making memories with my Sunday Supper fam, eating #allofthestrawberries and learning many new things about my favorite fruit.