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South Florida, South Pacific: The Kampong's Bali Ha'i Production

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Leave it to The Kampong, local botanical treasure and historic home of the late David Fairchild, to throw one of Miami's most anticipated events of the season this weekend. This Sunday, April 5,  will mark the 15th annual Bali Ha'i event, an outdoor soiree of culinary delights from restaurants around Miami to celebrate The National Tropical Botanic Garden's 93-year legacy and raise funds to maintain its living laboratory of tropical horticulture.

Familiar faces this year include chefs Jonathan Eismann of Pacific Time (onion tart with foie gras),  Cindy Hutson of Ortanique on the Mile (jerk pork), and Michelle Bernstein of Michy's  and Sra. Martinez (rabbit risotto). Also look for newcomers Red Fish Grill (poached shrimp) and Sushi SoBe (eel roll + sake-yuzu lemonade). Pretty-in-pastel French macaroons by Chef Patisserie Angela Garcia of Lovely Daze Desserts, and sorbet and ice cream from Gaby's Farm will satisfy the sweet tooth.

"The chefs spend a lot of time talking to the 500 people that attend

every year," explains Lynne Dell Gibson, regional development

officer of the property. "The one thing that's nice about this event

is that you will not find long lines.

It ain't cheap. Tickets go for $125 per person. A VIP preview party

costs even more: $200. But the setting and food will be well worth it.

Bali Ha'i is actually a fictional island from the score of the 1949

Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, intended to evoke a

mystical and dreamy quality. "Kampong means a cluster of dwellings,

like a village," Gibson explains. "It's something Fairchild encountered in his travels

to Malaysia. When he bought the property in 1916, he envisioned a place

where he could eventually retire and also have extended friends and

family to stay during the winter months."

"It's a very casual atmosphere," Gibson adds. "The garden is so big,

and the chefs are around the perimeter, so guests don't have to wait to

get their food, and they can socialize in groups and talk with the

chefs."

The American Institute of Wine

and Food's South Florida Chapter is a founding partner, and Co-Chair Daniel Richeal is spearheading the

nonprofit's involvement this year, working closely with Gibson, and their

catering production and design team from A

Joy Wallace.  

Later today, I'll preview several of the dishes.

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