Pinecrest Gardens is the former home of Parrot Jungle. If you haven’t been there recently, this is a chance to revisit the place. The birds are long gone, but the tropical plantings, fish, and turtles remain.
Today, Pinecrest Gardens hosts a weekly farmers market in its parking lot on Sunday mornings, and concerts and art shows within. Except when a major event draws crowds, it is still a place for a quiet walk in a natural setting. My husband and I went there regularly when our children were small. In fact, we were there so often that one year we bought an annual pass.
Pinecrest Gardens now is making its historic outdoor theater more comfortable for performers by enclosing the ceiling and wall behind the stage. The much-loved Old Man in the Moon from the Parrot Jungle days was taken down during construction and soon will be restored.
Bringing a chocolate event home
Mario Pi, founder of the first Miami Fine Chocolate & Food Show, is a longtime South Miami resident. He has spent 27 years producing trade shows and events all over the United States, including separate trade and consumer chocolate shows on Chicago’s Navy Pier Convention Center.
Now Pi wants to bring major events to Miami-Dade County, including his new chocolate festival. He started looking for a place to hold his event, and discovered that few locations offered the space and parking he wanted. Then he remembered the former Parrot Jungle location in Pinecrest. (Yes, it’s OK to use both names. Even the Pinecrest Gardens director does.)
“Seven or eight years ago I retired and sailed to the Caribbean islands,” says Pi. “Then I came back to Miami and established a new company, U.S. Sales and Consulting. We help international companies break into United States markets.
“Three years ago one of our clients, a chocolate manufacturer from Ecuador, wanted to enter
food trade shows around the country to exhibit his chocolates. This started me on chocolate.”
Pi researched food and chocolate events for his client. “One thing led to another, a great opportunity to do high-end chocolate events.”
Pi found numerous small local chocolate festivals all over the United States and the larger, successful Salon du Chocolat in New York Salon du Chocolat also holds a trade and consumer show in Paris, and consumer shows in six other French cities and in Bahia, Brazil; Bologna, Italy; Le Caire, France; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China; Tokyo, Japan; and Zurich, Switzerland.
The Miami event includes the Miami Fine Chocolate Show and the Miami Fine Food Show. You can visit Gourmet Grove, Restaurant Row, Pairing Pavilion, and a demonstration stage presented by the Miami Culinary Institute.
You’ll also find live music for all ages, and for the children a petting zoo, a place to feed the fish (a school of brightly colored koi), and a water playground.
Pinecrest Gardens is at 11000 Red Road, Pinecrest, Florida 33156. Ample parking is available in the parking lot that the Gardens shares with an adjacent public library and community center, and in the lots of nearby churches and schools. Look for signs.
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