Farm fresh, French flair

Clearwater’s farmers market opens, former Art Institute chefs open Hyde Park restaurant.

click to enlarge BON APPETIT: Ricardo Castro and Rosana Rivera will open Piquant at the end of January. - PIQUANT
BON APPETIT: Ricardo Castro and Rosana Rivera will open Piquant at the end of January.

There’s a new farmer’s market coming to Pinellas. Clearwater’s Gateway Market starts Sat., Jan. 12, at 1200 Cleveland St. From 9 a.m.-2 p.m., the public can get fresh produce, hot food, cold drinks, artisanal goods and art.

“The phones have been ringing since 8 a.m. when the press release went out,” market manager Howard Warshauer said Monday. “This market is really important to the community in downtown Clearwater.”

Market planning started eight months ago through a partnership between the city, county and the non-profit Intercultural Advocacy Institute, part of the Hispanic Outreach Center, an organization committed to helping families and providing education opportunities. Bringing locally grown produce and goods to the community is part of its mission. Schedule to be open every Saturday from October through May, the Gateway market has enlisted over 30 vendors.

Fresh tropical ice cream from La Reyna De Michoacan will be on deck, including homemade Guanábana and Mamet ice cream pops. Homemade cheesecake, “seriously Italian” pizza and even natural pet treats will be available at the market.

The market is located between Nature’s Food Patch and Greektown Grille in Clearwater.

“It is a lot larger than we thought it would be,” Warshauer said. “We have room for up to 120 vendors.”

Warshauer says there will be weekly live music, including a performance from Rebekah Pulley on Jan. 19. Free yoga classes are also in the works for future markets. The market aims to promote healthy urban neighborhoods by giving access to fairly priced and locally grown foods…

Hyde Park Village is getting a new French-inspired restaurant, Piquant, from Art Institute of Tampa chefs Ricardo Castro and Rosana Rivera.

Castro and Rivera are co-owners and co-chefs, and hope to open the new restaurant at 1633 W. Snow Ave. in the coming weeks.

“We’re both classically trained in French cuisine,” Castro said Friday. Castro directed the culinary program at the Art Institute of Tampa, where he opened the student-run restaurant the Tutored Chef. “We’ve been teaching these techniques to students on an ongoing basis but thought it’d be a perfect fit for the Hyde Park community.”

Breakfast will consist of pastries, breads and croissants, made fresh daily.

“The point is that we want people to feel like they’re eating in a patisserie in Paris,” Castro said. “Dinner will be French-inspired, with petite plates to share at their tables.”

Castro emphasizes that Piquant’s cuisine isn’t strictly French, and will incorporate other ethnicities into the menu.

“We are a chef-owned, chef-inspired, and chef-driven restaurant,” Castro said. “The majority of the staff has culinary training and many of them are former students.”

The hardest part of Castro’s transition from professor to restaurateur?

“I just resigned yesterday after six and a half years as their instructor and director,” Castro said of the Art Institute. “That program was my baby, and it was tough because I love my students. But I think Piquant is just what Tampa and Hyde Park have been missing.”

The tentative opening for Piquant is slated for the end of January.

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