Come June it is undeniable: it’s mango season. And nowhere is as mango crazy as Northwood Village. The locale of the very first fruit-bearing mango tree planted in the United States by Reverend Elbridge Gale at his 401 29th Street home, Northwood was once a thriving mango plantation. Now, the quaint historic district on the northern fringes of downtown West Palm Beach is an enclave of the arts, inventive cuisine, and funky boutiques, but still maintains those mango roots.
Mango trees are allover the district, a carry over from a long-ago era, so much so that many of them go to waste—mangoes tend to ripen en masse, leaving tree owners with dozens and dozens of the nectary sweet fruit. Which is why Northwood GREENlife, a nonprofit dedicated to instilling community pride, as well as fostering sustainable practices in the historic district, has stepped in with the inaugural Northwood Mango and Music Festival, set to launch June 26 and 27.
From grilled dishes to sorbets and cocktails, these recipes make the most out of that tropical superstar, the mango.
Part community gathering, part food drive, and all party, Northwood GREENlife has been organizing mango drop offs since May in order to donate the fruit to the Palm Beach County Food Bank, ensuring the food will not got waste while helping those in need. The Mango and Music Fest marks the last drop-off day for mangoes, culminating with a weekend party like none other. (Mangoes also will be sold at the event, with proceeds benefitting the Northwood Beautification Program).
Located at 441 25th St., the heart of Northwood Village, The Village Greens Community Garden is at the core of Northwood GREENlife’s mission. Offering a place for people to learn about urban gardening, the goal of the small plot is to show that sustainable living can be easy and attainable, while fostering a sense of community. The mural stretching along the garden, painted by Eddie Mendieta, is part of the Northwood Beautification Program.
“Inspire and empower, that’s the mission,” said Myra Morrison, president of Northwood GREENlife. The goal of the organization is to bring sustainability by “creating a community oriented neighborhood.” And the Mango Fest fits the bill.
A revival of the mango festival last held 14 years ago, the Northwood Mango and Music Fest will take over the quaint downtown area with two days of mango-themed fun, all designed to encourage community involvement. On Friday, June 26, the mango party coincides with Northwood Village’s monthly Art and Wine Promenade, giving this party a double dose of excitement. Running from 6-10 p.m., the main stage will feature live music from singer/songwriter Colleen Wallace (6-6:30 p.m.), and Mixed Culture (7-10 p.m.), the seven-piece roots reggae ensemble hailing from Hollywood, setting the soundtrack for the evening, while street performances outside of Table 427, O-BO, and Café Centro, will enliven the whole neighborhood. Festival events include Greek Nights at Souvlaki Grill (6-11 p.m.); Glow Painting with Mobile Murals (6-10 p.m.); a paint and wine party at IXT Studio (6:15 and 7:45 p.m.; admission costs $25 – call 786-237-9167); and “3+1=4 Art Show” at Bohemia AG.
The party heats up on Saturday, June 27 from 12-6 p.m., with a full day of mango madness. The main stage will feature a full slate of performances, starting at noon with the Smiling Island Band (12-1:15 p.m.), followed by Leilani Lungi (1:30-1:50 p.m.). From 2:30-4 p.m., the afternoon’s first headliner, Moska Project, a Latin-reggae-rock fusion band from Jupiter, will dose the party with its unique, Caribbean-inspired, African rhythm sound. Reginald Ellison will take the stage from 4:14-4:30 p.m. in leadup to the afternoon’s closing act, the Jimmy Buffet tribute band, Jimmy Stowe and the Stowaways (4:30-6 p.m.). Street performances will dot the neighborhood, showcasing art and music well into the night. Always a fan favorite, artist Daniel Pontet of Impulse Art Experience will create a Northwood Mango and Music Fest masterpiece, using his feet as the brushes while dancing to music, beginning at 3:30 p.m.—its quite the scene.
But what is a mango festival without mangoes? Fear not, there will be plenty of the fruit to go around. The Chef’s Showcase will feature three Northwood chefs, creating three mango-infused dishes each. Cooking enthusiasts can join the fun and watch as they create their culinary mango masterpieces, observe their techniques, and then taste them for good measure—this is truly inspired cooking. Word on the street is there will be recipe cards for those looking to try to recreate the dishes at home. Here’s what’s on the menu:
At 1 p.m., Chef Marianna Morrison of Bistro Bistro will be whipping up fresh greens with mango dressing, mango gazpacho, and mango flan.
At 2:30 p.m., Chef Anthony Marone of O-BO will be creating truly succulent pan-seared scallops with mango fusion, hanger steak with mango and apple puree over creamy polenta, and fresh mango cheesecake.
And finally, at 4 p.m., Chef Roberto Villegas of Table 427 will set his eyes to the sea with crab cakes with mango chutney, shrimp mango ceviche, and a refreshing mint mango mojito.
Think you have the mango cooking gene? Submit your own mango-infused creation in “The Best Mango Recipe Dish Contest.” The deal is simple: create your favorite mango drink, dip, dish, sauce, or dessert; submit the recipe and bring in a finished dish to be judged by the Mango Fest’s panel of experts (City of West Palm Beach Mayor, Jeri Muoio; Table 427 Chef, Roberto Villegas; A Guy on Clematis, Aaron Wormus; and simplysassystyle.com lifestyle blogger, Dawn Thigpen). The winning entrant will be crowned mango overlord, as well as receive few prizes to boot. (For entry information, click here—PDF).
And bring the kids! The kids zone will be packed with fun activities, from bounce house and water slides, to face painting, and arts and crafts—it’s a family-friendly type of shindig.
- The Northwood Mango and Music Fest is free and open to the public. If you happen to have a fruiting mango tree and can’t handle the bounty, bring that extra fruit to the festival to be donated to the Palm Beach County Food Bank. For more information, visit mangomusicfest.com.