Regina's Farm gets lots of press about providing a unique Brazilian dining experience. Brazilian natives Regina Rodrigues and her husband Elizeu Silva are effusive hosts who produce an elaborate picnic buffet about three Saturdays a month. Each event draws about 150 people and there is a month-long waiting list for the three-course family style buffet meal.
To be sure, the food is plentiful; the meal starts with a choice of three soups, one of which is always a vegetarian option. Two of the soups were in giant pots on the wood-burning stove; the third was suspended over a fire pit. Soups are served with yummy cheese bread, and optional grated cheese, chopped scallions and fried skin pork (torresmo or chicharones).
Then the main course begins and there is an abundance of options. Yucca, beans, oxtail, chicken, okra, corn, sausages and greens, are all dished up from the pots bubbling away on the giant outdoor stove. The emphasis is on quantity, the food is all pretty bland and unexceptional. About an hour after the entrees are served, a table is cleared and desserts are brought out. Again there are numerous offerings, but almost everything had coconut.
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It’s all very charming, with large picnic tables dotting the expansive, tree-shaded yard in which chicken roam about and with pens of rabbits and tractor rides for kids. The entire meal is $25 a person, plus a buck or two for soft drinks. It’s a BYOB place and Regina’s has plenty of wine glasses and wine openers and doesn’t charge a corkage fee, so the evening is really quite a bargain, so it’s no surprise that, when I went to the web site I discovered that it is booked well into the fall.
According to the website; Regina started her little “farm” (it’s really just a large backyard) and cooking for others because of the nostalgia that she has for her state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. The description goes on, “People of every walk of life come to the farm to dine and what we hear from our guests most is how much eating at the farm reminded them of their home.”
On the night we attended (after making reservations months in advance), we noticed plenty of LGBT folks at the tables. As a matter of fact our group of six gay men shared a large table with a group of four lesbians, who brought plenty of champagne to celebrate a birthday. I wonder how many would be there if they knew what I uncovered when I did a little research afterwards in preparation for the article.
I discovered a few facts that make me wonder if the folks lining up at the gate to the farm realize where their money goes. One of the news articles mentioned that Rodrigues and Silva met at seminary in Brazil. Rodrigues and Silva are quite proud of the fact that the money raised by their dinners helps support the Las Olas Worship Center, where Silva is a pastor. The couple seems warm and welcoming, so I thought, perhaps they are the types of Christians who really follow the doctrine and accept all people.
However, knowing how some faith-based enterprises aren’t exactly forthcoming about their beliefs, I did some digging and found out that Rodrigues used to work for Westminster Academy, the school affiliated with the vehemently anti-LGBT Coral Ridge Church. A little more digging unearthed the fact that Las Olas Worship Center is part of the Assemblies of God church, which has issued statements against same-sex marriage, allowing gays in the Boy Scouts.
I tried contacting the couple via the email address on their web site, but it bounced back with the message that no such address existed, A message left on their Facebook page went unanswered, as did a phone message. None of the many articles I read about “Regina’s Farm” make anything beyond a passing mention that the event is a fundraiser for the Las Olas Worship Center. If I had known about the church’s anti-gay stance, I certainly wouldn’t have given them my money, and I would hope others feel the same way.
1101 Middle St., Fort Lauderdale
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