Welcome to Uncorked, our daily guide to the best nibbles, bits and bites from the 2010 South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Looking for chef gossip? Insider tips? Instant reviews? We’ve got you covered…


tue, mar 2 1pm

About 900 people flocked to the Gansevoort under a full moon to close out the festival with Guy Fieri and his Luna En Fuego bash. Brazilian rum shops, sugar-dipped strawberries, Cuban sandwiches, cigars, hammock, stilettos and more.


tues, mar 2 12pm

Some (including yours truly) might argue that the Grand Tasting is the South Beach Wine & Food Festival at its best. Sand between your toes, celeb chefs, live music, booth after booth of nibbles and enough alcohol to make hundreds of gluttons very happy campers. 


mon, mar 1 9am

Conceptually, the Wine Dine + Design dinner works—mixed groups labeled by color were escorted through a four course dinner at four different restaurants. Fratelli Lyon’s first course of stuffed zucchini blossoms, smoked ricotta and spicy tomato coulis was tasty, but it was also quite greasy (an ode to the olive oil sponsors, perhaps?) Sra. Martinez’s second course of roasted fish, arroz cremoso, candied saffron-shellfish nage was fresh, elegant and comforting in Miami’s strange winter wonderland. To my great disappointment, Pacific Time’s third course of char grilled beef ribe-eye and mesquite corn slosh was awful. The meat was chewy, and the flavors didn’t come together harmoniously. Lastly, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink’s Florida consommé basil panna cotta, lemon-pistachio biscotti was a bright, yummy, snobby, summer parfait, but it’s winter (sort of), so I would have enjoyed something warm and decadent. The evening standouts were the wines–2006 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon served at Pacific Time—a winter mink wine perfumed with fennel, sweet basil and rosemary and the 2004 Ribas del Cua Mencia. The wine consultant said it tasted like Chinon, and it does—dried herb flavors rule!—DINKINISH O’CONNOR

mon, mar 1 9am

How-low-can-you-go was part of the theme at the Whole Foods Grand Market Tasting. Soca winers drew crowds–Club Rolexx-style while belly dancers and other stripper-esque attractions added to the vodka, beer and oh yeah, wine debauchery. Gotta love it. This year, servers were extremely generous. At one table, the cheese chunks were so huge, I packed up enough to make two great sandwiches this week. At the banana dessert table, chefs slathered butter into the pan like people paving cement sidewalks. Check your cholesterol, Guys. The wine was cool—nothing you can’t find at Publix. But, hands down, the best part of the event was when a Carol Brady-esque woman tried to hustle me for my attendance wrist band as I walked out of the sybarite tent. “There’s only one hour left,” she said. “I just want to be a part of it.” Wish I could have helped her cause. lol.—DINKINSH O’CONNOR


mon, mar 1 9am

Masaharu Morimoto broke out in song. Paula Deen was as funny as a stand-up comic. And Guy Fieri had crowds singing “I love rock and roll.” There wasn’t a lot of cooking in some of the cooking  demos Sunday, but the crowd gathered on the final day of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival didn’t seem to care. The weather was gorgeous and they were in foodie heaven, hooting and hollering, snapping photos like Beyonce had stepped onstage. In fact, Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain got a standing ovation from the audience of 700 when they  appeared for a so-called fish battle. “It’s awesome. I’m so obsessed with the Food Network,” said a happy Jessica Johnson, a South Beach web designer who was thrilled to see the chefs up close and personal. She purchased books by Ripert and Bourdain and joined the long line for autographs and photos.
She had lots of company – 4,100 attended the festival Sunday. The crowd was a bit smaller than Saturday’s 4,900, allowing a little more room to navigate but there were still plenty of people queuing up for food and alcohol – vodka, rum and fruity drinks along with wine and champagne, you name it in the Grand Tasting Tent. The biggest lines we saw were for George Stone Crab (which delivers stone crabs to your door) and Beef and Burger Joint. We heard lots of raves about Misha’s cupcakes, chunky guacamole by Rosa Mexicano, and outside the tent, flank steak sandwiches made by Florida International University (the festival is a fundraiser for the school’s hospitality program). Deen, in her characteristic Savannah drawl, was certainly pleasing her audience, even though she was a half-hour late. She joked about her pants falling down at last year’s festival. “It was moon over Miami.” She tugged at her white pants but noted that this time she “wore the kind you tie.” The crowd was certainly in the mood to party after a day of indulgence. A lot of people were approaching the Grand Tasting Tents like a buffet table, eating and drinking as much as they could to get their money’s worth – and they were paying for it by the end of the day. But we didn’t hear any gripes about the $212.50 tab. “It’s absolutely worth it,” said Simara Feldman of Parkland. “I would have paid more.”—ROCHELLE KOFF


sun, feb 28 9pm

A few hundred people waited in line before the 6:30 p.m. start of Luna en Fuego, the closing party of the weekend hosted by Guy Fieri. Said festival director and founder Lee Schrager: “Guy Fieri is such a rock star. His energy and excitement is contagious. I think he’ll deliver a killer performance.” The network star, who hosted a cooking demo before the party, didn’t show up until about 7:15. “Every year we tear it up and then it ends,” a sunglass-wearing Fieri told a crowd pushed to the red rope in front of the stage. “This is your good night party. Thanks for making South Beach Food and Wine
Festival a kickass event.” Fieri posed for pictures and signed autographs as DJ Cobra, who has traveled with Fieri, spun You Shook Me All Night Long. Fans yelled “Guy, one picture” waving to get his attention.
About 900 people flocked to the event -under a full moon – on a expanse of sand behind the Gansevoort. Fieri’s thinking behind the last party: “You see all the shows and at sunset it’s over. It’s such a buzz kill. We needed one more. This is one more.” Women holding trays of shots of Brazilian rum, accompanied by a strawberry dipped in sugar and cayenne pepper stood at the entrance. A huge long line formed for Cuban sandwiches, roast pork and other offerings from David’s Cafe on the beach but the closing night party seemed more about the drinks than food. Guests passed by the fire pits, foosball and ping pong tables and hammocks as the show Guy’s Big Bite was projected on the walls. Some in the crowd smoked cigars, others danced in the sand – stilettos and all.—JENNIFER LEBOVICH


sun, feb 28 8:15pm

Leave it to Paula Deen to add some comedy to the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. This year it was at the Fun & Fit as a Family event at Jungle Island, where Deen added a PG-13 rating. In a debate with fellow Food Network celebrity Robert Irvine over whose boobs were bigger. Deen wanted to know why the muscular Irvine’s were “bigger than hers.” To prove it, she pulled a “falsie’’ out of her bra and asked him “Now look whose is bigger?’’ “I don’t think that we can take ourselves too seriously,’’ Deen said. “It’s important that we laugh at ourselves.”—ELAINE WALKER

sun, feb 28 8pm

Paula Deen brought her version of church to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival with Paula’s Kiss My Grits Sunday Jazz brunch at the Loews Hotel. Deen entered the ballroom decked out with red and yellow flowered centerpieces on black and white checkered tables to a Gospel song “Amen” and then joined gospel singer Maryel Epps on stage for an upbeat version of “Amazing Grace.” Dean helped sing the chorus and got into the groove playing the tambourine. What made this first-time event nice is that guests could enjoy a leisurely brunch sitting at tables, without fighting a mob scene crowd for a small plate of food. If Deen has any say in it, look for the brunch to become a regular festival event. “The morning is before people get too much into the sauce,” Deen said after the brunch in her hotel room on why she liked the event, which replaced her Casino Night. “The older I get I have more energy in the morning. I can’t hang with the nightlife like some of the younger chefs.”
The menu was heavy on Southern favorites and seafood, including several of Paula’s recipes prepared by the Loews staff like shrimp and crab cake sliders (which disappeared in a half hour), shrimp and grits, macaroni and cheese and collard greens with ham. Other items included specialties of Paula’s guest hosts like Claire Robinson’s blackened catfish and Katie Lee Joel’s nutella banana French toast casserole. Deen gave a shout-out to co-host Elizabeth Karmel’s smoked filet of beef with horseradish cream and sweet potato brioche, which she said was so soft it was “like sucking on a stick of butter.’’ There was also a wide selection of wines and southern cocktails like Charleston Lemonade and Mint Juleps. Deen graciously obliged fans who mobbed her for autographs and pictures. “It’s very important that we don’t forget where we came from and who took us where we are,” Deen said. “That love that they give me is the reason I’m here.”—ELAINE WALKER

sun, feb 28 11:30am

Sushi superstar Nobu Matsuhisa busted out with beef: Wagyu tataki with genmai salsa. The very French Claude Troisgros gave props to a beloved Latin flavor, spiking his sautéed scallops and hot curry Napa cabbage with dulce de leche. Eric Ripert kept his dish a secret until Saturday night’s dinner honoring Daniel Boulud. Ripert wanted to surprise his buddy with a treat from his childhood outside Lyon: lemon, coconut, vanilla and hazelnut praline vacherin. At the end of the five-course, $525-per-person dinner at the Loews hotel, the most high-end event of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (the reception featured a solid hour of Cristal champagne guzzling) , the guest of honor took the stage to thank his culinary peeps. “I feel this is like this is the Woodstock of cooking,” Boulud said of the weekend. “Only the booze is much better and the food is much better. Instead of Janis Joplin we have Rachael Ray. And instead of Jimi Hendrix we have Emeril.”—LYDIA MARTIN


sun, feb 28 11am

Scrambled eggs with caviar, VIP-only clubs, champagne at noon and a late night orgy of stone crabs, oysters and caviar – Lydia Martin talks to Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay, Katie Lee Joel, Mormioto and more and dishes on all the insider news from this year’s festival. 


sun, feb 28 9:30am

Sunny skies beat out impending clouds at yesterday’s Grand Tasting tents as a sold out crowd made sure to eat & drink their $212.50 worth. The best bang for the buck – alcohol in virtually every imaginable form. Cocktails, frosty beer, wine aplenty, champagne – even low cal (and surprisingly tasty) liquor. Guaranteed there are plenty of hungover folk on SoBe this morning.
An eager (and veteran) crowd was waiting for the 1pm opening of the tents. The ticketholder line was about 20-30 minutes from end to entrance. Once inside, local chefs were a top draw – a continued theme of this year’s festival. Crowds lined up for Nikki Beach’s fried shrimp on a stick and STK’s lobster & shrimp salad sliders. Outside the tents, Rachael Ray signed books for a looong line of fans, Emeril & Michael Symon entertained crowds at cooking demos and music played as turquoise blue waves rolled against a creamy white shore – a complete only in Miami moment.—VALERIE NAHMAD


sun, feb 28 9am

Belting out “Get Down on It,” Chef Ming Tsai tossed salt and pepper into a bowl of jicama slaw to be placed atop his braised oxtail and foie gras shumai. The others in the kitchen danced along with him. It was Dim Sum and Disco Saturday night at The Setai. “No one wants to admit it, but everyone likes disco a little bit,” Tsai said as the first guests walked in. His dish – oxtail braised for four hours and paired with foie gras in shumai with a jicama slaw- is perfect mix of east-west cuisine.
“It’s freakin delicious,” he said.
At the start of the night there was more eating than dancing inside the restaurant, where a few hundred people tasted small plates from five different chefs including Jonathan Wright of the Setai. Some moved to the disco beats from the 70s and 80s while holding plates of lobster and corn dumplings or salmon tataki nigiri with a smoked salt. To accompany the dishes – drinks like the Boogie Fever and Night Moves were mixed. Made with soju from one of the event sponsor’s TY KU, mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim said he looked for couplings that offered the perfect balance of sweetness with fresh ingredients. “Everyone’s been drinking all day, so I tried restorative light drinks, not too heavily alcoholic to prolong you into the evening,” he said. The “Night Moves” hit just the right note with vodka, pomegranate and fresh squeezed lemon and orange juice. The sake even made its way into a wasabi migonette, one of three toppings for the rows of fresh oysters.
With songs like Holiday and Got To be Real in the background, people crowded around the open kitchen where the chef’s tables had been moved to make room for the crowd. Despite the cold night, others lounged by the pool. One man squeezed a miniature dropper of soy sauce into a meat dumpling. “A kind of do it yourself shanghai soup dumpling, a neat idea,” he said. As people filled up on the dim sum, pockets of dancing started as the DJ spun Do The Hustle and Michael Jackson’s Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’. By the time YMCA came on, some at the bar was raising their hands clapping with hand motions.—JENNIFER LEBOVICH

sat, feb 27 8:30pm

Cocktail Time with Sandra Lee was meant to become a disaster. No, really. From the start of the evening at 4:45, groups swarmed in front of the famed Versace mansion – now known as The Villa by Barton G – grumbling beneath their breath at the cold weather and non-stop rainshower that had seemed to damper the afternoon. Clouds loomed nearby, sprinkling cold water, when all visitors wanted to do was step inside for a drink.
Huddled under an umbrella, my husband and I offered two Pennsylvania natives – Chris and Julie, a perky mother-and-daughter combo – a slice of our “shelter”, as we waited for doors to open at 5. Their remarks of the evening so far? “It’s wet and cold,” grumbled Julie with a half-smile. “But we’re really excited to get in”.
Once in, locals were treated to hosts hoisting umbrellas as the afternoon shower sprinkled upon the cocktail party. Yet, no one could deny the deliciousness of Sandra Lee’s choice mixed drinks for the night, such as a cool and tangy South Beach cocktail made with Ciroc vodka and a dash of lime juice, and the tarty-sweet Red Berry Repartee, a mix of sprite, sour mix, Ciroc berry and grenadine. To accompany the cocktails, visitors to the party enjoyed homey bites such as stuffed mushrooms, cheese ravioli and the toungue-in-cheek named “Hula-Hula Pork”, a pineapple and pepper tinged skewer of rich flavor and meat.
As the afternoon crept on, locals and visitors tried to make the best of it as they huddled under awnings and hid behind doorways to keep away the wind and the cold, while sipping cool cocktails and nibbling on treats. Sandra Lee herself even pouted at the rain, yet made sure to mingle with guests and grin and take pictures with them as they eagerly huddled around their hero. If I was to give the most-friendly award to a Food Network personality, she would’ve taken the cake…Lee didn’t mind getting wet, or having her hair get “frizzy” just to spend time with her fans under splashing rain drops. Even the local entertainment was a good sport. There were pretty synchronized swimmers braving the cold and giving the evening a classy vibe, sporting skin-tight silver swimsuits and caps as they dived into the icy pool of the Versace mansion to the sounds of classic retro 1950’s music. Those in attendance watched in awe and clapped.
In the end, what could’ve been a mess turned into a lovely event, where even a rainbow peeked out of the crowds over the Versace mansion and most in attendance whipped out their cameras to take pictures of the view, as well as of Sandra Lee who didn’t stop mingling. The host smiled her way through it all, and even thanked everyone for braving the afternoon drizzle. As for our friends Chris and Julie? They were all smiles, ear to ear, as they showed us images of themselves with Sandra Lee and even thanked us for their simple shelter from the rain. “Thank you,” said Chris with a smile. “A picture with Sandra Lee and locals lending us their umbrella? Our night has been made!”, she said. As for my husband and I, our night was made after seeing all the out-of-towners enjoying Miami even on one of the coldest and wettest afternoons, as their eyes widened at the sight of the Versace mansion and the party which was awaiting them inside. For what it was worth, it was a success and everyone was a good sport. Cold rain and all.—AURORA RODRIGUEZ


sat, feb 27 8pm

This wasn’t your parents Bubble Q. Nor your grandparents. Gone was the feeling of exclusivity with a smaller crowd mixing with chefs, tv personalities and celebs. Instead it was an all out dance party.


sat, feb 27 8pm

Cocktails, stone crabs & a stunning sunset set a perfect scene for Friday evening’s Cocktails & Claws event.


sat, feb 27 8pm

Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best was like a Rap video—blinged-out, balloon-breasted Champagne jugglers and well-manicured, purple tooth pimps inhaled glazed pork belly shots like it was their last meal on earth. It was awesome. And so was most of the food. And the wine? Magnificent. Finally got to try Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon and Krug Champagne—totally worth the hoopla. Loved watching chefs-in-training sneak swivels of wine they can’t afford (I understand). Also, loved watching aristocrats get Marie Antoinette-like (One lady was so high, she almost kissed me). There were a few Molly Homemaker-types, but this is Miami, Baby. Even Molly has a boob job. The Fontainebleau was decked out like the Academy Awards (Glad I wore the black dress), so the event was totally worth the cash flow and potential stampede.—DINKINISH O’CONNOR

sat, feb 27 10am

This wasn’t your parents Bubble Q. Nor your grandparents.
The 2010 edition of champagne meets barbecue on the sands of Miami Beach behind the Delano had much different vibe than in years past. Gone was the feeling of exclusivity with a smaller crowd mixing with chefs, tv personalities and celebs. Instead it was an all out dance party, with much louder and intense music from a DJ and live brass accompaniment that had the masses grooving and shaking to a mix of disco and latin sounds.
The party vibe was so intoxicating that midway through the event, an only-in-Miami thing: People were standing outside the tent hoping to crash the party. More than one person stopped people who left early and asked for the all-powerful green bracelet that would get them entry to the BubbleQ. Aside from the celeb chefs, the Bubble Q was lacking in star power. Sure we spotted local jazz singer Nicole Henry and former NBA player Jerry Stackhouse, but there was no John Legend or Al Roker this year. And décor was seemed less, too. In the past you’d see drapes and a massive number of Styrofoam letter Qs. This year it was replaced by sad orchids in vases, although the flower is part of champagne sponsor Perrier-Jouet’s logo.
The biggest difference, however, was the most impressive. From the center of the tent hung an aerial gymnast by her ankles, dressed in a lime green body suit, surrounded by hanging bottles of P-J champagne. She would grab a bottle, pop the cork, and then pour to the glasses of the people standing below her. As can be imagined, it was a crowd favorite.
Oh yeah, the barbecue. Either the chilly air made people eat faster in an attempt to stay warm, or budgets aren’t what they used to be as no less than four booths were out of food by 9:30 p.m., including chef Todd English’s New England scallops and the Tony Neely/Neely Bar-B-Q booth from Memphis, Tenn., ran out of ribs by 8:40 p.m., only an hour and 10 minutes into the three-and-a-half hour event, but were spotted grooving to the sounds at around 9 p.m.. Their booth continued serving their heavy-on-the-mayo potato salad to festivalgoers.
Among our food favorites – the steak slices from Kris Wessel at Red Light Little River and Dewey LoSasso at The Forge on Miami Beach and the tequila milkshakes from Norman Van Aiken of Norman’s 180 in Cora l Springs. Of the 32 food stations, 12 featured South Florida chefs and restaurants, and many brought their A-game.
In the back of the tent was the best desert station in recent memory at a Bubble Q. Sweet Street had various types of mousse desserts served in shot glasses and sitting atop blocks of ice crafted with their logo. And they never ran out because they made 6,000 treats in advance. However, there wasn’t any signage to tell you what each was, so staffers from the booth were mingling with the crowd to help people identify the creations. Favorites included death by chocolate, which was topped with a chocolate waffle cone.
By the end of the night folks were snatching up bottles of champagne and serving it themselves, disassembling flower arrangements and taking them home. As one person mentioned, things were getting a tad sloppy. Better not let the parents hear that.—FRED GONZALEZ & SARA FREDERICK


sat, feb 27 9:30am

Emphasis was definitely on liquid delights at last night’s Best of the Best. A well-dressed crowd navigated the sold-out Fontainebleau ballroom angling for choice bites and imbibing on 16 champagnes and offerings from 60 wineries. Pork and foie gras were THE choice nibbles of the night – each avialable in more ways than we could count.
The local chefs were hometown favorites as particularly long lines formed at The Setai’s booth, where Jonathan Wright and his team dished out foie gras steamed buns and Peking duck, and Talula’s station, where Andrea Randazzo served meatball sandwiches (turns out you can’t miss with red sauce & a slider bun – we were stopped more than once by guests looking for the meatball station). Also popular: Scarpetta, Casa d’Angelo, Morimoto (New York) and Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (Chicago). Food went fast as the crowd ate quickly and lingered over wine. Well attended, staffed and served – the event was like the ultimate cocktail hour.—VALERIE NAHMAD


sat, feb 27 9am

What’s better than sunset in Miami on a beautiful winter day? Why, cocktails and claws of course. The Betsy Hotel set the stage for a beautiful happy hour-based evening where locals were able to enjoy fresh stone crab claws from George’s Stone Crabs and cocktails from electrolyte-based Voli vodka alongside an array of red and white wines. As a cocktail writer, happy hours are my passion. When I sipped on the evening’s cocktails I was wowed by the simplicity of the event. Here, it was all about the Wine & Food Festival lovers looking to unwind as they sipped drinks and checked out the breezy sunset from the Betsy Hotel rooftop. There was no music, just wordly chatter as locals and out-of-state visitors got to know each other over the messy – and at times embarrassing – cracking of fresh stone crabs matched with pristine white wines and an array of blue cheeses and crackers. Nothing could be more perfect for the evening.
Some stand-out cocktails included the passion-fruit based Passion Rock with Voli vodka, a brand new vodka which is just 78 calories per serving. But nothing compared to its clear-fresh taste when enjoyed on the rocks with just a dash of lime juice. Definitely the best mix for a laid-back evening enjoying the chilly, yet sweet, Miami weather. Looking forward with Cocktail Time! with Sandra Lee tomorrow…as a cocktail columnist, the Wine & Food Festival has proven itself to be a haven for new and interesting spirits as well as environments to enjoy them at.—AURORA RODRIGUEZ


saturday, feb 27, 8:30am

Margaritas, adult snow cones and more were on full display at the W at Thursday night’s Patron party


friday, feb 27 3pm

27 different entries, 7,500 lbs of ground meat, 500 lbs of cole slaw, 125 gallons of Heinz ketchup & mustard, 7,000 Amstel Lights, 1.5 ton of potatoes, 400lbs of smoked bacon, four winners and one carnivore’s dream at Burger Bash 2010. 


friday, feb 26 8:30am

In the largest Burger Bash to date, and in the closest margin, chef Michael Symon of B Spot in Cleveland edged Bobby Flay’s Burger Palace entry to win the top prize.
Symon’s Fat Doug burger was topped with melted swiss cheese, a slice of pastrami and a touch of cole slaw. The juicy burger that drew long lines and just enough happy voters was served with a side called the Baconeater – a vanilla bean, apple pie and bacon milkshake. “You never expect to win something like this with a lineup of so many great chefs,” said Symon, who competed for the first time in the annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival event. “But I am thrilled.”
Held on the sands of Miami Beach behind the Ritz-Carlton hotel in its largest tent space to date (one observer from Germany compared it to Octoberfest but with less beer), it looked early on that B Spot may be the favorite out of the field of 27 – lines for the Fat Doug burger were long and eaters were casting their chips in favor of Symon at a consistent pace.
“I had no idea of the votes,” Symon said, clutching the trophy awarded to him by Rachel Ray and stopping for photos with fans. “I was in the back all night cooking the burgers.”
Even defending champ Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C. visited the B Spot booth for some good spirited razing. Dressed in a boxing robe, wearing boxing gloves and sporting a championship belt around his waste, Mendelsohn egged Symon on and came over to see what the long lines were all about. “I thought it was a good burger, but the key was that he took a risk,” Medelsohn said after handing Symon his championship belt. “And that’s how Mike is, he takes risks. There are certainly no hard feelings. I was happy for him.” The Fat Doug burger is a staple back at the B Spot, and Symon said it’s his personal favorite. “It’s a little different from the norm, so it stood apart from the rest,” he said.
Additional awards were handed out to Michael Schwartz of Michael’s Genuine for the Golden Platter (Bacon cheeseburger with a side of crispy hominy with chili and lime), Mark Zeitouni of the Standard Hotel for Top Sidedish (homemade tater tots) and Masaharu Morimoto of Morimoto New York for Best Dressed Burger (pork “Kakuni” burger topped with glazed pork belly). Flay’s entry from Bobby’s Burger Palace in Connecticut was called the Dallas Burger Crunchfield – a spice crusted burger topped with coleslaw, Monterey Jack cheese, barbecue sauce and pickles.
Other Miami.com favorites included The Moxie Burger from Moxie, The Restaurant in Cleveland and “The Steakhouse” with Everything Burger from Porter House New York. Some of our favorite sides included the Mexico City street corn (grilled corn with Cotya Aioli and Pimenton Espelette) from Toro of Boston and the Pink Cotton Candy shake from Good Stuff Eatery.


friday, feb 26 8:00am

What was the big debate exactly, you might ask? As a c ocktail writer, I walked in expecting delicious sips and their distinct flavors fighting against each other in a major popularity contest. And Patron cocktails were readily available. Margaritas? Check. On the rocks versus frozen. Adult snow cones? Check. Jalapeno flavored versus coffee. Both delicious in their own way. In one part, I was right, the cocktails spoke volumes. In the other, I was wrong. On Thursday night the big debate was whether to stay warm by the heat lamps at the W Hotel in South Beach, or to enjoy the chill by the pool. Many decided to give each location a chance as they huddled outside, sipping Patron cocktails under a clear Miami sky that clearly had one thing to say…it’s going to be 54 degrees, and there’s no stopping me. Do wear your comfiest sweater.
Despite the cool weather, Thursday night’s Patron event had enough beautiful people ignoring the cold by wearing their skimpiest best as they tried delicious food from an array of Miami restaurants. Each restaurant location had two dishes battling it out for crowd favorite. Amongst the stand-outs, DeVito South Beach’s Potato Vs. Ricotta Gnocchi had the longest lines as partiers nibbled on the soft-textured dish. The crowd’s second favorite was Solea at the W Hotel’s Iberico Ham vs. Serran Ham dish, paired with a chilled Patron Margarita on the rocks. Lines formed as hungry patrons eagerly expected the dish. And, while the night’s theme was a battle of the tasteful senses, it seems like in each restaurant both dishes battling against each other were winners. The event was all about attendees having a good time, celebrating the fact that the SOBE Wine and Food Fest was well on its way and ready to take over the Miami weekend, not really a competition. Here it was all about the sampling of flavors. Think of Patron’s Big Debate as a party for the senses.
As the night came to a close, partiers enjoyed words from Chef Todd English as he greeted the crowd and everyone enjoyed top 40 tunes as sultry dancers took over the stage dressed as skimpy librarians, glasses and all. It was definitely a night where nothing was really taken seriously, but the cold drink in your hand or the warm dish on your plate. Fun? Definitely. This was the perfect start to a weekend that would surely be packed with celebrity guests and plenty of food and fun, where those who were indecisive could choose their favorite flavor. Night getting too crazy? Even the water was a debate, as locals had their pick from sparkling or still to take home as a souvenir after a night spent getting a little over the top. And why not? We’re in Miami…and this weekend is all about feeding your soul’s eagerness to have a good time. Cheers!—AURORA RODRIGUEZ


thus, feb 25, 10am

Festivities for the 2010 Festival kicked off a day early last night at Lee Schrager’s sold-out Haitian fundraising dinner at Tap Tap. We were there with our eyes (and mouths) wide open…
A Manhattan-based Michelin three-star chef and a pair of Iron Chefs joined a hometown talent in the small kitchen at Miami Beach’s Tap Tap restaurant to cook for Haiti. New York’s Daniel Boulud said he was honored to participate in the sold-out benefit for Partners in Health on the eve of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. “If it was for publicity I would have said, no but since it’s for a good cause I agreed,” Boulud said. He bustled to prepare his food along with Iron Chefs Masaharu Morimoto and Jose Garces and local chef-owner Kris Wessel (Red Light) while 120 guests sipped drinks mixed by another Miamian, Food Network host Ingrid Hoffmann. On the menu: Boulud’s short ribs braised with red wine, Morimoto’s yellowtail pastrami with panzanella, Wessel’s white shrimp and stuffed chayote and Garces’ coconut tapioca with passion fruit. “Nobody knows what will happen in life,” Morimoto said. “Something could happen in Japan or anywhere and we should all be grateful.”—MICAELA HOOD


thurs, feb 25, 8am

The most indulgent weekend of the year is upon us. Four days of food, wine & acceptable gluttony descend upon SoBe today as the South Beach Wine & Food Festival opens its (tent) doors. Click here for our picks about the weekend’s best bets. A little preview? We’re thinking burgers with Rachael, disco with Ming & some late night amore at Scarpetta.


weds, feb 24, 6pm

A free tasting of wine is a terrible thing to waste. Get a leg up on your sipping experience at this weekend’s Grand Tasting tents with these wine tasting videos featuring Miami.com wine blogger Dinkinish O’Connor and Miami Herald wine columnist Fred Tasker. The dynamic duo dish on three reds, three whites and two sparkling wines that will be available at the tents, offering up such nuggets of wisdom (and fun party lines) as “this is not your regular IHOP pancake syrup wine,” this was “the Britney Spears of wine a few years ago” and “this is a wine for parties.”


weds, feb 24, 10am

Steep prices and/or availability have you boxed out of this year’s SBWFF? No worries – turns out there are plenty of opportunities to eat, drink & celebrate this weekend. We’re particularly excited about BBQ & beer in the Design District, sustainable fish with a view and a free night out at the Shore Club. Click here for the complete list.


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