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Flay gets Grilled

Bobby Flay signs some boooks

After partying into the wee hours of the morning at The Florida Room, and doing a book signing along with Tyler Florence at 3:30 p.m. outside the Village, Bobby Flay closed the festival on stage cooking for one of the rowdiest crowds he’s ever faced (maybe because the Village tents had just closed, so people made their way over to Flay’s show feeling, uh, real good.).

“This is the craziest thing I’ve seen in my life,” he said. “Is this a cooking demo?”

With the audience (which was testosterone-laden with plenty of New York accents) cheering Flay each time he took a sip from his beer, Flay asked the crowd, “Where are we drinking next?” Someone shouted the Sagamore Hotel. “The Sagamore? Sagamore poolside. Can you make the reservations? For about 600 of us.”

Grand Tasting Village – Day 1

GTV2

Going through my notebook on the first day of the Grand Tasting Village on South Beach between 10th and 14th streets on Ocean Drive:

  • The second tent was better than the first. Better food choices all around (from Ritz Carlton Hotel to Pura Vida to The Diplomat and STK, the restaurant in the soon to be open Gavensdordt Hotel).. Verizon Wireless area is lively and engaging. Wineries are a tad better. People seemed to gravitate to Tent No. 2….
  • Cruzan Rum is the unofficial after party spot when you have finished your tastings and wanna get your groove on. The Caribbean grooves, with a mix of Latin favorites, make you forget you’re at a wine event.
  • In Tent 1, there are a few things to make sure to stop by – Abokado’s booth (a week-old restaurant in Mary Brickell Village), Domo Japones’ booth (with some tasty octopus), and the Belvedere vodka lounge (try the Zinger drink, which seemed to be very popular).
  • We were a little disappointed with what DeVito’s had to offer at their booth. A meatball slider sandwich that was heavy on the bread is what we saw when we first arrived. Heard there was a second item but never tried it. Perhaps Sunday will be a different story.
  • STK (with a beef tenderloin) and A Fish Called Avalon (shrimp ceviche) was a couple of places that completely surprised us. But a can’t miss surprise in the second tent was Pura Vida and their spicy shrimp, complete with an eye-dropper that delivered tangy juices right into the palate.
  • We didn’t find many wine stains, perhaps because Miami is becoming better at consuming its wine so it knows how to stay stain-free in big crowds. The one exception was a woman from Atlanta who discovered a pretty big wine stain on the side of her $200 dress. She figured someone knocked into her and spilled their red, because she was drinking white all day long. (Picture posted elsewhere in this blog.)
  • Before you get to the Village, make sure to stop by the FIU tent and have some venison. Very, very tasty. And on the way back, try a taste of their brewed pale ale or a taste of their home grown wines. Dr. Barry H. Gump (no relation to Forrest) leads the first year program in how to make both, and with a limited number of bottles they wait until the end of the day to unveil their efforts.
  • Green is in. Efforts to recycle were very noticeable this year, with areas to toss plastic items very close to the regular trash cans. However, they needed one more recycle bin – for paper products. Tasters were dumping oodles of paper products from their gift bags onto the beach near the booths where you checked-in with your tickets. The pile of papers and magazines turned into an eyesore.
  • Thoughts for next year: Perhaps a third tent? Seems like after a few years of the same format, organizers need to come up with something innovative to handle the masses. We know, we know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – but for nearly $200 it seems like something new should be in store.

- Fred Gonzalez 

Putting on a show

BubbleQ5

Some of our favorite BBQ was from the Blue Door at the Delano (lamb shanks) and from Fearing’s Restaurant from Dallas (buffalo). But the best display at a booth was, hands down (or is that hooves down?), Chef Chris Lilly’s Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que from Decatur, Ga. Next to the tent that served food was a huge grill and smoker that was cooking all night long. Looking like a mad scientist (with a touch of serial pig-killer) a cook would open the lid, pull the pork right off the grill, toss it on a slab and start chopping it into pieces as the crowd oooh-ed, aaah-ed and then dodged all the flying chunks of pork. This was true southern-style cookin’!

Too hot for Ted

Ted Allen, a regular on the Top Chef, made his mark for his expertise on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Now that the show is in reruns, and most of the Fab Five have branched off into their own projects, they stay in touch mostly via text messages,

“Carson’s show is great, and Thom’s is good, too,” he said, referring to Carson Kressley’s How to Look Good Naked and Thom Filicia’s Dress My Nest. “I don’t see them very much because Tom and Carson both shoot in L.A. Jai (Rodriguez) moved to L.A. and Kyan (Douglas) just bought a house in Mexico and I don’t know what he’s doing – making tequila or growing weed or something.”

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