Uncorked 2013: Reports from the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival

 

Feast on gossip, best bites and insider pics from the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival

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Welcome to Miami.com's reports from the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival. We're eating, drinking, photographing, Tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking and blogging to keep you up-to-the-minute on all the gossip, best bites and sinful sips. Make sure to follow us on Twitter @Miamicom or on Instagram (handle Miamigrams) for live updates and images from events this weekend.

SUNDAY, FEB. 24

Guy Fieri and Ziggy Marley close out the Festival

Marley and metal? As a roots, rock, reggae purist, I was skeptical about the Guy Fieri and Ziggy Marley bashment. I was even more skeptical when at the Whole Foods tasting village wrap-up, Fieri requested a woman who was “wild and inappropriate” for his presentation. Really, Dog? But to my surprise, the Sandals-style reggae disco was an exhilarating throwdown.

First, the set-up was pretty fabulous. Folks played volleyball towards the entrance of the jam as people sipped beer and cocktails at the red, green and yellow-clad bar stools. Vodka-giddy patrons swung from indoor hammocks while couples shared Jamaican patties on sinking couches. Chef Colin Hylton of Kingston’s The Guilt Trip served divinely classic Jamaican black cake shots that paired perfectly with the tasty house Cabernet. Ortanique’s Chef Cindy Hutson was tucked in the cut and advised me to go and “wine-up like a rude girl.”

The only caveat were the long lines where people waited for conch sandwiches, steamed mahi-mahi , jerk chicken tortillas and more. But the DJ played a crowd-pleasing line-up that included Steppenwolf and Rihanna while we waited for Ziggy Marley. When he finally leaped onto the stage, the moment suddenly felt like Bob Marley’s 1979 Santa Barbara concert as hippie-ish women jumped up and down and couples tongued each other out. There were a few stragglers who seemed more like Sandals-refugees than reggae fans, but this event came very close to being a bashment. Ziggy sang everything from “Tomorrow People” to his father’s “War.” He owned the moment. Stephen even made a cameo leap towards the end of the performance and at that point, even I was leaping.

--By Dinkinish OConnor

 

 

Chef Jose Andres Entertains the Crowd in Espanol with Watermelon Magic

There's a local Spanish chef, otherwise talented, whose career stagnated because he suffered from a very Spanish affliction, once considered a virtue: seriousness.

Dude just couldn't see his way to leave the kitchen and schmooze with the clientele. No such problem for super chef Jose Andres, whose Grand Tasting demo was an exercise in showmanship. As befits post-Almodovar Spanish culture, Andres entertained a delighted crowd with a virtuoso comic performance -- on the theme of watermelon. His dishes included watermelon pincho, watermelon gazpacho, sauteed (more or less, as we'll see) watermelon filet, watermelon and sea urchin, watermelon foam and more.

Ostensibly, this was a Spanish-language presentation, but Andres handled the bilingual crowd with all the finesse of Latino stand-up, sliding smoothly from one language to the other when the moment called for it, joking about his limited language skills and then saying in English what he'd just said in Spanish and taunting the audience, "you didn't think I knew how to say 'exterior wall' in English?", and calling for cheers and oohs and aahs in either language.

He was a tornado. When things went wrong, and they often did, he just revved up the performance. He was getting no heat on the stove, so he asked the audience to imagine the watermelon filet had been sauteed. He lunged from one end of the counter to the other like a man possessed. And he kept the audience in stitches the entire time.

A frozen watermelon drink would not exit the blender and when he shook it he shattered the martini glass. "That's what spoons are for," he roared, as he took it out, adding an extra squirt of vodka. Drinking jokes on a vodka theme piled on one another, and he even threatened to add the spirit to the blender full of gazpacho, recalling perhaps a famous blender gazpacho in Almodovar's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown -- that one was laced with a large dosis of Valium and caused the character who innocently consumed it to drop into dreams where she had "a good time."

Andres has a consumate stage presence. At one point he riffed on TV cookery by pointing out that sometimes the dish to be sampled has turned out miserably -- too much salt or vinegar -- and he acted out what it'd be like to serve such an aberration to Martha Stewart, who must pretend to love it. He moves so fast that, like watching a magician, it's hard to tell whether what he's made is truly wonderful or not. But it sure is seductive. One wants to enjoy such treats, without stopping to wonder if one really wants watermelon in one's gazpacho.

No matter. This Spaniard delivers great entertainment, insisting that one should talk to a tomato -- in Spanish, which is the true language of tomatoes, it would seem -- and always be in great spirits. And if one is not, then out comes the vodka. Cheers! And to that old Spanish seriousness Jose Andres says, adios!

-- By Enrique Fernandez


Food Critic Tackles the Grand Tasting Village

The food at Sunday's Grand Tasting Village tasted, to me, worlds better than what was on offer Saturday. Perhaps it was because the chefs had an extra day to dial in their execution for serving the masses, one small plate at a time. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for tacos and short ribs.

Braised rib meat and two-bite tacos showed up on table after table in the tents (I counted eight and surely missed a few). One restaurant even combined the two: The BBQ short rib taco from Huahua's Taqueria by chef Todd Erickson (Haven) was one of my favorite bites of the day. Its juicy, shredded beef under cabbage, cilantro leaves and shaved radish rested on a grilled flour mini tortilla and beckoned me back for a second helping.

I scored a tie for taco runner-up. The underlying heat in Ocean 2000's chorizo taco and the contrasting flavors of fatty pig and pickled onions in MexZican Gourmet's pork taco both put a smile on my sunburned face.

Heavy, stick-to-your-ribs short ribs can be a tough sell in this kind of weather. Braised beef is more of a cool-weather comfort food, and is liable to induce a nap in 80-degree heat. (Same goes for shrimp and grits topped with ham cream. I'm looking at you, City Hall the Restaurant.)

Rosso Italia managed to keep its short ribs and polenta from weighing down festival-goers thanks to a touch of a lightly acidic and zippy roasted-tomato sauce.

In the non-taco, non-short-rib category, Wave Kitchen & Bar from Gloria Estefan's Costa d'Este Beach Resort won me over with its one-slurp spoonful of raw oyster, passion fruit and Pisco. It popped with briny and bright flavors from the bivalve and fruit.

My taste of the day came courtesy of Bernie's L.A. Cafe, which churned out scores of perfectly pressed mini Cuban sliders. Roasted pork, tangy Swiss, tart pickles and grainy mustard provided every element of a satisfying Cuban sandwich, packaged in a small, festival-friendly size. More than anything else I tasted this weekend, that slider succeeded at what every restaurant at the Wine and Food Festival aims to do: make people want to go eat there, now.

-- By Evan S. Benn (Food Critic and Beer Columnist / St. Louis Post-Dispatch)


Wine Tasting Challenges Pros and Amateurs

Think you know wine? At Delta’s Taste Wine Like a Master Sommelier seminar Sunday, participants had a chance to pit their palates against the clock – and against the pros.

Hosted by master sommeliers Andrea Robinson and Eric Hemer at the James Royal Palm hotel on South Beach, ticket holders sampled six wines in a timed, blind tasting and then tried to identify type of wine, country of origin, even year. A “practice” glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at a mere $30 a bottle started the event.

In the front row, some of the area’s top sommeliers – from Zuma, the Setai, the Biltmore, the Breakers, Café Boulud, 50 Eggs and other companies – put their trained tastebuds to the test as well.

Wines, revealed after the tasting, ran $50 to $60 a bottle, prompting some to drain their glasses – and any untouched glasses near them. Some of the more popular wines among tasters Sunday included a 2007 Italian Serralunga d’Alba Barolo that retailed at about $47 a bottle and a 2010 Sonoma Coast Les Noisetiers Chardonnay with a $57 price tag. One that fooled many in the room was a 2009 Riesling from Austria, with a $34 retail price.

And though wine tastings are generally conducted in a reverential atmosphere, “we’re seven wines in,” joked Robinson, as the polite chatter began to rise in decibels. “It’s a little more about crowd control than wine tasting.”

Winners of the event – one sommelier and one consumer whose guesses matched the most correct answers -- won first-class round-trip tickets on Delta.

-- By Amy Driscoll


Aaron Sanchez shines (and sweats) at Fun & Fit as a Family on Sunday

"As a dad I struggle to get my kids to eat vegetables," admitted chef Aaron Sanchez before throngs of little ones decked out in aprons and chef hats at his cooking demonstration as part of Fun & Fit as a Family at Jungle Island on Sunday. The sweating crowd watched as Sanchez prepared a kid-friendly, Tex/Mex-inspired menu.

His quesadilla had shredded squash and zucchini stealthily hidden inside folds of fresh cheese and he stressed the importance of cooking it slowly. "You know how you go to grandma's house and the food just tastes amazing? That's cause grandma's not in a rush!" Sanchez left the quesadilla to brown as he prepared the marinade for the chicken legs.
He later brought up a crew of young apprentices to help prepare a dessert of berries and cream.

The goal of Fun & Fit is to get the children involved in food preparation, to understand where food comes from and to get them moving out in the fresh air. Healthy snacks, physical fitness contests and kid-friendly cookbooks abounded. But the most impressive achievement of the day was probably Sanchez getting his group of six assistant chefs to eat those bowls of berries.

-- By Amy Reyes

 

SATURDAY, FEB. 23

 

 

Chef Nobu Honored at Tribute Dinner

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival paid tribute Saturday night to two industry leaders in a six-course meal served to 600 people at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel.

The Tribute Dinner event honored Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, the Japanese chef who put sushi on the map in the United States, and Christophe Navarre, who as chief executive of Moet Hennessy manages some of the most prestigious brands of wine and spirits. Martha Stewart served as the mistress of ceremonies. Nobu's acceptance speech was heartfelt as he thanked his wife (while shedding a few tears), children and many friends and chefs in attendance.

Six different chefs were each charged with overseeing one course in the dinner. The lineup included Chef Daniel Boulud and Chef Roy Yamaguchi, as well as chefs brought in from Japan for the event. The precision of the event was amazing to watch as backstage half of the Loews ballroom was set up as a staging area. Each course was lined up on rows of tables and the chefs meticulously overlooked the assistants plating every dish.  A schedule on an easel showed the exact time every course should be brought out to diners and what the plate should look like. A digital red clock kept everyone on task. The best part was the chance to watch Boulud and Nobu behind the scenes before the event mugging for the cameras with each other’s cell phones.

Given Chef Nobu’s culinary focus the menu leaned toward seafood. Two of the best courses were Boulud’s Scottish langoustine in sea water gelee with uni custard and nori tuille and Yamaguchi’s scallion crusted madai served with congee and abalone salad with a Korean miso sauce.  A couple courses were a little too adventurous for our palate, particularly an orange filled with homemade tofu and orange miso.


To complement the meal each course was paired with a selection of wines from the Moet Hennessy portfolio, with standouts including a 20008 Newton Puzzle, 2012 Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon and 2008 Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling.

To commemorate the event, the festival presented Nobu with a life-size portrait done by Miami artist Romero Britto.

-- By Elaine Walker

 

 

Chef Ingrid Hoffman hosts Target's Red Hot Latin Nights

For a party like Target's themed to resemble a red hot night in '50s Havana, it would have to be a lot more raffish. Louche even. Still, the ladies who came off their high heels and walked the sand on painted bare toes gave the scene a certain air, not to mention that many were, as Miamians often are, (un)dressed to kill.

Ingrid Hoffmann, who is the rare TV personality on both English and Spanish language TV, hosted the event. The paella and the Cuban croque monsieur she prepared were circumscribed by the need to use Target's ingredients, as opposed to total freedom, but such are the requisites of corporate sponsorship. Still, the samples were full of flavor, as were all the chef dishes at the event.

Ingrid describes herself as a "professional eater", so she may be the world's skinniest glutton. "The women in my family are all small and thin," she says, "and we all eat like truck drivers." She does not diet and at her shoots her dishes must be kept away or she will eat them before the camera can do its work. Her secret, besides an inherited high metabolism: "I only eat what comes from the ground or has a mother."

That earthiness is, for Ingrid, the common denominator of Latino cuisines. Real food. "At home we grew up eating cooked meals every day," she says. "And you had to sit down for dinner. Hay que sentarse a la mesa." She sees Andean cuisine as the next big thing, and hopes that the cuisine of her native Colombia will receive international recognition.
"We have 3,000 different kinds of potatoes, and tropical fruits unheard of - even in Brazil."

Ingrid is a fan of Chef Adrianne, whom she had not yet met, and whose Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Bar was the big hit of the night. At the outset of the party word got around that her pork belly pan con lechon was a must-have and a line formed across the full width of the huge party tent. It was indeed a very good pulled pork sandwich. However, in this blogger's opinion, the taste winner of the evening was The Local Craft Food and Drink Chef Vince Tien's pork cheek taco. More than any dish at the tastings, it hit all the right flavor and notes in perfect balance. Just piquant, sweet, tart, and meaty enough, with a sumptuous texture and light enough to make one crave more.

The cocktail tents were serving a passion fruit daiquiri that served as an elegant opening for the Latino flavors the chefs had concocted. Pastry chef Maria Luisa Benavides' Piononos offered a passion fruit mousse that bookended the evening for this blogger. The salsa band had yet to set up, but the DJ had moved from dance music to Latin beats. And the barefoot ladies danced.

-- By Enrique Fernandez

 

 

Barbecue and the Blues takes over the Eden Roc

With the distinct twang of the blues wafting in the air, hundreds of people wowed by barbecue sampled its yumminess poolside Saturday night at the Eden Roc hotel.

There were great and seemingly endless helpings of the traditional Southern favorite, served solo, on buns, in tacos and next to greens and slaws – along with plenty of napkins and wipes for the messy awesomeness that is barbecue.

 But this is the South Beach Food & Wine Festival and we are in South Florida, which means ‘cue was celebrated and sometimes re-interpreted by nearly two dozen inspired chefs, including host, Iron Chef America winner and big personality Geoffrey Zakarian, who offered BBQ Beef tongue sliders with pickled slaw at Thrillist’s BBQ & The Blues, presented by Creekstone Farms.

 “First off, barbecue is great because its something typically done outside,’’ says Zakarian, taking a quick break from greeting fans and taking pictures. “It has such a bold flavor and is goes great with so many beers and wines.’’

 The soundtrack came courtesy of Diablo Dimes & The Bloodhounds, who performed set after set of ragtime blues.

Among the menu highlights: Cabana Beach Club’s BBQ Beef Cheek Taco; STK’s smoked pork belly; Freehand Miami’s short rib hot dogs; Wynwood Kitchen’s sirloin meatballs; Sushi Samba’s Robata Picanha and traditional  Beef BBQ short ribs and brisket from Sparky’s. There was also a delish selection of craft beers including flan-flavored beer. Throw in beer bread and butter.

 Blue Collar’s executive chef Daniel Serfer, offered a braised brisket on Portuguese muffins with Dijon mustard served with latkes and apple sauce – a popular item on his Miami restaurant’s menu. “I was looking to serve the closest approximation of barbecue from our menu, so this made sense.’’

-- By Audra D.S. Burch

Rounding the bases at Delta Diamond Dishes

The Miami Marlins might not be the most beloved sports franchise in South Florida these days, but talk at their stadium Saturday night wasn’t focused on last season’s poor showing or the fire sale that sent many well-known players packing.

Instead, a few hundred food fans at the Delta Diamond Dishes: A League of Their Own event had to ponder: Start at first base with local favorite Michelle Bernstein’s tuna and avocado tostadas, bone marrow galbi and esquites (a corn dish)? Make it a double for Top Chef Winner Stephanie Izard and her smoked uni plus two treatments of goat (belly and sausage)? Or skip to third for Michelen-starred April Bloomfield’s take on ballpark food: smoked kielbasa, accompanied by crab and avocado salad and lentil soup?

As it turned out, most began at home base, where Portland chef Naomi Pomeroy served chicken liver and port mousse, Kobe steak tartare and fennel-brined pork loin. Stationed near the first base dugout, Jeni Britton Bauer’s ice cream sandwiches and bars (including a baseball-appropriate peanut-and-popcorn option) were a hit throughout the evening.

The sold-out, $225 event was named after the Diamond Dishes cookbook by Julie Loria, wife of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. For the book, she included favorite dishes and recipes of MLB baseball players. For the event, some of those selections made the rounds as appetizers at a reception at the park’s Clevelander sports bar. The all-female roster of chefs was overseen by Food Network personality Anne Burrell, who urged the sold-out crowd to “Play ball!” as the field opened.

Longtime friends Ari Segal, of San Francisco, and Miami resident Eric Hirschhorn marveled at their access to the baseball diamond and at the culinary options at each base. “I just think this is a unique event,” said Segal, who chose this weekend to visit Miami specifically for Diamond Dishes. “I’m a big baseball fan, but we’re also fans of food.” He said Hirschhorn had urged him to come check out Marlins Park anyway, so the event was the perfect opportunity. “It’s the highlight of the food and wine festival,” said Hirschhorn, head of culinary and product development for Burger King Corporation. “I can’t believe I’m out on the field that I come to see.”


--Text by Hannah Sampson, photos by Kenny Malone

 

Flocking to Fried Chicken & Champagne at Chicken Coupe

A well-heeled crowd flocked to the W for free-flowing fried chicken and champagne at Saturday night’s Chicken Coupe. Held in the hotel’s sleek ballroom, the 5,000-square-foot space was outfitted with just under a dozen stations dishing out biscuits, slaw, grits, mac & cheese and various forms of fried chicken.

LA’s Son of a Gun brought sandwiches, Yardbird prepped fried chicken biscuits, Top Chef Hugh Acheson (pictured) dished out fried chicken thighs and host Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch) doled out fried chicken, honey-butter biscuits and Anthony’s slaw.

There was easy access to food, drink and chefs with minimal lines and comfortable spaces for eating, drinking and mingling. Massive red velvet and chocolate cakes from Serendipity 3 capped off the night with a sweet treat. A high-end affair start to finish.

--By Valerie Nahmad Schimel

 

Barilla's Interactive Lunch features Debi Mazar

Debi Mazar knows how to eat well. The actress, known for roles in Goodfellas, Entourage and The Sopranos, is married to a bona-fide Italian chef, Gabriele Corcos.

The pair, cohosts of the Cooking Channel's Extra Virgin, appeared together for a Barilla Interactive Lunch Saturday afternoon at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. The couple, who were married in 2002, are still flirtatious with another. When Mazar took the mike on the podium, Corcos couldn't help but make a comment about how the apron accentuated his wife's cleavage.

Mazar went on to talk about how they love to cook rustic style fare at their home in Brooklyn, N.Y. "For a lot of us, we do takeout and eat out at restaurants, but they dump a lot of salt in your food, and you pay a lot of money. Why not stay home? Have fun? Entertain your family and friends," she said.

Then Mazar added with a laugh that she and Corcos, who have two daughters together, are opening a restaurant in Brooklyn soon. "I guess it would be OK to spend your money at our place," Mazar deadpanned as the audience laughed.

The two led an interactive demo of how to make Saltimbocca (Italian for jumping in your mouth) Alla Romana, veal cutlets that guest volunteers cooked up on pans set up tableside.The lunch also included a tasting of various olive oils; a demo on how to make veggie farfalle with buffalo mozzarella and morels; and a champagne reception in the courtyard.

-- By Maddy Marr

Celebrating Peruvian cuisine at the Betsy

The rooftop terrace of The Betsy at sunset, overlooking the beach, was an elegant setting for Pescado and Pisco: A Taste of Peru. It was a fairly high-profile event: The celebration of Peruvian cuisine was hosted by Chef Gastón Acurio, whose original restaurant, Astrid Y Gastón, in Lima, was rated No. 42 on Zagat's list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants.
Though he never stepped out from behind the station where he turned out plate after plate of seafood, citrus-marinated to perfection, Chef Acurio was quick to explain his creations to guests. There was some discussion as to whether pisco, a clear brandy and the official drink of Peru, actually originated in Chile. Out of respect for the chef (probably) the Chileans eventually conceded.

Pisco sours flowed in abundance at the bar. The foamy-sweet drinks complemented the bitey citrus of the ceviches -- five different varieties. They were: lobster citrus, tuna ginger, red snapper and sweet corn, corvina and roasted corn, and scallop and sea urchin. The tuna was my favorite; raw tuna and shredded ginger were made for each other.
While Chef Acurio turned out plate after plate of ceviche, platters of bay scallops finished with panko flakes and scallions were making the rounds. They were hard to get. A hundred seafood lovers on a crowded rooftop are a formidable obstacle to grabbing samples.

After the sun went down and everyone had had a chance to down a few drinks, the urgency of the ceviche line relaxed a bit and people began to sway to the Peruvian tunes coming over the speakers. But no one was having as much fun as BLT at The Betsy founder Chef Laurent Tourondel, who opened up his kitchen to Chef Acurio for the night. He happened to be very popular with the female guests.

--By Erin Jester


Getting down & dirty with Anthony Bourdain & Nigella Lawson

Anthony Bourdain, it turns out, is “on good terms” these days with Rachael Ray, once a target of his anti-celebrity-chef ire. That may have disappointed some who turned out for the final session of the South Beach Food and Wine Festival Saturday expecting fireworks when Bourdain took the stage with TV co-star Nigella Lawson, she of the creamy skin and late night raids on refrigerators.

Maybe it’s fatherhood (he has a young daughter) or success (he has two new shows, ABC’s The Taste, with Lawson, and CNN’s Parts Unknown, as well as his writing career) but Bourdain’s edge was, well, a little less rough. That’s not to say he was less profane, less funny or less cutting. He lounged on a white sofa with Lawson, popped a Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboy and proposed that they both get full back tattoos. His, he said, would be “Ozzy Osbourne and Jesus shoving coal down the crack of my ass.” That started a rambling, raucous, informal question-and-answer session that covered everything from Cuba to Kentucky Fried Chicken. But Bourdain also acknowledged almost as soon as he got on the stage that things had changed for him. “I really have gone over to the dark side,” he joked.

When Lawson asked him what chef he’d like to cook for him on a desert island, he chose Mario Batali – and then launched into a story about attending a charity roast in New York with Ray where he gleefully said she told a dirty joke about how much she also likes Batali. “She said, ‘you’ve got to love a man who can lend you a scrunchie when you’re giving him a BJ.’ She killed!” They talked about their new show, mentioning that next week’s episode is about “nose to tail” eating. “I think it’s the first time in network television where they bring out the entire dead pig and drop it on the cutting board,” Bourdain said. Lawson responded:“I did cook some testicles. Boys, cross your legs now.” “Are those the first network testicles? Probably,” Bourdain shot back.

The fascination with testicles continued, when he wondered aloud: “Cows are big. Sheep are small. Why do sheep have bigger testicles?... They’re gigantic, they’re like papaya-sized on sheep.” They also launched a bit of a defense of their cooking contest reality show, noting that producers do not tell them what to say or who to eliminate.

“Never at all during the making of The Taste did we ever have a producer come to us and say heart-breaking back story over there, keep that one. None. Zero,” Bourdain said. Lawson added: “We did feel our integrity was intact. No one wrote our scripts or told us what to do. I’d like to see the person who tries.”

They traded questions of who they want to portray them in the movie of their lives (Lawson: Sophia Loren. Bourdain: Christopher Walken) and what they wanted to do as children (Lawson: novelist. Bourdain: bass player for Parliament Funkadelic.) Bourdain proposed reinstating Home Ec class – but making it “compulsory for both sexes. I think every young person from age 4 should be dragooned into Home Ec class every day and say you must cook.”

He talked about father-daughter cooking sessions, where his daughter dons a pink apron. And he confessed his occasional need for bad fast food. “I rail against the king, the clown and the colonel all the time to a tiresome degree as the center of all evil in this world and yet every once in a while I am gripped with this unholy desire. I’m like, I’m going to go out and get the paper. And I’ll slip off. I’ll have like a hoodie on, sunglasses. I’ll sneak into the colonel. I’ll get a big tub of that shit and I’m just about out the door when somebody recognizes me and they’ll be like, ‘oh Anthony Bourdain, you’re on… oh dude!’ They’re like, ‘I’m going to Instagram this…’ It’s like being caught coming out of a porn shop – I’m guessing.”

The session turned serious when an audience member asked Bourdain about his trip to Cuba, where he had done an episode of his previous TV show. “Everything’s going to change, any minute. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next year. It was an extraordinary experience to see Havana…There is no more beautiful city in all of Latin America, the Caribbean, no place. And it’s struggling, it’s fucked up. Say what you will about the political situation there, but please stand up there on the Malecon and look around and tell me that’s not the most gorgeous goddamn city.” Then he added: “I ate at some very good restaurants there but I was very aware of the fact that Cubans cannot eat in those restaurants and will not ever eat in those restaurants as long as the system persists.”

--By Amy Driscoll


Reports from the field: Saturday's Grand Tasting Village

At the Grand Tasting Village Saturday, the big names – Emeril Lagasse, the Neeleys, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto -- drew overflow crowds to their cooking demonstrations. But once the food tents opened at 1 p.m., the crowds surged inside for the drinks and tidbits that give the wine and food festival its name.

Among the standouts: STK Miami’s short rib slider with fried yuca and mango slaw and, for presentation, Eggwhite Catering’s grilled spicy shrimp with roasted red pepper aioli served in a hollowed-out eggshell. STK earned more raves by tossing sleek silver flasks, etched with the company’s name, into the waiting lines. The Whole Foods booth, just outside the main food tents, offered across-the-board excellence, with tasty Key Lime shrimp, a spicy Korean “Danish” made of kimchee and spiced pork belly and a ricotta cheesecake with pistachio crumb topping that quickly became a must-taste. Even the line to serve the food was well run, notable when so many other booths became overrun with people. Although the festival focuses on wine rather than spirits, the rum booths were also popular, especially the Barbancourt brand from Haiti.

Emeril, cooking chicken breasts marinated in tamarind sauce, told the audience that he was “really looking forward to” honoring Nobu Matisuyo at a dinner that night. “C’mon,” he prodded the crowd. “He’s a goddamn legend.” At the end of his cooking demonstration, he raised $2,000 from the audience to help fight breast cancer. Two people paid $1,000 each to pick a KitchenAid appliance from the stage and have it signed by Emeril, who encouraged the bidding by telling the audience he had to beat the amount raised by fellow celebrity chef Bobby Flay.

Festival attendees were treated this year to wine glasses with an Ikea label worn on lanyards around the neck and a swag bag that included Ziggy Marley's roasted hemp seeds in the Caribbean Crunch flavor, which seemed to be a hit as the day waned. 

--By Amy Driscoll

 

Danny Meyer masters the duck-wine matrix

Restaurant-hospitality extraordinaire Danny Meyer and his Gramercy Tavern team on Saturday urged a room full of festival-goers not to fret over wine-and-food pairings. "We're not going to talk about soft tannins or mouthfeel or anything like that," Meyer said at the Shelbourne, unveiling a simple wine-tasting guide for his seminar: Yum, Feh or Yuck.

With that, Gramercy Tavern executive chef Michael Anthony walked diners through five duck preparations he made for the session -- mousse, terrine, sausage, rillette and pastrami. John Ragan, wine director of Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, poured five wines.


But instead of one-for-one food-wine matches, diners were told to try each piece of duck with all five wines to see what pairings they liked and what they thought was yuck; twenty-five combinations of duck and wine. "No one else in the world is doing 25 duck-and-wine pairings today," said Meyer, whose restaurants include Shake Shack in Miami Beach and New York. A riesling from Hogue Cellars in Washington State proved to be versatile, its slight sweetness bringing out nuances like orange zest in the terrine and fruitwood smoke in the sausage.

Linda Miller and Larry Thomas of Naples are regulars on the wine-and-food-fest circuit, traveling to events in Aspen, Austin, New Orleans and other cities. They make it a point to attend any seminars Meyer presents. "We love Danny. We've gone to all of his New York restaurants," Miller said. "He always makes sure his customers are happy, and he never makes it feel stuffy."

--By Evan S. Benn


Andres and pals tee off at the Turnberry


Big-name chefs were still wiping sleep from their eyes at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, the call time for a golf tournament at Turnberry Isle in Aventura hosted by Jose Andres. "I had a party last night, and I remember seeing the sun come up," said Andres, whose Bazaar South Beach opened last summer in SLS Hotel. "Actually, at 2:30 in the morning, I thought the party was finished, and Guy Fieri showed up with, like, 10 people. I tried to be a gracious host and say hi, but I don't think he knew who I was. His bodyguard was about to knock me down at my party in my hotel!"

Andres hit the links with about 85 guests, including fellow chefs Edward Lee, Tim Love, Ming Tsai, Alex Guarnaschelli, Spike Mendelsohn and others. A portion of the money raised at the tourney will go to World Central Kitchen, Andres' anti-hunger charity that serves Haiti.

"I'm a terrible golfer to begin with, and on top of that, I think I got about three hours' sleep last night," said Lee, a Louisville chef who competed on Season 9 of Bravo's "Top Chef." "I haven't really played since my college days, but I took two lessons last month to prepare for this."

Lee duffed a ball into a pond while a reporter looked on, camera in hand. "See? This is my life now -- all of my humiliations are public," Lee joked with his foursome. Love brought his Southern sensibilities to the course. "I think we all need to do a shot," the Texas chef said after a rough hole. "Where's the liquor cart?"

There were plenty of refreshments and nibbles between holes, including Jameson whiskey, shaved Iberico ham and cigars. Tsai sampled some ham on the 12th tee before settling in to a massage chair and waxing poetic about Miami.

"I just love the vibe here, and you feel it all year long, not just during the festival," said Tsai, host of "Simply Ming" and "Ming's Quest." "You get off the plane, and you feel that hot Latino beat in the air. Miami is one of my favorite places in the world."

-- By Evan S. Benn


3 Favorites from Saturday's Grand Tasting Village

At the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's signature event, the Grand Tasting Village, you have to be aggressive if you want to try the most popular dishes.

One in particular, STK Miami's pulled pork slider with fried yuca slaw, separated the shy samplers from the serious foodies. The table had one of the longest lines (of close to 100 vendors) and I witnessed several wine-drunk women banging on their counter while the chefs hurried to prepare a fresh batch of yuca slaw.

Of all the local and international delicacies showcased in the two huge tents on Ocean Drive, three items stuck out to me among the other bites, which were all very good. One was a ginger-cilantro ceviche from La Bottega. It was so balanced and refreshing, and the citrus wasn't overwhelming, as it sometimes can be with ceviche.

Another was Anolon's crispy duck breast -- tender on the inside, complemented by sweet chili sauce and a dollop of buttery, fluffy mashed potatoes. The duck was juicy, but stopped short of being greasy.

Palate Party offered an unusual gazpacho with a honeydew base, blue crab chunks and crunchy red bell peppers, finished with a few dots of chili oil. The cold soup goes down smooth and sweet, but the chili oil gave it an unexpected bite.

-- By Erin Jester

 

FRIDAY, FEB. 22

 

 

Best of the Best: For Sophisticated Palates Only

The name Best of the Best is well-deserved for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s signature event at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. With more than 75 winemakers and more than 40 great chefs, this was a chance for the sophisticated consumer to excite their palate.

Many of the attendees like Amy and Guy Guenthner from Wellington said that while the attend the festival every year Best of the Best is by far their favorite event and one they return for every year.  “I am a foodie and I cook every night. We come here and we always get ideas,” Amy Guenthner said.

What was impressive is that many of our favorite dishes came from South Florida chefs or at least those New York chefs with a local outpost. Just another indicator of how far the culinary scene has climbed here in recent years.

Some of our favorites: seared tuna taco by Hung Huynh of Catch in Miami Beach; glazed prawns with walnuts from Hou Lam Dicky Fung of Mr. Chow in Miami Beach; porchetta with salsa verde and pickled baby vegetables from Scott Conant and Nina Compton of Scarpetta in Miami Beach; vodka-cured salmon with dill pearls, mustard caviar and black bread from Jeff O’Neill at the Villa by Barton G in Miami Beach; crawfish boil gnocchi with brandy and black truffle from Tory McPhail at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans;  chili lobster with Israel cous cous and winter squash from Marc Forgione of Restaurant Forgione in New York. Not to be forgotten were Makoto Okuwa’s mushroom won ton from Makoto in Bal Harbour and Todd Erickson’s pork belly pot stickers with Chestnut-Miso butter from Haven South Beach.

We sampled some top notch wines and champagnes from a variety of vineyards. We must admit our favorites tend toward champagne and cabernet. But we liked:  Robert Mondavi’s 2009 Cabernet Reserve;  Champagne Gosset’s Grande Rserve; Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee Brut 2004; Joseph Phelps Insignia; and Sangue d’Oro Passito di Pantelleria 2009. Other notables included Krug champagne and Saiagricola wines as well as the 2009 reserve red blend from Sterling Vineyards

If you still had room left for dessert pastry chef Jordi Panisello and his team from Fontainebleau outdid themselves with a table of gourmet chocolates, handmade marshmallows, white-chocolate dipped ice cream bars, mini tubes of their own nutella and more. It was definitely a way to end a sweet night.

What else caught our attention (aside from the great mix of tunes by DJ K-Razor in the entry to the Sparkle ballroom? The unique wine decanter by Riedel called the Mamba. In honor of 2013 being the year of the snake, the decanter retails for $460 but worked to perfection with the serving of Camus 2007 wine. (Check out the video above.)

-- By Elaine Walker with Fred Gonzalez and Maddy Marr

 

CRUNCH: Bobby Flay wins Burger Bash 2013, ends Michael Symon's 3-year reign

Bobby Flay, left, unseated 3-time winner Michael Symon as the Burger Bash People's Choice winner for the 2013 South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Jeff Mauro, right, host of Sandwich King on the Food Network, won the judge's award. Photo: Manny Hernandez

It was all about the crunchy burgers last night as Bobby Flay broke Michael Symon's three-time winning streak by taking home the People's Choice award at the 2013 Amstel Light Burger Bash. Flay’s signature green chile cheeseburger topped with potato chips bested Symon’s entry from B Spot Burgers, dethroning the Cleveland chef.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said an elated Flay, lugging the golden burger trophy back to his team’s cooking station to celebrate and pose for pictures with the crew. “Tonight it was all about the green chilies and the fact that we crunchify our burgers. That’s what sets us apart.” When asked where he would place the trophy of gluttony Flay responded: “Not sure yet. My hotel room for now.”

Jeff “The Sandwich King” Mauro took home the win for Judges Choice with his ground sirloin and short rib griddle burger tucked in between toasted rye bread served with a side of deep-fried pickled jalapenos.

 


Amid predictably-long lines for popular spots like Burger and Beer Joint, The Forge and Shake Shack were TV personalities Iron Chef Morimoto and Guy Fieri churning out beefy goodness for the Amstel Light-swilling crowds that swarmed the tents on the beach. New contenders in this year’s competition included Tampa-based Burger 21 headed by Chef Shane Schaibly with a Tex-Mex burger. Chef Paul Malvone, co-founder of Boston Burger Co., served up his "Hot Mess Burger," topped with bacon, jalapenos, sweet potato fries and dripping American cheese between two Thousand Island dressed buns. But the buzz on the sand was for the double-patty on a toasted bun courtesy of Atlanta-based Holeman and Finch restaurant. Fieri’s tent was doling out Jell-o shots while Tim Love’s Fort Worth-based Love Shack topped their patties with crispy lamb bacon. Best side dish goes to Ft. Lauderdale Rok Brgr for their mini-lobster corn dogs. New York chef Michael Whitel previewed a delectable burger from his soon-to-open The Butterfly, a Wisconsin-inspired cocktail bar and restaurant he's opening in Tribeca.

 


Local chef Hedy Goldsmith had an impressive pavilion piled high with her overstuffed “Nutter Butter” dessert sliders stuffed with peanut butter cream in a cookie sandwich.

-- By Sara Liss and photos by Manny Hernandez

 

Beer Tasting Event Debuts at SBWFF

Most people swig their beers out of a bottle at a bar, not realizing the complexities of their adult beverage. Anyone who attended Friday's event, Beer Tasting with Spiegelau: Does the Glass Make a Difference?, at The James Royal Palm Hotel, are a little wiser about their brewskie now.

Matt Rutkowski, the  VP of US sales at Spiegelau,  a centuries old Germany company that crafts the ultimate in all things glass, led the tasting. The interactive event (as in you drank along) featured four different glass shapes. Amazing how something can smell like dishwater in one vessel and sudsy deliciousness in another.

Rutkowski, based in Pittsburgh, is a jovial type and made the learning process go down pretty easily. He took a picture of audience members so that he could send it to his mother, who he says doesn't believe he has a real job. Nice work if you can get it. "I want to show depth that beer has. Most people only think wine has so much complexity," he said at the end of the seminar. "Now you know the glass can make the difference."

Note: One of the bottles -- BREW FIU -- was made by students at Florida International University Brewing Program at Chaplin School of Hospitality.

-- By Maddy Marr

 

 

Bar Lab transforms Miami Beach Botanical Garden into a Cocktail Haven

The urban oasis that is the Miami Beach Botanical Garden was transformed into a haven for cocktails last night. More than a dozen super star bartenders from as far away as San Francisco were the headliners of “Garden to Glass,” the first true mixology-driven event at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi of Bar Lab orchestrated the evening along with celeb chef Emeril Lagasse and rising star chef Sam Gorenstein, who were on hand throughout the event. Hundreds of people sipped a wide array of creative drinks featuring fresh ingredients and hand chipped ice, while strolling comfortably through the 2.6-acre greenspace.

 


Chris Hudnall, a Miami-based cocktail consultant, had his blocks of ice delivered in the morning and spent the afternoon chipping away – as did the other bartenders -- for his assortment of drinks at the Zignum mezcal bar. He’s been obsessed with golden raisins lately and tinkering with the delicate little treats for the past month. Last night, he debuted his homemade golden raisin syrup in a cocktail with Zignum Silver, fresh honeydew juice, fresh lime, and peach bitters – topped with a dehydrated peach wheel. It had fans.

Danny Ronen (pronounced Donny), a beloved spirits educator from Oakland, CA, was stirring a brilliant Rum Old Fashioned (Botran rum, Nocello liqueur, pecan bitters and root beer leaves) behind the giant Bar Lab bar under the banyan trees. He says all of the recipes on the list were Orta and Zvi’s, but the team was able to collaborate a bit with this event – resulting in Ronen’s addition of Java Juice, an organic espresso extract. He says the orange in the Old Fashioned pairs nicely with rum and the lemon is a perfect match for the Java Juice.

Ezra Patek (Miami), Scott Baird (San Francisco), Mathias Simonis (San Francisco), Willy Shine (New York), and Angela Laino (Miami/New York) were at the bar as well, serving punch and stirred cocktails.


Veteran bartender Tony Abou-Ganim batched the “Monkey Shine,” a cocktail from his new book “Vodka Distilled,” for the event. He told a guest, “this is garden to glass right here” as he poured the refreshing combo of American Harvest vodka, Campari, Cointreau, fresh Florida lemon juice, and guava nectar. The mint leaf garnish was so fresh; you could smell it from across the bar.

Todd Richman of New York embraced fresh herbs as well at the American Harvest bar with his “Herbal Gimlet,” a sprightly cocktail featuring the new vodka, fresh Florida lime juice, a touch of sugar, and rosemary, basil, and tarragon.

-- By Galena Mosovich and photos by Tomas Loewy

 

 

Chefs end up at SLS for massive Friday night after party

The SLS Hotel was a veritable who’s who of the culinary world at the “Chef After Party” hosted by Jose Andres, hotelier Sam Nazarian, and Lee Schrager.

Exclusivity was definitely not compromised: Martha Stewart, Marcus Samuelsson, Daniel Boulud, Morimoto, Jonathan Waxman, and Curtis Stone, to name a few, were there in full effect…. eating, drinking, schmoozing. Danny Meyer dined at a big round table in The Bazaar’s main room with a large group until after midnight. Around this time, Andres made his way upstairs with friends to one of the villas overlooking the pool.

The party spilled out from The Bazaar’s outdoor bar and down the steps to the pool area where top Miami chefs spent most of the night. Jose Mendin enjoyed a rare night off with Andreas Schreiner of the Pubbelly Restaurant Group. A relaxed Michael Schwartz chatted with Giancarlo Pagani, general manager of The Bazaar, while rising star chef Giorgio Rapicavoli made his rounds with Henry Hane, representing the future of Miami’s food scene.

-- By Galena Mosovich


Inside Godiva Indulge

If there were a place where you could actually achieve death by chocolate, Godiva Indulge at the Dream Hotel would be it. I'll admit, I was cocky going into this. As a 23-year-old woman, I've really never met a piece of chocolate I didn't like. I thought my chocolate tolerance was unbeatable.

I was wrong in the best way possible.

Servers greeted us at the entrance with hand-dipped Godiva truffles. After two of those, a s'more confection by BLT Steak at the Besty's pastry chef Janna Wardle and half a Godiva cupcake, I'd been conquered by the sugar.

"These aren't your mom's s'mores," was the warning given by Wardle, who received her early training in s'mores construction from the Girl Scouts of America. Hers began with graham cracker crust, then a thick layer of bittersweet Godiva ganache, topped off with a chai-infused marshmallow and a couple of milk chocolate pearls. If the Girl Scouts sold these s'mores on the corner, they'd be rolling in the dough.

The star of the evening was Baltimore-based pastry chef Duff Goldman, as seen on the Food Network's "Ace of Cakes." Goldman brought a few of his favorite recipes from his Charm City Cakes, including pineapple hummingbird cake and a dark chocolate slice of heaven called Godiva triple indulgence.

Other offerings at the laid-back late night event were dark and white chocolate mousses with a variety of toppings, Chocolate Shop Wine and Le Grand Saint sparkling vodka. The idea of sparkling vodka is appealing, and the bartenders did a lovely job of serving it up with fresh blackberries. But what the bar really needed on tap was milk. You can't chug a glass of vodka to wash down a salted caramel cupcake with buttercream frosting -- or, at least, you shouldn't.

-- By Erin Jester

 

 

2,000 raw oysters devoured at Oyster Bash

On Friday evening, the line to get into Oyster Bash at Hotel Victor was down the block. And for good reason -- Island Creek Oyster Farm brought 2,000 fresh, raw oysters from Duxbury, Mass. for the masses to slurp down with lemon juice, vinegar and Tabasco sauce.

"There's a trick," said master oyster shucker CJ Husk, demonstrating the proper technique to a guest. "You cut away from yourself," Husk said, as he expertly sliced an oyster in half and tossed it onto a plate.

Two celebrity chefs worked their magic on the slippery shellfish at opposite ends of the rooftop event. In one corner was chef Ming Tsai of the Food Network's "The Next Iron Chef" fame, who served up sake-wasabi oyster shooters with grilled oysters on the side. On the other end of the patio, Island Creek Oyster Bar's own chef Jeremy Sewall offered up mango lobster tacos and oyster sliders on a brioche bun. Half an hour into the event, both chefs were serving lines as long as 20 people at all times.

Double Cross vodka martinis and Winebow prosecco kept guests' appetites whetted throughout the evening -- when the Oyster Bash wound down around 7 p.m., all 2,000 raw oysters had been devoured.

- By Erin Jester

 

 

 

The Today Show arrives on South Beach

The country woke up to NBC News’ Today show from Miami Beach this morning with Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales, Al Roker and Willie Geist anchoring live – poolside and oceanside – at the Loews hotel. The morning program’s month-long “Field Trip Fridays” series brought them south to highlight the city’s cultural evolution and to coincide with Roker’s devotion to the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which kicked off yesterday just steps away from the pop-up set on the sand. Roker’s BBQ savoir-faire has been a fixture at the The Q for more than six years, including the time when it was still called the “Bubble Q” and Rocco DiSpirito reigned.

Guthrie, who was in bed by 9 p.m., loves that Miami is a late-night city.  She says Chef Tim Love “forced” her and Morales to drink a fabulous shot from the bar at The Q. “While we don’t need encouragement to drink, it was a school night for us,” Guthrie said as she smiled.She wants to get a taste of the city as she’s only been here once. Casa Tua, the exclusive Italian eatery, is first on the list of her weekend plans.

Morales, on the other hand, is much more familiar with Miami and recognizes how the culinary scene has changed so much. Her parents live in Lake Worth and she frequents South Florida in the summers to get her Cuban food fix. She’s a big fan of Versailles’ black beans and rice. For something more upscale, there’s always Scarpetta and Hakkasan at the Fontainbleau, she says.

The show’s relatively new executive producer Don Nash says every time he gets off the plane at MIA he thinks, “I could really live here.” When he’s in town, there’s generally not enough time to fully experience the city, but he points out “Miami is truly in its heyday right now… and that’s why we’re here.”

For Roker, he always tries to make it to Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink because “it’s hard to go wrong there.”  “I come here a lot for work, but I don’t know what the hottest new places are. I’m not that hip,” he admits. “Maybe I should go on Miami.com more?”

- By Galena Mosovich

 

THURSDAY, FEB. 21


A fresh crowd of thirsty foodies toasted The Q After Dark

The Q rolled into The Q After Dark when the lights came on in the tent and a fresh crowd of thirsty foodies joined the high-energy party on the sand behind the Delano. Moët & Chandon was flowing as Today show starlets Natalie Morales and Savannah Guthrie joined Al Roker, who was cooking up a storm at his station earlier in the night, for a nightcap. This morning, the whole crew was on location at the Loews Miami Beach for a live broadcast well before sunrise. 

Guests gawked at the captivating mix of performers straight from Miami’s mainstream hotspot, Mansion, where “Cirque de Mansion” typically transpires every Wednesday night at the nightclub. The circus of it all included contortionists, acrobats, blazing power tools, inflatable objects, and lots of skin.
Not to be outdone, celeb chef Curtis Stone jumped up on stage popping bottles and spraying eager guests liberally with the bubbly.

Hundreds clamored for cocktails featuring Belvedere, Hennessy, Grand Marnier and 10 Cane, while others danced off the pork from earlier with DJ Konflict’s Top 40 dance mix. Jordan Bushell, Hennessey’s national brand manager, took control of his bar when one thirsty guest continued to pour his own drink without shame. Aside from this party faux pas, the spirits-driven event was rather civilized.

Many of the participating chefs packed up their knives and headed to the exclusive Chef Kickoff Party hosted by Kris Wessel of Florida Cookery at the James Royal Palm Hotel. Miami VIPs rubbed elbows with Andrew Zimmern, who was presumably there for all of Wessel’s thought-provoking goat dishes.

- By Galena Mosovich

 

Chef Jonathan Waxman crowned King of the Q as the Festival kicked off with The Q hosted by Paula Deen

BBQ fans were in heaven Thursday as they kicked off the South Beach Wine & Food Festival with the Q hosted by Paula Deen and her son Bobby. On the menu was an abundance of steak, pork, lamb and pork. As long as you didn’t mind fighting the crowds at the bar you could wash it down with cocktails featuring Belvedere vodka, Grand Marnier and Hennessy cognac or a glass of Chandon champagne.

For the first time the chefs got put to the test in a competition for the King of the Q sponsored by Kingsford charcoal. The honor went to Chef Jonathan Waxman for his simple but well-articulated dish featuring a roasted NY strip steak served over arugula and dressed with tomatoes and salsa picante. The Omaha Steaks award went to Chef Todd English who offered a steamed bun featuring a mix of hoisin glazed short ribs and roasted five spice tenderloin, then topped off with a sweet and sour cucumber slaw.  Miami’s own Hedy Goldsmith was a big hit with her candied bacon and ditto for Shar Melwani’s chocolate chip cookies made with Godiva chocolate.

Paula Deen was raving about the jalapeno grits and pork and beans that are part of her new food line rolling out at local grocery stores. Food Network star Robert Irvine was flexing his muscles and mugging for the camera with adoring fans. Ditto for Geoffrey Zakarian wearing his stylish glasses, a knock-off of which were passed out as a fashion accessory.  If the event got your juices flowing for BBQ at home, Sears wanted to make sure you buy their products. The Sears Kenmore grills were on display in a lounge dubbed “Grilling is Happiness.”  If every night was like the Q it would be.

-- By Elaine Walker

 

South African wines were the stars of the show at House of Mandela Wine Event

Last night’s House of Mandela wine event was a smorgasbord of surprises. First of all, The St. Regis hotel driveway is really steep. Rickety cars are definitely not welcome. Fast forward: I walked into the hob-nob room where I was greeted by a glass of the Thembu Sauvignon Blanc. I was expecting big tropical flavors, but I was wrong. This wine is salty and channels Sancerre with its high minerality and steely characteristics. It’s a wine you pair with codfish or conch fritters. They served a pepperdew appetizer that worked really well. After a few sips, I took some photos with the lovely Mandelas, but I didn’t get the email address of the photographer (Booo). The crowd eventually retired to a dining room on another floor. It looked like there were about 100-115 people in attendance. I sat at the media table with a PR guy from New York and a couple that reminded me of Helen and Tom Willis from “The Jeffersons.” The menu included an alligator mofongo-style first course which I couldn’t eat because of Lent. But the stars of the night were the gorgeous Thelema reserve chardonnay and the demure Hartenberg reserve cab. The chardonnay was papaya-funky and the cab possessed the restraint of a left bank Bordeaux. Tom Willis said it reminded him of a dry red from Bandol. As the night crept on, some folks started slurring their words (Remember to spit, people!) But the biggest surprise of the night was Helen Willis who kept asking me inappropriate questions: "How old are you? Where is your boyfriend from? Do you have any kids?"

-- Dinkinish O'Connor

Satellite events: Eating & drinking beyond the SoBe Wine & Food Fest

The action at this weekend’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival expands well beyond the tents at Lummus Park as satellite events pop up around town.

“It’s kind of like Art Basel,” says Todd Erickson, executive chef at Haven Gastro-Lounge, who is taking part in several events, both official and unofficial.

“It’s great that the whole city gets behind something like this. A lot of the satellite events aren’t in the higher price range, so they allow people that can’t necessarily afford the big tickets to get excited about food and food entertainment.”

Satellite events include a “Best of the Best” menu through Sunday at Area 31 that includes chef E. Michael Reidt’s $28 seared scallops with char sui pork cheeks (270 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami; 305-424-5324), a Joseph Phelps Vineyard wine dinner Saturday night at The Forge (432 41st St., Miami Beach; $195) and a Big Gay Ice Cream Social to raise awareness for marriage equality from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at the James Royal Palm Hotel (1545 Collins Ave., Miami Beach).

“The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is probably the biggest, most celebrated food festival in the world,” says chef Art Smith, who is hosting the ice cream social. “The world comes to the tropics to have fun, and the satellite events add to the party.”

The folks who make Pavan liqueurs are partnering with Miami chef Michael Shikany to pair his Mediterranean cuisine with their cocktails on a bus open from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday in Wynwood (Northwest Second Avenue between 22nd and 23rd streets). In the Design District, men’s clothier Duncan Quinn will turn a customized double-decker bus into a pop-up boutique by day and an event space with Zacapa rum cocktails by night over the weekend.

Pork purveyor Smithfield has teamed up with Versailles restaurant to create the ultimate “Smithfield Versailles Cuban Combo,” serving free Cuban sandwich samples from a food truck from midnight to 2 a.m. Saturday outside the Dream Hotel (1111 Collins Ave., Miami Beach).

-- By Valerie Schimel


Top South Beach Wine & Food Festival Events for 2013

1. Chicken Coupe.
Fried chicken, champagne & Andrew Carmellini.
Saturday, 7 p.m. at The W Hotel South Beach, 2001 Collins Ave, Miami Beach

2. Burger Bash.
Burgers, beer and sand in your toes.
Friday, 6:45 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, 1 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach

3. Delta Diamond Dishes.
On the field action with top female chefs.
Saturday 7 p.m. at Marlins Park, 501 Marlins Way, Miami

4. Grand Tasting Village.
The iconic Festival event.
Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. at 13th Street and Ocean Dr., Miami Beach

5. Garden to the Glass.
Hand-crafted cocktails in one of Beach’s best kept secrets.
Friday, 10 p.m. at Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, 2000 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach

6. Brunch with Bobby Flay.
Sweet, savory and a glass of rosé
Saturday, Noon at The Raleigh, 1775 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

7. Guy Fieri’s Reggae Jam with Ziggy Marley.
Sand, surf and reggae from a legend.
Sunday, 6:30 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, 1 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach

8. From Big Apple to the Big Easy.
Lowcountry meets the Magic City.
Friday, 7 p.m. at Mandarin Oriental. 500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami

9. Tribute Dinner
Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Christophe Navarre, Chief Executive Officer of Moët Hennessy, are honored. Martha Sewart hosts.
Saturday, 7 p.m. at Loews, 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

10. The Q and The Q After Dark.
BBQ, Belvedere cocktails and festival fun.
Thursday, 7 p.m. at The Delano, 1685 Collins Ave, Miami Beach

-- By VALERIE SCHIMEL

 

 

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