Weeee! I arrived. Thought I was prepared for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.. I mean, I do live in the hustle bustle of New York and have dinners every night, tastings, etc, etc, but nope! Nope! The weekend seemed more like a month and it was jam packed and completely nonstop. I’ll try to squeeze in all the details and give the ins and outs of the festival, new Miami discoveries and more importantly dishes to try at restaurants in the sunny city. Don’t worry, we came hungry!
Friday morning bright and early, I could finally take a nice jog outside without having to play frogger around people. A nice refresher and step one to prepping for all the festivities. Friday afternoon I headed to Broken Shaker at Freehand Miami to network with the James Beard Nominated team Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta who started their company Bar Lab a couple years ago, which was originally launched at the Living Room at W Hotel. They popped up at numerous restaurants and events with the name Broken Shaker until they found their home last year at Freehand Miami. The event included a pop-up/collaboration with PDT’s head mixologist Jim Meehan which has won several awards for the cocktail club, including ’Outstanding Bar Program Award in 2012 for James Beard, 2009 Spirited Award for ‘World’s Best Cocktail Bar’ at Tales of the Cocktail and in 2011, the bar published its James Beard Award nominated The PDT Cocktail Book. That was a good swift kick it the butt to start the evening.
Jim Meehan behind the bar
Next Stop: Burger Bash:
Walking up and seeing the sign at Burger Bash is like walking into the gates of heaven. I got so excited, that I actually started running a little.. I’m not even kidding. The event was filled with notable chefs, journalists, bloggers with samples from some of the BEST restaurants from all over including Miami, NYC, DC, etc. with Chris Santos, Harold Moore from Commerce,Shake Shack, Spike Mendelsohn, plus more. I attended the event with my friends Olee Fowler and Giovanny Gutierrez who has a video blog called Chat Chow TV, (check it out). His blog is growing in popularity and has scored big interviews, including Daniel Boulud over the weekend, which is set to air sometime soon. Gio knows all the restaurants, chefs and owners in Miami and will be a great contact for us to find out about new openings in Miami. I couldn’t ask for better eaters-in-crime (although horizontal stripes would not be a good idea after this event). At burger bash we hung out with Chef/Owner Jamie DeRosa from Tongue & Cheek who used to work under Geoffrey Zakarian at his former restaurant Tudor House at Dream Hotel. Speaking of which, Geoffrey walked by at the end and I said hello. He looked satisfied. We also met the chef of Pincho Factory who created an amazing burger utilizing fried plantains as a bun.
Chef Harold Moore from Commerce. Oh yum!
Me, Olee Fowler and Gio Gutierrez (www.chatchowtv.com)
We also tasting an amazing Toston Burger (5oz Patty with 2 Fried Plantains as the buns & topped with Cheese, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cilantro Sauce & Roasted Garlic Sauce), no joke! from Pincho Factory. So Miami style, I love it! Spike Mendelsohn first competed on Top Chef: Chicago Season 4, had an outstanding set of buns.. I mean burgers! And Josh Capon as per usual who won Burger Bash in New York this year.
Photo by Gio Gutierrez. Toston Burger from Pincho Factory
The People’s Choice Award: Michael Symon (B Spot)– 4th Year in a Row!
The Fat Doug Burger: Burger with coleslaw, pastrami, Castello-creamy Havarti cheese with stadium mustard.
Judges’ Favorite: Shake Shack
BurgerMeister: Cheeseburger topped with crispy beer-marinated shallots and ShackSauce.
You think the night stopped there.. oh no, my friend. We continued!
Next Stop: Patpong Road:
We went to Patpong Road, which is the private event space in Khong River House (owned by 50 Eggs Hospitality), which had a pop-up with bartenders from James Beard Nominated New York mixology bar The Dead Rabbit where the likes of Chef Aarón Sanchez mingled with the commoners, journalists and industry people. This is an amazing event space– perfect for private gatherings and food of course!
Next Stop: Shore Club/ Chef After Party (I know, this is a long day):
The title alone says it all ‘Chef After Party.’ More drinks, more food, more fun! Literally everyone from James Beard Nominated Chef Jose Mendin from the Pubbelly Empire to Giorgio Rapacavoli from Eating House were there, plus everyone else from all the events combined. It was a blast! I literally couldn’t consume anymore drinks or food though, but overlooking the pool and the beautiful weather made for a perfect night.. especially seeing my my friends randomly on my way out.
End of the Night (Whew!) Rec Room:
This was my first time at the lounge/bar, but I have to say that LDV Hospitality and John Meadow are doing an excellent job! The bar was bumping with an outstanding Dj in the intimate space. It didn’t feel very ‘Miami’ which I really liked! The cocktails, ambiance and music were all very unique to South Beach, and I would definitely go back. In fact, I DID go back the next day. After more champagne, dancing and buzzing around the room, it was time to finally go home for the night (at 5am!).
Saturday: The Grand Tasting!
If you’ve never experienced the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the Grand Tasting is basically a rite of passage. If you can get through the ultimate fun in the sun (very hot blistering sun) and boozy day, you can get through any of the other events throughout the weekend. Since tickets are usually less expensive, you’re bound to run into multiple friends along the way or in my case friends/colleagues. I was actually caught taking a tanning break by my former employer (I live in New York, I’ll soak up sun whenever possible). I’m not even embarrassed or ashamed, but it will leave a lasting impression.
At the Grand Tasting, we had our wine glasses that were never empty and a plate filled with cheese, sandwiches, lobster rolls and everything under the sun–literally. Some demonstrations for the day included a cook-off from the Miami Heat players Chris Bosh and Shane Battier, Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, Jose Andres, plus more.
Winning burger again from Michael Symon
We left the Grand Tasting to say hello to our lovely friends who took a break from the festival to dine at The Bazaar at SLS Hotel. I used my time wisely and charged my phone while we hung out for a bit.
Next Stop: Soho Beach House:
Although I wasn’t properly dressed for a rose and oyster party at Soho House, who could say no! My FOMO was in full gear, so I was saying yes to everything! ESPECIALLY if it involved rose and oysters. hello! The ambiance at the Tiki bar in the back was perfect with old (college and Miami) friends, fashionistas and tastemakers.. and most importantly the man shucking the oysters. For me? Oh shucks, you shouldn’t have! My other fashionable partner in crime Ria Michelle and I stood next to that section until they were finished. I had to leave to attend a friend’s dinner, otherwise I would have made my next stop to the Thrillist BBQ and the Blues, but maybe it was better to take a break and see my besties! Yes, I said besties. I’m a girl, it happens.
After dinner in Ft Lauderdale at Timpano (yes, I left the beach and made it all the way to Ft Lauderdale in my Grand Tasting Gear and just 20 mins late), I headed BACK to the beach for round.. who can count anymore.
I kidnapped my friends Sam Scharf and Ria along for the ride again and we had an amazing time. Although, I should have been full from eating for two days straight, Joe’s Stonecrabs were staring at me. I think they even whispered my name. If there’s an opportunity to eat Joe’s anytime, anywhere, I will eat it, especially if it’s on the rooftop of the beautiful New World Symphony. Some only make room for dessert, I make room for stonecrabs.. or even the s’mores with lobster, which was an interesting combination.
Headed to Rec Room again and saw all my lovelies from BCPR and then back home.
Sunday, I needed a much deserved food break and headed to the boat for a nice escape and nap. So much for my food break, that evening, I had a friends and family tasting with Ria at 1826 Collins, which is a new restaurant with Michelin chef Danny Grant at the kitchen helm. That will be saved for a later post.
My date Ria Michelle at 1826 Restaurant and Lounge. A full recap to come!
Great weekend. New York.. you better get warm fast, Miami was quite compelling this time around.