Sorry for being out of touch last week but I headed South . . . all the way down to Miami Florida where I joined my friend Jen for the SOUTH BEACH WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL! It was just incredible!!!
So for today's post I thought I'd share my experience with all of you!
Day 1) We checked into the Royal Palm Hotel and were thrilled to have a view that overlooked, not just the beach, but the main event for that night: BURGER BASH hosted by Rachael Ray.
The Burger Bash was amazing -- there were 26 burgers competing for the title of "Best Burger" and the people got to vote for their favorites.
While these are not full-sized burgers, they are BIG sliders and come with sides. Needless to say there was NO WAY I was going to be able to try them all but I did taste 8 of them! Among my favorites were:
Morimoto's Nikomi burger (wagyu beef patty stewed in Morimoto sauce and topped with a fried egg) The Iron Chef actually SERVED ME -- so cool!!!!
Bulldog Burger's Black Truffle Burger with Brie Cheese and Crispy Pancetta. OMG!
Michael Symon's B Spot's Yo! Burger - fried salami, provolone, shasha sauce and pickled onion. This burger ACTUALLY won!
Love Shack's Wild Love -- elk, foie gras, arugula, huckleberry jam -- I am now an ELK fan!
Michael's Genuine Food and Drink's Genuine Bacon Egg and Cheeseburger (white cheddar, chutney, quail egg on a rosemary biscuit)
and my favorite of the night . . . Burger & Beer Joint's Mutang Sally - Kobe beef, prosciutto di parma, onion marmalade, brie cheese, on a brioche bun! It got my vote!!!
As for my favorite "sides" - best potato side goes to Burger & Beer Joint's truffle baked potato salad (it won!). Also B Spot's Nutella and Hazelnut Liquer Milkshake, and Good Stuff Eatery's Toasted marshmellow milkshake!
My favorite desert of the night would probably be the pecan pie from Fireman Derek's Pies.
After surviving the Burger Bash, we slept late on Day 2. We had a fabulous brunch on Lincoln Road at Van Dyke's Cafe -- great coffee plus this AMAZING bagel pizza. It looked like a realy pizza but the dough was very light. It had cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, and onions on top and it was the coolest bagel treat ever!
After brunch we did some shopping on Lincoln Road but were still pretty exhausted so when we saw Starbucks on the corner, we found the solution to our problem -- caffeine!!!
That evening my college roomie Lisa drove down to Miami and met us for dinner at Emeril's restaurant at the Loew's Hotel. Honestly, it was a little over-hyped -- the food was good but the prices were a bit crazy. Still we had a wonderful time together and the MOJITOS were fabulous!
Day 3 was the Main Event -- the Grand Tasting Village. The open area let us taste a few things (a bit of a teaser) before they let us into the tented area for the big tasting!
Here we tried dozens of different wines (I love the wine lanyard, don't you?) and even more dishes.
There were many celebrity chefs there doing demos, signing books, and . . . well, eating and drinking! There is no way to see everyone and do everything but we really enjoyed ourselves. Among the celebs we watched were Jamie Oliver, , Sunny Anderson, Alex Guarnascheilli and Duff Goldman! Plus others "popped by" for visits including Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, and Andrew Zimmern.
The grand tasting ended around 6 and we crashed at our hotel for a couple of hours to re-charge our batteries before heading out for the night -- we met up with friends and grabbed a light bite (very light!) and then had drinks and tried out a hookah lounge. Hookah seems to be VERY popular in South Beach so we thought "when in South Beach . . ." -- it probably didn't hurt that I had been drinking since 11am so I was brave enough to try it! It was definitely unusual but fun since we all tried it together!
On Day 4, our final day, we headed next door to the Loew's hotel once again -- this time for Paula Deen's Gospel Brunch. Honestly, it was hard to eat or drink anything anymore -- I was pretty full from the last 3 days.
I did try a few things (of course, twist my arm!) and was happy to see Paula Deen herself . . .
and MEET Alex Guarnaschelli. She was so funny the day before and Jen and I really enjoyed getting to meet her the next day! I love watching her on CHOPPED and now I'm an even bigger fan. Now I have to check out her restaurant in NYC - BUTTER -- soon!
I got home about 24 hours ago and I'm still in a bit of a food & wine coma. It really was a fabulous experience. I can't wait to print out my photos and write about this trip in my next scrapbook!
If you're ever in Miami in late February, you should definitely consider attending this event! It will be unforgettable!