The 16th annual Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF®) shined its light on Miami revealing five days full of exciting culinary adventures. Events included Food Network and Cooking Channel celebrity chefs, food trends, cooking demos, book signings, vendors, seminars and – a chance to peer behind the curtain on Miami’s very own restaurant scene. Continued was the expansion into Broward County with the Taste of Fort Lauderdale with a series of intimate dinner and brunch parties during the Festival.
To kick off the weekend of events, I was invited to mix and mingle at one of Miami’s reputable hotels with fellow food critics, SOBEWFF’s culinary, wine and spirit personalities and the Festival Founder and Director himself, Lee Brian Schrager. The Betsy Hotel played host to an evening under the stars on their new Pool Deck in the Art Deco Wing.
The award-winning Chef Laurent Touronde offered delightful bites from his restaurant on premises, LT Steak & Seafood. LT dished out an array of fresh sushi rolls, ceviche, Wagyu beef tartare, roasted cauliflower and foie gras. A great pairing with Whispering Angel Rosé. Elegant were the stationed mixologists concocting Ron Barcelo Imperial Rum cocktails and Fifty Pounds London Gin spritzers.
Miami Beach is blessed by miles and miles of sandy beaches, sapphire blue waters and a vibrant cityscape which makes the perfect backdrop for Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village featuring Mastercard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid Culinary Demonstrations. All ticket holders make their way under beloved white tents and thru the sands for a variety of cuisines, wines and spirits from around the world. After checking in and collecting my wristband and swag bag containing a Goya wine plate, SOBEWFF signature wine glass and samples I stopped over at the illy Coffee booth. There I enjoyed a refreshing espresso ice cream shot and issimo iced coffee. My favorite when it comes to coffee beans!
Chocolate was my next intention and I surprisingly found my fulfillment with a visit to Peeps’ booth. Peeps was showcasing their newest product called Delights.™ A regular ole Peep sitting on a bed of decadent dark chocolate that comes in several flavors such as raspberry, coconut and vanilla caramel brownie. I opted for the blueberry flavor and what an awesome flavor combination with the tart and sweet burst of blueberry against the creamy marshmallow and rich chocolate, just in time for Easter.
It was very difficult but my votes for top favorite SOBE food bites were; Open Blue Cobia with their rare cobia and pickled radish, Dewars Scotch Egg with salmon roe on top, Buffalo Chicken Croquetas from Palomilla Grille, Jelly Donuts by Honeybee Donuts, tenderloin beef from Uruwagyu and Miami Smokers bacon and grit croquets.
Best cocktails were shaken or sipped by Climax Wood Fired Cinnamon Whiskey, GlenLivet, Belvedere, Barkan Wines, Copper Cane Wines and Strongbow.
Really throwing this Festival over the top was a chance to witness live demos by celebrity chefs from the Food Network and meet them back stage for a photo op.
Widely recognized as one of America’s most prestigious gourmet gatherings, the Festival has raised more than $24 million to date for the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University. In September 2015, BizBash named the Festival the #1 Food & Restaurant Industry event in the United States for the third year in a row.
Help us EAT, DRINK and EDUCATE next year February 21-25, 2018 to benefit the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University. See you on the beach! For more information and to keep up to date on the happenings please visit this link.
Photos by Shana Overhulser.
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