Review: South Beach Food and Wine Festival

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the 15th annual South Beach (SoBe) Food & Wine Festival and I must say it’s one of the best festivals I’ve been to, hands down. Even though I only had a chance to partake in two of the events, which totaled 5 hours of indulging in some of the best food and adult beverages I’ve tasted, I felt like I got my fill of the experience – enough to have me already planning out my participation next year.

The feature event on Friday night was the 10th anniversary of the wildly popular Burger Bash, in which Food Network Stars Bobby Flay and Michael Simon have participated in previous years. This year, the two high-profile chefs showing off their burger skills were world-renowned Chef Morimoto and TV personality and weatherman Al Roker, who actually served me one of his delicious patty melts. Who knew Al could throw down in the kitchen like that?

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Even though I’m very much a carnivore and love my meat dishes, I’m not much of a burger girl….that is, until the Burger Bash. I have never in my life tasted so much yummy goodness in one night. I wish I could say I had a taste of the more than two dozen burger entries but sadly, I tapped out around 10. I certainly put in a good effort though! Ultimately Jersey Dawg, a food truck based in South Florida, won the contest but unfortunately for me they were one of the burgers I didn’t get to sample. That’s just an excuse to go back to Miami and try it out. Of the ones I tasted, certainly STK and El Rey de Las Fritas were among my favorites.

On Sunday, I participated in the Goya Grand Tasting Village, and grand it was indeed. So grand in fact that the 2 hour option I selected in lieu of the 5 hour option wasn’t long enough. I could have had at least another hour to soak in all of the deliciousness that awaited me. From the grilled octopus to the macaroni and cheese meatball to the flank steak and horseradish mashed potatoes with chimichurri sauce to the smoked cod fish offered by one of my favorites, Oceanaire, I was absolutely in heaven. Not to mention the large selection of wines offered. There was so much to experience there that the 2 hours felt more like 20 minutes.

In addition to the dozens of food and adult beverage stations, there were cooking demonstrations offered by actress and TV personality Tia Mowry and world renowned Chef Jose Andres; a book signing by one of my favorite Food Network stars Geoffrey Zacharian; several swanky lounge stations decked out in the signature all-white or Art Deco-style South Beach motif; and an entertainment stage hosted by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. I seriously was on sensory overload. Helpful Hint: Invest in the five hour option so you don’t feel rushed and you can savor the entire experience.

I definitely recommend making a visit to the SoBe Food & Wine Festival but the one thing that may stop you is the price. Despite the cheapest tasting event being around $100, just about every event was sold out. Simply put, don’t expect the prices to go anywhere but up. I will say though that price is only an issue in the absence of value, and this festival certainly brought a lot of value so it was well worth the investment.

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