SOBEWFF Recap: Grand Tasting Village

Just like the other big cultural festival in Miami, Art Basel, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival consists of a variety of different events simultaneously occurring over a period of several days. The main event every year at SOBEWFF occurs at the Grand Tasting Village right on the sands of Miami Beach with the rolling surf and hot bodies working on their tans only steps away. Hosted this year by Whole Foods Market, the Grand Tasting Village was a sensory overload for any lover of food, wine, and spirits. Besides sampling food from over 35 local restaurants, there were also representatives from vacation destinations, new food and cooking products to try out, cocktails made with some well-known and not-so-well-known liquors, and lot’s of wine. In between getting tipsy and nibbling on tasty morsels, attendees were able to watch cooking demonstrations from some of the most popular TV cooking personalities like Anne Burrell, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen, and many others. Occurring over a two day period, here are some highlights from the first day of the Grand Tasting Village on Saturday, February 23rd.

Chunky Guacomole

Before I was formally trained at culinary school in New York City, my food knowledge began on the couch, where I sat at home and watched cooking shows. All. Day. Long. It turns out you CAN learn a lot from watching TV. From shows like Barefoot Contessa and Nigella Feasts, I gathered all kinds of useful tips, like how important it is to let meat rest after it's been cooked to retain moisture and juiciness. Saffron comes from the stigma of the crocus. Cilantro leaves stem from the Coriander flower. Softened butter plays a crucial role in good cookie dough. But a very important lesson I took away from TV that sticks with me today is that most people make guacomole all wrong. What is supposed to be a lime or lemon infused, spicy, and CHUNKY dip is usually a pulverized, gloppy mess with a consistency that is simliar to mayonaise. What's with this obsession with the food processor? No, no, no. Enjoyable meals need texture. Salty, crunchy chips need chunky and sweet guacomole. In this recipe you are instructed to use a sharp knive to cut through the avocado in the bowl which leaves the fruit slightly mashed but with plenty of texture. Please resist the urge to use a fork.

Women. Eating. Food.

I have recently come to the realization that Food Network and to a slightly lesser extent, Travel Channel, have discovered a couple deep dark secrets that are key to good ratings.

1) There are a ton of women who like watching shows about food.

2) Guys like watching attractive women put things in their mouths.

Combine these two ideas and you get gems such as:

It is in the spirit of these shows and their blatant exploitation of the weakness of the male ego that I present these images of women. Eating. Food.