This year’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival ended with a fun, homegrown party that honored Miami’s growing mobile food culture with a selection of over 20 of South Florida’s most popular food trucks in an event hosted by Andrew Zimmern in Midtown Miami. February 24th’s Trucks on Midtown’s Tracks event, presented by Diet Pepsi, offered the chance for locals to reacquaint themselves with some of Miami’s delicious street food and provided visitors the opportunity to savor some very tasty Miami traditions. The food trucks were pitted against each other as to which truck offered the best dish in a competition judged by everyone in attendance, and with a selection as varied and delicious as what was available this past Sunday, the choice wasn’t easy to make.
Anyone who has been paying close attention to the culinary trends of right now is very much aware that the next “it” cuisine is that of Peru, a cuisine that has been slowly and quietly trying to break into the American palate for at least a decade. A handful of chefs and food writers had heralded the advent of Peruvian cuisine in this country years ago, but it had been premature, and many food enthusiasts were left waiting for a wave of Peruvian restaurants - both haute and humble - that never seemed to arrive. This country wasn’t ready yet. Not only did we lack the food culture that we have today with all its foodie bloggers and gourmet food trucks, it was almost as if gringos had yet to resolve their issues with Latin American cuisine. Although many Latin Americans were already fans of the varied and sophisticated cuisine of Peru, the general American population still thought that Latino cuisines were either confined inside a tortilla or served with a heap of rice, beans, and plantains. Peruvian cuisine did not fit neatly into any of those compartments. With the rise in Latino chefs and the spread of Nuevo Latino cuisine, Americans began to understand that Latin American cuisines could be elegant and sophisticated and complex. We began enjoying spicier, bolder flavors. We started to become huge fans of ceviche to the point that almost every menu now features it. We were also about to be introduced to a chef who was steadily building momentum in Peru and who would introduce the rest of the world to Peruvian cuisine.
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.
This year’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival kicked off with a bang on February 21st at Moët Hennessy’s The Q, presented by Omaha Steaks and sponsored by Miami Magazine. Previously known as the BUBBLEQ, the shortening of the name has in no way diminished the the grandiosity of this event, the importance of the chefs and cooks participating, nor the quantity of fantastic dishes available to sample. A happy marriage of champagne and barbecue, this year’s The Q was hosted by that queen of indulgent Southern cooking, Paula Deen, along with her sons Jamie and Bobby. The Deen family, however, were not the only celebrities present as foodies were able to meet some of their culinary heroes, like Todd English and Geoffrey Zakarian, as well as sample some of the cuisine that has made them famous. With over 40 of the nation’s top chefs, including many local favorites, it was a delicious challenge trying to sample everything, and while most things were pleasant, there were a few dishes that really stood out.
Food lovers now seem to have more mediums than ever to showcase their knowledge, passion, and experimentations. Anyone with the desire to do so can easily start their own food blog, and even food photography has changed with the ubiquitousness of cell phone cameras that enable aspiring food writers and casual gourmands, alike, to document their meals, recipes, shopping excursions and anything else they deem interesting. This, of course, has spawned apps like Instagram that allow you to take photos with your phone, edit them and share them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or one of the many other platforms used by foodies today. With SOBEWFF occurring next week, Evian has teamed up with TV personality Chef Richard Blais, who will be taking over the French mineral water’s @evianwater Instagram account to bring us behind-the-scenes views of the food festival. To lead up to the event, Chef Blais is inviting all foodies everywhere to upload their own culinary creations to Evian’s Instagram account as part of #evianeats Foodie Photo Series.
February is upon us, and it’s only a few weeks until the year’s most important food event, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, begins. Tickets to the nearly countless events have been on sale since before 2013 even started, and while some of the more coveted events are sold out, there are still tickets available to some very exciting dinners, tastings, and parties that are sure to be the highlight of your year. A list of all available events for this year’s Wine & Food Festival can be seen at www.sobefest.com, but here are some highlights that any foodie should definitely not miss: