What do you get when you pair some of the top chefs in the country with some of the top winemakers? The place to “be” and “be seen”. At the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Presents Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best Sponsored by Bank of America, everyone was dressed to impress and it was clearly one of the top events of the weekend. With over 40 chefs in attendance and countless sommeliers, we were not going to miss this! If you were a lover of wine this was the event you definitely wanted to attend. As the festival stated, “There is more fine wine here than any other place all weekend long”! Your tastes buds ignited as soon as you entered the room as the pastry chefs were the first on deck. The first room was filled to the brim with treats for chocolate lovers and for those who followed the cravings of their sweet tooth. There were no chocolate fountains here my friends. This was the real deal. The Urban Swank pick and top dessert was the Brownie Brown Sugar Parfait from Emily Luchetti.
Once we settled in and found our groove, our first task was to attach the provided wine glasses to our “necklace”. This really came in handy as we navigated from station to station. It kept our hands free so we could taste, sip and socialize! As we exited one room and entered the other, a live band played music seemingly perfect for the setting; upbeat but classy. The next (and larger) room was a bit overwhelming and not solely due to it’s size. We couldn’t decide where to start! The chef stations were a toss up between those that prepared ahead of time and those that were preparing their dishes on the spot.
Beef, exotic meats, sushi, and seafood seemed to be the top picks for the evening as many chefs opted for the best they could serve. Given that we were at “the best of the best”, chicken was clearly not on the menu. The short rib dishes stole the night as many chefs showed off their take on this tender and juicy dish. Our favorites for the evening were the Short Rib Robata with Truffle Miso from Chef Makoto Okuwa, and the Prime Vaca Frita Black Bean Risotto and Avocado Ceviche from Luis Pous. The event also hosted a wine auction. Several wines were on display there and the auction line grew longer as the night progressed. Before the night was over, the highest bidders were announced and the happy winners added to their personal collections.
On Saturday, our day kicked off with a lifestyle seminar, Bank of America Lifestyle Seminar – Sugarcane, hosted by Chef Timon Balloo (chef and owner of Sugarcane Raw Bar in Miami) and Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson. Five dishes were paired with five wines ranging from low to high price points. The goal was simple…we were getting the opportunity to taste several variations of flavors by pairing multiple wines with a given dish. Typically wine pairings are a bit more structured, so we were excited to get the chance to see what worked best for us. We like options! The small bites were amazingly complex and simply delicious. Having not had the opportunity to visit Chef Timon Balloo’s restaurant, we can only imagine what he is serving up in Midtown! We will be back.
When asked who had visited the restaurant, the room was filled with loyal patrons who proudly waved their hands in the air. Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson really knew her stuff and opened our eyes to understanding the various pairings and that one size does not fit all. The Coach Farms Aged Goat and Local Fruit Marmalade (dish), La Quercia Coppa and Pear Mustarda (dish), and Betts & Scholl Grenache, The Chronique, Barossa Valley, 2008 (wine) were our favorites for the day. I think we tried the Betts & Scholl Grenache with just about everything!
Our final event was the Food Network & Cooking Channel presents The Best Thing I Ever Ate Late Night Bites & Sweets sponsored by Godiva Chocolatier. This event was hosted by some of the top names in the industry including Sunny Anderson, Melissa d’Arabian, Anne Burrell, Nadia G, Alex Guarnaschelli, Roger Mooking, Aarón Sanchez, and Geoffrey Zakarian. We really got the chance to see these chefs in their element; relaxed, having a good time, and enjoying the party. The food selections ranged from ice cream to crab cakes, and the libations were flowing from every corner. The soulful singers and band were great and had no trouble getting and keeping the party going.
Very similiar to the Best of the Best event, over 20 chefs and mixologists were creating the best late night bites. The beach party started at 10:00 p.m. and went on until 2:00 a.m. There was one dish in particular that blew our socks off and I don’t think we were mentally prepared for it. If we had to choose our favorite late night snack, it would most certainly be the Late Night Philly Cheese Steak from Phils Tavern – hands down! Our night ended with sandy feet and our stomachs completely satisfied. This event offered the best of three worlds; great drinks, great food, and a slammin party. There was no need to go on the hunt for a late night fill because The Best Thing I Ever Ate Late Night Bites had us covered.
The Urban Swank Girls had a wonderful time attending and covering the Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival. This event is not to be missed, but if you did, look out for the festival coming October 17, 2012 in New York City. We will definitely be there! And remember…it’s not just about the food; it’s about the experience.
Urban Swank received complimentary media passes; opinions expressed are our own.