By Lizbeth Perez
For four days a year, the sands of South Beach are taken over by celebrity chefs who come to both work and play at the Food Network’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF). This four-day festival, which ran this year from February 20 through February 23, offers a diverse smorgasbord of food and drinks, incredible dining experiences and foodie personalities at over 70 separate events.
SOBEWFF, which can best be described as a Spring Break for Foodies, has been happening for 13 years now and has evolved immensely from its humble beginnings. In fact, SOBEWFF is nothing like it once was. What once started as a one-day food event hosted by Florida International University has grown to overwhelming proportions: boasting an attendance of over 100,000 and ticket sales grossing upward of the 5 million dollar mark.
By the final day of the SOBEWFF, even the most hardcore food fanatic’s gait seems a bit more than sluggish than normal. Blame it on days filled sipping wine and cocktails in the sun, perhaps too many late night food filled parties or maybe it’s your body telling you that you have reached your caloric needs for the next decade; whatever the reason the utter deliciousness of the festival’s events are worth every single hangover.
This I speak from experience, since I was able to attend two events at this year’s SOBEWFF: “Sunday’s Grand Tasting Village” and Andrew Zimmerman’s sponsored event “The Best of the Munchies”. The combination of these two events equated to a certified and true Sunday Funday, which was the actual term to the ticket package that was offered by SOBEWFF. (For a mere $405 plus taxes and fees) I, having gone in the past and knowing that there was no way that I could eat (or drink) enough to make that price tag worthwhile, opted for a more pocket friendly version of the 3pm to 6pm ticket which set me back $120 and a Groupon deal for Zimmerman’s cost me $80.
Overall, I had a wonderful time at both events. But then again, it’s pretty difficult not to have a great time when the sun is shining, drinks are flowing and food is being served everywhere you look. Some of the standout dishes that come to mind (for me) included such yumminess such as boneless chicken and waffles, ceviche, medianoches, even a NY style pizza (complete with coal fired oven brought from NYC!) As for drinks, I enjoyed libations made with Rums of Puerto Rico (Coquito), Cruzan Rum’s Mojitos and TY KU sake.
Everywhere I looked, I saw happy faces of festivalgoers who were obviously enjoying themselves just as much as I was, and in true Miami fashion, dressed to impress. Only in Miami will you find people who look as if they were going to a club in stilettos on the sand at 4pm in the afternoon on a Sunday. Luckily, most people did in fact get the memo that almost all events would be on the sand and dressed appropriately. In fact, most attendees chose functionality over high fashion and opted to wear long flown dresses, playsuits and rompers, finished off with wedges or flats.
Yes, The South Beach Wine and Food Festival might be over for another year, but my inner fat girl is already looking forward to all of the deliciousness that is to come with next year’s festival. Until then, I’ll have to make due with my slight hangover, samples…and memories.
Until next time…signing-off from Miami, xoxo.