Monday, February 23, 2009

South Beach Wine & Food Festival Recap

Other than taking my kids to a very silly "Kidz Cooking" demonstration with Giada DeLaurentiis a couple years ago (where they learned how to not complete a single dish in 45 minutes), I have generally steered clear of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Too many yahoos, too much bad wine, too expensive. Just for the price of one of the "Grand Tasting" events ($200+ a head), for instance, I can do some quite fine eating on my own, thank you, usually without being elbowed by a bunch of inebriated chuckleheads.

But it's still always fun to hear reports from the front. Here were some of my favorites: Mario Batali shouting down the noisy "weasel f---wads" at the Viva Espana dinner (and apparently playing some grab-ass with Jose Andres too), lots of coverage from Eater, lots of pix from New Times, Feedbag's weird crush on Rachael Ray (though his obsession is probably healtheir than this guy's), plus this nice little bit of gossip:

Item! Mr. Snitch tells me that a certain chef had quite a wake-up call when, after a night of carousing out on the town, he picked up a floozy and headed back to his hotel. The next morning, the befuddled toque, one of New York’s most lauded talents, found himself hungover, alone, naked, and without his phone or
any of his cash. It’s a jungle out there, chef! Watch out!

(sounds like any meal at Barton G).

Things I can happily live without: Paula Deen losing her pants (Stop Crack!), Sandra Lee's semi-homemade cocktails (replete with goofy silver-painted dudes standing like statues).


  1. Amen to that! The wine was worse than what you'd sample for free in a plastic thimble at Publix. How they can emphasize the wine part of the name is beyond me. as for carousing chefs---that's as commonplace as bad wine...why else do you think they come down here for the weekend?

  2. Curiously, all mention of the mystery chef who lost his pants (not Paula Deen, the other one) has been sanitized from the Feedbag website.

  3. Jeez Fro, if you're going to blog about the Sobe W$FF you could at least bite the bullet and attend a few events! Isn't that why we pay for your opinion? And the chef who lost his pants story sounds completely bogus-no mention of blow which would at least give it a ring of truth. But I'm hoping it was Jacques Pepin.

  4. Danny -
    You get what you pay for. I promise if you're dissatisfied you'll get your money back. If I could actually get folks to pay for my opinion, it'd help subsidize those $200+ tix.
    - Frod

  5. Yes I'm curious to know how well (or not) they did this year. I'm assuming it was way down, although I'm sure no one will say so. $200+ for the tasting is just outrageous. Especially when you know how much the vendors pay for those tables. Although I heard from several sources that some were being given away because of lower demand from restaurants.

  6. @ Danny - Jacques Pepin, LOL!

    I bet that story is true. Its happened to a buddy of mine before. Got pinched for about $60K after bringing a couple of hotties back to his place where they drugged him and then robbed him. I guess the moral of the story is, "if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

    That story and the one about Batali using the word "f**kwads" is gonzo from their respective site.

    The Dinner in Paradise wouldve been right up your alley, Frod. No crowd, no booze fest, educational tour, and kickass meal.

  7. Word on the street is that the fest cleared $4 million, a record from last year's 3 and change..go figure.

  8. $4 Million? Is there anyone out there who actually went and can describe how crowded it was? Last year's fest was 'sold out' but some tickets were being sold 2 for 1 and some events were noticeably empty. I mean I wish them well, but after the article in the Herald about tourism slumping, I find the figure of $4 Million suspect.

  9. I had the SBFW experience and I agree with Frod. You pay up the wazu and wait in the gazillions of lines for ok grub and for the most part average wines. I will say that the Grand Wine Tasting and the Closing Party were packed. I don't hesitate to believe that the festival cleared 4 Mil. Next time I am spending my two bills on a lavish dinner at a place like Setai, Zuma, BLT, Prime One Twelve, Gotham, Scarpetta, etc, etc ..... without the throngs of "chuckleheads" or the BS lines. Miami's very fine local restaurants will guarantee you an excellent time with exquisite food and drinks.

    Live and Learn.

  10. I'm curious as to how you can opinion that there is "too much bad wine" when you haven't actually atttended any events save for a children's event. My experience was to the contrary, particually at Best of the Best.