Dinners, Burgers, Tastings ….
Well the 19th annual SOBEWFF festival recently wrapped up and what a blast it was. The festival just keeps getting better and better. Festival kicked off with a nice media reception cocktail party where I got to say hello to Lee Schrager the man who dreamed up the festival many moons ago and keeps working hard to expand it. Liked the gin and rum cocktails on offer. That night it was fun to sample a bunch of Italian fare at the Italian Bites on the Beach party hosted by the Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis and Dario Cecchini.
Next day it was fun at the Industry Trade tasting day at the Grand Tasting tent on the beach. Then it was off to Daniel Boulud’s Boulud Sud restaurant. Always a pleasure to say hello to Daniel, a soft-spoken, class act all the way, where no detail was too small. Boulud was attending to making sure the greenery was just right for his arriving guests for a dinner he was co-hosting with New Orleans chefs Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus of Coquette. What a beautiful restaurant Boulud Sud is and of course, the food was spectacular.
After Boulud Sud, it was onto a packed ballroom at the Fontainebleau for the Best of the Best tasting. What a bacchanal that was!! Fun to meet chef Cat Cora and sample a whole bunch of exquisite small bites and excellent wines with Napa’s Caymus Winery pouring some nice reds.
And to put a capper on the evening, attended Rachael Ray’s Burger fest at the evening pavilion on the beach. I love burgers, but man, was it ever burger overload though there was an Undeniably Delicious Milkshake by Chef Chris Valdes that went good with the burgers. The burgers were all good, but Weston’s Kewpee Hamburgers, from Lansing, Michigan, received the Schweid & Sons’ Very Best Burger Award, and Hugh Baby’s BBQ & Burger Shop from Nashville was named Red Robin’s Best of the Bash.
On Saturday, I had a bunch of kicks at the Grand Tasting, sampling some fine cocktails from a variety of booths, but the Bombay gin station was my fav along with some fine food samples. Marcus Samuelsson was entertaining and looking forward to opening his new Red Rooster Overtown Restaurant in Miami.
Hopefully we get to experience his food in Miami soon during these challenging times. Then that night it was a blast to sample a ton of great barbeque from Guy Fieri’s Barbeque bash on the beach. Smokey Bones’ Bacon and Brown Sugar Crusted Ribs were my fave.
On Sunday at the Grand Tasting during audience participation I got to ask chef Jet Tila why Asian chefs cook the hell out of duck?? What – you don’t like crispy duck skin? Actually I love it, but I don’t like the dried out meat under it. Tila replied, well, it’s just two ways of cooking duck, Asian or European, neither is right or wrong, just what you like.
My most poignant moment of the fest, was when Valerie Bertinelli addressed the audience about her goals and said, I need to lose some weight, but I kind of regret doing the green bikini cover of People when I hit 50. It was a totally unrealistic body weight and look. We need to accept ourselves and our age and stop trying to live to up these ridiculous standards… amen to that…
That night at Andrew Zimmern’s Bacardi Beach party, which had a ton of good food, especially the pork belly from bartaco. I got to ask Andrew since I knew he was a good friend of Anthony Bourdain if he had any inkling he was suicidal.. And he looked me right in the eye, knew I wasn’t being a morbid ghoul, was asking out of compassion and said, “No, none of his friends did. We were all so shocked, what can you do?
Well, we can come back to SOBEWFF 2021 and have a blast, Tony would approve.