I can’t believe it has been five months since the festival. I also can’t believe it took me so long to participate. As a South Florida local, this is the absolute “must attend” event of the year. There are so many events available that choosing one becomes increasingly difficult every year. There truly is something for everyone, young and old (and all of us in between). This year I attended the Best of the Best, Dolce Brunch, and Best of the Bay Dinner. Talk about the holy trinity of the SOBEWFF! These three events did not disappoint. I wonder how I will top off this experience in 2014?
We headed to one of my favorite Miami restaurants, Bourbon Steak, to kick off the event. Far Niente (also a favorite winery) and Dolce sponsored the Best of the Bay Dinner. From San Francisco Bay to Biscayne Bay, these chefs were the perfect choice to begin my SOBEWFF weekend: Richard Reddington, Thomas McNaughton, Tyler Florence, Michael Mina, and Lincoln Carson. I kept pinching myself. Am I really here? Far Niente pouring varietals of their Napa-produced Cabernet & Chardonnay with every course was a perfect marriage!
Sitting in one of Bourbon Steak’s lush booths, we began our dinner. First was Reddington’s hamachi sashimi (Haas avocado, baby beets, local citrus & heirloom watercress). Delicate and so delicious, I wanted more right away. This seemed to be the night’s theme because every course was magnificent. McNaughton’s sunchoke & ricotta agnolotti (brown butter & black kale) left but a mere trace on my plate. Third was Florence’s seared Modesto County squab (giblet ravioli, butter-braised-romanesco & smoked olive oil). This set the way for Mina’s final course: hay-smoked certified angus beef brand prime rib cap (garden of root vegetables & Hudson Valley foie gras jus). Did you get all that? Exquisite. Top this meal with Bourbon Steak’s impeccable service, and it was just one of those nights to remember. A perfect night is never complete without that sweet ending I always look forward to. I love dessert. I often look at the dessert menu before I decide what to order. I had read the dessert’s description, but did not expect it to be this good. In fact, it was my favorite dessert of the entire weekend. It was a tiramisu, “in white” (espresso sponge, chicory, benedictine). By then, our friends had left, and we waived their desserts away when the waiter brought them out. What were we thinking? Who cares if we had no more room left for seconds? You always find room for more dessert. What a mistake! We could have had their servings! Not only was this dessert amazing, but it was served with Far Niente’s golden child, their 2007 Dolce. Liquid gold. My night was set. Did I really have to drive back to Broward County? I did, but I had a smile the entire ride back.
Friday night’s event was the Best of the Best at the iconic Fontainebleau Hilton. When they say BEST, they mean it. Only the best is served, and the wines poured are rated 90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s scale. Only proprietors and winemakers from each winery are invited to pour their top varietals. Just come eat, drink and be happy. Carpe Diem! And that, we did. We were staying at the hotel by then so we were able to pick up our wristbands a little bit earlier. It gets full in the beginning before doors open, but clears out instantly once you move up to the grand ballroom area. The only problem then was figuring out where to go first. My favorite go-to wines are usually Col Solare or anything from Chiarello Vineyards. The standouts this year for me were Haven and Edge Steak. I kept returning to their booths in between all of our exploring. It was great to speak to the chefs (who were working hard cooking, plating, and serving their food) and share the excitement with other food enthusiasts. As usual, I did not want the night to end. It’s a bit cliche and fitting, but I have to say that, yes, I had the “best” time!
The next morning was spent working out. How else would I be able to continue eating and drinking like there was no tomorrow? I laced up my shoes and went for a run on Miami Beach’s boardwalk, aka “one of my favorite spots in South Florida.” The sun, sand, and ocean took care of me, and only then was I ready for my last event of the weekend: Dolce’s brunch at DB Bistro in Downtown Miami.
I started and ended the weekend with Dolce. I did not know they would be pouring older vintages at this event. We began with the 2007, followed by the 2000, 1999 and ended with the 1993. Being able to taste these vintages side by side was a true treat. There is no sweeter way to do it. DB Bistro is all class. Just like Bourbon Steak, they delivered with wonderful service and great attention to detail. Chef Daniel Boulud was the proud host. He chose a delectable menu to compliment Dolce’s offerings: Smoked salmon, crispy duck confit, fourme d’ambert and a golden pineapple tatin. We all just sat around once service was complete and enjoyed the brunch afterglow. Yes, there is such a thing.
I was very fortunate to have been able to experience these three events this year. In just several months, tickets go on sale for the 2014 festival scheduled for February 20th-23rd. I can’t wait to go over the new lineup and decide which events I will go to. Come to think of it, I also have enough time to hit that favorite boardwalk of mine plenty to be able to fit in all that food and wine again! But I digress…Will you be there next year?
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