Every year, South Beach is mobbed with foodies as the South Beach Wine & Food Festival descends upon the beaches, restaurants, and hotels for nonstop tastings, celebrity meet-and-greets, seminars, and of course the two-day grand tasting tents off Ocean Drive.
This year, you didn’t need to step foot onto Miami-Dade County to get in on the action.
Now in its 15th year, the festival added Taste Fort Lauderdale to the itinerary with seven events. Instagram was aflutter on Feb. 24 when Chef Robert Irvine of “Restaurant Impossible” fame hosted Seaside Eats at the Bonnet House on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
On Sunday, the last day of the festival, I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural Bloody Mary Brunch at the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, hosted by the cast of Foot Network’s “Chopped.” On the show, contestants are given a basket of mismatched ingredients, which they must compose into a coherent dish. My boyfriend and I are huge fans, guessing what they’ll make or proposing our own ideas.
My friend and I who attended the brunch had no idea how big the event was going to be — not only was the ballroom filled with people eager to take a picture with the judges and lining up for the Bloody Mary bar, but just outside was a sort of mini grand tasting, with restaurants from all three counties serving up unique takes on brunch dishes. Standouts included the Cuban sandwich macaroni and cheese from I Heart Mac and Cheese and the Chorizo Benedict taco from TacoCraft.
I was lucky to have a generous editor in the past give me tickets to the grand tasting tents in South Beach twice, and while it was fun to try and taste food and drink from as many booths as possible, the mad rush of the neighborhood is never a fun experience. Plus, the city recently bumped up its parking rates, and I can only imagine what they were for the festival. With the introduction of Taste Fort Lauderdale, we can Broward residents can experience the festival without driving more than 10 minutes.
For those who live in Fort Lauderdale, we’ve always known that the city has a lot of great restaurants and bars to offer. But now… it appears the secret it out.