The Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival presented by Food & Wine took place in Miami from February 21-24 bringing out celebrity chefs, foodies and winies (did I just make that up?) Any excuse to get me down to Miami and I’ll take it. The Festival opened this year with the Q hosted by Paula Deen and Sons at the Delano hotel. It was quite the affair with endless bottles of wine, trays of delicious finger foods and fire dancers. Yes, there were fire dancers! It continued through into the weekend with events such as the Swine and Wine, Wine Spectator’s Best of the Best, the Grand Tasting Village, Tribute Dinners, Red Hot Night by Target, an Indulgence Affair by Godiva, and much more.
The Festival also attracted many Food Network culinary celebrities including Emeril Lagasse, Nigella Lawson, Martha Stewart, Anthony Bourdain, Bobby Flay, Anne Burrell, Robert Irvine, Guy Fieri, Rocco DiSpirito and many others coming out to meet with fans through their book signings and provide live cooking demonstrations- all this taking place simultaneously while the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village provided festival goers with endless wine and food tastings.
Some of my favorites included Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle, a create your own chocolate bar tent, mystery candy from Jelly Belly, a Barilla pasta tent where I learned how to professionally toss pasta (of course I spilled a few times before I got it right), and Ziggy Marley’s new line of ‘hemp rules’ organic seeds and coconut oils.
La Sandwicherie was one of the best discoveries I made back in ’07 while vacationing in South Beach and looking for a good quick bite. It is now the first and last place I visit (plus many visits in between) on every trip to South Beach. The French team behind La Sandwicherie serve hands down one of the best, freshest and tastiest sandwiches I’ve yet to get my hands on.
So many different varieties to choose from. My favorite over time has become the Sausiccon sec on a french baguette with extra cornichon and additional Camembert cheese. Each sandwich is topped with loads of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, black olives, green peppers, onions, french pickles and their mayo vinaigrette sauce (it’s highly addictive). The Count opts for the prosciutto and mozzarella every time (routines make him happy). I on the other hand have probably tried every sandwich on the menu over time, and there is one thing I’ve learned: you can’t go wrong with any of the choices. You can choose to have your sandwich on a traditional white or whole wheat baguette or take the more decadent route of the french croissant. Both options equally good. Also- don’t be shy to add that extra cheese and toppings. It makes it just THAT much better. They also have a wide variety of salads (which I’m yet to try) and fruit smoothies which are also delicious. So if you are looking for a quick and healthy beginning to your day stop by 14th street on sandwich.
This year I’ll be eating and drinking my way through South Beach Food and Wine Festival which runs from February 21 to 24 in Miami. I’m hoping to rub shoulders with some of my favorite celebrity chefs. The line up of events looks amazing including a film screening of Jiro Dreams of Sushi and Q&A with Anthony Bourdain, a Garden to Glass event hosted by Emeril Lagasse, Celebrity Chef Golf Tournament hosted by José Andrés at Turnberry Isle Miami and so much more. This year will mark the 12th anniversary of the festival which showcases the talents of some of the world’s most renowned chefs and culinary personalities.
Front Porch Cafe is a popular breakfast/brunch joint in South Beach. I didn’t know about it until my last trip when I was walking by to grab some Starbucks across the street and noticed the long line up. Any long line up is always a good sign to be since most restaurants on Ocean Drive have to pretty much beg and seduce you into their restaurants so when there is one that has a line up around the corner it can only mean one thing: good food.
I forgot about my coffee and got in line. The line up was long but not outrageously long. Soon we were seated and forgot we waited at all.
The reviews all raved about the bloody mary so naturally it was the first item I ordered. It was very strong and I only had a few sips. But for those who like their morning cocktails on the stronger side than you won’t complain. It turned out that the drink was more expensive than our meal (oh South Beach!!!)
We ordered the granola pancakes and the Miga’s. The granola pancakes and the green eggs seem to be favorites on the menu. I however am a big fan of migas (became addicted in Mexico) and ordered it as soon as I spotted it on the menu.
The Migas consisted of 3 eggs scrambled with their homemade salsa, topped with pepper jack cheese and whole wheat corn chips drizzled with their homemade salsa and served with a side of hash browns or fresh fruits. The granola pancakes consisted of a blend of granola and whole wheat served with a side of syrup and a choice of hash browns or fresh fruits.
The granola pancakes were light and healthy. I found the Migas was bland and lacked in flavor. Overall, the food was a bit over hyped. There are many lovely little spots in South Beach to eat. However, if you want a ‘trendy’ scene for brunch on the weekend then you will enjoy this place. If you’ve been clubbing all night and want to continue the party then this is the place for you. The food and service were good but not anything to write home about.
The first thing I do on every trip to South Beach is make my way over to my favorite Cuban diner/restaurant located on Collins Avenue: the famous Puerto Sagua.
Peurto Sagua is nestled amongst all the glitz and glamour of South Beach. However, it is a very unassuming local restaurant with no fancy gimmicks. You will find people from all walks of life: the Cuban handyman popping over on his quick lunch break, old-world Cubans, politicos, club-goers, other locals and tourists who are fortunate enough to have discovered it in time.
If you go during lunch/dinner rush, the place is packed and there is usually a small line up. On our last trip we went pretty early in the evening and were pleased to find the place half full (for once).
First on the list is always an order of the avocado salad (if in season), the tomato/lettuce salad and fried totones (plantains) served with a side dip.
For my main dish, I always go with the Ropa Veija. Ropa Veija which is Spanish for ‘old clothes’ is a dish most popular in the Canary islands and the Caribbean. It is a shredded flank, brisket or skirt steak slow cooked in a tomato sauce base served with a side of rice, black beans and fried delicious plantains.
The Count ordered the flank steak served with grilled onions, rice and fries. The portions are very generous and filling. The Count had limited comments about the steak- only stating that it was not the best he’s ever had. For the price and portions however, we were both happy. My dish as always was delicioso.
Once done with our meals, we always make our way over to the coffee bar on the left side of the restaurant to have our think Cuban coffee with a one of the Cuban sweets seen below.