Sunday, March 1
It was so hot in 2008 (90s), but we really lucked out with the weather this year. Saurday was comfortable and in the mid 70s. Sunday was a bit warmer, but not unbearable. The two, GIANT tasting tents were filled with hundreds of food and beverage vendors, eager to pass their product and hopefully leave a good enough impression for us to go out and buy/visit them in the future.
Any talk of recession seemed completely absent all weekend, and the tents felt just as packed as ever. You can barely move around in there, so rest breaks are a necessity.
And where else can you get these views during your rest breaks:
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Needless to say, I kept my eyes to the left most of the time.
The culinary/lifestyle seminars were excellent this year, for the most part. It was great seeing Secrets of a Restaurant Chef star Anne Burrell on Sunday, who did a very engaging demo on fresh pasta-- just like on Iron Chef America ("You gotta put your body weight into it!")
Sunny Anderson also got a quick visit (and smooch) from Mr. Emeril Lagasse himself. It was her appearance on Emeril Live that really gave Sunny her "in" at Food Network, so it was neat to see her thank him personally. Not sure if that was Sunny's first meeting with Emeril since, or not.
You gotta stay hydrated while on the beach, so Amstel Light, an Aperol cocktail, and a swig of Evian are all a must. I loved them all this year. Evian, a big sponsor of the event, even had a bottle designed by Jean Paul Gaultier on display this year, along with special water sommeliers who taught attendees about "sipping notes." I didn't get to examine any "sipping notes," but I did love the mist of evian they were giving out to heated attendees.
One of our favorite additions this year was new sponsor Whole Foods, who in addition to sponsoring the Grand Tasting Village, had its own mini-buffet set up offering made-to-order coffee and espresso drinks, fresh fruit, scones and pastries, and other yummies to enjoy while resting under one of their umbrellas. Loved it!
Like I said, the tents were so packed that I felt like I barely had time to learn anything about the vendors. You had to push your way up to the front of the table, grab the bite, and then push your way back to a small walkway, where you still got ran into by the thousands of other attendees. That's really my only complaint about the weekend. I'm not sure how they could fix it, save for limiting the number of attendees or dividing the grand tasting into two timeslots, each day (like they did in NYC).
I have lots of fun video to edit and will hopefully share very soon. If you love food, wine, and being on the beach in February, then SoBe is where it's at. I love it. Can't wait for 2010.