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Sunday, March 1

2009 SoBe Wine & Food Fest Grand Tasting / Culinary Seminars

My favorite part of the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the Grand Tasting & Culinary Seminars, definitely did not disappoint this year. The weather was great, the food was tasty, and the wines were flowing.

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.

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At 3/01/2009 2:53 PM , Blogger Charles said...

Looks like fun, Jacob. I would have enjoyed Anne's prsentation cuz I love me some fresh pasta and I love me some Anne. Did Pat take that blue shirt off and cook in that wife beater? Smokin'. Where was Giada and Rachael?? I wonder why Ina doesn't venture down there? I'm making her filet of beef sammies today I bet it's going to be the bomb. Looking forward to the pics and vids there Jacob! Hope to see you there next year!

At 3/01/2009 4:37 PM , Anonymous Lana said...

Oh the crowds! By the end of the NY W&F festival, I was so glad to be rid of the crowds and back in sparsly-populated Idaho! lol

J, you mean you didn't gaze longly at Fietti and his krew? haha. Well did you at least stick your tongue out at him for me? *grins*

That pic of Sunny's and Emeril's smooch is priceless. Hope you sent a copy to her.

Thx for the updates! Look forward to more!

At 3/01/2009 7:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Emeril is HUGE!!!!

I mean he has always been fat, but he is now Mario Batali fat!

At 3/01/2009 8:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jimmy Fallon sets Rachael Ray on fire!


At 3/02/2009 5:18 AM , Blogger Andy said...

I really enjoyed with all your pictures with comments.... keep blogging :)

At 3/02/2009 9:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd go to watch chefs cook. Not FN created personalities like the Neelys, Sunny Anderson or Sandra Lee.The Neelys make absolute gross food.

At 3/02/2009 11:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly I don't like any of the new FN stars. Sunny, Aida, Rescue Chef, Neelys, none of them. They are boring compared to the old stars.
FN now stands for the Fieri Network he is on all the time.

I actually long for the days when Rachael Ray was the star of the network, as annoying as she is, Guy is annoying and disgusting. Also Emeril and Mario were still around, then Guy became the star and they were gone.

At 3/02/2009 5:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

THe Jimmy Fallon promo with Rachael going up in flames was in very poor taste! Rachael why would you think your fans would think it was funny to see their goddess go up in flames!!!! It could happen and it was NOT funny.

At 3/02/2009 8:50 PM , Anonymous Conrad5 said...

I can smell Guy's B.O. through my computer screen.

At 3/03/2009 4:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Anne! A great show. I love the recipes and I even learn something!

At 3/03/2009 9:27 PM , Blogger Tennisluver said...

Wish I could have been there. Maybe next year.

At 3/11/2009 12:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was always informed if your a man and you wear sleeveless shirts, you need to have arms with big muscles.

I'm looking at Guy F. and I can't believe how big his arm muscles are!


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