SOBEWFF® sound-off: The good, the bad, and the umami

Every February, foodies, gluttons, and world-renowned chefs flock to Miami in droves for the five-day food, wine and spirits revelry known as the South Beach Food and Wine Festival.

SOBEWFF® is one of our favorite events of the year because it appeals to all crowds. Whether your goal is to consume at levels comparable to a bear’s when preparing for hibernation, or rub elbows with the most elite sommeliers pretending to pontificate on the delicacy of the dirty-sock-tasting wine you just swallowed, anything goes. Throughout the weekend the Adventure Club is typically spotted partaking in both, in multiple settings, but before we dive into our top five favorite events, first some tips:

The quick and dirty

So here’s the deal…

  • The festival consists of 80 different events throughout the weekend, most heavily concentrated in South Beach, rain or shine. Events range from casual lunches, lively brunches, intimate dinners, wine seminars, grand tastings and cocktail parties, but the most important thing you need to know is: Bring. Your. Appetite.

Getting around:

  • Don’t drive, take an Uber or Lyft instead. Parking is pretty much impossible to come by. Also, depending on where you stay this free shuttle service could be a viable option.
  • If you’re coming from out of town, try to get a hotel on South Beach. It’ll save you tons of time sitting in traffic and money on cabs, Ubers, and Lyfts.

Attire:

  • Dress to impress, you’re in Miami. However, remember that all events (for the most part) are heavily photographed and you’ll be mixing and mingling with some of the most elite gastronomes, so don’t wear anything your mother wouldn’t let you out of the house in.
  • Do conduct some research before you pack your stilettos. Lots of events are held in tents on the beach, and you don’t want to hold your shoes all night. Being hands-free is key for balancing multiple plates and cups.
  • Backpacks or large bags are prohibited at most events. Ladies, a small purse or clutch is best.

Getting on the list:

  • Purchase tickets in advance, and with time. SOBEWFF events are known to sell out faster than you can say bon appetit and you can’t buy tickets at the door for any event.
  • All food and booze are included in the ticket price and there’s a plethora of it.
  • All ticket purchases are final, so committment phobes beware.
  • Hide your kids. All attendees must be 21 or over unless otherwise stated.

Betcha didn’t know…

  • 100% of net proceeds of this grand festival benefit the FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center. To date, the festival has raised $24 million dollars. Pretty cool if you ask us!

AC’s five festival favorites

The all-time pleaser

Chicken Coupe hosted by Andrew Carmellini

Allow yourself to indulge in one of the best food & drink pairings on the planet: Fried chicken and champagne. With amazing chefs from all over the country serving up both classic and unique recipes of mouth-watering fried chicken, this is one event you cannot miss and our all-time favorite. Did we mention that you get to drink as much amazing champagne as your little heart (and full stomach) desires? Bring on the bubbly!

  • Pros: Everything.
  • Cons: None. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
  • Ticket price: $325.

Somebody give me a cheeseburger

Burger Bash® 2017 presented by Rachael Ray

Held under a billowing tent in the sand (choose your footwear wisely) at the Ritz Carlton beach this event is for the burger and beer aficionados. There are over 30 stands featuring classic, gourmet, and obscure burger combos. This year, the first burger we took a bite of was garnished with jalapeno jelly, bacon and peanut butter. It was out of this world and truly one of a kind.

  • Pros: The insane amount of burgers. Also, the event is not as crowded as a lot of others, like the Grand Tasting, which is a huge plus.
  • Cons: The insane amount of burgers. You can’t possible try them all and attempting to will leave you in a food coma.
  • Ticket price: $250.

Get your freaky Tiki on

The Art of Tiki: Cocktail Showdown hosted by Robert Irvine.

This poolside event at the Kimpton Surfcomber hotel offers an artful display of libations (featuring Rhum Barbancourt) created by some of the finest mixologists in the nation. The tasty rum cocktails  are paired with Asian-inspired bites so you can sip AND nosh on some pineapple fried rice or ahi tuna poke while wearing your coconut bra and hula skirt. Attire is Tiki-themed, after all.

  • Pros: It’s one of the more affordable events and best return on your investment, in our opinion.
  • Cons: The space constraint. All the bars are set up around the pool with a very narrow walking space, and when the event is at its peak capacity getting accidentally pushed in the pool is a very real risk.
  • Ticket price: $95.

Fine wine & dine

Dinner hosted by Alon Shaya, Sara Jenkins and Missy Robbins

This fancy dinner is aptly located at the beautiful Delano Hotel, an iconic and picturesque South Beach property. The food genre is Italian and the atmosphere glamorous and romantic.  The multiple-course dinner experience (prepared by Michelin Star Italian chefs) begins with a Rosé cocktail hour followed by a seated dinner featuring sultry favorites like tuna burrata roll appetizers and ricotta gnocchi in a crunchy broccoli and pistachio pesto sauce. Throw in some expertly executed wine pairings and some dim string lighting and you’ve got yourself a dazzling evening.

  • Pros: The dreamy ambiance, as well as the Michelin-star chefs and their delectable, up to par menu.
  • Cons: This event was more intimate than most, and we thought we’d get more access to the Michelin Star chefs and gain insight into the science behind the food and wine pairings, which didn’t happen. The serving process was a bit rushed at times, too. The “Educate” aspect of SOBEWFF’s motto was definitely missing here, which makes the ticket price hard to justify.
  • Ticket price: $250

The old faithful

Goya Foods Grand Tasting Village

This is SOBEWFF’s favorite child, it’s signature event. Taking place over two days (Saturday and Sunday) under multiple tents, the Grant Tasting is set up beachfront and features more than 50 restaurants, which pales in comparison to the countless demonstration areas, libation stations, and other sample-snagging stations. There are multiple stages and DJs which give the Grand Tasting a lively atmosphere bringing together beach partiers and gourmands alike.

  • Pros: There is so much variety and something for everyone. If you snag a two-day pass you could easily cover all your bases in terms of restaurant types, food genres, and wine flavors without having to go to any of the more siloed events.
  • Cons: It’s extremely crowded. The masses of people are hard to navigate and make it tricky to get a lay of the land.
  • Ticket price: $225 per day

Other events on our SobeWFF bucket list? Noodling Around, Food Fight hosted by Guy Fieri, Croquetas and Champagne, and Salty, Sweet & Savory Treats.

All of the noms,

AC

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