Plan NOW for the Main Event of South Beach

Friday, January 02, 2009

January in South Florida marks the beginning of a long-stretch of world class events from fashion shows to marathons and 5K runs to gastronomic adventures. My favorite is the increasingly exclusive South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

What started as a sampling of fine wines from top brands and food from high end restaurants in Miami under one big tent eight years ago, has exponentially grown to include a plethora of ancillary cooking events hosted by a never-ending list of world-renowned celebrity chefs and personalities. Out of towners who do not live in Los Angeles or New York City, can return to their home state and name drop as smoothly as a rich wine cascading down the inside of a wine glass. Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Guy Fieri, Tom Colicchio, Emeril Lagasse, Paula Deen, and Rachel Ray are just a few culinary chefs and TV personalities at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

The event kicks off on Thursday, February 19 with a Spanish theme "Viva Espana!". This dinner gala takes center stage at the Biltmore Hotel and celebrates the food and wine of this Iberian peninsula. An precedented event, this distinguished gala will be held in the presence of their Majesties King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain. Hold those running bulls! The price is $1,000 a ticket--Ole!

"No te precoupes!" Spanish lesson for the day: "Don't worry". There are plenty of events for every food and wine connoisseur. Trek the continents from Iberian peninsula to the Florida peninsula and meet Allen Sussen, known as the "Ponce de Leon of Florida Cooking". His innovative style for cooking seafood has earned him recognition as Top Chef from Food & Wine Magazine, Zagat's and Gourmet magazine.

Love finger-lickin' barbecue? Well meet Patrick & Gina Neely from the hit network show, Down Home with the Neelys. This dynamic duo are synonymous with barbecue flavors from the South (continental U.S.).

Getting back to basics has never been more fun than wine pairing with your favorite foods. Learn to pair the right wine with sushi. This event is hosted by Alpana Singh and Thomas Buckley on Saturday from 10:30am - 12pm. Continue that experience with a wine and cheese pairing seminar hosted by Hosh Wesson from 12pm-1pm.

For the masses, the big tent is still memorable for sampling hundreds of libations from international wine labels. The event is from 11am-5pm both Saturday and Sunday and the cost of a ticket is $212.

South Florida is not just home to rolling sand dunes dotted by convertibles, celebrities and fine food. Miami is also home to fit and healthy families. Kellogg's Kidz Kitchen is a mini two-day festival held at Tropical Jungle Island, for kids and parents to learn how to make healthy food choices. An event packed with obstacle courses, exercise classes, and exhibits raises the bar for learning by having fun.

The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is from February 19-February 22. Tickets are limited to each event so make your selections, purchase your tickets online and we'll see you in South Beach! Salud!

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  1. Christine, I sure hope you can get your "backstage pass" and meet Rachel Ray! She's a fav of mine.


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