South Beach Wine & Food Festival

SBWFF 2011: Closing Party With Guy Fieri at Gansevoort

Scents of barbecue and cigar smoke

collided on the sand behind the Gansevoort hotel during the South

Beach Wine & Food Festival Closing Party with Guy Fieri. Guests

were first given a bag containing a pair of

flimsy flip-flops and complimentary drink tickets to STK. Soon

thereafter, fruity drinks, with barely a taste of liquor, came in souvenir glasses from Zignum Mezcal.

The beginning was casual yet had a vibrant

energy centered on the red glow of the stage, which anticipated the rock-star presence of host Guy Fieri. Though his entrance was subtle,

as he created an infused tequila onstage, rock anthems pounded and

cameras flashed. Fieri addressed the crowd every now and then, until he

offered the finished product to a host of cheers and raised cell-phone cameras.

The food stations ranged from solid

efforts (Francesca's Pizza) to underachieving (Sushi Samba's wimpy

chicken yakitori impersonation). Welcome foodie darling Misha's

Cupcakes had a tiered display of it colorful but not supersweet creations. STK's "Llil' BRGR" was a Japanese Wagyu with "special sauce" (spicy mayo, and more of it than necessary)

on a bun. The burger was of the take-it-or-leave-it variety.

Sonny's Famous Steak Hogies, by chef

John Nigro, were generously portioned sandwiches with onions, marinara sauce, mushrooms, cherry peppers, and mozzarella cheese. A

pleasant surprise came from chef Christopher Lusk of Adelaide, New

Orleans, who offered Louisiana shrimp on grits, which consisted of

dried, crusted shrimp with grilled oregano red grits and

absinthe-basil beurre vert.

The Ciao Bella ice-cream stand, Café

Bustelo coffee cart, and Perrier water tent were welcome sights. Half

of the seating area's mostly white vinyl beds and flame-print

pillows could have been replaced by tables and chairs. The lines

weren't exasperatingly long, but there were waits nonetheless. Trash

cans were hidden -- sometimes too well. And though there wasn't as much or as distinct a food selection as had been hoped for, who doesn't

like leaving with an armful of giveaways?

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