South Beach Wine & Food Festival

SBWFF 2011: Thrillist's BBQ and the Blues

At Thrillist's event, BBQ and the Blues, a huge line stretched from the entrance of the Oasis, at the Raleigh

Hotel, toward Collins Avenue last Saturday night. The fine smell of barbecue just over the wall inspired impatience.

Once inside, guests didn't know whether to grab a drink

from one of the Zacapa-sponsored bars or get in line at the food stations. A

visit to the bar was met with a question from the bartender: "Are you in the

mood for something sweet, something tart, something strong?"

Something tart was my answer.

The cocktail was an interesting and unique blend of Zacapa Grand Reserva rum,

passion fruit purée, a splash of Tabasco sauce, and lime juice with crushed mint on top.

Just minutes into the event, the sparse offering of highboy tables had been claimed by one person speaking on behalf of four or more, who were nowhere to be seen. Others took the couches and cabana, where shoes and bags marked the territory.

4Rivers Smokehouse, with friendly and hospitable pit master and owner John Rivers manning the station, served Texas brisket shooters, bacon-wrapped smoked jalapeños, and the
only dessert of the evening, banana dream pudding shots.

Tyler Florence, host of the evening, was anything but amicable as he ignored guests and the media. His frantic plating resulted in a sloppily presented and less than thrilling Santa Maria tri-tip with buttermilk toast, bread-and-butter pickles, piperade, black-eyed peas, and chickweed.

Sugarcane's Chef
Timon Balloo offered the most balanced, generous, and delicious plate: braised beef short ribs, vegetable kimchee, and cornbread muffins that were buttery and moist. He eagerly took photos and conversed with guests.

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