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Hess Select South Beach Seafood Festival: Seeing Seafood and Eating It (Photos)

Forget the South Beach Diet, we were on the seafood diet consisting of seeing seafood and eating it. This past Saturday, we joined seafood enthusiasts at

Lummus Park

to ring in the start of stone crab season at the

Hess Select South Beach Seafood Festival.

The sun was shining, the juicy meat of stone crab was coming through the pre-cracked shells, the wine was flowing and several eateries served seafood by the seashore. .

Offerings ranged from paella to chowder to crab, lobster, tuna, shrimp, octopus, oysters, mussels, squid and scallops. Some of the restaurants slinging seafood included Red, A Fish Called Avalon, City Hall, Cafe Avanti, Catch, Tarpon, Cibo, Poseidon, Park Central and CJ's Crab Shack. We indulged in all the seafood offerings and chatted with season 7 Top Chef winner Kevin Sbraga and sampled his fried oyster sliders, a favorite bite of the event.

Like the groundhog, the stone crab has spoken Endless stone crabs claws were being served in the VIP tent by Le Cordon Bleu and Temaris and CJ's Crab Shack also had quite the bounty for attendees to purchase.

While the stone crab claws may have been a show stopper, who could forget the mighty lobster? Red The Steakhouse served filet and lobster tail, A Fish Called Avalon served a wild rice tempura lobster tail with four mustard horseradish-honey sauce and Cibo got intense with some homemade lobster raviolis.

Beyond the lobster, other great dishes served included the grilled octopus skewers from Poseidon. While the flimsy stick may not have been as strong as Poseidon's trident it packed quite a punch with tender tasty octopus. The team at City Hall restaurant delivered delicious crispy mahi sliders with cajun aioli. Ahem, perhaps other governments should take note of the fine work done by this city hall.

When it comes to epic sliders, one of our favorites of the day came from Top Chef winner Kevin Sbraga who served up a fried oyster version at the Tabasco table. The sandwich had breaded and fried oysters that were still juicy, carrot slaw, and gribiche on a freshly baked bun. Kevin, who is working on opening his second restaurant in Philadelphia, told the audience during a cooking demonstration that he was happy to be back in Miami sweating his tail off. He lived here for three years while attending Johnson & Wales and studying culinary arts. When speaking to him afterwards about Miami, he admitted that he didn't have any old haunts at that time because he really couldn't afford to eat out. On this trip, though, he has eaten at Cypress Room and Yardbird.

During a weekend with numerous food events, and even another seafood festival, it was nice to bring the seafood back to its home, the beach. The best way to welcome snow crab season is right on the beach cracking a claw with sand on your toes.

Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst

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