South Beach Wine & Food Festival

SBWFF 2010: Best of the Best Has Jumped the Shark

Even the best things in life come to an end, and so it goes with SBWFF's Best of the Best. Oh sure, it still presents great national chefs putting out delicious tidbits and fantastic vintners pouring wonderful wines. We're not suggesting it's a bad time at all. In fact, we had lots of fun, which we'll be posting shortly under The Best of Best of The Best. But...

Firstly, getting in was a drag. Maybe we were still a bit tired in the legs from having to trudge slowly on line for an hour and twenty minutes before entering the Trade Tasting Tents in the afternoon -- meaning we arrived at 2 pm (line stretched from 13th to 18th St.), entered at 3:20 p.m, and had 40 minutes for our walk through. Then, a few hours later, when we arrived at Best of the Best at 7:30 p.m. -- the official starting time printed on the tickets -- we, and many of the 1,800 or so guests, were left standing in a stuffed lobby while the French Ambassador spoke, Mel Dick of Southern Wines spoke, and the French and American national anthems were played. As a person standing next to us exclaimed for all to hear: "At $350 a ticket, we shouldn't have to put up with this crap!" A manager of the event confided in me that it was a big mess, but the Ambassador was running late and they couldn't afford to offend him. Doors opened at 8.

They should have called this event Less of the Best: There were less

great chefs than in recent years, less great food, and less great wine.

We sat next to a couple of wine enthusiasts from Canada who reminisced

at the amazing wines poured at BOTB when it was held at American

Airlines Arena a few years back. "There are very good wines here," one

of them said, "but not the spectacular ones." Other gripes heard were

too much pork belly, too much salt, too many heavy dishes. But biggest,

baddest, most shocking disappointment of the night was the lack of any

desserts. Again, imagine a couple paying $700 for an event that in past

years featured outrageously huge, lavish dessert buffets that would make Willa Wonka

envious -- and having to settle for two or three booths putting out

some modern semblances of post-dinner sweets. Note to organizers of

SBWFF: When you raise prices, you're supposed to increase, not decrease


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Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein