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pillows could have been replaced by tables and chairs.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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