South Beach Wine & Food Festival

SBWFF 2011: Parting Impressions

Another year, another booze-and-food-drenched four-day bacchanal. Here are a few last thoughts:

Let Them Eat Cake: Flawless. A fantastic party. Hard to imagine this not being the high point of the festival.

BubbleQ: The last dance for this event was well orchestrated. There was plenty of seating, lines weren't too long and moved relatively quickly, and the food was varied and better than I remember it being in recent years. My one complaint is that the music got too loud, not only making conversation difficult but also knocking business away from barbecue stands near the stage. Saddest sight: Al Roker at his stand attracting throngs of people, while right next to him the great chef Claude Troisgros went virtually unrecognized.

Burger Bash: Word of mouth among bloggers is that this was oversold -- meaning a crowded tent and long, slow-moving lines. More than one person mentioned the decibel levels of music were too loud, echoing what I said above about stands near the BubbleQ stage being abandoned. Burgers, as usual, were said to be excellent.

Dim Sum & Disco: It was a good party, but not nearly as good as it was last year.

Welcoming Brunch at the Betsy Hotel: Held on the rooftop, this event is a kickoff of sorts held for festival sponsors and media. The view was sublime, the buffet more than adequate, the champagne and Illy espresso superb. It was a very nice affair, and my thanks to Lee Schrager and anyone else involved for the generous gesture. One small quibble: Although serving smoked sable with the bagels, cream cheese, capers, etc., was a bold and unexpected stroke, I believe I speak for many mildly disgruntled guests when I say: Next year, include smoked salmon too.

I would have had more to say about more events, but local writers were not given access to any of the big sit-down dinners or brunches and such -- those tickets were saved for the more important national media outlets. As a matter of fact, they probably got to eat all the smoked salmon they wanted! 

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