Traffic was crawling, pedestrians were jaywalking as if they had a death wish, and parking garages were jammed. Although this sounds like a typical weekend in South Beach, it was something more: the final day of this year's South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
And it didn't disappoint. Sunday, country singer Trisha Yearwood hosted the annual Southern Kitchen Brunch at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel as part of the New York Times Cooking Series.
Beginning at 11:30 a.m., attendees took free pictures with the singer-turned-cook. They also sampled tons of down-home Southern goodness from various restaurants.
Highlights were spicy Korean pork with cheesy corn pudding from New York's Pig & Khao; buttermilk fried quail from New Orleans' La Petite Grocery; and a waffle sandwich with pork belly, sun-dried tomato, baby arugula, and maple mustard sauce from Miami's Rusty Pelican.
Yearwood offered hot chicken biscuits with mama’s white gravy and green onion; a cheddar-doughnut grilled cheese sandwich, and a coconut cloud cake. Tulips adorned the tables, which were covered with polka-dot tablecloths and bright napkins, the quintessential Southern decor. Bourbon beverages and sangria were also served.
Yearwood not only treated guests to a taste of her culinary flair but also provided an intimate miniconcert. Clad comfortably in a white blazer, black lace-up top, sparkly black stretchy pants, and Converse sneakers, she was accompanied by a guitarist and a keyboardist. “I’m going to play my closest thing to a gospel song,” Yearwood said as she launched into her 2007 single “Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love.” Next, the singer tapped into the classic Grammy-nominated ballad “Walk Away Joe.” Whether guests sat at their tables, stood to take video, or waited in line for third or fourth portions, one thing was certain: Their eyes were on her.
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Yearwood was extremely gracious as she thanked the sponsors and even said she felt like she was coming home. She then launched into the bluesy “Wrong Side of Memphis.”
“I left my husband back in Nashville with a cold,” Yearwood said of her famous spouse, Garth Brooks. Smiling, she added, “I think he’s doing good.”
She also noted, “It’s always a joy to be in South Beach, it’s a joy to be here, and I hope to see you next year.” With that, she closed out her performance with Linda Ronstadt's “Blue Bayou” after explaining she chose the song because she could see the ocean. It was appropriate, for the lyrics contained "fishing boats" and “sails afloat.”