SoBeWFF Alternative For Locals: Miami Wine & Spirits Expo

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​​​The Miami Wine & Spirits Expo will hold its second annual shindig at the Miami Beach Convention Center from Friday, February 24 through Monday, February 27 -- the same weekend as the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. And this year, Victor Passalacqua, the Culinary and Special Events Director, is introducing a new food element to the festivities called Blazing Kitchen. This will include culinary demonstrations, seminars, tastings, and a cook-off competition.

"You can see a master pastry chef like Michel Chiche (Qzina) and learn about chocolate sculpting," explains Passalacqua, "or learn the art of tasting wine and how to identify the different aromas and components from one of the best sommeliers in town, Sebastien Verrier (St. Regis Hotel)."

The concurrent timing with the SoBeWFF is done on purpose.

"This Expo is geared towards all food and wine lovers -- not just the ones that can afford to spend $150 for an evening," says Victor.

"The idea is to try to showcase our local talents, and to allow Miamians to interact with the chefs and restaurateurs as well as to learn about some smaller brands among the big array of wines, beers, and spirits that will be offered." Beer lovers note: Many of the "best craft beers" from America and around the world will be on hand. (Want to see if your favorite spirit will be poured? These exhibitors have been lined up). A variety of restaurants will be offering tastings of foods such as paella, sushi, grass-fed beef from Uruguay, and so forth.

Attendance to the Blazing Kitchen demonstrations will be limited so that attendees will be able to assist and participate in a more personal, hands-on manner. Students from Mast Academy and Braddock High School will certainly be getting hands-on work, as the two schools will be competing in a mystery basket culinary competition.

Robert Galasso, GM from Vignaioli Selection distributed by MetroWine Miami will present a vertical tasting of eight Italian wines on Saturday, 6:45 pm. Michel Chiche's chocolate demo takes place the same day at 4:30 pm. and Verrier's wine components class also occurs Saturday, at 5:30pm. Sommelier Pascal Legrand and Bernard Ouilier, Director of MetroWine, will present a Bordeaux tasting on Sunday, 5pm., that will also feature eight tastes. We'll print the schedule of events, times, and prices next week (the various Blazing Kitchen demos and tastings cost $25 to $40 each; a kids cooking demo will go for $10).

The price for a ticket into the Expo is $75 (or $120 for two days). Trade people can register online or bring a business card and get in without charge; service industry associates can bring a copy of their liquor license for entry. And a special deal for Short Order readers: Expo entry is 50 percent off when you enter the code NTT50 on this page, under "promotional code."

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