Look, we're not sports experts (unless you consider competitive eating a sport), but we will tell you that there's a frisson of electricity that runs through you when you step onto a major league baseball diamond. And that's what happened at last evening's South Beach Wine & Food Festival Diamond Dishes event.
After a slow start at the wine reception at the Clevelander (what, no beer at a ballpark?), Julie Loria, wife of Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and author of the cookbook for which the event is named, announced that it was time to take the field at Marlins Park.
Guests were led through a barely-marked door and were on the field. Instantly phones and cameras came out because no matter who you root for -- or even if you say you're a football fanatic -- baseball, as Susan Sarandon once said in Bull Durham, is "America's game".
And with that, it was time to eat around the bases. As befitting the A League of Their Own theme, the chefs were some of the best female talent in the culinary world. Anne Burrell served as general manager to an all-star team that included Michelle Bernstein (Michy's), Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat), April Bloomfield (The Spotted Pig), Naomi Pomeroy (BEAST), and Jeni Britton Bauer.
The event, like last year, never felt crowded or rushed. Champagne, wine pairings, and some really good Casa Dragones tequila flowed freely. And, although there was a wait of about five or ten minutes at each base, it was worth it. Why? Because the chefs were creating and plating each dish themselves and taking time to explain the food, answer questions, and take pictures.
Is Diamond Dishes as wild and frenetic as Burger Bash or Q or even the Grand Tasting Village? Absolutely not.
But for good food, a stunning setting, and the ability to actually hear friends when they talk to you, Diamond Dishes knocks it out of the ballpark.
This little sign is all that's between you and the field.
Food Network star Anne Burrell was host/general manager of the evening. What does a chef GM do at a ballpark? Lots of eating, some dancing, and plenty of posing with fans.
Best centerpieces... ever!
Champagne poured freely. Not that we're complaining, but we would have liked to see some really fine craft beers in keeping with the whole baseball theme.
We got to first base with Michelle Bernstein's bone marrow galbi.
Casa Dragones' co-founder Bertha Gonzalez gave us a lesson in sipping tequila.
As we rounded second base, we were greeted by Stephanie Izard.
Chef Izard's grilled sepia with smoked tomato, piparra relish, and mighty goat sausage.
April Bloomfield was at third base with smoked kielbasa. The chef told us she wanted to keep the baseball theme going. We went back for seconds.
Naomi Pomeroy was at home plate with a trio of taste -- fennel brined pork loin, Kobe tartare, and chicken liver and port mousse.
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Jeni Britton Bauer served pinwheel-shaped ice cream sandwiches in the dugout.
Julie Loria literally wrote the book on Diamond Dishes.