February 21, 2009

Sharing Bubbles

Some things are too good to keep to yourself. I'm coming out of blogtirement once in a while when something deliciously momentous happens. Last night was one of those times. The Perrier-Jouet BubbleQ at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival was luxurious, elegant and as fabulous as could be.

On the beach behind the Delano Hotel, the gargantuan tents held well-known chefs from around the country with their crews, cooking and serving the most original and varied barbecued items imaginable. We sampled everything from tender buffalo steaks to succulent lamb to melt-in-your-mouth beef with every degree of smoke and heat changing from chef to chef. It was a whirlwind education and I kept on learning with every new plate.

There was Al Roker and his dish.

One of the best was Peter Vauthy's beef- mmmmmm.mmmm.mmmm.  

There was one chef who blew my mind with his dish for the evening. Ilan Hall, winner of Top Chef season 2, created a crispy barbecued chicken skin with pickles sandwich served on fresh, soft rye bread. On the side was a bacon-wrapped matzo ball! A small puff of matzo ball hugged by a strip of bacon? Genius. Although I have to admit that a small bite of the sandwich would have given me as much pleasure as eating most of the sandwich did, I was happy to have too much. I will dream of this sandwich for the rest of my life.  I took the picture when I realized I shouldn't/couldn't eat any more of it but I needed a visual memory of the thing.


Tom Colicchio's barbecue was fine- not a standout but not bad- but his mac and cheese was heaven. The best I have tasted.

Did I mention the champagne?  Riedel representatives distributed glasses and beautifully decorated bars were strategically placed throughout the event.  Anytime the glass was in danger of being empty, all one had to do was waltz on over to one of the bars and in seconds, it was full again.  Like magic.

We walked from table to table, sampling dishes and saying hello to the chefs- from time to time we recognized others in the crowd.  We saw Gail Simmons, Top Chef judge and Special Projects Director for Food and Wine Magazine, enjoying herself sampling barbecue at Tom Colicchio's Craft tent.  Some former Top Chef contestants milled about, as did a few Food Network personalities.  I am sure missed a lot of people because we were too busy just having fun.   TLMM saw Rocco as we walked past him, so we stopped to say hello.  He made us promise to attend his food demo later in the festival, and was really very friendly.   Oh okay!  I admit it!  I love him- I didn't tell him- but I think you can see it in my eyes.  I think he might love me a little bit, too.

The night was so full of highlights, I will have to mention the low-lights for levity.   The event is on sand, so wear comfortable shoes or find a secret hiding place for your shoes and remember, you are going to drink copious amounts of champagne, so hide them somewhere they'll be easy to find later.   The bathroom situation was tricky because there were only two women's stalls.  The event was nearly impossible for anyone in a wheelchair or with a walker to navigate.  It's on sand.  I am sure they'll do something to accommodate, but again, it's on sand.

It makes me uneasy to be critical of any of it, but with such a high ticket price (thank you TLMM for such a generous Christmas gift), they should work out the kinks.  

There is so much more to say.  I met and chatted with restaurant owners and food enthusiasts from all over the country.  I met Alicia, the Convention Coordinator for Driscoll's, who was kind enough to invite me to tonight's event- Dinner in Paradise at Paradise Farms, an organic farm in Homestead, FL.   I anticipate my next blog entry being about just that!  So hi everyone, I'll be here from time to time so don't forget to check back.  I've missed you...and the eggs.


Suzanne said...

I wish I could have gone with you! Ilan's sandwich sounds great, as does the sweet corn and lobster hash (kind of like the soup Sam had a Wolfgang Puck restaurant here). As for Rocco - I think he only has love for himself. He is a hottie, though. So is Chef Colicchio. And I love Gail!

Anonymous said...

wow! count me in next year1

JB said...

WOW - first I am so glad you did a post for this and secondly I am so happy to see the pictures - I am sure you charmed them all. I am so happy you got to go. What an amazing gift. XO