Friday, March 6, 2009

South Beach Buddies

Welcome to my blog! As a blogging virgin, I'm going to attempt to share some stories and experiences that shape my world. I'm following my passion (finally), and it's taking me on some crazy adventures! So welcome and here's a little story about my recent trip to South Beach.

My best friend, Karen, is a traveler. And I get invited to see some incredible places. And sometimes we go to Florida. Not that I have anything against Florida, I really like it, but this trip was designed for rest and relaxation. Have just had our butts handed to us over Valentine's Day, she thought it would be great to hang out for a few days, soak up some Florida sun and eat some great meals. I was in!

The night before we left, Karen discovered that the South Beach Food and Wine Festival ( would be taking place while we were there. It is considered by many in the food and wine world to be the biggest and most well-attended event in the country. Lasting four day, celebrity chefs, vintners and foodies like me wallow in amazing food and incredible drinks on the beaches of Miami. Usually a total sell-out, we were surprised to find tickets available for the Saturday night BubbleQ event. Sponsored by Perrier Jouet champagne, it featured celebrity chefs showing off their upscale barbecue styles.

Sponsored also by The Food Network and Food & Wine Magazine, it appeared to be the event of the weekend. So off we went. My first mistake was wearing was on the beach. There was sand on that beach and I spent most of the night trying to empty the huge amount of sand out of my shoes. Two words: flip flops! We arrived and were give our Reidel wine glass and a sparkly wrist band. When the gates opened, we were treated to rare roast lamb, lobster tacos, carne asada to make you cry, ribs, veal, crab, and celebrities!

I'll admit to being a chef junkie. I deeply respect a top chef's skills and passion. They are my rock stars, so it was heaven. Not only were many of The Food Network personalities there, so were the Food & Wine staff and many of the Top Chef contestants from Bravo's television show. So after about 5 glasses of delicious champagne, I decided to start using my camera phone to grab a few celebrity pictures.

Rocco DiSpirito...such a nice guy...totally tolerant of my goofy excitement!

Guy Fieri...Food Network star. Probably treated like the biggest rock star there based on the number of people crushing around him.

Rick Bayless...chef/owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo restaurants in Chicago. My first real chef crush.
Ilan Hall, winner of the second season of Top favorite TV show. One of my 'candid' shots.

Hung Huynh, season 3 Top Chef winner! Best plate of the evening...rare grilled lamb. Super nice guy, we had to take 3 pictures to get this one.

You know when you want to take a picture of someone, but they aren't allowing photos. Our solution? Have Karen stand next to them and pretend to be shooting her...that's how we captured this rare sighting...
Jared from Subway!!!!!!!! He was appearing somewhere else during the weekend and was hanging out with the rest of the celebs. Karen and I agreed it was the best $400 bucks we had spent and we laughed the rest of the weekend about it. As we were leaving that night, we got a chance to have a really nice visit with Tom Collichio...another amazing chef and head judge for Top Chef. Made my night! So here is my final photo...two really happy women. Until next time, enjoy!

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