New Zealand Wine, Girls Go Wild & Michael Symon BBQ in South Beach

Day three of the Food Network South Beach Wine & FoodFestival was filled to the brim with some wonderful New Zealand wine, some foodie girls going wild, and a thrilling barbecue by a man who knows the chew.

I was back down at the Perry Hotel bright and early in the morning for the Wine Spectator Seminar: Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Noir Style Diversity.  The leader of the seminar was New Zealand wine expert and winemaker Patrick Materman, who filled in the blanks on the region and led a tasting of wines from Brancott Estate and Stoneleigh Marlborough.

Since I am currently planning a trip to New Zealand, I was especially interested – and impressed with the offerings. I’m always a fan of NZ sauvignon blanc and was happy to discover the ones from these brands, which were full of tropical and grassy notes. I also tasted New Zealand Pinot Noir for the first time and found the 2010 Brancott Estate Letter Series “T” to be more fruit forward and richer than many of the California ones.

From the seminar I headed over to the Hotel Victor where I was excited to have been invited to the Girls Gone Wild event.  This event was probably the most fun two hours of the entire festival and I give kudos to Bullfrog and Baum for putting this group together.

The moderator for Girls Gone Wild was Travel Channel star (Bizarre Foods) Andrew Zimmern and he had his work cut out for him while an amazing group of women “went wild.” Actress Debi Mazur, who co-hosts the Cooking Channel’s Extra Virgin with her husband Gabrielle and also blogs at Under The Tuscan Gun, was the most outspoken, but Bitchin Kitchen’s Nadia G. was not far behind in  “R” rated honesty.

Rounding out the Girls Gone Wild Panel was Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli and Prune Restaurant owner/chef Gabrielle Hamilton, who is also the author of bestseller Blood, Bones & Butter.  The conversation ranged from favorite dishes to dishing on their male counterparts and it was always entertaining.
I had just enough time to shower and change before meeting with winemaker Patrick Materman and Pernod Ricard PR Director Krista Drew for a glass of Perrier Jouet Champagne and some more New Zealand conversation.

Then it was off to the Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach for Thrillist's BBQ & The Blues hosted by Michael Symon. Celebrity chef Symon is best known to many these days as one of the hosts of ABC’s The Chew, but foodie insiders also call him one of the nicest guys in the business.

Next year, I probably won’t pick three days in a row of barbecue at SOBEWFF (The Q, Burger Bash and Thrillist), but I’m glad I did get to experience this event. The music by Diablo Times & The Bloodhounds was great, the drinks were flowing (including cocktails made with Michael Collins Whiskey and Entice Wine), and the barbecue was a bit different than I had previously.

The food offerings came from around the area and from Symon himself and included a delicious Korean beef brisket from Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill and a Smoked Tongue Pastrami (with bone marrow brioche) from Gastropod Miami. I also really loved the short ribs from Jacksonville’s Cabana Beach Club, served on a cheese polenta.

When I couldn’t possibly sample any more, I headed back to The National Hotel to get some rest for my final day of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. It was going to be a big one as I was going to try to tackle all of the Whole Foods Grand Market. 


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