Recession Be Damned!

Lest you thought the economic crisis meant it was time to start stocking up on dried legumes, here’s a reason for you to cash in that jar of pennies at the bank. The South Beach Food and Wine Festival is here from February 19 to the 22, and if anything, the spread has grown more lavish. And as luck would have it, there still are tickets available for some of the fest’s most feted events.

"The festival has an amazing reputation; we couldn't be happier that it's become one of the country's premiere yearly events. Our ticket revenue is about 10% higher than last year, but we held back more tickets for the re-release in January and are thrilled to still have some available for people to attend," quoth festival founder and director Lee Schrager. So right this moment, you can not only still score tix to the BubbleQ beachside at the Delano (1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), but some of the festival’s edgier events still have available seats as well. That means you could enjoy an up-close-and-personal evening with a rising Food Network star while sampling some of the country’s most luscious cuisine. Advantage: consumer.

If you’re in the mood to be overwhelmed, there’s the Grand Tasting Village, open this weekend on the sand at 13th Street and Ocean Drive. For super-affordable fun, bring the kiddies to Fun and Fit as a Family at Jungle Island (1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami). $20 plus tax and you’ve got a whole day to nosh and mingle with folks like Rachael Ray and Tyler Florence. To contrast that, tonight there’s “¡Viva España!” a $1000 dinner in the Country Club Ballroom at The Biltmore (1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables). Sounds too stuffy for your taste? For $60 you can enjoy Sunday’s "Pick-Me-Up's, Eye Openers, or A Little Hair of the Dog," a $60 lesson led by master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim at the Poinciana Ballroom (Room 2, Loews Miami Beach Hotel, 1601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach). Visit
Feb. 19-22, 2009