Our annual food guide, Taste, hits newsstands Thursday, February 19. In this year's issue, you'll find guides to local food neighborhoods; interviews with local coffee roasters, chefs, and chocolatiers; and a handy roundup of South Florida's breweries. Readers of Clean Plate Charlie don't have to wait. Here's a sneak peek from 2015's Taste Guide, and you can follow this link to see other Taste Guide posts you may have missed.
The South Beach Wine & Food Festival will take over South Beach from February 19 through 22 with more than 75 signature events, tastings, parties, seminars, and dinners. The four-day bash -- which benefits the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management's Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Laboratory and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center at FIU -- brings chefs from all over the globe, along with about 60,000 hungry fans who flock to Miami's beaches and restaurants for a taste of the sublime and the opportunity for selfies with their favorite celebrity chefs.
Founder and organizer Lee Brian Schrager calls the festival "one of the greatest culinary sensory experiences on the planet," where "respected Michelin white-tablecloth chefs and pop-culture chefs meet in the most beautiful place in the world."
The one problem with the festival is attendees' inability to be in more than one place at the same time. With multiple parties and dinners taking place simultaneously, it's difficult to choose which event to attend. Here, Schrager himself gives the inside scoop on the hottest parties this year.
In the end, the SoBeWFF founder assures guests will have fun. "We have the best time and we raise money for a good cause. That's the bottom line."
Italian Al Fresco Feast on the Beach, hosted by Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos, presented by Ronzoni, sponsored by MIAMI magazine
"If you love Italian food, and who doesn't, this is a not-to-miss event. I think the menu is really superb, with the greatest lineup of chefs under the tents. Plus, I love host Debi Mazar -- she's a hoot. This party is also one of the best values at the festival. We chose to price the tickets at $150 because it's a new event, held Thursday night, and we want people to become familiar with it. We do a big pizza event at the New York Wine & Food Festival, and it's incredibly popular. In Miami, we've focused on barbecue and burgers; now it's time we did a party focusing on Italian food. This is our new crown jewel at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival."
Thursday, February 19, from 7 to 10 p.m. beachside at the Delano, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $150.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's Meatopia: The Q Revolution, presented by Creekstone Farms, hosted by Guy Fieri, curated by Josh Ozersky
"Bubble Q put the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on the map, and Meatopia is still essentially a barbecue event. We've morphed it in our quest to keep the festival fresh and people excited. We've also lowered the ticket price to $250. What do I love about Meatopia? First, this is probably one of the most exciting groups of chefs ever curated; I love that Blues Traveler will be performing live; I love that Guy Fieri is hosting; and I love that you're having this primal experience -- eating barbecue with your hands. Meatopia will work all the senses. You're going to hear the music from over the causeway, you're going to smell the food from down the block, and you're going to taste the most delicious food and enjoy a great bar."
Saturday, February 21, from 7 to 10 p.m. beachside at the Delano, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $250.
Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village, featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid Culinary Demonstrations
"The Grand Tasting Village is our nucleus and our home. With all the wines, spirits, food, and activations, it's also where we have the greatest number of people participating. From noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, you can spend the entire day eating from over 70 different restaurants, tasting wonderful wines, and enjoying celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Anne Burrell, and Morimoto. This year, we're welcoming new personalities like The Chew's Carla Hall, Haylie Duff, Tiffani Theissen, and Ludo Lefebvre. We're also welcoming back Bethenny Frankel and Guy Fieri."
Saturday, February 21, and Sunday, February 22, from noon to 5 p.m. at 13th Street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. Tickets cost $225; special Sunday 3 to 5 p.m. on Ocean Drive ticket costs $100.
Nutrish's Yappie Hour, presented by BarkBox, hosted by Rachael Ray
"Rachael Ray loves dogs and is known to be active in the dog community. And I love dogs -- I have two myself. We're always looking for something different to add to the festival, and this seemed perfect. This event is the first South Beach Wine & Food Festival where you can bring your dogs. We'll have groomers where your dog can get pampered and treats by BarkBox and Nutrish. Pooches, of course, are free when their adults buy a ticket."
Saturday, February 21, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Standard Spa, 40 Island Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $95.
Nashville on Fire Dinner, featuring Jonathan Waxman, Hattie B's, Tandy Wilson, Patrick Martin, and Diego Oka
"Jonathan Waxman is spearheading this dinner featuring the flavors of this iconic city. Some of Nashville's best restaurants, like Hattie B's, will be on hand to celebrate through food and music. It's the dead of winter nearly everywhere else in the United States, so to be able to enjoy such a great lineup of talent on the beach is exciting."
Friday, February 20, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Mandarin Oriental Beach, 500 Brickell Key, Miami. Tickets cost $225.