SOBEWFF’S Grand Tasting Village brings worldwide foods and drinks to St John – The St John Hurricane
Last week, five days of non-stop food and drink came to South Beach to give attendees access to everything one can imagine without ever leaving St John. With more than 100 events from South Beach to West Palm Beach, the result was a trip around the world through the eyes of local restaurateurs, alcohol connoisseurs and great business people.
The event? Food Network’s 2020 South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
The festival, which runs from February 19-23 this year, is an annual event with cooking demonstrations, special events from world-famous chefs like Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay, numerous happy hours and family-friendly events.
Proceeds will go to Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, which has raised over $ 30 million since its inaugural event.
Nothing embodied this international culinary adventure quite like Sunday’s Grand Tasting Village, which takes place on the white sand and blue skies of the already busy intersection of Ocean Drive and 13th Street. Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village, one of the long weekend’s most popular and affordable events, welcomed ticket holders to sample food and drink from the best chefs, caterer-wine lovers, and bartenders in St John and beyond.
Among the 50+ restaurants and a number of beverage retailers represented, businesses of all sizes were settled under a row of white tents that seemed endless, handing out hundreds of bite-sized samples in hopes that they would be voted ‘Best Bite on Yelp. “
Well-known vendors like St John’s iconic The Salty Donut, Bang Energy, and even Goya Foods itself appeared at the event, hosting freebies and performances. They also encouraged passers-by to eat as much as they wanted.
Other lesser-known companies focused on meeting future customers and taking root in St John’s culinary community. Xochimex Cantina Grill, which opened its doors on Bird Road only 10 years ago, was one of them.
Although Nancy Milian now has seven locations and runs Xochimex with her husband Jorge, she is thrilled that they are still a mom and pop store that attributes their success to years of hard work. Milian says the secret of an undeniable menu that features an array of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, salads, and more is rooted in the family’s culturally rich heritage.
“My mother is Cuban and my father is Mexican,” she explained. “So we poured in a little bit of both to get the flavors we got.”
In the meantime, brands like Washington-based Heritage Distilling Co. spent their day shooting and promoting their one-of-a-kind liquors. For Heritage Distilling Co., the aim on Sunday was to spread awareness of their Brown Sugar Bourbon (BSB) liqueur, which was named the “world’s best whiskey with taste” in 2018 and 2019.
“We started in all 50 states last summer 2019 and had amazing success. So now we have two offerings – the 60-Proof (perfect for light drinkers and new whiskey drinkers) and its big brother, the 103-Proof (better for a seasoned bourbon whiskey drinker and an amazing old fashion), ”said Grant porter. Southeast Senior Director of Sales.
“I love this event. I love to go there. I love interacting with all of the craziness that is going on, ”he continued, commenting on Heritage’s involvement in the festival. “With a new brand in particular, it is important to put it in the mouth of the consumer. This is a product that is liquid on the lips so people have to try it to see it. “
Other vendors were Mac & Chess – which is said to be “St John’s first board game café” – which serves deep-fried mac and cheese bites with bacon and jalapeno, Komodo – an upscale restaurant that combines “South Asian cuisine with a South Florida atmosphere” Peking duck and T’antay St John Cake Studio, a Peruvian bakery with a full range of miniature desserts to choose from.
InRamen Asian Street Eatery, the Swan European Restaurant, Durty Gurl Cocktail Mixer and others were also in attendance, offering samples of short rib ramen and chicken gyoza, shrimp and lobster sliders with coleslaw and Bloody Marys.
The lines stretched from one end of the beach to the other and the temperatures were much warmer than in previous days. But drunken festival goers didn’t seem to mind, because they had the whole world at hand for five hours.
At a glance: South Beach Wine and Food Festival 2020