Cruising down Collins Boulevard near the shores of South Beach, in surely the most stylish of city cabs, I arrived early to the W South Beach for Saturday’s afternoon seminars. Heading inside the hotel, my first stop featured television drinky-drink man, Zane Lamprey, host of on-air barhop, Three Sheets. Focusing on the use of fresh fruits and vegetables in your cocktail, Lamprey’s From Garden to the Glass cocktail clinic included five great, garden-inspired drinks – including an avocado daquiri from Portland’s Lucy Brennan – along with laughter and witty banter. Guests had the opportunity to mix and muddle each of the cocktails on the menu, while master mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim was on hand to shout pointers from the peanut gallery to the capricious Lamprey throughout the talk.
From the cocktail clinic, I dashed next door for my most anticipated event of the day – a Shake Shack seminar with restaurateur Danny Meyer. A Shake Shack newbie, I was anxious to not only have a chance to finally sample food stuffs from the popular fast food joint, but also to hear Meyer’s thoughts behind the beer and wine selections on his menu. Though I’ll probably stick with my soda pop, the seminar offered the experience of pairing six wines with Shake Shack menu items, including the super delicious Shack-cago Dog.
That evening, it was all food and fun, with The Best Thing I Ever Ate, hosted by Duff Goldman. Under familiar white tents perched along the beachy landscape, the event featured favorite food and drink selections from foodies and chefs including Andrew Zimmern, Scott Conant, Marc Forgione, Hedy Goldsmith, Debi Mazar, Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, and Dana Cowin, editor of Food & Wine magazine. Restaurants like George Stone Crab and Daniel Boulud’s db bistro were on hand to treat guests to some of the best bites of the weekend while throwbacks KC & the Sunshine Band blasted tunes from the tent’s main stage.
Fantastically enough, I had a chance to talk with Danny Meyer after his Saturday seminar about the post-Tabla transition, his plan for success, and where he’s taking the Shack-cago Dog next. Look for my exclusive interview with the award-winning restaurateur in April here on Daily Blender!
Tomorrow, the final post of 2011 Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival coverage, with all my pics and notes from the final Grand Tasting on Sunday afternoon!
*Photo credit: Jennifer Heigl / Daily Blender