Our Weekend at the SOBE Wine & Food Festival
By: Wendy Burch (co-owner, Table 3 Restaurant & Market/F. Scott’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar)
One of the hottest events around is the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF). The whirlwind weekend of eating and drinking attracts chefs from around the country and boasts attendance of some 55,000 foodies and oenophiles.
I had never attended the event, but when the opportunity came up, I saw a chance to add a little spice and salsa (pun intended) to my February calendar. So last weekend, we packed up the Table 3 Restaurant & Market and F. Scott’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar team and headed south.
I traveled to Miami with my husband, Steve, and my business partners, Elise Loehr (wine director and co-owner, F. Scott’s/Table 3), Will Uhlhorn (co-owner/executive chef, Table 3) and Kevin Ramquist (executive chef, F. Scott’s).
The mood in South Beach is manic. It’s insane. They certainly know how to throw a party. Every night, outside my hotel room window, a DJ played dance music until 3 a.m. (boom-boom-boom still rings in my head). Stylistically speaking, most people in South Beach believe that less is more – more revealing, that is. But, we reveled in the atmosphere and are excited to share this behind-the-scenes look at SOBEWFF with StyleBlueprint.
Friday, Feb. 24
On Friday morning, while Elise was blind-tasting wines with Master Sommelier Eric Hemer, Will, Kevin and I headed to the beach to get the lay of the land and to tour the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village. (Picture two football-field-sized tents set up on the beach, each containing booth after booth of tasting stations and culinary displays.)
One of the most interesting parts of the trip was the behind-the-scenes look at the finishing kitchen. This “command center” for food production was remarkable. For a moment I thought the U.S. military had descended on South Beach to help facilitate the event. Then we met Nicole, the kitchen manager, and a former Army kitchen specialist and cook who regularly fed 5,000 soldiers a day in her field kitchens.
That night we enjoyed dinner at Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante, and Kevin and Will were enamored with the herb-cheese and nutella ravioli. The crust surrounding the cheese and nutella was warm, light and flaky – it really melted in our mouths.
Saturday, Feb. 25
Will and Kevin were at the site kitchen early getting everything organized and putting the finishing touches on their food. Elise was blind-tasting wines again – this time with Master Sommelier Brian Koziol (look for Elise’s tasting notes soon on F. Scott’s website and Table 3’s Facebook page).
At 1 p.m., the floodgates opened and thousands of attendees entered the village. One of Will’s dishes was a Great Hill Blue Cheese Mousse with Truffle Honey-Glazed Crispy Duck Tongues. Upon sampling the dish, one festival goer remarked, “I felt like my food was tasting ME while I was tasting IT.”
Prior to dinner on Saturday night, Elise, Will and Kevin enjoyed cocktails and wine at the newly renovated restaurant and wine bar The Forge, which boasts more than 80 wines by the glass. We were told the price tag on the grand new look was $10 million. The bartender was an excellent mixologist and was well-versed in the history of cocktails.
We had an amazing dinner at Michelle Bernstein’s Sra. Martinez. The tapas-style menu was perfect for our group. Everything we ordered was well-designed and balanced, fresh tasting and full of flavor. While there, Michelle Bernstein graciously visited our table for a good conversation on the local and national food scene.
Sunday, Feb. 26
We headed back to Nashville on Sunday – all a little weary from work and play – but not before a quick burger at Shake Shack and a couple of hours at the Miami Seaquarium.
As I drove home from the airport Sunday night, I realized how much I appreciate and love my hometown, Nashville, and our friends at Table 3 and F. Scott’s. It was great to be home!
A special thanks to festival manager Christian Fombrun and exhibit and restaurant coordinator Bridget Pietsch. They took great care of us.
What F. Scott’s and Table 3 served:
Kevin’s Food (F. Scott’s):
- Rabbit Confit and Wild Mushroom Caramelized Onion Cakes
- Local Chicken and Pork Terrine
Will’s Food (Table 3):
- Hickory-smoked Duck Breast with Bourbon Barrel-aged Sorghum
- Great Hill Blue Cheese Mousse with Truffle Honey-glazed Crispy Duck Tongues
- Duck Confit Rillettes with Pickled Beets
And, as a special treat, Chef Kevin Ramquist, Executive Chef of F. Scott’s, has shared one of his favorite recipes with us.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Spiced Parmesan Cream
- To prepare the Sweet Potato Gnocchi add the following ingredients:
- 1½ cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes 2 to 3 potatoes
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 6 oz. Ricotta cheese
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
- To prepare the Spiced Parmesan Cream add the following ingredients:
- ¾ cup white wine
- 3 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- season with salt and pepper to your liking
- To prepare the Sweet Potato Gnocchi:
- Put all ingredients in a bowl except flour and mix well until blended together. Slowly add flour, mixing gently until it’s incorporated. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently with your hands, adding flour if needed, until it does not stick to your hands (but it still should be moist and kind of sticky). Take this dough ball and cut ¾-inch ropes; roll them out with your hands, then cut into small cylinders. After all of the gnocchi are formed, cook them in boiling salted water until they float. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and put them on an oiled sheet tray in a single layer to cool.
- To prepare the Spiced Parmesan Cream:
- In a medium-sized sauce pot, cook the wine over a medium-high heat until it reduces by a little more than half of what you began with, then add the cream and nutmeg and cook for about 10 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly. Season to taste.
- To Serve: In a nonstick skillet with a tablespoon of butter, brown off the gnocchi then add the Parmesan cream and a meat or vegetable of your choice; just by itself is good as well.
And, as Miami sleeps, we’ll go Boom-Boom-Boom!