Miami's South Beach isn't just a sanctuary for tan lines, neon, and crime shows.
Or at least that's what we learned this past weekend at the 15th annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival, where we embarked on a four-day culinary journey fueled by world-renowned chefs, celebrities, incredible food, and Guy Fieri.
Last Friday, fresh off the plane and pale from New York's lackluster winter skies, we headed over to the tenth annual Burger Bash to up our iron intake and attempt to sample hundreds of burgers. As thousands of people lined up to taste and vote for the "best burger" of the evening, we wasted no time in trying as many fresh patties as we could, from Toro's deluxe foie gras burger, which showcased chef Jamie Bissonette's unending love for the luxurious ingredient, to Masaharu Morimoto's tempura-fried katsu burger with kimchee. The Iron Chef's creation took top honors that night.
A few burgers in, we got ourselves into the wonderfully dreamy state that can only be described as a meat coma, so we needed to walk things off on the beach and find a refreshing cocktail or two. Thankfully, Guy Fieri was there to the rescue, shaking things up at The Art of Tiki: A Cocktail Showdown, where we tasted Mai Tai's and drinks that evoked the flavors of vacation, from Fieri's own "Caliente Margarita," to The Golden Tiki's "Coco Moloko" and St. John Frizell's "Body Snatcher."
Now that we had officially gotten ourselves into a tropical state of mind, we realized that no trip to Miami is complete without a pit stop to Ocean Drive, where the Villa Casa Casuarina, a.k.a. the Versace Mansion, continues to rules the oceanside roost. So on Saturday night, we headed over to the mansion for a dessert party, hosted by Charm City Cake's Duff Goldman, to indulge in desserts that would give Veruca Salt serious FOMO, from cake pops to chocolate and Momofuku Milk Bar's strawberry lemon cake.
By Sunday, our sunny weekend was coming to an end, but we couldn't leave South Beach without paying our respects to Trisha Yearwood's Southern brunch, where the country legend-turned-cooking-show-star serenaded a large crowd over bourbon cocktails and comfort dishes like Milktooth's baghrir crepes topped with Indiana honey, homemade pepper jam, and sea trout lox, and Olamaie's country ham with red eye gravy, grits, a cured egg yolk, benne oil, and marigold.
As the songstress ended her set—with no Garth Brooks, a.k.a. Mr. Yearwood, in site—she gave the crowd an excellent tip: "If you partook in more of the bourbon than the food, just walk it off outside on the beach," which is really just great life advice for first-timers in Miami.