South Beach Wine and Food Festival’s Grand Tasting Village rocks with foodies from around the world by Betty Alvarez

It was a hot day indeed in Miami Beach but that did not stop many visitors and foodies to experience Saturday’s Grand Tasting Village. Locals and tourists from around the world cleared their calendars to be in this exclusive top notch gastronomical event. Their senses were awaken when they stepped inside the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village. This universe of welcoming canopies, white-sand walkways, calming ocean breezes, and gently lapping Atlantic waves offers an incandescent celebration of the good life. Everyone definitely feasted as they strolled, partook of exquisite morsels and imbibed in some of the finest wines and spirits on the planet. Guests watched and listened as renowned chefs shared their culinary secrets and regale the audience with their stories. With the food and spirits that the village offered, the heat that the day brought was suddenly forgotten.

Each year the Festival highlights a different country’s wine and culinary contributions. For its 10th anniversary, the Festival dedicated a pavilion to the “Experience Italy” tent which showcased some of Italy’s finest wines as well as a wide range of specialty food products.

As a souvenir of one’s daylong “vacation,” when guests used their American Express card to purchase their ticket, they took home their own commemorative copy of the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook with a foreword by Anthony Bourdain, a great reminder of their gastronomic world-tour launched on the shores of Miami Beach. The only place to get the book signed by all of America’s favorite chefs was inside the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village.

The gods and goddesses of the culinary world walked and talked and cooked among us! It was a chance to catch one’s favorite Food Network stars, as well as famous cookbook authors and cocktail experts, as they shared their tried-and-true tips and amusing stories over a working kitchen. Visitors watched as they prepared favorite dishes and specialty drinks.

In the American Express Grand Tasting Tent, one Immersed themselves in pleasure. This grand tasting invited everything to experience unbridled deliciousness. A seemingly never-ending array of wines and spirits from some of the world’s finest producers offered the perfect accompaniment to the unusual appetizers, signature dishes, and delightful desserts presented by some of South Florida’s greatest restaurants. With generous samples of everything to please, the afternoon provided a unique opportunity to try the widest possible range of flavors representing innovations in wine and spirits making, new culinary trends, and exciting twists on global food traditions. South Beach Wine and Food Festival outdid themselves this year and we shall see what they have in store for us next year! Congratulations on the festival! Every year it keeps on getting better!

Photographs by Betty Alvarez copyright 2011