[Pink Pig Time Machine by Wilfrid: March 2, 2017]
Ten years ago, and I'm headed for the South Beach Food & Wine Festival in Miami for the first time. Something which would never have occurred to me a few years earlier--traveling not just to eat (nothing strange about that) but traveling to a commercial food event; and one where I expected to run in to chefs I knew.
A few bites in New York before leaving.
Crispy artichoke and radicchio salad, then tagliatelle with porcini and sausage at Alfredo's, that curious Roman transplant in Rockefeller Center--the menu a mix of authentic dishes and tourist generalities (sushi, even). Later, to the bar at Gilt for the very good truffle fries and cocktails. Not to mention a good cheese and wine class at Murray's.
As for South Beach, we checked into the relatively quiet Blue Moon Hotel, a short walk from the main festivities. The first night kicked off with a ridiculous event, the Veuve Clicquot "Bubble Bath" at the Setai. Dozens of refreshingly dressed models prowling a huge crowd around an open air pool, pouring endless drafts of the Yellow Label. There were passed hors d'oeuvres too, but I hardly remember them.
More upmarket, the best tutored wine tasting I have ever attended. Easily. A jaunt through a 1983-2003 Haut-Brion vertical, led by owner Prince Robert of Luxembourg, and wine-maker Jean-Philippe Delmas. The Prince turned out to be the nicest fellow, raised in the UK, and earnestly interested in making conversation with anyone interested in the wine. We got to taste some of the rare blancs too.
Almost as much fun was a blockbuster tasting, with food and drink purveyors spead around the American Airlines stadium. I said hello Gabrielle Hamilton, Daniel Humm, and David Chang ("Wilfrid. What the fuck are you doing here?"). Someone was pouring La Mission Haut-Brion. And then I got stuck in a pavilion where Alfred Portale was dishing up small plates, a DJ was being ambient, and (more) models were getting rid of as much Dom Perignon 1998 and Gosset 1996 as they could.
Did we set foot outside the festival? Oh yes. A grand family lunch at Joe's Stone Crab: conch fritters, fried calamari, stuffed quahogs, the legendary stone crab claws, hash browns, spinach, grilled tomatoes; then key lime pie, ice cream, and flan.
Then an evening meal at Norman's, about which my journal is annoyingly obscure (not my first meal there). Something toasted withy seared foie gras, it says. Then stuffed quail and cheeses.
We ran into chef Norman himself the next morning at the F&W Festival Publix Grand Tasting in a windy, salt-aired pavilion on the beach (Padma was having a very bad hair day). Also David Bouley, dishing out burgers, the inevitable Deen and Flay, Nigella Lawson, and--in the crowd--various Latin American TV stars, notably Raúl "El Gordo"De Molina.
The flight back was snoozy, and we landed in snow.