My wife and I were enjoying a day at the beach on Thursday, watching the ocean and the para-sailors and the boats go by.
We saw this huge tent behind the Ritz-Carlton Miami Beach:
Luckily for us, I had scored some VIP passes, so we could go in and sample the fare before the crowds arrived.
The full name is a tad cumbersome: Food Channel South Beach Food & Wine Festival Amstel Light Burger Bash Presented by Allen Brothers and Hosted by Rachel Ray
In this event, 25 Chefs, most affiliated with restaurants, fed the crowd small burgers to compete for recognition as the "People's Choice" and to receive a check for $5,000. There also were three outfits providing desserts, and varioius freebies from sponsors.
Sure enough, there was plenty of free Amstel Light from the main sponsor around.
By the tap from this wagon
Note the seats and the pedals for working off any extra calories!
By the bottle from this bar:
And if peddling at the wagon was not to your taste, there was this little secluded nook with another keg, two hostesses and a barmaid:
I headed for the Bistro One LR at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach
for a Bistro Burger:
All-beef patty, leeks, Hobb's bacon, and foie gras on a potato bun. With it is a house-made tater-tot with black truffle shavings. The burger was unctiously delicious, and the tater tot was fantastic.
Some folks come for the celebrity chef watching, and I spotted some I recognized. Bobby Flay
And yes, he was serving burgers! Ingrid Hoffman of Delicioso
The burger at her booth is the one that she developed and is served by the Latin Burger and Taco Truck which she was initially involved with. I've had so many that I skipped this mini version.
Latin Burger and Taco Truck thread http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=584078 Iron Chef Morimoto
He was serving and supervising, too, and also hamming it up for the patrons and cameras. We actually had a bit of a delay at his booth because of all the media wanting to interview him on camera.
I tried one of his burgers: Nikomi Burger
- Wagyu beef patty stewed in Morimoto sauce and topped with a fried egg.
This didn't work for me. The fried egg would have worked better on a full-sized hamburger. There was too much yolk for the burger. Also, the stewed burger patty had a meatloaf/well-done kind of taste that came to the front.
There was a stage at the north end of the tent for the opening announcements, a band, and the presentations at the end of the night.
The music was recognizable, but pretty loud. Radius
, from Boston was the 2008 People's Choice winner. This was their 2011 entry:
The Schlow Burger
- Vermont Cheddar, crispy onions, and horseradish black pepper sauce. The sauce overwhelmed the rest of the ingredients. I like all the elements, but it was just too much.
For those who don't want anything alcoholic, there was free Fiji water, and endless free Diet Pepsi:
I recently read a column by Esquire magazine columnis Alan Richman praising the burgers from Umami in Los Angeles.
Founder/owner/chef Adam Fleischman
was on hand at the Burger Bash:
They were cooking up minis on this interesting propane-fired grill:
The finished product: Umami2
- Umami beef blend, savory onions, house-made american cheese (!), butter-confit ****ake mushrooms, umami master sauce with pickled wasabi root and umami dust.
I liked this. There were a lot of subtle interactions between the top-notch ingredients that made it burst with (surprise!) umami. Iron Chef Michael Symon
returned after winning the People's Choice award in 2010. This is the burger credited to the B Spot
, his restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio: Yo! Burger
: Burger with fried salami, provolone, shasha sauce, and pickled onion. Side: Nutella and hazelnut liqueur milkshake.
This was my favorite, and was the one I cast my vote for. I took a couple of more shots of the preparation here.
Actual hardwood charcoal flame grilling:
Fried Salami in the prep line:
Gals making a mess making the delicious shakes:
Note the bottle of Frangelico to the right.
While hunting for the dessert booths, I found that one didn't have to stick with beer, soda or water.
The Loire Valley Wines association was sponsoring free Anjou Rose. It was a little bit sweet, but much more complex than the typical supermarket roses.
In the desserts corner, I found that NYC chocolatier Jacques Torres had a booth.
They offered three items (and all were free for the taking).
The sign said Molten Chocolate, but I believe that the attendant said flourless chocolate cake.
Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Creme Brulee portions:
These were, of course, portions from a larger pudding, as flaming in the paper cups would be a problem. There were bits of the brulee crust stirred in, and they were delicious.
My wife loved all three.
The VIP period had come to an end, and the hoi-polloi were started to move in, thickening the crowd. This is a last look in from the entrance:
We decided to leave, but before that I got one of the free bags of Cape Cod chips while I could.
On the way out, it looked like the lines were at least an hour just to get in.
We ate and drank much more during our visit, but I am just showing the highlights. Some of it is a blur - so many burgers, so little time. I purposely skipped the local representatives whom I could visit at my convenience.
Oh, you wondered who won? It was my favorite, the Yo! Burger from Michael Symon's B Spot
Photo courtesy of food blogger BurgerBeast
<message edited by MiamiDon on Sun, 02/27/11 12:05 PM>