In the end, it felt more like spring break with a gourmet buffet and an endless amount of high end liquor. Not a drop of Bud Light to be seen, nor was there any evidence of a national chain restaurant, it felt as gourmet it could get when you jammed as many wine, premium liquor, and gourmet restaurant vendors together right next to Ocean Drive and the Atlantic, complete with 3 DJ sets and bartenders with absolutely no sense of portion control.
For 3 days straight this was a massive orgy of high end drinking and eating; nothing felt cheap about the affair, and all the vendors felt like they were going out of their way to try and impress the bejeezus out of all the attendees. Some of the more impressive samplings had that afternoon:
-Tuna Tartare in a mango salsa served in a cucumber cup
-Salmon Tartare atop rice crackers
-Shrimp coctail served in a fried plantain cup
-poached quail egg yolk atop sliced cucumber topped with miso
-Potato croquettes atop a veal reduction served with fried quail eggs
-foie gras with rasberry sauce served in puff butter rolls
-kobe beef chili dogs
-coconut rice and sesame seed rice pudding topped with mango sauce
-truffled mushroom soup served with creme fraiche
...while the rest of the afternoon blended together into this massive pastiche of pulled pork, seared tuna, and braised short ribs. Other highlights:
-getting absolutely blitzed at an afterhours sponsored by Belvidere Vodka
-watching Lorraine Brocco's assistant scalp Lorraine Brocco's ticket to the show (she didn't need it anyway since she was a featured guest)
-trying to figure out a very complicated appetizer that resembled a sausage stuck with a pipette of mango sauce into the side of it.
-Realizing after tasting Joe's stone crab claws that there can be no other crab claws in the universe.
-Seeing Rachel Ray, Tyler Florence, and Nigella Lawson up close. They seem pretty cool as well.
As for recipes for the above mentioned items, the best I can say, as was surrendered up by those vendors that would talk, they're about as self explanitory as their descriptions: the only tradeoff is that they're somewhat of a pain in the a$$ to put together; watching a guy gingerly place a poached quail egg yolk atop cucumber slices on the quickstep for a few thousand people had to be pretty agonizing.
If you can afford it, if you've got time next spring, if you want to see how cool South Beach cooking and dining can be, hell if you love drinking heavily, I strongly recommend checking this out next year.