Culture, Food

Around the world in five hours: SOBEWFF’S Grand Tasting Village brings international food, drink to Miami

Five days of nonstop food and drink came to South Beach last week, giving attendees access to everything imaginable without ever leaving Miami. With more than 100 events from South Beach to West Palm Beach, the result was a trip around the world through the eyes of local restaurateurs, alcohol connoisseurs and big businessmen alike.

The event? Food Network’s 2020 South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

The festival– held this year from Feb. 19 to Feb. 23– is an annual event featuring cooking demonstrations, special events hosted by world-renowned chefs like Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay, ample happy hours and family-friendly events.

Proceeds go to Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, for which over $30 million has been raised since its inaugural event.

Dancers representing Bang Energy Drink draw spectators' attention by performing routines to popular songs and iconic throwbacks at the 2020 South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Goya Grand Tasting Village. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis

Nothing embodied this international, culinary adventure like Sunday’s Grand Tasting Village event, hosted on the white sand and under the blue skies of the already bustling intersection of Ocean Drive and 13th Street. One of the most popular and affordable events of the long weekend, Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village welcomed ticket holders to sample food and drink from the finest chefs, caterers wine enthusiasts and bartenders of Miami and beyond.

Among the 50-plus restaurants and array of drink vendors represented, companies of all sizes set up under a spread of white tents that seemed endless and distributed hundreds of bite-sized samples, all in the hopes of it being voted the “Best Bite on Yelp.”

Well-known vendors such as Miami’s iconic The Salty Donut, Bang Energy and even Goya Foods itself made an appearance at the event, hosting giveaways and performances, in addition to encouraging passersby to take as much food as they wished.

Other lesser-known businesses focused on meeting future customers and building roots in the Miami culinary community. Xochimex Cantina Grill, which first opened its doors on Bird Road only 10 years ago, was one of them.

Despite now having seven locations, Nancy Milian– who runs Xochimex with her husband Jorge– is avid that they are still a “mom-and-pop” shop, attributing their success to years of hard work. As for their secret to an undeniable menu, one which offers an array of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, salads and more, Milian says it is rooted in the family’s culturally rich heritage.

Xochimex Cantina Grill, a locally-founded and growing Tex-Mex food chain, serves popular Mahi Mahi Tacos with garlic aioli sauce at the Goya Grand Tasting Village on Sunday, Feb. 23.

Xochimex Cantina Grill, a locally-founded and growing Tex-Mex food chain, serves popular Mahi Mahi Tacos with garlic aioli sauce at the Goya Grand Tasting Village on Sunday, Feb. 23. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis

“My mom is Cuban and my dad is Mexican,” she explained. “So, we infused a bit of both to get the flavors that we have.”

Meanwhile, brands like Washington-based Heritage Distilling Co. spent their day pouring shots and promoting their one-of-a-kind liquors. For Heritage Distilling Co., Sunday was about spreading the word on their Brown Sugar Bourbon (BSB) liquor, which won “World’s Best Flavored Whisky” in both 2018 and 2019.

“We launched in all 50 states this past summer, 2019, and had amazing success. So, now we have two offerings– the 60 proof (perfect for light drinking and new whiskey drinkers) and its big brother, the 103 proof (better for a seasoned bourbon whiskey drinker and makes an amazing old fashion),” said Grant Portier, Southeast senior director of sales.

“I love this event. I love coming to it. I love interacting with all the craziness that goes on,” he continued, commenting on Heritage’s involvement in the festival. “Especially having a new brand, getting it into the mouths of consumers is important. This is a product that is liquid to lips, so people have to try it to see.”

A representative from Shaw-Ross International Importers– leading importer of wine and spirits– offers samples of various Rosé wines at the 2020 South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Goya Grand Tasting Village.

A representative from Shaw-Ross International Importers– leading importer of wine and spirits– offers samples of various Rosé wines at the 2020 South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Goya Grand Tasting Village. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis

Other vendors included Mac & Chess– which claims to be “Miami’s first board game cafe”– serving deep fried mac and cheese bites with bacon and jalapeno, Komodo– an upscale restaurant that combines “South Asian cuisine with a South Florida Vibe”– serving peking duck and T’antay Miami Cake Studio, a Peruvian Bakery with an entire spread of miniature desserts to choose from.

InRamen Asian Street Eatery, Swan European restaurant, Durty Gurl Cocktail Mixers and more were also in attendance, offering samples of short rib ramen and chicken gyoza, shrimp and lobster sliders topped with coleslaw and bloody marys, respectively.

Lines stretched from one end of the beach to the other and temperatures were much warmer than that of previous days. But, drunken festival goers did not seem to mind, because for five uninterrupted hours, they had the entire world at their fingertips.


At a glance: South Beach Wine and Food Festival 2020

The Goya Grand Tasting Village returns to Miami Beach as part of the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival, held this year from Feb. 19 to Feb. 23 and bringing with it over 100 events. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis


Starting at noon, festival goers attend the the SOBEWFF Goya Grand Tasting Village on Sunday, Feb. 23.

Starting at noon, festival goers attend the the SOBEWFF Goya Grand Tasting Village on Sunday, Feb. 23. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis


Representatives from Miami food truck and catering service Chef K Provisions prepare pineapple fried rice and Merlot teriyaki steak, marinated for 48 hours prior to serving. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis


Vero Gusto, a relatively new line of premium sauces which claims to be authentically Italian, offers guests the opportunity to try Vero Gusto-infused dishes, smell the herbs and spices the sauce is made with and even take part in a sensory experience to test whether potential customers can taste the difference blindfolded. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis


Vero Gusto, a relatively new line of premium sauces which claims to be authentically Italian, offers guests the opportunity to try Vero Gusto-infused dishes, smell the herbs and spices the sauce is made with and even take part in a sensory experience to test whether potential customers can taste the difference blindfolded. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis



Durty Gurl Mixers entice festival goers with an array of handmade bloody marys and margaritas made using their cocktail mixers, which they claim to be all-natural, vegan and gluten free. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis


Dancers representing Bang Energy Drink draw spectators' attention by performing routines to popular songs and iconic throwbacks at the 2020 South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Goya Grand Tasting Village. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis


Swan, a Miami restaurant offering "chic modern Euro cuisine" serves lobster and shrimp sliders topped coleslaw at the 2020 South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Goya Grand Tasting Village.

Swan, a Miami restaurant offering "chic modern Euro cuisine" serves lobster and shrimp sliders topped coleslaw at the 2020 South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Goya Grand Tasting Village. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis


A house-like Food Network tent offers refuge to tired, hot and intoxicated attendees of the 2020 South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Goya Grand Tasting Village. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis


Photo credit: Jordan Lewis


Local bookstore and popular hangout Books & Books sets up shop at the 2020 South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Goya Grand Tasting Village, selling popular cook books, drink recipe books, children's kitchen utensils and other knick knacks. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis


February 26, 2020

Reporters

Jordan Lewis

Essien Duke


Around the Web

Tufaan, the University of Miami’s South Asian a cappella group, needs the community’s help to advanc

Dr. Brandon Chatani, a Miller School of Medicine infectious disease specialist, offers advice on way

With the federal Endangered Species Act in danger, University of Miami researchers find that state p

An online exhibit spotlights the talents of two University of Miami incoming Master of Fine Arts gra

Casey Klofstad, political science professor, explains why and how voters should pay attention to pol

TMH Twitter
About Us

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.