For four days, esteemed chefs, master mixologists, food TV personalities and culinary enthusiasts descend upon South Beach to host, experience and enjoy a vast array of events and parties. A look upon the schedule is dizzying if not overwhelming, and sometimes the price tags prove to be a bit disheartening. Even so, there are some reasonably priced events and not to mention free ones that let you get in on the action without breaking the bank.
I scored a ticket to Medianoches & Mixology at Wynwood Walls, my first SOBEWFF event, and I was beyond anxious to check it out. Hosted by Anne Burrell and Emilio Estefan, and curated by local Burger Beast, I had high expectations. A medianoche is a popular version of the Cuban sandwich, and this event had a ton, along with other Cuban food staples like croquetas, churros, coffee and cocktails made with Botran Rum.
Upon entering, I headed straight to The Pubbelly Group’s table where they were dishing out their take on the medianoche made with pork belly and yuzu dijonaise, alongside smoked ham and manchego cheese croquetas with mint aioli. Pubbelly chef Jose Mendin was recently named as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation Awards in the Best Chef South category. In layman's terms, he’s one of our city’s top chefs and this particular bite did not disappoint. Also in attendance was Miguel Aguilar, chef at Wynwood Kitchen and Bar which you can visit on our Wynwood Food Tour. He was serving his delicious ropa vieja and chicken empanadas, while restaurant Islas Canarias lived up to their reputation as an authority in croqueta making, even debuting one of their newest bacon and cheese flavors.
While some chefs put their unique twist on things like Chef Adrianne who served a mouthwatering sandwich with 12-hour braised turkey breast on a Hawaiian roll, city staples were also on hand serving their traditional medianoches including Los Bobos Cafeteria, El Exquisito (a stop on our Little Havana Food Tour), Cuban Guys, Latin House Burger & Taco Bar and Daddy’s Grill Cafe. One of my favorite sandwiches of the night was from Chef Alberto Cabrera from Bread + Butter Counter, while host Anne Burrell named Latin American Bakery her number one pick from the night.
Thankfully, the night didn't go off without a sweet note and lucky for me, dessert was provided by two of my favorite places - Azucar Ice Cream Company and Sweetness Bake Shop. Each put a Cuban twist on their signature desserts including arroz con leche ice cream and Cuban tiramisu.
My first SOBEWFF event lived up to the hype. It was sold out but never once did I feel cramped or like I had to wait too long for a bite of food. The atmosphere was perfect to say the least, creating a great celebration of the local and humble medianoche in a classy and seemingly extravagant way. There's a reason SOBEWFF only comes once a year but make sure to catch it when it does. It's not to be missed!
By Cassie Glenn