The 2012 United Way Miami Wine & Food Festival Taste & Toast proved to offer good food, good wine, and good will. Celebrating 17 years, the annual festival brings together beer, spirits, wine and food lovers for a four-day festival that kicks off with a Best in Glass Month, top sommeliers, notable chefs, prestigious wineries and winemakers, breweries and impressive auction lots, all to benefit the United Way of Miami-Dade.
The first event of the evening I attended was the Associate Legal Mingle at Artefacto at the Village of Merrick Park. The event provided more than 200 associates from the Miami area an opportunity to mingle with judges and the in-house counsel of top Miami-based organizations, and an occasion to learn how to help change lives across Miami-Dade County. The goal of the Legal Mingle was to educate legal associates about the importance of giving back to the community in which they live and work by contributing to the United Way. There was a great turnout at the event and after a presentation about how to become a United Way of Miami-Dade Young Leader, the associates lined up to receive wine glasses and plates for the Taste & Toast.
The Taste & Toast was very well attended as crowds meandered from table to table tasting fine wines and trying an array of different types of food. I particularly enjoyed the spread from Gilbert’s Bakery, a family-owned company with diverse Latin and European cusine.
The most interesting food item I tried at the event was buffalo. Yes, I said buffalo, although I believe the correct title on the menu is American Bison Steak – it was surprisingly very good. Chef Juan Carlos Velez of Empeek-Cheke a restaurant at the Miccosukee Resort proved to have the table that drew the longest line of patrons. The line stretched through the center of the courtyard at Merrick Park. Fortunately, a very nice sommelier came around and filled everyone’s wine glasses as we waited. I must say that the wine was superb. There were so many amazing kinds to taste – from Riesling to Pinot Noir to Malbec.
One participating restaurant that I am interested in going to check out is Gibraltar Restaurant & Bar at the Grove Isle Hotel & Spa. Led by Chef Ahren Beers, Gibraltar offers a lavish setting with gorgeous views of Biscayne Bay and an outdoor terrace. The flyer they gave me at the Taste & Toast says that they have happy hour 7 days a week and a raw bar on Thursdays. I definitely want to go check them out!
There is no doubt that the Taste & Toast was a huge success and check back for my next article recapping United Way Miami Wine and Food Festival’s Cellar-Bration event at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.