Starstruck in Miami (at SOBEWFF)

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Last weekend Mr. SGCC had to go to Miami for a few days to attend a legal conference.  I usually beg off on those things because a)  they’re boring; and b)  they’re boring!   But I love Miami ,and hadn’t been down there in years – so I decided to tag along.  I figured I’d get to do a little shopping, hang out at a few sidewalk cafes in South Beach (SOBE to those in the know), and generally just enjoy a little of  la Vida Loca. 

About a week or so before the trip, I was nosing around on the web, collecting ideas for some fun things to do while Mr. SGCC was sitting in a stuffy, windowless room for two days.   And then, I saw it.  The SOBE Wine and Food Festival was the same weekend.  OMG!   How had I not known this?   Of all the crazy and wonderful coincidences, this was the craziest and most wonderful!    I’d wanted to go to this event for years, but was never able to work it out – until now.  It was kismet!

Filled with excitement, I immediately clicked over the the SOBEWFF web site to snag some tickets.  And, I saw the same thing over and over…


Yes, dear readers, every, single, fun-filled, star-studded, delicious event was SOLD OUT!    I was crushed.  I was finally going to be in Miami on the same weekend as the SOBEWFF, and I couldn’t even go.

Later, as I was sulking, whining and snapping Mr. SGCC’s head off, he suggested that I look for tickets on eBay. EBAY???  Of course!  Why didn’t I think of that?  Did I mention that Mr. SGCC is an incredibly brilliant man?

So, I searched on eBay, and sure enough, I found a ticket to the Grand Tasting event on Saturday – the exact one I’d wanted in the first place.  Hurrah!   I snapped up that ticket and literally danced around the house. 


Miami Beach is truly a beautiful place, particularly the South Beach area, with its gorgeous art deco buildings and palm tree lined streets. 


The actual beach, itself, is quite beautiful as well.


I arrived at the Grand Tasting Village (GTV) on Saturday morning armed with my camera, my appetite, my enthusiasm and my Swarovski crystal embellished flip flops.  (If you’re going to be trudging around in thick, heavy sand all day long, you need to be in flip flops.  And, they might as well be cute, stylish flip flops.)  It was a gorgeous, warm and sunny, South Florida day.  And, the place was  absolutely swarming with foodies and wide-eyed celebrity-stalkers seekers!  


As I entered the pearly gates of the GTV, I was presented with a tote bag filled with coupons and small snack samples, as well as my very own wine glass that hung from a lanyard around my neck. It sounds odd, but it really is a brilliant idea. Think about all those weddings, cocktail parties and other events where you’ve stood around trying to juggle your drink, text and schmooze, while also attempting to graze through the hors d’oeuvres. Wearing your glass like a necklace totally frees up both hands. Someone ought to design some dressed up with Swarovski crystals for fancy occasions. They’d make a fortune! And then, I could wear my flip flops and fit right in.


The GTV was set up with a main promenade area flanked on each side by various sponsor tents, where you could duck out of the sun, sip a sangria, nibble a nosh, or just sit a while.  There were also two huge pavilions equipped with Kitchenaid kitchens where you could hang out and watch various Food Network stars do cooking demos (and drink heavily).   Beyond the main drag, there were two ginormous tents, inside which were hundreds of restaurant chefs and food, wine and booze vendors handing out samples.  I suspect all the top Miami restaurants were represented.  I know I recognized a few.   And of course, there was the obligatory makeshift book store where you could buy cookbooks by your fave foodie crush and then have them autographed.   

When I got there, Martha was just finishing up her presentation.  (Damn Miami taxis!  It would have been faster to get there by horse and buggy!)  While I missed most of Martha’s presentation, there were plenty of other great ones I got to see, like…


Morimoto demonstrating the correct way to make sushi.



Aaron Sanchez!

Rachael Ray was there with her cute hubby, John.  He makes a mean cocktail! 


And, Gail Simmons stopped by to chat…


…and to toast Emeril! 


BAM!  I love them both! 

Alex made some yummy looking doughnuts, and traded “Mom” stories with the audience.


She is adorable!

There were others too, like hunky Curtis Stone and Tyler Florence, wild and fun, Anne Burrell, and smooth and sexy, Ming Tsai.  But, probably the biggest thrill of all for me was getting to meet my biggest foodie crushes ever: Anthony Bourdain and … OMG…NIGELLA!  SQUEEEEEEEE!!!


Tony Bourdain is the epitome of cool.  He’s über cool!  And, he’s clever, smart and funny.  I want to be just like him when I grow up.  I wish I had gotten a photo of us together, but believe it or not, I was too shy to ask.  Seriously!  When I met him, I could barely speak.  It was like I had marbles in my mouth!  He was as nice as could be, but I guess I was just too intimidated from seeing him be such a hard a$$ on TV. 

I had no such issues with Nigella, however.  After I blew it with Bourdain, I was not about to leave empty-handed!  Fortunately for me, Nigella was incredibly sweet and approachable.  I had no problem chatting her up and asking for a picture.


Don’t we look cozy? I could definitely see us being BFF’s.   Of course, the minute I opened my mouth up to smile, a gust of wind whooshed through and blew a big hunk of my hair into my mouth.  Ugh!  Just pretend you don’t notice, okay? 

Here’s another gratuitous shot of Bourdain – just because I think he looks cute.


And just as I was about to move along, guess who else walked up?


Doesn’t she look great?  Love that hat! 

It was about that time that I started to feel a little woozy – probably from too much wine and not enough food.  Or maybe, I was just a wee bit starstruck.   Anyhow, I made my way back into the tasting tents.  What a mob scene!   It looked like there were more people jostling around under those tents than that live in my whole town!  It was easy to figure out which booths had the best food, though.  All you had to do was look for biggest hordes of people.  We were like lemmings!  I waited in line for fifteen minutes at one table, and I didn’t even know what I was waiting for. All I knew was that if  that many people were in line, then it must be something great.  When I finally reached the front, someone handed me a minuscule plastic cup filled with one shrimp doused in some kind of a sauce.  Yes folks, one shrimp.  I stood in line for fifteen minutes and all I got for my trouble was  one, measly shrimp!  It was a delicious shrimp, mind you.  But, I don’t know that it was  fifteen minutes worth of delicious.   Sigh…

After jockeying for position in a few more snake-like lines, I kind of gave up on eating and went back to drinking.  I have to say, it was a lot easier to get my glass filled than it was my stomach.  It was fun, though.  So was the people-watching.  There were some very interesting characters milling about! 

By around 5:30, I was ready for a Starbucks and a cab.  A nice Miami Beach policeman pointed me in the right direction, and off I went.  I arrived back at my hotel with a blazing Florida sunset behind me, a hungry Mr. SGCC  waiting up ahead and some great memories. 

I’m already looking forward to next year’s SOBEWFF.  I’ll definitely be better prepared and plan ahead so that I can attend some of the other events as well!     

10 responses to Starstruck in Miami (at SOBEWFF)

  1. On March 04, 2013 at 1:40am, laura said...

    ohhhhh that sounds like a totally FUN time wish I had been there to hang out with you!! love you!

  2. On March 04, 2013 at 1:47am, Rosa said...

    Great! It looks like you had a wonderful time in Miami.



  3. On March 04, 2013 at 8:02am, Joan Nova said...

    LOVED this post! Such fun and great reporting!

  4. On March 04, 2013 at 2:23pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    This is the second blog I’ve read this week that featured Nigella. Girlfriend gets around. 😀

  5. On March 04, 2013 at 2:50pm, Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts said...

    Wow, that was meant to be! It would have only been better if you had a foodie/cocktail drinking buddy with you. 😉 I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of Rachael Ray’s husband before and that last photo of her has to be the cutest photo I’ve EVER seen of her. Period. Good for you! I always loved going on business trips with Mr. GFE. His current job doesn’t require any business trips, but I still have fond memories. :-)

    Thanks for sharing, Susan! So glad that you got to enjoy such an amazing event. Oh, and love the flip flops! You always do it in style. Last, but not least, I thought that was Nigella’s hair that had blown in front of your face. It would have been an abnormally long strand of her hair, but if you take a second look you might see why I thought that.


  6. On March 04, 2013 at 3:05pm, Lori Thomas said...

    What a fun review! So glad you got there, had an excellent time….and reported back!!!

  7. On March 04, 2013 at 3:53pm, Laura Dembowski said...

    Sounds and looks like an amazing time! I hope I will get to go one day, for the food, stars, fun, and perhaps mostly an escape from winter :)

  8. On March 04, 2013 at 10:30pm, Shelby said...

    So enjoyed your post! Just the way I have imagined! Happy that you were able to go. Thanks for sharing.

  9. On March 05, 2013 at 12:22am, Marie said...

    So cool Susan, I love Bourdain, lucky you!

  10. On March 08, 2013 at 8:59pm, Sammy said...

    Wow, not only nice weather, but you got to meet them. Lucky you!

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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