On Tuesday, Jan. 25, the Fest Friends officially kicked off the 2011 South Beach Wine & Food Festival at FIU’s Biscayne Bay campus. The 50 guests were greeted at the Southern Wine and Spirits Beverage Management Center with Prosecco while servers passed an array of colorful hors d’oeuvres which included salmon topped cucumbers and canapés. With the much-anticipated festival less than a month away, the friends were sent back to school and put to the true culinary test. After a quick introduction by Jackie Eisen, the organization’s director, the friends were split into 3 large groups and assigned taste guides (a.k.a. students) for their interactive experiences.
Experience #1: Sushi rolling and grilling station.
FIU students led the food enthusiasts through a culinary bootcamp of sushi making and fish grilling.
Experience #2: Cooking demonstration and tasting.
Chef Michael Moran, FIU’s most popular chef teacher carried out the cooking demonstration at the school’s state of the art demo kitchen, which is fully equipped with stainless steel cooking equipment, Wi-Fi, live video feed, and microphones. He cooked a classic French dish of lamb atop pea puree by Jean Georges Vongerichten straight from The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook: Recipes and Behind-the-Scenes Stories from America’s Hottest Chefs. The lamb was paired with a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Beaulieu Vineyards from California.
Experience #3: Essentials of wine and food pairing.
Barry Gump, professor of beer crafting and wine studies, effortlessly explained the many libations that were enjoyed throughout the evening and ended with a pairing of Riesling from Snoqualmie Vineyards from Washington State with white and wheat bread accompanied by a semi hard sheep’s milk cheese and semi hard cow’s milk cheese. The odd pairing was done to show the wine’s pairing flexibility.
The night ended on a sweet note with 3 different types of fondue and an endless table of dip-able treats. All guests left with sweet treats as well, by Mischa’s Cupcakes and FIU’s own students.
The Fest Friends is a select group of high net-worth individuals that have an exceptional interest in good quality food and are, of course, big enthusiasts of Miami’s largest and most popular festival, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Their role is crucial to the continuity and promotion of the festival. Their main fundraising efforts are aimed to continually improve FIU’s Hospitality College.