Articles from: May 2010

Lions, Tigers & Beers…Oh My

The Venue

Some glaring facts of the “Brew At The Zoo” beer festival held May 1st at the Miami-Dade Metro Zoo: there was a giant fence surrounding all the inhabitants (non-electrified, thank God); frequent, loud and beastly cries were heard coming from this “cage”; there were security officials everywhere maintaining order.  Oh, and there were some choice odors wafting through the late afternoon Miami air—not all of them good.


Welcome to the “Brew At The Zoo” Beer Festival, presented by the Miami New Times, the first beer festival of its kind ever to be held at the Miami-Dade Metro Zoo.  And judging by the attendance, it probably won’t be the last.  But that’s not saying the Wanderlushes considered it a smashing success (some slurring, wobbly-kneed attendees proved our point) but it was an experience.

Due to liability concerns the actual festival was held outside of the zoo—after closing hours.  We can fully understand the zoo’s reluctance to hold an event of this kind inside the zoo’s perimeter.  Just imagine a bunch of drunk, “civilized” humans interacting with all those “wild” animals.  We don’t want to see anything flying through the monkey cages.  Monkeys are a clean bunch, for the most part, and don’t need to suffer such an indignity at the hands of inebriated humans.

Close to 30 beer vendors offered Dixie cup-sized samples of their brews.  We didn’t mind the cup size as much as we minded the fact that waiting all that time to try some of the beers was like waiting to get on a ride at Disney: it’s a long wait for a short thrill.  While in line we managed to chat up other patient beer lovers like ourselves, so it made the wait tolerable.  Several smart attendees brought two plastic cups in which to sample up to the vendor’s tables.  Two of the beer vendors were tapped out by the time we made it to the event which was around 6:45 p.m.  The event officially got underway at 5 p.m.  There was a large stage set up at one end of the venue.  A band played as we entered and then gave way to a “call of the wild” animal call contest a short time later.

For the hour or so we were there we managed to sample some great craft beers, though a good majority of them we’ve tried in the past or enjoy on a regular basis.  Some stands were out of some of their selections.   Food was available (albeit limited) but we didn’t partake in any of it.

When the sun went down we left in search of real food, in a clean, well-lit place with tables, chairs and generous-sized pint glasses of beer—all away from the maddening crowd.  We found it a short time later at Titanic Brewing Company, in Coral Gables (TARZAN YELL).

Zoo Brew

The Good:
-Great crowd – everyone was happy!
-Good beer – Our Favs:  Titanic Brewery Dubbel Trouble Ale,  Brooklyn Brown Ale, Holy Mackerel Golden Ale & Mack in Black, Zoo Brew (who knew?!)

The Bad:
-Some vendors gone (Monk in the Trunk) or out of some selections early (Raging Bitch) 
-Throw Away Tiny Plastic Cup (Take a lesson from the Jupiter Beer Festival – they had a mini-plastic pilsner with the event info printed on it that you could keep)
-Food Choices – Not bad but not much to choose from.

The Ugly:
-Standard Port-O-Potties – Spring for the upgraded version or move the locale to a venue with real bathrooms.

Beer & Cheeeez with Friends

Chaumes with Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Jam

Chaumes with Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Jam

We tend to burn the candle at both ends in our never-ending journey to see, drink, taste and savor all the delights the world has to offer.  But every now and then we downshift to take time to appreciate good food, drink and friends.  A few Saturdays ago we did just that.

A little bit of background first.   We had attended the SOBE Food & Wine festival and received a flyer about a contest Ile de Franceon the Ile De France Cheese website.  We entered and gave another entry to our good friends.    They received a phone call several weeks later that they had won a cheese platter!  We were all expecting a small amount of cheese to share between the four of us.   We were wrong!  The package arrived and there were gigantic slabs of cheese enough for a small army.   What to do in order to not waste all of this amazing cheese?   The plan developed for a “Beer and Cheeeez Party”  with everyone coming up with recipes incorporating the cheese which we would pair with beer and Richard Cheese tunes.  This was the final menu:

St. Agur Blue on Crackers Drizzled with Honey

– St. Agur Blue Cheese drizzled with Cheese Honey on a Table Cracker 
– Cremier de Chaumes on toast points with Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Jam
– Mediterranean Pizza with Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts
– Pizza with Peppers and Caprice des Dieux
– Deconstructed Blue St. Agur Blue Cheese Burgers 

We started the evening with the cheese and crackers paired with a North Coast Le Merle Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale.   Next up were the mini pizzas.  

The Pizza Selections

 There were three choices of pizza on the menu this evening, including an amazing goat cheese, artichoke and sun-dried tomato pie.  It paired quite well with the Flying Dog Raging Bitch on draft.   As if that wasn’t enough, the grill was fired up for the next stage of our gluttony: mini burgers deconstructed and topped with bleu cheese and served on a puff pastry paired with Stone Smoked Porter.    My mouth is watering as I’m typing these words, so you can only imagine how good they tasted as they came sizzling hot off the grill.   

Stone Smoked Porter & Blue Cheese Burgers

With a continually filled plate in one hand and a beer in the other, it’s safe to say we all enjoyed the offerings.   After stuffing ourselves, we retired outside to listen to some music and talk. The weather was perfect: not too hot or cold, with a gentle breeze that kept the tiki torches flickering.

It’s always nice to slow down every once in a while and appreciate what we Wanderlushes have: good food, good spirits…and most of all, great friends to share them with.

15th Annual Wine & Culinary Celebration at Museum of Discovery & Science, April 16, 2010

We aren’t ones to knock any fundraiser, especially one that offers plentiful food and wine all in the name of raising funds for local organizations but take issue when an event doesn’t seem as well planned as it should be.   Take the 2010 incarnation of the Wine & Culinary Celebration at the Museum of Discovery & Science, in Fort Lauderdale. 

15th Annual Wine & Culinary Celebration

This is a large annual affair that is always well attended and raises a lot of money for the Museum of Science & Discovery.  Great food from top local restaurants, great wine, all donated to a worthy cause: a win-win situation, right?  Well, sort of.   We were a bit reluctant, simply based on the $85 price tag for general admission (VIP tickets were $150 each, so we didn’t feel all that bad) and the torrential rains that literally flooded our area that evening.

We decided to brave the elements and go.  Rain be damned.  If it’s for a good cause, it’s worth a soaking.  Soaking is the operative word, as I’ll explain.  The doors opened at 7:30 p.m. for general admission ticket buyers.  However, for VIP ticket holders, the doors opened at 6 p.m.  I don’t begrudge these VIP’s for getting early access to the event.  That seems fair given the $150 per ticket price tag.  No, my beef is with the event planners that didn’t take into account the fact that people who enjoy wine and like to eat out will go out of their way to make sure they receive their money’s worth.  By that I mean if you were given a full hour and a half to indulge in all the food and wine you can handle before all the teeming masses had a chance to do so, wouldn’t you fill your plate and keep the juice flowing during that 90 minutes?  Hell, I’d probably do the same.

But we were part of the teeming mass of humanity who had to wait to lick the crumbs from the VIP tables and hope to swig on the backwash of all those near empty bottles.  And if we’re paying $85 a ticket to enjoy a sumptuous sampling of food from some of South Florida’s finest eating establishments, plus wine—well, we want in on this little feast.  The Museum of Discovery & Science is a fun and interactive multi-storied place designed for kids and adults alike—but probably one of the worse places for buzzed folk to try out the various interactive science exhibits.  That aside, everyone inside the venue enjoyed the food and wine and were taking it all in.  

The food samples were tasty, and plentiful.  The wine—what very little of it that was left after the VIP access—seemed to be an eclectic mix of reds and whites from around the world.    Out of the numerous tables of wines that had been there were only four or five that still had wine, and they ran out within 30 minutes of us arriving.  There was one table serving wine in particular that irked us both. We walked up to the table to try a Malbec, but the “pleasant” gentleman serving it ignored everyone until his fellow associate motioned for him to pay attention and serve the guests.   We were not happy.   This tended to be the mood of  many of the vendors  by the time we were meandering through the tables.  What had started as a less than memorable affair was quickly deteriorating into a full-blown disappointment.  

Wandering through the scores of people we sadly noticed all of the abandoned wine tables.  Bottles of delightful Cabernets, Merlots, Chardonnays and Pinot Grigios, were now lifeless hulks strewn about with appetizer plates, plastic ware and cups—nary a drop remaining in any one of them.   Many food vendors were also packing up at this point and we missed out on trying several of the offerings.  Luckily we found a young Latin woman serving up a Puerto Rican apertif called Tres Leches.  Ay caramba, it’s muy delicioso!  How best to describe Tres Leches the liqueur?  Think of a McDonald’s vanilla milkshake…but with a kick to your Ray Kroc.  And best of all, this young woman was offering frequent pours from her stock of bottles. 

After almost an hour and a half, we decided enough was enough.  In one way we felt good donating to a good cause, but in another way we felt like it was a bitter disappointment having missed out on many of the offerings (i.e. wine).  Yes, we plebes never stood a chance against those VIP’s (very inebriated people).  As much as we enjoy food and wine shindigs, the Wanderlushes will not make a return appearance at this annual event.

Highlights of the Event:
Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc
Tres Leches Liqueur
Goulash from The Ambry
Lamb Chop from Vienna Cafe & Wine Bar
Meatballs from Solita
Cupcakes from Hey Cupcake
Bruschetta with Tenderloin & Tuna “Cone” from the Coral Ridge Yacht Club
Crab Cakes from Truluck’s



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