Last night, I met up with some good friends at the New Times Iron Fork event at the Bank of America building in Downtown Miami. It was the 2nd year in a row that Id decided to check out this event. Last year, was kind of a buzzkill. The event was held at the Miami Science Museum and everything was crammed. The stage for the competition was nearly impossible to get to and the event was vastly oversold so it took forever to get a taste from any of the booths. I met Paula (of Mango & Lime fame) along with her husband D at this event last year, so we teamed up again to dominate the event again this year. You can check out her blog at the link I just provided for pics since I slacked on the pic taking front.
Having the event at the Bank of America building was an AWESOME move. Limiting ticket sales also proved to be a huge win. We arrived at around 6pm and, after some awkward "we're not ready to open the ropes at 5:55pm" moments, were free to roam about and sample the various wares of the 40+ restaurants that participated in the event. Naturally, I spotted the Presidente booth outside on the deck and we made a b-line over there to get the night started. The outside deck was a huge hype. Nothing beats an outdoor event in Miami. It was there, after sucking down a cool Presidente, that I stumbled upon the Whisk Gourmet Food & Catering booth and all of its BBQ Pork awesomeness. Their sauce is the boss! Its a play on the South Carolina mustard-based BBQ that I love with enough vinegar to pack a little punch. This would be my first dish of the night and one that only one other dish would overcome.
After making our way around the various booths at the event, I was full. Many dishes were mediocre but generously portioned. Nothing was bad which is more than I can say for the event last year. The dish of the night for me was the goat bits with spicy dressing from Tap Tap. A healthy portion of goat doused with some habanero/vinegar sauce rocked my world. I couldve eaten 4 portions of this easily but I managed to keep control of myself. Another dish that I thought kicked major ass was the macaroon with duck mousse and cured duck breast offered up by Au Pied de Cochon. Im not a fan of sweet dishes but the savoriness of the duck mousse and the saltiness of the cured duck breast was a nice counterbalance to the sweetness of the macaroon. I had 2 of these puppies.
The actual Iron Fork competition was kinda cool but once again it was an afterthought. The stage was located in an awkward area where it was tough to see what was going on though it was easy to smell what was going on. In the end, Chef Critchley of Area 31 took down Giancarla Bodoni of Escopazzo and was awarded with a cruise as a prize.
Overall, I thought the Iron Fork event was a vast improvement from last years event due to the location and limited ticket sales. Everyone seemed to have a great time and every participant got great exposure. The only downfall was the band who played the event that sounded like kareoke gone wrong and the jazz band whose instruments played well but whose lame dj scratchin records made the sound awkward as hell. Hats off to New Times though for putting on a nice event that was well thought out and planned properly to allow maximum enjoyment by all.
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