The 10 Best Things We Ate at the 2017 South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Get an insider's look at some of the most-memorable savory and sweet plates we sampled at the 2017 South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

After a four-day marathon of eating and drinking alongside your favorite chefs and stars at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, it’s safe to say that we. are. full. But as we look back on this sunny weekend along the Miami shore, we can’t help but crave a few particularly memorable dishes that we were enjoying mere hours ago. From an over-the-top-cheesy burgers at Burger Bash to a sweet treat of Trisha Yearwood’s coffee cake at her Southern Kitchen Brunch, these are 10 of our favorite tastes of SOBEWFF.

When it comes to cheese, we’re of the mindset that more is always more, and at the Italian Bites on the Beach event, the team from Louie Bossi’s Ristorante Bar & Pizza, which is based in Ft. Lauderdale, made sure that was the case. After hollowing out a wheel of Parmesan, they tossed the hot pasta with a mushroom-based sauce right inside, allowing the heat to gently melt the nutty cheese and become one with the pasta. Before serving, they plated the pasta with pieces of crispy-skinned porchetta to create a deeply savory presentation.

Hot to the touch and plenty sticky with truffle honey, this sandwich, a Coccoli from Miami Beach’s Prime Italian restaurant, brings together the best of salty and sweet flavors in a balanced way. For us, the key was the smear of creamy stracchino cheese on the bread — it helped marry all the tastes together.

We like to think of this dish as the Italian take on a meat-and-potatoes plate, but instead of potatoes, there’s cheesy risotto. This hearty presentation from Dolce Italian restaurant in Miami Beach featured succulent red wine-marinated short ribs as the beefy star of the plate, and the meat was so tender that it fell apart with the touch of the fork. And see that sauce draping the short rib? It was an au jus that proved to be every bit as rich and savory was we wanted it to be.

At Friday night’s Oyster Bash, we had our pick of the plumpest, freshest oysters you can find in the water — fried, grilled and simmering in sauce. But for us, the best way was also the simplest way: raw. We set up camp at the Island Creek Oysters boat where the team from this Massachusetts-based operation was shucking their East Coast beauties on the spot. We squeezed a bit of lemon onto the half shells and threw back oyster after oyster.

Much like slurping strands of spaghetti and gnawing on the bones of baby back ribs, we love getting both hands around a burger and eventually feeling the juices run down our arms as we go in for bite after bite. When you indulge in the Emmy Burger from Brooklyn’s Emily restaurant, that messy fate is all but guaranteed — and we’re so happy about that. The Emily team served the eatery’s signature burger — built with the requisite orange-hued “Emmy sauce,” of course — at Friday’s Burger Bash, and we appreciated every last bite of this flavor-packed creation.

While we count the Emmy Burger among our favorite dressed-up burgers, the beauty pictured above from Little Jack’s Tavern in Charleston, South Carolina, is everything we love in a wonderfully classic, always-in-the-mood-for-you kind of burger. Moist, juicy and just salty enough, this meaty masterpiece is draped with gooey American cheese and served on a sesame bun — with fries, of course. That’s just the way we like it. It’s no wonder this won a top honor at Burger Bash.

Duff Goldman hosted Saturday’s Decadent Dessert Party, and, of course, this master of all things sweet brought nothing less than an epic ice cream sundae bar for his station. He let guests choose from among several crispy-cookie bases and ice cream flavors, then handed over the towering plates so fans could finish their sundaes with their choice of toppings. We can’t resist the chocolate-peanut butter combo, so we opted for a few scoops of chocolate ice cream, then piled on the peanut butter cups and a sprinkle of crunchy chopped peanuts for added taste and texture.

Famed baker Joanne Chang, of Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe, is known for her expert take on sticky buns — she even out-baked Bobby Flay in a sticky bun Throwdown in 2007 — so we were excited to get a taste of her creations at Duff’s party. She brought Sticky Bun Butter Breton to the late-night tasting, and indeed these cinnamon-scented kouign-aman were light, flaky and ideally sweet. We liked them so much that we managed to take some back to the hotel for Sunday’s breakfast after Joanne gave us a few of the pastries that remained.

When it comes to Southern comfort food, Trisha Yearwood is a go-to gal for down-home recipes, so you can be sure that her Southern Kitchen Brunch on Sunday was full of hearty, tried-and-true fare. While she offered fans both savory and sweet picks, we were especially wowed by her Coffee Coffee Cake. Laced with ground spices, this buttery, moist treat was finished with a cinnamon crumble. Bonus: She recently prepared this recipe on an episode of Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, and you can find it right here.

We’ll admit that we hardly ever take the time to make fried chicken at home, so when we found that Art Smith was serving it as his booth at Sunday’s brunch, we were thrilled. Tender on the inside with a golden, crispy exterior, this juicy bird was finished with creamy gravy and served atop hot sauce. We’re big fans of heat over here, so we were happy to get an extra drizzle of the tangy hot sauce to balance the richness of the gravy.

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