Super-Carnivore Michael Symon Hosts a Smoky Meatopia at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival
After digging into a combined mountain of meat at Friday night's Burger Bash, we thought Saturday night seemed like as good a time as any to showcase — wait for it — more meat. Food Network's own resident super carnivore, Michael Symon, hosted the sold-out Meatopia, which featured all manner of beef, pork and chicken cooked over an open flame. This meat lovers' paradise is new to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival — just two years old — but that didn't stop fans from packing the seaside tents and waiting in line for their taste of the succulent, slow-roasted ribs, strips and tips the chefs were dishing out. "Just the smell of this place makes you happy," Michael, a longtime lover of meat in its many forms, proclaimed from the stage as he welcomed partygoers to the event. And indeed the smoky scent was something to behold — even blocks away fans could get a whiff of what awaited them.
After tasting all 25 of the dishes before them, it was up to guests to vote for their favorite meaty masterpiece. Miami Beach's Quality Meats earned top honors of People's Choice with its House-Cured Slab Bacon — but this wasn't any ol' strip of bacon. Thick-cut and juicy, this craveworthy pork product (pictured above) was topped with a dollop of creamy peanut butter and a light, tangy jalapeno-laced jelly to create the ultimate sweet-savory bite.
The famed Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach served up not seafood but a take-with-you container (pictured above) filled with a Fried Bologna Sandwich, crunchy popcorn and even an Adult Capri Sun. That plastic pouch you see in the back held a lemony rum cocktail studded with mint and basil, which made for easy, enjoyable sipping.
A mini barbecue platter (pictured above) — that was the name of the game at the Sparky's Roadside BBQ booth. This Miami-based restaurant offered sliced-on-site brisket and a squirt of barbecue sauce, plus classic fixings like Sparky's Coleslaw, tender greens and pickled jalapenos for a welcome bite.
There was no way to miss Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint on Saturday, as this Tennessee standby showed up with its own oversize smoker (pictured above). The team there was showcasing its coveted whole hog, which turned out meltingly tender pork that was just waiting for a drizzle of vinegar-based Jack's Creek Sauce.
Not your everyday beef tacos, the tortillas (pictured above) from Orlando's 4 Rivers Smokehouse were filled with moist tri-tip and dressed up with a bright chile pepper sauce and cool queso fresco.
At the Edge Steak and Bar booth, fans were treated to a duo of meats when they picked up this Miami eatery's dish (pictured above). Not only was the team handing out meaty ribs, lacquered with a sticky, sweet tamarind topping, but also thick pieces of juicy kielbasa.
Pasta at a meat event? Wouldn't that have worked better at Giada De Laurentiis' Italian Bites on the Beach? Nope, because the noodles dished out from MC Kitchen were indeed full of meaty flavor. This bowl of Garganelli with Housemade Spicy Italian Sausage (pictured above) was finished with bright pickled onions and nutty cheese.
It wasn't just pork and beef on display on Saturday; Lincoln Restaurant from Portland, Ore., brought chicken legs to the party. These charred legs (pictured above) were finished with a tahini-based sauce and rounded out with a refreshing cabbage slaw.
Of course meat even made its way into the dessert at Meatopia, as the team from South Carolina's Daisy Cakes dished out a next-level take on cheesecake (pictured above). Featuring the creamy center you know and love in a traditional cheesecake, this version had a crust laced with pork rinds, and it was finished with a crispy, chewy bite of Bacon Toffee.
Keep coming back to FN Dish all weekend long for more insider coverage of the 2016 South Beach Wine & Food Festival.