At the Miami Fine Chocolate & Food Show, vendors and chocolate lovers alike descend upon South Florida during a celebration of life's sweeter side. An estimated 3,000 foodies visit the evening event, witnessing and tasting the creations of some of the region's and the world's most distinguished chefs.
Themed areas make navigating the event a cinch. In designated chocolate zones, gourmet retailers, bakers, and pastry chefs win the hearts of taste buds with their sweets, which range from handmade goods to organic and small-batch treats. For a more savory experience, Restaurant Row showcases the eats of more than 30 South Florida restaurants. Pairing seminars, meanwhile, discuss what edibles go well together, and live cooking demonstrations share tricks of the trade, such as how to turn a chef's hat into an oversized drinking goblet. There will also be a number of beer, wine, and spirits vendors on hand and attendees can enjoy music performances throughout the space.
Nestled within the food show, the Cigar Cellar & Lounge sponsors the Miami Smoke Affair. Cigar connoisseurs stroll the booths of 20 brands, learning from the factory reps about how the cigars are made, what they're made from, and how they should be smoked. As they meander through the space, they sip on unlimited glasses of craft beer and nibble on bites of food. They can also dig into cigar-packed goody bags in the tented smoking lounge.
You don't have to travel all the way to Napa Valley to taste that region's famed beverage. Even though it's in the heart of Miami, Mass? Estate Winery produces its wines in Northern California's Santa Helena hills before transporting their wares directly to the local tasting room, where guests can sample a variety of rich reds. The winery, touted as the first of its kind in Miami, is a dream of founder Oscar Piloto Mass?. His vision: to create world-class fine wines that will please a range of palates, pair well with many dishes, and appeal to every Myers-Briggs personality type.
Young dancers in red and gold embroidered costumes and traditional boots perform a syrtos as patrons wander by, munching on gyros and homemade pastries. All of this takes place at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church's Miami Greek Festival, a three-day celebration of Greek culture and the local community. All day, the festival showcases traditional Greek music and folk dancing, while kids' rides and wine tastings cater to visitors of all ages. The bakaliko, a traditional supermarket, sells feta and vlahotiri cheeses, kalamata olive, and olive oil so that patrons can take home some of the flavors of Greece.
Be careful—stepping into Atelier Monnier may become a habit-forming activity. Best of Voice Places bestowed the Best Croissant title upon the French bakery in 2012, adding that the chocolate-almond variety "will make an addict of you." Miami New Times blogger Trina Sargalski praised Atelier's parisian macaron, a gluten-free cookie comprised of a light crust, moist almond meringue, and a natural ganache filling in such flavors as pistachio, coffee, and raspberry cassis. The shop's glass cases also brim with European-style ice cream (crème glacée), profiteroles and pastries, and handmade chocolates along with freshly baked bread and sandwiches.
The store owes its success to the gourmet passions of owner and Belgium native Patrick Feyten and the artisanal creativity of French pastry chef Franck Monnier. The minimalistic decor allows guests to focus on the vibrant colors of their sweet treats, which range from a sunny lemon yellow to a rouge as deeply crimson as Édith Piaf's lips.
To the chefs at El Nuevo Tondero, every clean plate in their kitchen is a blank canvas waiting to be dressed in the bright colors and distinctive flavors of Peruvian cuisine. The culinary team specializes in fresh fish, ladling whole fillets with creamy hot pepper sauce, mixing lime juice into seven styles of ceviche, and even juicing these ceviche ingredients into a soupy beverage of lime and brine called leche de tigre. They spend just as much time perfecting presentation as flavor, as evidenced by artfully placed shrimp resting on nests of fettuccine and steamed seafood rice arranged into the shape of Whistler's mother.