After being abruptly cancelled this fall (thanks, Hurricane Matthew) the 21st annual food and drink extravaganza known as VeritageMiami is back in full force. This year's festivities are a bit more spread out in timing than they typically are but the festival is still bringing back all its marquee events including the Craft Beer Tasting at Wynwood Walls on Thursday, February 9 a Fine Wine Tasting at the Shops at Merrick Park on March 15, the Interactive Dinner at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami on January 27, plus a new event: the Auction & Bubbly Brunch at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne on Sunday, March 26. As always the event is volunteer driven, since all of its proceeds go to the United Way of Miami-Dade. And if you had tickets to the events in October, they will still be honored for these events.
These events certainly aren’t the cheapest in town, but yet again, all the proceeds go to charity so at least you can feel somewhat good about your eating and drinking. On the lower end of the price spectrum is the Craft Beer Tasting at Wynwood Walls, where a general ticket will only run you $55 (or $75 for VIP) for all the beer and food you can eat. Be prepared to spend a bit more for the Fine Wine Tasting, where tickets start at $75 (or $150 for VIP). And get ready to fork over the big bucks as the two sit-down meals, the Interactive Dinner and Bubbly Brunch, that will both run you $500 a pop.
In general, VIP tickets are worth the extra charge if you want to avoid the crowds. Both the Craft Beer and Fine Wine tasting receive more than 1,000 guests and certainly can get packed at prime times. If your prerogative is to have some time with the vendors on hand – and there are a lot of them – than shelling out the extra cash for the VIP ticket, which allows you in an hour before general admission, might be well worth it.
For essentially being a gala dinner, the annual Interactive Dinner is certainly one of the most fun. The 700+ guests fill a massive dining hall inside the JW Marriott Marquis Miami (255 Biscayne Blvd Way) at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, January 27, and actually prepare their three-course meal (with the help of Johnson & Wales culinary students) right at their table.
This year the dinner will be "taught" by Top Chef season 13 winner, Jeremy Ford, who also serves as the chef de cuisine at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Matador Room. On his menu this year expect sweat pea guacamole, octopus, snapper and café con leche cake.
Parking is available at the hotel’s valet, but as the drinks are very much flowing (even the chefs tend to get into the libation action) cabs and Ubers are strongly encouraged. And also make sure to dress to impress, since the crowd is filled with Miami’s big wigs and jet-setters.
CRAFT BEER TASTING
For the beer lovers, the annual beer tasting takes over the colorful Wynwood Walls (2550 NW 2nd Avenue), from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, February 9. In addition to the 140+ beers that will be on hand, from local to regional to national favorites, this year the event has also expanded to the neighboring Wynwood Gardens, adding in a new "brewcade" area to cool off in and play lawn and arcade games.
But beer is certainly not the only thing on the menu, there are close to 40 different restaurants and food vendors that will be on hand to help soak up all those suds like, KYU, Proof Pizza & Pasta, Pincho Factory, Shake Shack, and Spring Chicken.
Guests will also get a chance to get into the action, with everyone being given the chance to vote for their favorite restaurant and beer at the event to help crown the "People’s Choice Award" winners. Craft Beer Tasting guests will also have access to the official after party at The Wynwood Yard featuring event more food, beer and music.
Since the event takes place in Wynwood, street and lots are available, but as anyone who has ventured to the area knows that parking can be tough and if you’re planning to have a few brews it might be in your best interest to call a cab or an Uber.
FINE WINE TASTING
If wine is your beverage of choice, you’ll be in good company at the annual Fine Wine Tasting with more than 400 different varietals being poured freely when the event takes over the Shops at Merrick Park (358 San Lorenzo Avenue) from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 15. Like the Craft Beer tasting, plenty of food will also be on hand to pair with the vino from restaurants like Bocce, Bulla Gastrobar, Dragonfly Izakaya & Fish Market, Glass and Vine, Pinch Kitchen, Uvaggio, Zest and others.
Parking is available in the mall and the neighboring streets, but will fill up quickly. So if you plan to drive, get there early. Otherwise, cabs and Ubers are also good bets.
The newest addition to the lineup, taking the place of the dinner that has been hosted at Marlins Park for the past two years, is the Bubbly Brunch and Auction on Sunday, March 26 at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne (455 Grand Bay Dr) from 11 a.m. on. The brunch will feature a family-style Southern brunch on hand by the soul food pros at 50 Eggs, the guys behind Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, Swine Southern Table and Bar and Spring Chicken. And in true Southern fashion, plenty of bourbon and rye whiskies will be on hand to pair with dishes like shrimp and grits, macaroni and cheese and fried chicken.