Last Sunday I had the opportunity to attend the first annual Aventura Wine & Food Festival held at Gulfstream Park. As a new foodie blogger, I jumped at the opportunity to discover some of the restaurant offerings up in North Dade County, outside the friendly confines of Coral Gables, Midtown and South Beach. With more than 50 restaurants and wines promised for exposition, I have to say I was genuinely excited for my Sunday Funday outing. Unfortunately, I have to report that the experience did not match the excitement.
When I arrived at the Festival just after the 1pm start time, I was actually surprised to see the crowds of curious culinarians. I guess all the exposure on online coupon sites like Groupon, Gilt City and Living Social worked. And, hey, the more the merrier, right? Wrong. But not because I mind waiting 15 minutes in line for small food samplings. The issue here was that apparently the event organizers somehow got their numbers wrong, causing the participating businesses to be grossly unprepared. Not only were the restaurants running out of food, but the wine vendors had to resort to selling full bottles instead of giving out samples. However, the most egregious error was the fact that the event itself ran out of tasting plates and glasses. There is no excuse for any of this, especially considering the fact that consumers paid up to $75 a ticket for what was billed as unlimited food and wine samplings. Completely unacceptable, even for a first-year event.
That said I don’t want to harp too much on these unfortunate failings. While we do feel the need to be honest and authentic, here at MMTM we try to focus on the positive as much as possible and, thankfully, we were able to try some standout dishes over the course of the afternoon. Restaurants and retailers like Mister Collins, Toro Toro, Tuna’s Seafood Restaurant, Jimmy John’s, Whole Foods, Aventura Olive Oil Co., and Inca Tea really should be applauded for maintaining their cool and putting out a quality product. Check out some of the highlights in the gallery.