I was fortunate enough to attend the “Chef Showdown” portion of the Hess South Beach Seafood Festival; and lets just say I left no cockle unturned. In true Miami fashion, I arrived late to the event. Panicked, the glutton in me floundered (yes, pun intended) my way to the sandy entrance, hoping my seafood fortress (the one I imagined while on the treadmill) was still intact. To my great pleasure, the hiss of sautéing Octopus welcomed me at the door and all my fat girl fears were put to rest.
The event was like an episode of Bravo’s Top Chef; restaurant cooking stations bordered the space, allowing guests to sample and vote for their favorite dishes in different categories. Categories included; Best Lobster Roll, Best Tuna, Best Fish Dish, Best Octopus and Best Surf & Turf. All while simultaneous, culinary showdowns took place on the main stage, the coupe de gråce being the Surf & Turf challenge. Rest assured, those battle cries of live lobsters were not forgotten, but celebrated with heavenly butter and beef.
The main stage also housed an impressive raw bar, overflowing with Scallops, Shrimp & Mussels. As well as open bars sponsored by Bacardi & Blue Moon….yea unlimited booze. Ain’t nothin’ but a lobstah partyyyy….it ain’t nothin’ but a motherf*cking lobstah party.
But I digress, lets get to the food porn… my top three dishes of the night. See: https://facebook.com/SOBESeafoodFest for the complete listings of competitors.
#1 Siena Tavern’s Lobster Roll
Miami’s newcomer Siena Tavern, not only won over the hearts of the judges but my cholesterol ridden one as well. This delectable little hero was filled with chunky lobster tossed in olive oil, lemon and spices, then carefully nestled in what seemed to be a pretzel roll. A commendable spin on the traditional Lobster roll. I’m looking forward to trying their full menu, the Chicago based restaurant opens on Miami Beach this November.
#2 Poseidon’s Octopus
Poseidon was the first station on my journey, their popping skillet and sweet smoke was the perfect amuse bouche to my culinary round about. However, I’m like the god damn Goldie Locks of Octopus; this ones too chewy, this ones too bland, this ones too… blah blah blah. Despite my apprehension, Poseidon got it “just right”. Their roasted Mediterranean Octopus was tender and zesty, topped with a well balanced Lemon and Olive oil sauce which properly highlighted the restaurant’s Greek roots. Nom.
#3 Naked Taco’s Lobster “Pop-Tart”
I’m a sucker for novelty, so they pretty much had me at “Pop-Tart”. This crispy empanada was generously stuffed with Lobster and Avocado; it was the perfect flavor intermission for my tiring palate. Most of all, I enjoyed their interpretation. It was fun, flavorful, and a manageable “lobster roll” made for eating on-the-go. Unfortunately, I did not find it on their menu, so hopefully my food porn will suffice. Nonetheless, Naked Taco will be seeing more of me.
Overall, there were some great contenders and some amazing food. I was very impressed by the event, and can’t wait for next year! I’d like to thank the Hess South Beach Seafood Festival and the Creativas Group for allowing me to attend their seafood extravaganza.