Taste of Miami at Marlins Park

Invite me to Miami wine events (and foodie events) and I'm there! On Thursday February 18, this wine lover and foodie made her way to Taste of Miami at Marlins Park. The event benefited The Marlins Foundation, Miami Culinary Institute and Hispanic Food & Beverage Foundation. Hosted by Chef Adrianne Calvo and Marlin pitcher, Jose Fernandez, wine lovers and foodies flocked to Marlins Park for a cook-off and array of popular eateries. 

Let’s put this in reverse, shall we? On February 11, I was invited to a pre-event media/blogger day presented by Metro PCS at Marlins Park. First, Metro gave us a tour of their store and talked to us about their network, packages and promo: switch your number over to Metro PCS and receive 2 free phones. Then we were taken over to a pressroom at the stadium to hear more about Taste of Miami. Here is where they announced the celebrity chefs and ballplayers cooking at the cook-off. Before we left, Metro did a raffle and guess who won the LG® Stylo Smart Phone? Me, of course.

Taste of Miami arrived and I came hungry. I started with a Cuban Sandwich from Los Cidrines. I removed the pork and went ham. They were labeled as “the Rookie of The Year” restaurant at this year’s event. I think it’s safe to say that they passed the test, but could have stepped it up a notch with their presentation. Even though I’m not an avid beer drinker, Spanish Marie was able to convince me to try their King Charlie passion fruit beer (so refreshing). Finally, making my way to the wine, I started getting picture-happy and quickly made friends with Manny at Don Bernardino wines (he saw a lot of me throughout the event). El Rey De La Paella knocked it out of the park with their paella while Miami Smokers served their Bacon-Wrapped Plantains. Yummylicious! I must say that my favorite was the shrimp fritters from the Clevelandar at Marlins Park (think I had 3? Or 4? Who’s counting?). Restaurants, wine, food and more food! IKura Sushi Lounge’s sushi, Havana 1957's fried rice, and Finka Table & Tap's fried causa topped with Asian tuna tartare were all on point.  Lastly, El Mago De Las Fritas, which never disappoints.

My friends over at Event Factor provided sounds all night and, usual Danny Dafuse amazed everyone on the drums. Can’t really remember when the cook-off kicked off, but on one team was Chef Andres from Miami Smokers with Charles Johnson, the professional baseball player who helped the Marlins win the 1997 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. He now has his own BBQ sauce , Catch This™ (super cool!). The opposing team included Chef James from Sabores and Mike Lowell, the other professional baseball player who helped the Marlins win the 2003 World Series against the Yankees. Love how awesome and humble these ballplayers are, truly inspirational. So who won? Chef Andres and CJ (well deserved) with their shrimp ceviche and bacon wrapped pork tenderloin with caramelized pineapple and hogoa. And I can’t forget my dear friend, Roxanna Vargas from NBC 6 who MC’d the competition.

Wish I could say I had a great experience with Justin Bour #41, first baseman for the Miami Marlins. Bloggers had access to celebrity chefs and ballplayers at the blogger bar presented by Metro PCS during the event. Given that the players were walking around, I decided to snap pictures and finally musterard enough courage to ask a few of them my wine questions. Giancarlo Stanton #27 (such a cutie! Sorry  hubby!) was awesome about taking pictures, but he was too busy (with reason) for me to ask him questions, so I went straight for Justin Bour. Since it was loud, I asked him if he wanted to come closer. He looked at the bodyguard and asked “Am I dog?” I think the bodyguard was as confused as I was. Not letting that ruin the moment, I asked anyway: are you a wine lover? “No”. This was going to be tough. Do you drink wine? “Yes, on occasion.” Great! How do you un-wine after a game? “Video games, relax, family.” I dig that. Then I asked him if he’s a fan of keeping things bottled up? Still puzzled by his reply. I think he said something like, “why would you ask that question.” Then, I explained the question and he toned it down. AKWARD! Next. I saw Christian Yelich #21 drinking wine, so I asked if I could ask him questions. He said “quickly” but agreed. He is a wine lover (yay!) and prefers red (me too!). Loves to hangout to un-wine. When I asked him to spell his last name, Justin jumped in and said, “What kind of media are you?” Again, I mentioned that I have a lifestyle blog and brand, Wine With Nat. I actually wanted to tell him, that I was the type of media that would love to have a bottle of wine with him (he can use it!). What’s the lesson here people? STAY HUMBLE!

Big shout out to Alan and Sarah with Miami Marlins. I had the opportunity to cover Taste of Miami and get my wine and foodie fix (the hubby too) because of them. And to my foodie blog partner, LeeBetsy with Food & Beer Socialite for making these shenanigans more fun. Go check out her blog before you go, but not before enjoying the pictures! 

Special thanks to Nicky Valdes,  my unofficial proofreader.