Five Reasons Pairings Was Better Than the South Beach Wine and Food Festival

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John Linn
Potato gnocchi was popular this year. Bova Prime's version was the best example.
Last night was New Times' second annual Pairings event, a food and wine free-for-all at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. I certainly don't want to toot our own horn too much (toot incoming), but this year's event was much improved over the last. Actually, Pairings was much better than many of the other tasting events of this variety. While it certainly wasn't as big as something like the South Beach Wine and Food Festival (the dates of which was announced this week: February 25-28, tickets on sale October 26), I think Pairings did a better job than it in a number of ways. I promise not be biased (really). Now read on to find out how.

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John Linn
The crowds were stoked for the meat coming off Chima's outdoor grill.
Small Lines: For the most part, the lines to get food at Pairings were in check. Sure, if just beelined from the entrance to the closest booths, like everyone else, you'd wait a bit for your penne alla vodka or sirlion steak on truffled mash. But if you cleverly headed to the back booths, some of which were placed in the Adbo and New River rooms of the Broward Center, you had almost no lines to deal with at all. As the night wore on, the only booth that had an outrageous line was Chima. Which leads us to...

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John Linn
Here's the beef. Braised short ribs from Bistro Mezzaluna.
Meat!: Anti-vegetarianism has hit a new high, folks. The trend of dissing the few among us who have stuck to their guns about masticating dead animal is more popular than ever, and meat eaters are reveling in it. I didn't take a proper count, but if I had to wager a guess, I'd say red meat dominated as much as 50% of the booths. The gnocchi from Bova featured a beef ragu; braised short ribs were represented en mass by restaurants like Lola's on Harrison and Bistro Mezaluna. Chima, which I mentioned before as having the only really outrageous line, was packed for a definite reason: they had three chaffing trays full of carnal goodness, including a spread of grilled lamb chops so generous you could stuff away three or four of them at a time (ahem... not that I did that). And when that many people line up for lamb, you know times have changed. Vegetarians, you're officially on watch.

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