I deeply regret wearing open-toe ankle booties with 4-inch heels to the opening night Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival February 24. Not because the shoes were ruined. (I didn't know the party was actually going to be on the beach!) But because said heels prevented me from running to the Umami Burger stand before the line for their slider-sized samples got ridiculous.
Featuring 26 competitors from across the country (including celeb chefs Bobby Flay, Spike Mendelsohn, and Masaharu Morimoto), the fifth annual burger throwdown hosted by Rachael Ray was a Amstel Light-fueled, grill-smoke-filled ode to the humble sandwich, with hundreds of hungry partygoers scarfing down burgers with accoutrements like Kurobuta bacon, foie gras, Oaxaca cheese, wasabi, and quail eggs.
I tried to pace myself, limiting myself to a bite (or two) of each burger in order to taste as many versions as possible. All in the name of journalistic due diligence, of course. Ingrid Hoffman's 'Delicioso Latin Burger' as well as Flay's 'Napa Valley Burger Crunchified' were my faves, though I never did get to snag one of Umami's. But in the end, last year's People's Choice winner, Michael Symon emerged victorious again with his 'Yo! Burger' (topped with fried salami, provolone, pickled onion and signature 'shasha' sauce)—dashing his rivals' hopes for ground meat domination.
At least till next year. When I'll be sure to wear flip flops.