Early 2013 cold fronts, snowstorms, and nor'easters mean one thing: that this year's South Beach Wine and Food Festival couldn't come soon enough. The Miami celebration — often known among festivalgoers as culinary Spring break — kicked off Thursday night with a slew of events. Click through to see more.
— Additional reporting by Nicole Perry
Under the Tent
The South Beach Wine and Food Festival's biggest Thursday night event, The Q, was packed.
The Q Bar
The illuminated bar at The Q.
Hostess Paula Deen
Paula Deen  — who was hosting The Q with her sons Jamie and Bobby — posed here with chef Jonathan Waxman.
Restaurant: Impossible's Robert Irvine
Food Network's Robert Irvine hammed it up for the camera while grilling burgers.
Chef, restaurateur, and TV personality Todd English showed who's king of the grill.
Today host and barbecue enthusiast Al Roker returned to The Q this year to show off his cooking skills.
We arrived at our first destination, The Q After Dark , to a warm welcome.
The first thing in our field of vision? A barely dressed, incredibly toned aerial dancer showing off her moves in the middle of the party.
The aerial dancer looked to be flanked by two Buddha statues, but they turned out to be very still (and very flexible) human beings.
Sparky's Roadside Barbecue served a barbecued brisket slider, sandwiched by two pillow-soft buns and bread-and-butter pickles.
Porchetta With Caponata
Chef Brian Massie served Porchetta Allo Spiedo: generous slices of rotisserie-roasted porchetta with a vinegar-dressed mélange of eggplant, grapes, and pine nuts to cut the fat.
"Q" cookies, courtesy of Cookies by Shar, made a memorable (if fleeting) souvenir.
The Today show, in town for SOBEWFF, arranged to have rapper Flo Rida perform to an enthusiastic crowd of roughly a thousand onlookers — an impressive number, considering it was only 9 a.m.
Flo Rida and Al Roker
Al Roker interviewed rapper Flo Rida for the Today show, shot on location in South Beach .
A bubbly Nigella Lawson  talked about her new Italian cookbook, Nigellissima.
Iron Chef Michael Symon cracked up at Bullfrog & Baum's trade panel, "What It Takes to Be an Iron Chef."
While at SOBE, Anthony Bourdain  found time to hang with Nigella and nurse Bloody Marys .
Celebrity Chef Volleyball Tournament
Andrew Zimmern partook in a celebrity chef volleyball tournament, which he later bragged about winning !
After a celebrity volleyball tournament, former Top Cheffer and DC restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn wasn't afraid to do a cannonball right into the pool.
Andrew Zimmern's Happy Hour
Andrew Zimmern chatted with new friends at The Raleigh Hotel, where he hosted a happy hour with travel site Traterra (and talked to us about what's next ).
At the Trade Tasting, Almondina served original and dark chocolate biscotti crisps.
Yes, these are shots of an orange vodka called Or-G.
Fresh cantaloupe at the Del Monte booth.
Stuffed Cheese With Chicken
The folks from Curaçao served a traditional island dish: keshi yená (stuffed gouda cheese) filled with ground chicken and tomato sauce. The end result tasted less tropical, more Italian American.
Botran "Guatamelon Punch"
Botran, a Guatemalan rum, offered one of the most refreshing drinks of the afternoon: a cocktail with lime, simple syrup, Botran, tarragon, watermelon, and soda water.
Wine Removal Towelettes
We're convinced that these PushClean wine-removing and hand towelettes — which are made from compostable bamboo, by the way — are going to be the next big thing.
Blue Curaçao Cocktail
Thought Blue Curaçao had long disappeared? Not so, we discovered, as we sipped on the electric blue liqueur, shown here in a cocktail with lime, vodka, soda water, and blackberries.
It was hard to miss Del Monte's crew of banana men and women.
Goya served up a pork slider served on a sweet and fluffy bun that was reminiscent of Hawaiian bread.
Mionetto Il Spriz
Mionetto Il Spriz  — a bottled wine spritzer modeled after the spritz, a bitter Italian aperitif — was on hand to quench our thirst.
Piedmontese Beef Slider
Piedmontese beef, a breed of cattle lauded for its tenderness and low saturated fat levels, topped crostini.
We were pleased to see wine from Sardinia, an up-and-coming region, on hand.
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto  struck a pose (with a patty) as he got ready to put his game face on at the Amstel Light Burger Bash.
Bobby Flay's Green Chile Burger
Bobby Flay 's "Green Chile Burger," the winner of Burger Bash's  people's choice award, enticed with its bountiful toppings, including queso sauce, green chile pickle relish, and its side of potato chips.
Guy Fieri with Havaianas
Guy Fieri hammed it up at the Havaianas  booth, which was handing out flip flops with custom burger and milkshake pins.
Holsteins Shakes and Buns Burger
Holstein's Shakes and Buns from Las Vegas, NV, charmed us with their thematically appropriate decorative toothpick.
Burger Bash attendees swarmed Guy Fieri's booth to catch a glimpse of the Food Network star. Here, he holds up a wooden vote token, perhaps hoping to inspire festivalgoers to choose his Pressed Chili Burger .
Rok:Brgr Burger Bar + Gastropub's Burger
While Rok:Brgr's "Miami" burger was a treat, their spicy honey-mustard-dressed lobster corn dog stole the show.
Charm City Burger Company's Burger
Charm City Burger Company, a Floridian favorite, offered up a brisket burger topped with white American cheese, candied bacon, smoked peppercorn Dijonnaise, and pickled tomato.
Lokal Burgers & Beer's Burger
Lokal set itself apart from the crowd with buns imprinted with their brand.
Cheeseburger Baby, the oldest burger shop in South Beach , drew fans aplenty.
Chef Tim Love
Chef Tim Love cheerily served up his Love Shack burgers.
Love Shack's Burger
Tim Love's Love Shack showed off its Texan pride with state flag picks holding together the lamb-bacon- and roasted-red-pepper-hollandaise-topped slider.
Quality Meats's Burger
Our favorite presentation of the night easily went to Quality Meat's retro popcorn boxes, which housed dry-aged popcorn to accompany its bacon- and blue-cheese-topped dry-aged burger.
An enthusiastic band was on hand to entertain.
Jeff Mauro's Ultimate Pattymelt
It turns out that Jeff Mauro's "Ultimate Pattymelt" wasn't all bluster, as it snagged the prestigious judges' choice award.
Ford's Filling Station Burger
If one needed a respite from the beef, a stop at Ford's Filling Station was just the cure, thanks to its juicy Moroccan lamb burger, which came topped with tomato chutney, goat cheese, caramelized onions, and mache.
Meat Market's Burger
Meat Market, another local favorite, offered up a "Tropical Reuben," a burger topped with Wagyu pastrami, pickled chilies, and cabbage slaw.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
Red Robin was serving a Korean Kalbi BBQ Burger with pickled cucumbers and cabbage on a Korean BBQ glazed beef patty served between a brioche bun.
The Butterfly, Michael White's soon-to-open restaurant, was serving his legendary White Label Burger, which is made with dry-aged beef, bacon marmalade, McClure's pickles, and white American cheese.
Served with: Cacio e pepe tater tots.
B Spot Burgers
Michael Symon's French Onion Burger — caramelized onion, crispy onion, bacon, gruyère and horseradish cheese sauce, shasha and mustard sauce.
Burger & Barrel
Burger & Barrel's B&B Bash Burger — caramelized onion and bacon jam, shaved pickles, American cheese, secret sauce on a toasted sesame seed bun.
Guy's Burger Joint
The longest lines of all were for Guy's Pressed Chili Cheeseburger — ground beef, all-beef chili, cheddar cheese, thin-sliced dill pickles, bacon, donkey sauce, crispy sourdough shell, and spicy Sriracha ranch and ketchup.
The Forge's Burger
Love truffles? Then The Forge's truffle burger is just the bite for you.
Burger Bash Winner
Bobby Flay  was all smiles when he took home the Burger Bash's top prize, the People's Choice Award.
Fontainebleau's Best of the Best
The luxe Best of the Best event hosted by the Fontainebleau Miami Beach  lived up to its name.
Glamorous light fixtures in the hosting hotel caught our eye.
Strawberry-Banana Cotton Candy Empanadas
Sweet-tart cotton candy empanadas from pastry chef Jordi Panisello of the hosting hotel didn't sacrifice substance for creativity — they were also mouth-puckeringly delicious.
A Taste of Central Kitchen
Thomas McNaughton, the James Beard Award rising star chef nominee  from San Francisco's Flour + Water and Central Kitchen, served up a stunningly plated bite.
Apple Pie Ice Cream Cone
Portland's Beast offered up a sweet and salty apple-pie-inspired ice cream cone garnished with bacon. While the addition of bacon might seem a bit played out, the hit of smoky salty flavor worked well, as it accentuated the otherwise classic flavors.
Chocolate Sesame Ice Cream Bars
As die-hard halvah fans, we were immensely pleased by Zuma's chocolate-covered sesame ice cream bars, which reminded us of the Israeli treat.
What could possibly improve upon braised hanger steak paired with collard greens and red chimichurri? The National's Peter Dale had the answer: serving it up in charmingly diminutive Dutch ovens.
Jordi Panisello won us over again with ethereally textured marshmallow ropes that were snipped to order. Our favorite? The tangy passion fruit version.
Crispy Pork Belly
A salty, sweet, and deeply meaty pork-belly bite from Richard Reddington of Redd in Yountville, CA, shined.
Passion Fruit Mousse
Despite full bellies, we came back for seconds of Jordi Panisello's composed passion fruit mousse dessert — it was just that good.
Now That's Love
Michael Symon spoon-fed Robert Irvine at a Grand Tasting cooking demonstration.
Restaurant: Impossible's Robert Irvine showed off his fit physique while posing for the camera.
Cooking for Real's Sunny Anderson showed off to the crowd.
Michael Symon and Bobby Flay
Best friends Michael Symon and Bobby Flay  joked about constantly being neck and neck for the Burger Bash People's Choice Award, which Bobby snagged this year .
Robert Irvine's Barilla Event
Robert Irvine shows a participant how to put a chef's hat on the right way at Barilla's Interactive Dinner Saturday night.
Rocco DiSpirito stopped to say hi to fans before he took the stage to demo recipes.
Guy Fieri Rocking It
Guy Fieri didn't hoard the punch at his cooking demo Sunday afternoon.
Rachael Ray and John Cusimano
At her demo, Rachael Ray  — who took time to talk to us the night before  — made it clear that she and husband John Cusimano are still very much an item.
AZ Canteen, Andrew Zimmern's fledgling food truck, served the AZ Canteen Dog, a Piedmontese-cattle hot dog with slaw and pickled jalapeños, alongside tangy Jamaica hibiscus punch.
There was no mistaking the lump crab component in Palate Party's crab cake slider that was served up with roasted garlic aioli, sweet chili tomato jam and romaine lettuce on a classic bun.
Thai BBQ pork sliders served with apple ginger slaw tempted attendees passing by the Curbside  Gourmet truck.
Firewall Food Truck
Firewall's white pizza topped with spiny lobster, garlic butter sauce, mozzarella, scallions, and lemon juice delighted.
We greedily gobbled down Potoffee's sweet and salty toffee-coated potato chips.
Ms. Cheezious — which was ultimately crowned the people's choice winner of the event — upped the grilled cheese ante with a "South in Your Mouth Melt" made up of smoked BBQ pulled pork, fried pickles, and cheddar cheese on Texas toast.
Friar Tuck's served the "Vandross," a glazed donut cheeseburger topped with maple bacon, lettuce, tomato, and sauce.
Joji Frozen Yogurt
Fro-yo fans enjoyed Joji's subtly floral orchid vanilla almond and chili chocolate soft-serve frozen yogurt.
El Rey de las Fritas
El Rey de las Fritas dished out the "Original Cuban Frita," a crowd-favorite ground beef slider served on a Cuban roll with cooked onions and shoestring fries.
Pho lovers — ourselves included — flocked to the Gastropod airstream trailer to try their "gastroPho," a clever take on the Vietnamese soup comprised of beef tendon chicharrones, sous vide short ribs, mung beans, and Vietnamese herbs in an oxtail broth.
The drugstore chain previewed its Upmarket:juice line of juices, smoothies — pictured is a banana, peach, mango and vanilla rice milk offering — and fro-yo flavors like Tahitian vanilla and creamy tropical sorbet.
Sugar-glazed ham, mojo-marinated oven roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and yellow mustard made for an enticing bite when served between two slices of Cuban bread at the Smithfield truck.
Cuban sandwich meets quesadilla in Crazydilla's Cubadilla, comprised of Cuban pork, Serrano ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and a multigrain tortilla drizzled with a garlic mustard aioli.
Hip Pop's Handcrafted Gelato Bars
It was hard to pick a favorite between Hip Pop's chocolate-dipped pistachio gelato and passionfruit sorbet pops.
2 Jive Turkeys
The 2 Jive Turkeys truck offered up "Dyn-o-mite" Rolls — deep-fried turkey spring rolls drizzled with a red wine cranberry reduction.
Those with a raging sweet tooth found plenty of options on offer at Alisa's Cupcakery, including oreo, dulce de leche, and carrot cupcakes, as well as nutella-filled chocolate chip cookies.
Cubancube served the "Cuba Libre," a fried Spanish sweet potato stuffed with rum and cola braised ropa vieja paired with Materva-infused sugarcane.
Miami natives: if you haven't yet tried seafood sausage, track down the Pescados Unidos truck and try its mahi, mango, and habanero sausage served with mango mustard, and a green papaya, jicama, and jalapeño slaw.
Brooklyn Italian Ice Company
Attendees cooled down with Brooklyn Italian Ice Company's "Brooklyn Bridge," a mango and lemon-swirled Italian ice.
Potato ravioli was topped with Parmesan fondue, radicchio, and walnuts at the Il Fiorento truck.
Slow Food Truck
Beef short rib sliders with queso fresco, arugula, and crispy shallots were on offer at the Slow Food Truck.
Waffleosophy Hong Kong Waffles
An insanely long line formed at the Waffleosophy truck to try their Hong Kong waffles topped with red curry braised beef and pickled pineapple.
Cupcake fans could choose from classic flavors like red velvet and chocolate or the less conventional — think raspberry lemonade and a banana, chocolate, bacon and peanut butter buttercream confection — at the Contenti Cupcakes truck.
Ziggy Marley — who was also promoting his new line of coconut oils — headlined Guy Fieri's Reggae Jam on Sunday evening.
Guy Fieri's Reggae Jam With Ziggy Marley
The crowd went wild at Guy Fieri's Reggae Jam with Ziggy Marley.
Landmarc's Big Smoke Burger was made with an all-beef patty, smoked aioli, pepper jack cheese, sweet pickles, and smoky slaw on a homemade jalapeño-sweet potato bun.
Shake Shack won us over with its Heritage HAMburger, a hamburger with griddled heritage ham, American cheese, and pickled green tomatoes.