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Michael Symon has a cow at Meatopia in South Beach

Cleveland's most famous carnivore, chef Michael Symon, was the affable host for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival's Meatopia, the New York-born flesh fest that started partnering with the festival last year. 

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Our Grade: A (good eats, good variety, bourbon, Gregg Allman in concert: What more can you ask for?)

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What worked: Unlike at some other SOBEWFF events, almost all of the chefs brought enough food, and people were happily eating plenty in the last half-hour of the event. 

What didn't work: A few chefs served ultra-rare slabs of steak, which while top quality and full flavored were nearly impossible to eat with a plastic fork in a cardboard tray while balancing a bourbon. 

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Best thing we ate: This is the year to salute Nashville barbecue master Pat Martin's Tennessee Whole Hog, the essence of Meatopia. Nothing fancy, nothing precious, just pure, juicy, spicy, sweet, tangy, luscious pork in ample servings. Hats off, too, to Pao by Paul Qui's Filipino-style slow-cooked pork with fermented papaya and blood sauce, a real festival of textures and flavors, and The Cecil chef Joseph "J.J." Johnson's pork coconut yassa, pork shanks with coconut milk and onions. 

Quote of the night: Overstuffed patron to wife/girlfriend/sister, upon walking out, says, "You wanna get somethin' to eat?"

Craziest thing we saw: Pat Martin's crew drives a massive black smoker truck loaded with pigs down each year, and it's establishing itself as the official vehicle of Meatopia.


Above, Pat Martin works a whole smoked hog at Meatopia.

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Straight outta Nashville: The Pat Martin BBQ truck, live on South Beach.

BY KENDALL HAMERSLY | khamersly@MiamiHerald.com | Photos by Tomas Loewy and Kendall Hamersly



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