Snapshots from the Key West Food & Wine Festival

Key West was the place to be this weekend for the city’s first food and wine festival.  Approximately 500 wine and food fans enjoyed great eats and drinks in the laid-back, tropical setting.

kickoff partykickoff partyThe festival kicked off Thursday evening with the Barefoot Beach Party at the Southernmost Beach Café.

Guests sipped wines from Barefoot Wine & Bubbly and snacked on an assortment of island treats including conch fritters, scallop ceviche and pork sandwiches.

A live band kept the party going from evening until night, as guests danced while enjoying the famous Key West sunset.

sand sculptureCompleting the celebration on the beach was a pair of sand artists who built a sand sculpture that featured a wine bottle with the festival logo.

On Friday festival goers were able to attend seminars on creating whimsical cakes and preparing the perfect Champagne brunch, go for a bike ride through the city that ended with an ice cream tasting, or just enjoy the warm and sunny day.

Friday evening the place to be was the Sunset Grand Tasting, held on the pier outside the Westin Resort.  As the sun dipped below the waves, guests sampled wines from around the world and dined on a selection of Key West’s fresh seafood including stone crab claws and Florida lobster.

grand tastinggrand tasting

The party continued late until the night with “Martini Mayhem” at AQUA nightclub on Duval Street.  From the bar to the dance floor, the club was filled with people sipping Skyy martinis and dancing to the latest hits.

Saturday was another fun and food-filled day with restaurants hosting mouthwatering events.  Hogfish Bar & Grill held a classic shrimp boil that included lots of Key West pink shrimp, fresh Florida lobster tail, corn on the cob and more.  At Azur restaurant’s “Bubbles and Madness,” diners enjoyed a brunch spread of fresh seafood and Champagne cocktails.

coconut bowlingOnce full from lunch, festival goers made their way to Blue Heaven restaurant for Crazy Coconut Bowling.  The lively competition benefited Wesley House Family Services, a local not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children and families in Monroe County.

coconut manGuests were encouraged to come in their funniest island finery and submit their best coconut recipe.  Prizes were awarded for the most hilarious costume and the tastiest coconut dish.

For those who wanted a break from all the wine the coconut man was on hand, turning a whole coconut into a refreshing drink with a few swings of his machete

The culmination of the festival was Saturday night’s Duval UNCORKED, a mile long wine tasting and food sampling extravaganza.

Duval StreetDuval UncorkedDuval Street’s eclectic boutiques and funky shops poured wines from around the world, while the neighborhood’s best restaurants shared a taste of their signature dishes.

The evening gave locals the chance to explore some of Key West’s newer or favorite stores and eateries, while visitors got a great taste of the city’s unique and entertaining scene.

Winding down the festival weekend, guests were invited to “Brunch Around” on Sunday morning and savor a relaxing meal at one of Key West’s many brunch spots.

outdoor wine marketsteel drummerFor those who wanted a few more sips of wine before the festival came to a close, the Outdoor Wine Market offered a selection of wines to taste and purchase, as well as fresh produce and flower vendors and local craft merchants.

Though held away from the water, the market had the feeling of being set on the beach thanks to a steel drummer creating a relaxing and upbeat island atmosphere.

Disappointed you couldn’t make it to Key West for this year’s food and wine festival?  You’ll be glad to know that plans are already underway for next year.