There is nothing ordinary about Key West. This Florida resort town - which has "One Human Family" as its official motto -- has been marching to its own beat since its early days as a haven for pirates. So it is no surprise that it has put its own unique twists on its annual food and wine festival.
The 4th annual Key West Food and Wine Festival will be held Jan. 24 to 27, featuring local chefs, fresh Florida Keys seafood, fine wines from around the world, and the funky tropical atmosphere that only the island of Key West can provide.
"The festival is a great opportunity to experience Key West's many outstanding restaurants as well as explore our unique attractions," said Steve Smith. LGBT sales manager for Florida Keys Tourism and a 25-year resident. "Plus, you get to enjoy winter in the sunny southernmost tip of Florida – while sampling our finest island cuisine as you stroll from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean."
The extended weekend festival will officially begin on Jan. 24 with a casual beach party presented by the award winning Flip Flop wines and food provided by Southernmost Beach Café. Following the beach party, attendees will have the option to continue the celebration by exploring one of Key West's unique neighborhoods hosting food and wine tours in partnership with local restaurants. Southernmost Beach Cafe will also host a 3-course wine dinner, which will also be available each night of the festival.
On Jan. 25 the day will begin with a series of seminars followed by an exclusive tour of local kitchen's including that of president Harry Truman’s restored Little White House. There will be a sunset, open-air grand tasting in Key West’s Mallory Square Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden. After the sun goes down, guests can enjoy some rum and cigars at Smokin' Tuna Saloon or have some locally brewed beer at Old Town Manor. The festivities continue into the night with a "Let them EAT cake" masquerade dance party at The Green Pineapple.
The educational seminars continue on Jan. 26. In addition, gay owners of Azur Restaurant Mike Mosi and Drew Wenzel will host a special brunch with unlimited sparkling wines form around the world. Attendees also have the option to head to Blue Heaven for a coconut recipe contest and try their hand a coconut bowling as well as catch an original Key West shrimp boil at Hogfish Bar and Grill. In the afternoon Key West's famed Duval Street will host "Uncorked," a mile long wine tasting, food sampling and shopping extravaganza.
One of Key West's newest restaurants, Roostica will start the day on Jan. 27 with prosecco and breakfast pizza.In the afternoon there will be a street market with food, jewelry and craft vendors. There market will also include wines to taste and to purchase at a discounted price. The highlight of the day will be the "Seafood Shakedown," as amateur and professions are invited to compete for the title of Shrimp King or Queen.
Many of the festival events are free and individual event tickets also available for those with an admissions fee. A VIP pass can be purchased that covers entry to multiple festival events. In addition, many of the island's gay-friendly accomodations are offering special rates, including Pearl's boutique resort (call for details) and Alexander's Guesthouse (10% off room rate and a bottle of wine upon arrival; must mention Food and Wine Festival when booking or checking in).
Detailed information on the festival is available at www.keywestfoodandwinefestival.com.
For information on planning a trip to Key West, visit www.fla-keys.com and www.gaykeywestfl.com.