A Travellerspoint blog

February 2013

Let Them Eat Cake Part II

A Four Day Food Free-For-All at the Key West Food and Wine Festival

Day Three: Coming Uncorked

I woke up for the second day in a row with a hangover. Wow. This might be a record. Or an all time low. I wasn't sure which category to place it in.

I was going to have to get myself in order. Today was Duval Uncorked....a mile long extravaganza of wine and food tastings. I did the only thing I could: I popped some Advil, drank some water, and powered on. There was food to eat! There was wine to drink! I might need a liver transplant at the end of this trip, but I would not be stopped.

A freakishly early riser, even after staying out all night drinking champagne, I was wide awake while the rest of my gang tried to sleep off the last of their bubbles. It was another gorgeous morning, so I grabbed my bike and took a ride.

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Drawn by the smell of freshly baking bread, I found myself at the Old Town Bakery.

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As long as I was there, I figured I may as well start carb loading for the day. I grabbed a bag full of pastries and some hot coffee and pedaled them back to the house to see if anyone else was awake, secretly hoping no one was so that I could eat all of it by myself.


Since Duval Uncorked started at 3:30, we opted to do an early brunch at Louie's. Hangovers are for sissies, so we started off with Bloody Marys and house made Sangria.


That was followed by the crab cake Caesar salad for me and the jerk grilled shrimp and plantains for Matt.


While my salad was phenomenal, I have to admit I was a little jealous when I saw John's hangover burger.


I received a text from TraceyG inviting us to do Duval Uncorked with her group because 1) they had a couple of locals with them who knew the best stops and 2) she thought it might be nice for us to meet when we were not in ridiculous costumes chugging champagne from the bottle.

We met up with them at the Southernmost Cafe where the Duval Uncorked check-in tables were set up.


While Tracey and her group slipped up to the VIP line, we stood in the regular line with the common folk. I might have to get me one of those VIP passes next year! Although, I will admit, the line wasn't that bad and the KWFWF staff kept it moving along nicely.



It was a gorgeous day for a drunken stumble classy wine stroll down Duval Street.



Upon check-in, we were each given a sipping glass on a lanyard that we could wear around our necks. Like a little wino necklace. How cute was that?



Then it was time to let the tastings begin!

Duval Uncorked starts on one end of Duval Street. You are given a map of stops, with each stop representing a participating business that is offering wine, food, or in many cases, both. There were about 40 stops in all and we had 4 hours. Sounds very do-able, doesn't it? You try herding a group of semi-inebriated adults through a maze of food, people, and wine.

Our fearless leader seemed up to the task. The Captain, husband of Key West blogger, Prissy in Paradise (aka the beautiful Donna), did his best to keep us moving and get us to the best stops of the tour.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "herding chickens?" Poor man never had a chance.

I'll do my best to recall where we were and what we had, but as we neared the Mallory Square end...things got less clear.

We started off at Pearl's Patio, a ladies-only hotel that offered us bacon wrapped dates. Coming from Tennessee, these were what I would call gussied-up pigs in a blanket. Tasty nonetheless. There was also music by the pool.


Our next stop was the Cork & Stogie, a cigar and wine bar in case the name didn't make that obvious. I believe we had some type of brie and raspberry puffs. We enjoyed them on the breezy patio.


Next up was the Alan S. Maltz gallery, not only filled with beautiful photography, but they also had a cupcake tower from Key West Cakes. Next door we sampled wine at Archeo Gallery, a gallery of expensive rugs. I had to wonder about the person who decided to serve red wine to strangers in the back of a densely packed showroom filled with beautiful rugs....


We then returned to the scene of our current hangovers...the Lush Bar and the Green Pineapple. They treated us to smoked fish dip and crab bisque from the Stoned Crab. They also had a sweet orange wine...Orange Columbo apertif wine.


After stuffing ourselves with delicately sampling that amazing fish dip, we wandered over to the Rum Bar at the Speakeasy Inn. Can you believe they were giving away painkillers? Because we certainly needed some hard liquor to put on top of all that wine.

Sweet nectar of the Gods. They were delicious.


The next samplings were mini key lime pies (either standard or chocolate covered) from Key West Key Lime Pie and a wine laden sorbet from Flamingo Crossing. Sorry...there are no photos of that sorbet. I sucked it down so fast I got a brain freeze.


There was more wine at Grand Vin, champagne ....somewhere.....(things were starting to become fuzzy at this point....thank God we had the Captain or I'd probably still be sitting in an alley somewhere trying to figure out where the hell I was....)


Blackfin Bistro offered more wine and a nice cheese platter.


Then it was on to La Petit Paris. I was not thrilled to find out they were offering calamari....and it wasn't even fried. Not a fan of the squid, I can typically choke it down if it's deep fried and slathered in marinara sauce. No, this was sauteed. All nice and squishy chewy.

I gave it a go. Why not? When in Paris, right? Or was that Rome? Besides, I was in Key West, so it really didn't apply....whatever. The wine haze was settling in.


This is the face of someone not very keen on squid sucking a nice mouthful out of a plastic cup and attempting to swallow it without chewing:


I was proud of myself for trying something new. I ate about half of it, to give it a fair shake. The flavor was actually quite nice, but I simply couldn't make it past the texture. Like boiled worms. And I definitely couldn't eat this guy. Even after 19.5 glasses of wine, that was simply asking too much...where I come from, we call that bait.


With the Captain leading our motley crew, we powered on. The next stop was Croissants de France, who had a little mini-buffet of curried chicken salad puffs, bruschetta, and fruit set up in their lovely garden patio. Then it was on to Vino's on Duval for an exceptional wine tasting.


We were having a ball. It only became more fun when we were ushered into 801 Bourbon by a drag queen offering jello shots. Donna was surprised when she got more than a jello shot.

Sometimes you get a jello shot. Sometimes you get licked across the chest by a drag queen. 801 Bourbon is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you're going to get.


Despite the HUGE line outside DJ's Clam Shack, we piled in because everyone was coming out with little cups of chowder saying it was worth the line. Besides, we got to wait with this little guy:


The chowder was exceptional. And yes, it was worth the line.


After that...there were more galleries....more wine....my brain growing fuzzier by the minute....


We arrived at what had to be the most interesting stop of the day....Leather Master of Key West. They had things in there I didn't even understand....but they definitely got my vote for best server. Of course I meant the lady in the green shirt. What did you think I meant? I barely even noticed the guy with the chiseled abs and bare ass.



Then there were lobster pizzettes at Island Style, chocolate covered pineapple at Kilwin's, more wine at Wet Paint Gallery, a unique coconut wine at the Key West Cigar Club, and chocolate mousse at the Hard Rock Cafe.


We finished strong with conch fritters at Caroline's Cafe.


Duval Uncorked was definitely a fun time. I had seen a lot of shops and galleries I might not have gone into otherwise, and the food and wine were sampling heaven.

In need of some substance, someone suggested we head over to Mangia Mangia. It wasn't far away, they could accommodate our giant group, and a giant plate of carbohydrates might just keep me from having a third hangover, so we headed that way.

I could smell the garlic from the sidewalk. I had visions of a platter of perfect al dente pasta with a savory sauce loaded with meatballs, and maybe a handful of shredded parmesan tossed in for good measure. I couldn't have been more disappointed when there were no meatballs on the menu.

So what did I do? I went in an entirely different direction.

Note: it's not a good idea to do some creative ordering when you have had 37 glasses of wine, no matter how small the glass is.

I am not sure WHAT I was thinking when I ordered THIS.


Actually, I'm not even sure what Mangia Mangia was thinking when they came up with that dish. What...was the chef just sitting there one day and said, "Hmmm....I think I'll take some huge rigatoni and throw in a little shrimp. Well...that doesn't look very good...maybe if I toss some half cooked tomatoes on it, that will liven things up. Nope. Still needs something. I know, I'll dump a salad on top."

Seriously. What was that? It only made it worse when I looked across the table at Matt's plate. I think I had to wipe the drool off my chin. There might not be anything I hate more than a misorder.


Day Four: Last Call

I was so happy when I woke up without a hangover the next day that I celebrated by riding my bike over to Glazed Donuts while waiting for everyone else to wake up.


I expected doughnuts. I did not expect fried dough perfection. This place had the most amazing looking doughnuts I think I have ever laid eyes on. With flavors like Blood Orange Bullseye, Key Lime, Pina Colada, and Maple Glazed Bourbon Bacon, I didn't even know where to start.


I started by ordering a key lime, banana dulce de leche, chocolate lovers, and a maple glazed bourbon bacon.





If you don't think happiness can come in a cardboard box, then you have never been to Glazed Donuts.

It was an overcast morning and the guys were moving slow, so I talked Teresa into going to see some birds.

Days before, while eating lunch at the New York Pasta Garden, one of the waiters noticed my fascination with the parrots and told me I should visit Nancy Forrester's Secret Garden. Well, when I noticed that it was less than a block from our house, I was in.

I will admit that we had to go around the block twice before we figured out where the entrance was. That just gave us more time to look at all the wonderful houses. I think Key West has the best porches in the entire United States.


We put our $20 in the jar on the table and stepped through the gate. I'm glad we did. Nancy is an artist and environmental activist who has been rescuing abused and orphaned birds for 25 years. The birds were sweet, funny, and entertaining. At 10 a.m. each day, you can learn about the birds and even hold some of them.


I literally could have stayed in there all day. Teresa finally reminded me that the guys were waiting and it was getting dangerously close to lunchtime.

Apparently, they hadn't all eaten 4 doughnuts that morning.

We grabbed sandwiches at the Eaton Street Seafood Market before riding our bikes over to the KWFWF's outdoor wine market. Not a restaurant, but an actual seafood market, Eaton Street will literally take your seafood out of the cooler and cook it for you for lunch. The softshell crab sandwich was fantastic.


Then it was on to the outdoor wine market where we could sample more wine (if we hadn't managed to get enough already) and peruse a varied assortment of farm fresh goodies and handmade wares that had been crafted by local artisans.


I laughed when we arrived just as TraceyG and her husband were pulling up. I assured them we were not stalking them...and I think she believed me. Thank goodness she never found that GPS tracker I put on her bike.


After that, it was back to the house for cocktails and downtime with the girls. All this eating and drinking was exhausting!


Matt had discovered another great oyster deal, 50 cent oysters all day at the White Tarpon. I told him to count me in because I had heard that they had a mind blowing key lime martini and god knew I needed another drink!


Expecting something creamy, which was the only experience I'd had with key lime martinis, this was a pleasant surprise: not creamy at all, shaken tableside, not overly sweet, and poured so heavy that we couldn't even pick the glasses up.


John and Teresa wanted to do some shopping, so Matt and I sauntered over to Santigo's Bodega for some snacks and sangria.



I had wanted to try Santiago's on previous trips, but we just never got around to it. It was an overcast afternoon with just the perfect amount of breeze, and it just seemed like a great day to sit outside on their patio with a glass of sangria.


The food was GOOD. We tried the empanadas, shrimp and chorizo skewers, and saganaki (flaming haloumi cheese sprinkled with oregano) with warm pita bread. I also ordered the angel hair with meatballs, because the disastrous meatball denial and subsequent misorder at Mangia Mangia was still stinging my psyche.


The meatballs definitely helped.

John and Teresa didn't feel like getting back out, so Matt and I wrapped up the day with a late night trek to Taco Night at 2 Cent Gastropub. What a good idea! We loved this place. Twinkling lights, live music, great wine, and $5 tacos!


Departure Day

It's always the day I hate, but I think my liver and digestive system were looking forward to some down time.





I made a final pastry run to Old Town Cafe and grabbed coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen.


Before I knew it, we were wheels up and headed into the great blue yonder.


I have my calendar marked though. Looks like I have just 346 days to get myself ready for the 5th annual Key West Food and Wine Festival. Who knows, maybe I'll see you there.


Posted by vicki_h 15:23 Archived in USA Tagged food island tropical wine key_west kwfwf Comments (3)

Let Them Eat Cake Part I

A Four Day Food Free-For-All at the Key West Food and Wine Festival

Arrival Day: Just in Time for Sunset

It was cold in Tennessee. It had been snowing. Things were icing over. My car door was frozen shut when I tried to go to work. It was definitely time to head somewhere warm.

When we arrived in Key West, it was in the 70s and the sun was just beginning to set. I think the Key West sunset I saw from our plane might be the most beautiful Key West sunset I have seen yet.



It was late and we were famished, so we headed to the closest place where we knew Matt would be able to find some ice cold oysters, Half Shell Raw Bar.


Despite having been here on multiple trips, this was actually the first time we had ever really eaten here, our previous visits being relegated to the bar while Matt mercilessly sucked down platters of 50 cent Happy Hour oysters. The first thing he noticed was that the HH oysters were off the menu. Looks like we'd have to look elsewhere for cheap oysters.

Feeling sorry for Matt's loss, I consoled myself by eating a whole lobster with crab stuffing, an order of Key West pinks, and a slice of key lime pie.


I'm not sure if Matt felt better, but I certainly did.

Day One: Let the Eating Begin.


I hadn't properly conditioned myself before the trip by eating ridiculous amounts of food and consuming absurd volumes of wine, and I was worried that my stomach and liver were not ready for the assault that was at hand. So, much like the fool who has never run before and decides to start her first marathon at a full on sprint, I thought I'd start things off with a giant boozy breakfast at Pepe's.



Worried that the mimosas, 2 eggs, and giant slab of banana bread wouldn't be enough to start the much needed stomach stretching, I also opted for the fried mashed potato patty special.


It was a good call.

After sufficient carb-loading, we got our bikes at Eaton's and spent the morning shopping and looking at all the wonderful little houses that Key West seems to have hidden in every nook and cranny. I can literally spend all day in Key West doing nothing more than riding my bike and gawking at stuff.





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My original lunch plans got shot to hell when we found ourselves on the opposite end of town from our original destination and RAVENOUS (the stomach stretching and carb loading were apparently starting to work).

I surprised everyone by not throwing a tantrum and launching myself onto the sidewalk in a fit of hysterics, which is what I typically do when things don't go exactly according to my plans, and walked into a restaurant I had never heard of and knew nothing about (apparently the early a.m. alcohol consumption was also working - if nothing else, it made me significantly more accommodating).


Besides, this restaurant had parrots.




And glasses of wine that were bigger than my head for $7.


That is not just an illusion of perspective. That was a seriously huge glass of wine.

They also had gargantuan sandwiches. Apparently, the New York Pasta Garden is the Texas of Key West - everything is bigger.


With it being our first KWFWF, we had not opted for the VIP passes that included almost all events, we had only chosen one event per day. Since our daily event wasn't until later that evening, we made it a leisurely trip back to the house, doing plenty of gawking along the way.


So a dog walks into a bar...........(by the way, that guy was drinking tequila).

Having realized there were no 50 cent oysters to be had on this trip at Half Shell, Matt had spent the previous night tossing and turning, in a restless fit of desperation. He was soothed at breakfast, however, when he saw that Pepe's had 60 cent oysters during happy hour. I was happy because I saw that Pepe's had happy hour margaritas made with their house squeezed juice. We headed that way.


After we did the happy hour thing at Pepe's, we realized we had time to make it to Mallory Square for sunset, something I never get tired of seeing.




I guess when you have a boat this big, you don't care if you are being an asshole by parking it in the one EXACT SPOT where it will block the view that hundreds of people have been waiting an hour to see. I guess if I had a yacht with a helicopter on it, I might not care either.


It was finally time for our first official KWFWF event. We had tickets to one of the neighborhood strolls. We had chosen the Petronia Street stroll because the event guide just made it sound like the one I didn't want to miss: "On Thursday evening you can board the Old Town Trolley and ride through Key West's Historic old town to take a stroll to some of Key West’s most famous and unique neighborhoods and sample food & wine from our one-of-a-kind restaurants. Petronia Street is the historic entrance to Bahama Village. Stops include can't-miss Santiago's Bodega's selection of Spanish-style tapas, world famous and perennial favorite Blue Heaven, sweet and savory crepe favorites fron Brittany, France at La Creperie Key West and Sugaree Shack, the most recent addition to a fabulous restaurant row."

It might have been overzealous to have 2 of Pepe's margaritas before heading out on a wine stroll that included 5 glasses of wine....but that thought didn't cross my mind until the next morning.

We boarded the trolley that would take us to our first stop - Santiago's Bodega. We were each given an etched wine glass that was ours to refill along the way and to keep once the night was over. Each glass was filled with a New Age White White Cocktail, one of Argentina's hottest wines, often served on the rocks with a slice of lime, referred to as a "Tincho," named after the boyhood nickname of the cocktail's creator, Valentin Eduardo Bianchi, third-generation owner of the winery. Despite the exotic nature of our first wine, the trolley ride was quiet and uneventful. Our group wasn't (yet) a rowdy one and everyone was simply looking forward to seeing what the night had to offer.


We were dropped off at Santiago's Bodega, an intimate tapas restaurant that I had been itching to try on each trip to Key West due to its consistently high marks from diners. I felt sorry for the patrons who were dining there that night, possibly unaware that this rambling horde of people was about to descend upon their quiet dinner, glasses in hand, ready to line up and see what bite Santiago's had prepared for us.


We were given a Crostini topped with manchego cheese, roasted sweet peppers, and prosciutto and finished with a white balsamic reduction. Small, but tasty. It was paired with a glass of 2010 Matchbook Dunnigan Hills Chardonnay.


As we all stood around, glasses in hand, one small crostini to two glasses of wine, everyone started to get more colorful. Or maybe it was just me.

We "strolled" toward Blue Heaven, the next stop on our tour. We were shown back into the courtyard where we found pork tenderloin medallions with a curry butter sauce and mango chutney. It was quite delicious. It was paired with a glass of 2010 Shooting Star Pinot Noir.


For those of you who have not been keeping up, I had now had 2 Pepe's margaritas, 3 glasses of wine, and 3 bites of food.

That's probably what made me think I could hula hoop. And ride a stationary carousel horse.


At this point, I was fuzzy. The wine to food ratio had been extremely disproportionate and I was in need of some food with substance.

God bless La Creperie. When we walked in, they had an assembly line of crepes going that made my head spin. Or was that the wine? Whatever. It was OUTSTANDING. They were cheerful, they were fast, and they were churning out fresh, hot delicious crepes that were not only delicious but were BIG.

Oh thank you dear sweet lord.


We even had a choice: red velvet, key lime, or Nutella. I promptly got into the red velvet line and patiently waited my turn. I received my crepe and a glass of Pillar Box Red Blend from Australia. I really can't tell you about the wine....I was devouring that crepe like a woman who had just gotten out of prison.

We had come to the last stop on our tour: the Sugaree Shack who loaded us down with cupcakes and a glass of Cigar Box Reserve Malbec.


There is nothing that makes a drunk girl happier than a cupcake.


Unless it's two cupcakes.

Day Two: Take Two Aspirin and Call Me In the Morning

It could have been worse. Yes, I had a bit of a headache and I was moving a little slowly, but all things considered, I was doing pretty good considering that I had been clutching my wine glass with two hands by the end of the night, licking frosting off my fingers.

I was in search of strong coffee and I found it a short stroll from the house at 5 Brothers.


We had the girls with us and 5 Brothers seemed to be the doggie place to go. These guys told us so:


Seriously, is there anything cuter than a giant pack of Corgis?

One cafe con leche with sugar and one egg sandwich on Cuban bread later, I was feeling pretty okay. The girls gave 5 Brothers two paws up.


Our KWFWF events for the day weren't until late that evening. I had opted for special dinner being offered at Southernmost Cafe followed by the much anticipated "Let Them Eat Cake" party.

I was tempted by the Grand Tasting, but at $130 a ticket, I just couldn't convince my group to go. Besides, with my unsophisticated palate, if I paid $130 for a wine tasting I'd be like the fat kid at the buffet, trying to get my money's worth by consuming in bulk, no doubt ending up like an unwanted poor relation that shows up at a country club wedding, gets drunk on boxed wine, and winds up on stage singing "Love Stinks" while everyone pretends not to watch.

Looking for a new Key West experience, I had booked us a charter boat for half a day. We weren't looking for a day at the beach. We wanted to do something new, see things from the water, and get the girls out for the day. "Take Me There Charters" advertised itself as "dog friendly," so that sealed the deal.

We were going on a boat day!


Cpt. Tommy was incredibly easy going. We just told him that we simply wanted to ride and see some sights...maybe a dolphin, maybe a cool beach, whatever he recommended. We weren't looking to swim or snorkel, we were just out for some air.

Although it was beautiful, it was windy. Despite the challenges, Cpt. Tommy gave us a great day.

We first went to an area he called the mud keys, about 15 miles northeast of Key West. These were small mangrove islands that were highly dissected by navigable creeks. As we approached the area, the colors of the water were striking.



What was usually clear blue water was sort of a cloudy greenish, due to the time of year and the wind, but wow, it was still beautiful.






Then we went looking for dolphins. We knew we were in the right place when we saw this boat. It had a very sophisticated dolphin tracker.


Laugh, but that dog spots dolphins. It would bark and point when it saw one. Apparently, as a puppy, it got so excited the first time it saw dolphins that it jumped in the water in the middle of a pod. No one knew what to do....or what would happen. Apparently, the dolphins checked the puppy out and then moved on their way, leaving it alone. The dog grew up and learned not to jump in the water, but it never lost its love for the little creatures and now spends its days on a boat, happily watching for them in the waves.

The boat dog looked. We looked.

And what do you know....we found dolphins!



Cpt. Tommy pointed out a mother and baby. I truly don't think I have ever seen anything cuter than a baby dolphin.

Unless maybe it was that pack of Corgis. Or that pug drinking tequila at the bar.


When we'd had our fill of frolicking sea creatures, Cpt. Tommy asked if we'd like to go to a deserted island called Boca Grande and let the pups get out to stretch their legs.


We pulled up to a long stretch of white sand. I made a mental note, "MUST COME BACK IN SUMMER."




Not only was it peaceful and gorgeous, it sure made for some happy dogs!






Cpt. Tommy brought out some chairs and we just took a load off for a while. We could have stayed longer, he had already kept us out past our charter time and made it clear we could stay out as long as we wanted, but we hadn't packed a lunch, not anticipating more than a half day, and stomachs were starting to growl.

We packed up the pups and headed back to the marina.

When we got back we were STARVING. We passed by Paseo on our way back to the house and I knew in an instant what I wanted.


Paseo bills itself as "Caribbean" fare and serves it up in a simple shop with a counter and a few outdoor tables.

I wanted to try their famous fire roasted corn: a perfectly charred corn on the cob slathered in butter, salt, lime, cheese, and cilantro.


I also got the Caribbean bowl: jasmine rice smothered in black beans, warm salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, jalepenos, and one unbelievably divine chicken thigh....all served with love, peace, and a handful of tortilla chips.

Oh. My. Goodness.


I practically needed to smoke a cigarette after eating that meal.

Our dinner plans were at 7:00, so we took it easy for the rest of the day.



I had made reservations that night at Southernmost Cafe when I saw they had a special KWFWF dinner featuring lobster.


Southernmost Cafe has a great location right on the ocean, so we had been several times for lunch, but we had never been for dinner. I couldn't imagine a better setting.


The dinner started off with a lobster bisque, which I expected to be heavy on the bisque and light on the lobster. I was pleasantly surprised to find it filled with huge chunks of tender Maine lobster. This was paired with a glass of Round Hill Chardonnay. Next up was a grilled half tail on served on top of lobster mac & cheese topped with a chili lime buerre blanc paired with a glass of Mark West Pinot Noir. When I thought it couldn't get any better, I was brought a key lime mousse with a glass of Zenin Winemakers Moscato.



It was time for "Let Them Eat Cake" at the Lush Bar in the Green Pineapple.

TraceyG had not originally planned to attend the KWFWF due to some trip conflicts. Disappointed, because I thought it would be great to meet her, imagine how excited I was when she told me she and her husband were going to make the trip down after all. We agreed to meet up at the Lush party (no pun intended...but wow...what a perfect name for a place to have this party....).

My group was leery of any party that I dragged them to that involved costumes. They have been that way ever since New Year's Eve 2010 when I saw that a local bar was having an "All 80's New Year's Eve" and convinced them all to go in costume. It wasn't my fault. The ad said, "Costumes Encouraged." Well....we walked into a bar filled with wall-to-wall people and.....we were the only ones in costume.

And our costumes were not such that we could blend. We had not been subtle.


Okay, John and Teresa might have been able to blend, but Matt looked like a gay biker and I looked like some Madonna/Cyndi Lauper reject with giant hair.

They never forgave me.

So....when I knew there was a potential costume opportunity, I checked with the girl in the know, TraceyG.

"Is this a 'wear a mask' event or is this a full-on costume event?" I asked.

"I have heard from my inside sources that costumes are a GO," she replied. "It may just be me and you, but I'm going all the way."

So I pulled out my inner Marie Antoinette and let her freak flag fly.


I was in girlie girl heaven. There was cake. There was champagne. There was a DJ pumping out dance tunes. We munched on cupcakes with glittery sprinkles and the champagne flowed. Everyone looked fantastic.



I was finally able to meet TraceyG and she was every bit as funny in person as she is in her blog, but she really stole my heart when she started drinking out of the champagne bottle. I thought no one did that but me!

And yes, that is my real hair. I decided to forego the wig and instead employed a foolproof tactic from my 80's high school days involving a giant can of superfreeze hair spray and a hair dryer. Those of you ladies who were teens in the 80's know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.


(Photo courtesy of borrowed shamlessly hijacked from the KWFWF and Sheelman Photography)

(Photo courtesy of borrowed shamlessly hijacked from the KWFWF and Sheelman Photography)

Yes.....there was too much champagne consumed....but who cares. It was a great night!

(Photo courtesy of borrowed shamlessly hijacked from the KWFWF and Sheelman Photography)

Posted by vicki_h 15:23 Archived in USA Tagged food island tropical wine key_west kwfwf Comments (1)

Let Them Eat Cake - Intro

A Four Day Food Free-For-All at the Key West Food and Wine Festival

It was back in September, as I was reading the latest entry on my favorite travel blog, Escape From New York by incredible funny girl and travel writer extraordinaire, TraceyG, that I saw these magical words, "Mark Certonio, the liver-loathing genius behind the Key West Food and Wine Festival........piqued my curiosity by mentioning that one of the new events for 2013 is a masquerade Champagne-and-cake dance party called Let Them Eat Cake......"

Oh my.

The only thing I love more than tropical islands with food and wine are tropical islands with food and wine and champagne masquerade parties.

Oh my.

Cake. Champagne. Marie-Antoinettesque girlie glitz. It was like a dazzling sparkler had gone off inside my brain and I couldn't turn it off.


Still in its infancy, the Key West Food and Wine Festival lacks all of the hoity-toityness of other cities' events and replaces it with a fun and funky festival that is enjoyed in flip flops with the amazing Key West sunset as a spectacular backdrop. The fourth annual KWFWF would be four days filled with events like a kick off your flip flops beach party, food and wine seminars focusing on special topics like Tequila and Tacos or Blind Wine Tastings, and a mile long stroll down famed Duval Street with 40 vendors offering scrumptious bites and sips. There was coconut bowling, strolling neighborhood dinners, shrimp cook-offs, and a Grand Wine Tasting in a sculpture garden.

Oh, and let's not forget....a cake and champagne masquerade party.

Now I just had to figure out how to convince Matt to go. I decided it was best to just mention the food and wine and leave out the costumes part.

It worked.

We were Key West Food and Wine Festival Bound!


DISCLAIMER: Further reading of this blog entry while hungry or dieting may result in loss of willpower, excessive food intake, and possible binge eating. Some readers have been known to develop symptoms such as slurred speech and blurry vision as a result of psychosomatic liver disease from second hand drinking. The writer of this blog assumes no responsibility for readers' subsequent actions such as eating an entire frozen pizza out of the box or feeling the sudden urge to consume excessive quantities of alcohol.

Posted by vicki_h 13:15 Archived in USA Tagged food island tropical wine key_west kwfwf Comments (1)

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