The crowds were happy and the conversation lively at the Uncorked: Key Largo and Islamorada Food and Wine Festival Jan. 10. Green Turtle Wine and Spirits in Islamorada hosted a two-hour happy hour with complimentary wine and liquor tastings, as Republic National Distributing Company was on hand to educate and share red and white wines and special liquors. (See my slide show). Tradewinds Liquors 20 miles north in Key Largo offered a complimentary happy hour that day as well, so the whole adult Upper Keys population had a way to participate in the 10-day event that features some of the best of the Upper Keys food and beverages.
The weekend offered many fun events from happy hour aboard a paddlewheel boat, Island Time, to Charity Chopped, a fundraiser with four teams held at Marker 88 bayside. Chopped was blessed with huge participation, and Capt. Skip Bradeen took home the honors. He was paired with Chef Andy Niedenthal of Kaiyo, and their $500 prize money went to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center. But other celebrities and chefs did well for their charities, too, from entry fees and an auction. Christi Allen of Pilates in Paradise and Chef Antoine Armani earned $700 for MarrVelous Pet Rescues.
The Festival Finale is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19, from noon to 5 p.m. and is open to the public. The Finale's Grand Tasting is a multi-sensory experience in which area restaurants and wine experts present samples of their finest cuisine and world-class wines. Live music, celebrity chef appearances and cooking demos combine to serve up the recipe for a spectacular afternoon of tasting at the Postcard Inn at Holiday Isle, mile marker 84, in the fabulous Florida Keys. Tickets for $57, or VIP passes at $77, are available online. Visit www.floridakeysuncorked.com.