KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Bowling with coconuts isn’t often associated with gourmet cuisine and fine wines, but it will be during the Key West Food and Wine Festival scheduled Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 28-31.
The festival celebrates Key West’s lively culinary scene, indigenous ingredients and multifaceted flavors through gourmet galas and tastings, educational food and wine seminars and offbeat food-focused experiences.
Attendees can whet their appetites at the kickoff, a barefoot beach party at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Southernmost Beach Café, 1319 Duval St. Guests are urged to “kick off” their shoes and enjoy food, drinks and music beside the Atlantic Ocean.
Festival highlights include a wacky afternoon of bowling with coconuts and sampling treats made from coconut — while Key West’s “coconut man” cleaves them in two with his machete and a palm weaver creates hats from fronds.
The coconut craziness is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, at Blue Heaven Restaurant, 729 Thomas St. in Key West’s picturesque Bahama Village.
Starting at noon Saturday, shrimp aficionados can savor a traditional Key West shrimp boil at the Hogfish Bar & Grill, a funky waterfront emporium overlooking the working shrimp docks at 6810 Front St. on Stock Island.
Accompanied by a wine tasting and shrimp appetizers, Chef Jason’s main course spotlights fresh Key West pink shrimp, Florida lobster tails and all the trimmings.
Food and wine fanciers can find a mile of temptations at Duval Uncorked, a stroll along Key West’s Duval Street that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Restaurants, bars, galleries and boutiques are to welcome revelers with food tastings, samples of fine wine and tasty shopping experiences during the event, set for late afternoon and evening Saturday.
The festival schedule also includes a cigar dinner celebrating Key West’s Cuban heritage, a laid-back bike tour and tropical ice cream tasting, a “seafood seduction” dinner, tastings and tapas, an outdoor wine market, informative food and wine seminars, the Master Chef’s Classic and more.
Attendees can purchase VIP passes covering entrance to the kickoff, Duval Uncorked and the seminars, plus specials at participating Key West restaurants. Tickets for individual events also are available.
For a complete festival schedule, event prices and ticketing information, visit www.keywestfoodandwinefestival.com.
For lodging information in Key West, contact the Key West Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-LAST-KEY (800-527-8539) or visit www.fla-keys.com.