shrimp copyKEY LARGO, Florida Keys — The gateway to the Florida Keys is to transform into a food and wine lover’s paradise July 29 through Aug. 7 as Key Largo’s culinary experts step up to the “palate” to present nearly 30 tasty food, wine and spirits events all over the island.

A festival kickoff is set for Friday, July 29, with TGIF events including a happy hour wine tasting with a portfolio of vintages, and a popular murder mystery dinner. The feast features a south-of-the-border twist as diners and “sleuths” help solve the “Pollo, Passion and Pistols” whodunit during a four-course Mexican meal paired with wines at Senor Frijoles, located at mile marker (MM) 103.9 bayside.

Other evening wine extravaganza highlights include picking the perfect pinot, whether pinot noir or pinot grigio, and a “Corks and Canvases” wine and cheese tasting at Snapper’s Waterfront Restaurant featuring wines from five countries paired with locally created fine art representing those countries. For bold reds and beef lovers, the Key Largo Conch House, MM 100.2 oceanside, is to host “A Night in Argentina,” featuring meats from the region as well as local seafood dishes paired with fine wines and a cooking demonstration.

keylime copyThe 10-day festival also features a buccaneer-style sunset cruise; several brunch opportunities complete with Key lime mimosa madness, champagne and Bloody Marys; flavorful New Orleans–style Cajun and French dinners; an oriental experience with saki, sushi and Thai food, and plentiful pairings with tropical seafood feasts.

A signature “Grand Tasting” event is planned for Saturday, Aug. 6, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Rowell’s Marina. There visitors can sample foodie favorites from area restaurants as experts uncork a huge selection of wines from around the world. Live music, cooking demonstrations with guest chefs and wine-pairing tips for everyday enjoyment are to round out the event.

General admission to the “Grand Tasting” event is $75 per person and $125 per person for VIP admission. VIP guests are allowed in the gates at 11 a.m. for a champagne reception and complimentary parking. Gates open at noon for general-admission ticket holders. The entrance fee includes a souvenir tasting glass and gift bag.

A traditional finale is set for Sunday, Aug. 7, featuring music, brunch and bubbly at Key Largo eateries.

Event information: www.KeyLargoFoodandWineFestival.com

Key Largo visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keylargo or 800-822-1088

Social: www.facebook.com/floridakeysandkeywest • www.twitter.com/thefloridakeyswww.youtube.com/FloridaKeysTV

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