By Shayne Benowitz
The email came in Thursday morning from Comcast’s Keys Information Station: “Are you available this weekend to be our host for the Key West Food & Wine Festival?” I had to think fast.
I decided to get my shifts covered, give it a go, and eat, drink, and be merry in front of the camera all weekend long. I have some performing/on-camera experience, and I’ve definitely tuned into channel 5 and wondered how I could get one of those gigs. I have to admit, it was kind of a dream job.
I arrived to the Truman Little White House Friday evening for the Grand Wine Tasting. It was absolute bacchanalia! Harry and Bess Truman directed us to their special double barrel bourbon whiskey (apparently that was Truman’s drink of choice). The front yard was lined with tables full of wine, bread and cheese, and canapés. I had a wonderful time interviewing winemakers and revelers alike, and of course sampling all there was to offer!
We moved on to Azur’s Spanish-themed street party next. They had amazing food on the grill such as giant prawns, sausages, and quail, as well as a delectable Mediterranean spread. The highlight was a giant wine cask to pour your drinks from!
Saturday afternoon was coconut bowling at Blue Heaven. The vibe was Key West laid back and cool for this quirky sport. There were coconut cocktails and a coconut cook-off to raise money for the Wesley House. Fantasy Fest royalty abounded, and I interviewed the reigning king and a former queen.
I took a quick nap and then hit Duval Uncorked. We visited bars, inns, and galleries, all pouring wine and specialty cocktails. The Tropical Garden Inn featured a pastry chef with champagne infused cheesecake. It was absolutely decadent!
The grand finale was Sunday night at the Westin Resort & Marina for the premiere Master Chefs Classic, a fundraiser for the Marc House. It was nice to be in familiar Fury territory! We interviewed a few chefs, and then grabbed a wine glass and plate to dig in. I have to say, Latitudes at Sunset Key won the blue ribbon in my book. They had an amazing tuna amuse bouche, wagyu beef, and a guava pot de crème with blood orange caviar. The flavors and their presentation were superlative.
Overall, it was such a fun weekend with lots of wine, food, and conversations! The footage should be up and running on channel 5 within a few weeks, and will be running throughout the year from Key West to Key Largo, so next time you’re in town, tune in and look for me! Or, just swing by the Westin and find me on the docks before your next big water adventure with Fury!
Shayne Benowitz is a Fury crewmember and freelance writer. For more travel stories visit her at web.me.com/shaynebeth and follow her at twitter.com/ShayneBenowitz.