Duval Uncorked: The Most Fun You Can Have on Duval Street

At Key West Gallery

I’ve said it before: There is nothing more fun that a mile long wine tasting. Seriously, what could be better than that? Two miles? That might be a bit excessive. Saturday evening was Duval Uncorked, the annual stroll down (or up, depending on where you start) Duval Street, wine glass in hand, eating and drinking at every stop. This year there were so many good stops along the way it is hard to keep track of them all. I will just share the highlights, as I see them, with you. You may want to grab a glass of wine, this is going to take a while. Go ahead, I can wait.We started at Kelly’s on Caroline Street, where we picked up our wristbands and glasses. From Kelly’s we headed to The Porch, easily one of my favorite bars in town. They are located in The Joseph Porter building, behind an unmarked door, which is always confusing for people (and fun for me to watch). I assume now many more people can actually find the place.

Next we headed to Grand Cafe, which had a table set up with wines, but alas,

At Salsa Loca

no food. They are a restaurant, and yet, no food. Disappointing. The next stop of note was Banana Republic, which had wine, food and fortunately, no white clothing near the front of the store to get stained. The food provided by Cafe Sole was dreadful, and I was once again reminded why I choose not to dine there, but the overall atmosphere in the store was festive and upbeat. Plus, they were pouring a slew of different wines.

Moving further along we stopped at La Trattoria and Virgilio’s, where they had a nice setup of wines and food on the back porch. conveniently, it led us right into Applerouth Lane to Leather Masters and Ilona’s Garden Cafe.

DJ's Clam Shack

From there we headed to Key West Gallery. This was hands-down one of the best stops all night. I was not too optimistic when I saw people standing outside pouring from huge bottles of Yellowtail. But once inside, we found the back room where the folks from Tavern N’ Town were assembling hearty French dip sandwiches on croissants, paired with three wines from ZD.

Old Town Mexican provided snapper ceviche and a few wine choices and did quite a good job. They were gracious and welcoming. Last year they did a great job as well.

Further down the lane is the new restaurant Fin, opened by the team behind Blackfin Bistro. Although I have not dined here yet, it is now on my calendar. They served a blue cheese panna cotta. I know, it sounds bad, but it was amazing. I am seriously looking forward to my dinner there in two weeks.

We ambled up the street to Swankey Events, where Ki-J was directing people up stairs to the lovely event space overlooking Duval Street. They had food from Hogfish Bar and Grill (love the smoked fish dip) and Brandon’s awesome homemade Sangria. It is one of those great welcoming spaces that you never want to leave.

Alas, we did leave to go across the street to Gelato on Duval. I was curious to

At Cork and Stogie

see what they would be doing for a wine tasting event, and I was not disappointed. They had a set up of three different kinds of frappe to try as well as cakes and samples of all of the gelato. As I consider this the best ice cream product in town, sampling them all is always a good idea.

The 800 block of Duval proved to be another treasure trove. The Cocktails and Towels of Key West crew put on a nice spread in each venue. Next door at Vino’s on Duval, Donald Patz from Patz and Hall was pouring some (delicious) wines. we had tried the lineup at the Grand Tasting, and were back for more at Uncorked. Farther along the same block, the Tropical Inn had cheesecakes made with champagne, along with a chocolate dessert. Aside from the tasting portions being too big (I know, this not something people normally complain about) it was quite good, and all in a beautiful setting.

We wound down the evening by heading to Blackfin Bistro, who always has a nice spread outside on the deck then Gallery Key West, pouring T-Vine wines (again, tried them at the Grand Tasting and was so yummy we came back for another taste!). From there we went to Orchid Key Bar, where they had already closed down the tastings for the evening. Not wanting to leave disappointed people, they welcomed us in anyway and poured our choice of wines. It is always a pleasure to go someplace where they actually want to have you! I will certainly be back, again and again.

We moved on to Archeo Gallery, largely so FKGuy could ogle the amazing handmade rugs, and ended the stroll at Cork and Stogie. It seemed fitting, as we either start or end a lot of evenings there.

Overall, the stroll down Duval Street to eat, drink and be merry was a whole lot of fun. Everywhere you looked there were people with glasses in hand having a good time. I am already looking forward to next year.  If the 2012 Key West Food and Wine Festival is not the same weekend as the ING Miami marathon, I will certainly be running in the race to work of the over-consumption. Of course, this year they were the same weekend. I think I chose wisely.

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