Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tour de Taste Buds: A Recap of Clearwater Beach's Uncorked Food & Wine Festival


This past weekend Ben and I had the awesome opportunity to attend Clearwater Beach's Uncorked Food and Wine Festival. It was the 6th anniversary of the event and we attended media style (say whaaat). I was thrilled to have the chance to do this and cover the festival for you all. Also completely nervous because I've never been "media all access" status anywhere. It was a big deal for this blogging gal over here. I'm not kidding when I tell you that I claimed I was "living my best life" at least ten different times while we were at Uncorked. This festival on Clearwater Beach was full of different wines, bountiful craft brews, and delectable (not to mention Insta-worthy) eats.

Consider this a KUWKahla spoiler alert: you can expect to see pictures of mouthwatering discoveries from Uncorked flooding my Instagram feed for at least the next week. A month from now they'll be precious little #TBTs.

We arrived at Clearwater Beach where the festival was held a bit ahead of schedule. This was every bit intentional so that we could scope out the scene a bit. All of the food and beverages were stationed under an event sized tent labeled the Grand Tasting Village - and grand it was. The tented village was pretty gigantic, rightfully so considering all of the vendors in attendance. Inside of it there was no floor, so your feet stay in the soft, white sand that Clearwater Beach is known for the entire time. When they advertise the festival as being held on Clearwater Beach, it's literal you guys.

Our media group ventured into the Grand Tasting Village around 11:15AM. Our first stop? Obviously the Guittard Chocolate Company Chocolate Lounge. We were greeted with mini bottles of Moet and a tablescape full of chocolate. There was a variety of chocolatey creations that had our whole group oohing and aahing. I honestly had no idea that chocolate could be so pretty, but cue Norman Love Confections. Their chocolate is essentially art in edible form.




Following the Chocolate Lounge tour, the media attendees gathered for a speech from Norman Love himself. Norman told us that he was always known as the "chocolate chef". He talked to our group about the humble beginnings of Norman Love Confections. Since 2006, NLC has been named the best premium chocolate company six times. That makes perfect sense to me considering the Norman Love Confection focus: grow the company, but never compromise the product.


After Norman finished with our group, up came Duncan Hines's Pastry Chef Joseph DiPaolo. He introduced us to the Duncan Hines Perfect Size for One cakes. Honestly, these are pretty dang revolutionary for those that only need a single serving of sweetness. The ease of just adding water and microwaving makes "baking" this single serve cake so easy. So easy, that even DiPaolo's young daughter can do it. Which likely means I could too.


Once the media presentations were completed, we had free reign of the Uncorked festival. Ben and I made our way through the tent, Uncorked wine glasses in hand, trying small plates of food from vendors we never heard of, as well as restaurants we already knew and loved. One of my favorite small plates was from Shor. For those that don't know, Shor is the restaurant located in the Hyatt on Clearwater Beach. Their lobster mac and cheese was so decadent. I'll say I'm pretty picky when it comes to lobster mac, and I actually believe that too much lobster in the dish can be a bad thing. I like my lobster to mac ratio to be somewhat close (maybe even a little more mac than lobster). Shor had the perfect balance in these mini plates.

Lobster Mac & Cheese from Shor
We sampled wine, beer, and sparkling liquor drinks to our heart's content. It truly was a tour de taste buds. From the ones that we tried, Seven Daughters Rosé was one of my top picks that filled my glass! White Claw was another favorite. It's essentially a canned vodka club - which we all know is my go-to drink. They had a ruby grapefruit flavor that was SO refreshing and on point.

Islamorada Beer Company
Beer from Rock Brothers Brewing



Super Sweet Corn Gazpacho by Chef Todd Fisher
Président Cheese spread

Desserts from Watercolour Grill House

Glass holds Seven Daughter's Rosé

Yes, Ben and I had a grand ole' time at Uncorked - but the Grand Tasting Village was only the beginning. With our media access, we were able to venture into the VIP Spirits Lounge hosted at the Wyndham Grand just down the street from the festival. You guys. If I was convinced I was living my best life at Uncorked, then the VIP Spirits Lounge at the Wyndham only further proved it.

The Spirits Lounge was setup in the Wyndham's pool area. The Wyndham has one of the prettiest pools on Clearwater Beach. The patio is spacious and the setup is just gorgeous. When you look around you see clean lines everywhere and it has a modern feel to it. There were tons of high tops setup around the pool, and vendor tents ranged all the way from Tito's Vodka, to Patron Tequila, to Ole Smoky Moonshine, and more.

Patron even supplied strawberry basil tequila ice pops. Yes. I'm telling you. BEST. LIFE. EVER. Do you believe me now? I totally forgot to get a still picture of them, but you'll see them in the vlog coverage. Make sure you subscribe on YouTube so you don't miss it when the video goes live.

Cranberry Mules from Tito's Vodka

Cask & Crew Smoked Cranberry Shooter
For the first weekend of December, Clearwater Beach's Uncorked Food and Wine festival was 100% the place to be. With a plethora of food, wine, and beer to try there was no shortage of to-dos for your tastebuds. Make sure you're following along with Uncorked on their socials linked below so you don't miss the festival's 2018 dates announcement. It's guaranteed to be a WINEderful time. Hope to see you there!

Visit the Clearwater Beach Uncorked website here: http://bit.ly/2nBB3A9
Follow the Clearwater Beach Uncorked Twitter here: http://bit.ly/2AfDldT
Follow the Clearwater Beach Uncorked Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/clearwaterbeachuncorked/
Like Clearwater Beach Uncorked on Facebook here: http://bit.ly/2ACx9tA
Check out pictures hashtagged from the event with #CLBU17 here: http://bit.ly/2kuCleQ
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