Las Olas Food & Wine Festival
Events like the Las Olas Food & Wine Festival make us sad, that we as human beings, do not possess a second (larger) stomach, four arms (with 12 fingers) and an auxiliary liver. And with good reason: with so much great food and wine choices available to us this particular night, a larger than normal capacity for eating and drinking would have been a welcome anomaly, though it certainly would draw attention to us…and not in a positive way.
So Many Wines to Try...
Physiological limitations aside, we thoroughly enjoyed this year’s incarnation of the festival (the 15th), a culinary gauntlet which meanders its way down Las Olas, the toniest boulevard in all of Broward County, much less South Florida. The event planners know how to put on a grand fete. Ticket sales are limited to keep the crowds from bloating (literally) the boulevard. Restaurants and shops along the street are open for business as usual, but curious patrons hoping to score a free nibble and sip here and there were kept at bay because they didn’t possess the one vital fashion accessory that binds all LOF&W foodies together: the day-glo orange disposable wrist band signifying them as paid attendees. Simply put, if you don’t pay you can’t play.
Due to space limitations and the sheer amount of participating food and beverage vendors, stands were spaced apart strategically. This allowed easier access for everyone to both move about or stand in line, and not feel cramped (though several times throughout the night we were privy to cell phone conversations which, though interesting as they may have been, we could have done without hearing.)
If you’ve been following our blog then you know the rule of thumb at these events, as is par for the course at any large food and wine gathering, is to pace yourself accordingly. We had a well thought-out plan to try specific foods and wines along the way. If something looked or smelled tantalizing, we stopped and tried it. If there was a significant wait at a particular station, be it for food or wine, we simply kept walking. The crowds were quite relaxed and friendly this night, which makes an event of this kind easier to stomach (pun intended).
A view inside the Bombay Sapphire Lounge
There was also live entertainment to help set the mood. On one side of the street Bombay Sapphire had set up a chill lounge, complete with DJ, couches and bar tables, and of course, loads of free samples to try. We enjoy a nice cocktail every now and then, but with our stomachs reaching near bursting proportions at that point in the night we decided to decline the hard stuff and opted for water instead. Just temporarily, of course.
As the event started winding down, the VIP lounge set up earlier on the grassy plain where O’Hara’s Lounge and Café Europa once stood for so long was now converted into a large gathering area for festival goers, complete with a DJ spinning all the overplayed cruise ship/wedding/bar mitzvah tunes you could stomach (again, pun intended). We used this time to settle down and drink copious amounts of water to maintain our sobriety and help digest all the incredible food we sampled that night. As we stood at the table, groups of ladies started forming on the dance floor, which elicited the usual hoots and cries from those gathered around. Clearly they didn’t care, and I can’t say I blame them. Events like this are all about letting loose and enjoying yourself.
Chima Brazilian Steakhouse Grilling Station
The Las Olas Food & Wine Festival is most definitely Wanderlush approved. The food, wine, beer and the overall atmosphere made for a very enjoyable Saturday night. The only thing we would like to see next year would be more elegant choices in food and presentation by some of the restaurants. Come on Mangos, pita chips & hummus, really?
We will definitely be back next year. Kudos to the planners for the best run event we have attended this year.
Our Wine/Beer Highlights of the Night:
Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot
Buehler Russian River Chardonnay
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
Hook & Ladder The Tillerman
Lange Pinot Gris
Leth Gruner Vetliner
Peter Lehmann Layers
Southern Tier Raspberry Wheat Beer
Our Food Highlights of the Night:
Burgers from Charm City Burgers
Various Grilled Meats from Chima Brazilian Steakhouse
Pasta w/Veal Ragu from Valentino’s