That's a wrap! The 2016 Food Film Festival has come and gone and I'm so thrilled that I was able to get in on the action. Two weeks ago, I packed my bags and hopped on a plane for a quick trip to Destin, Florida. This was my first time attending and I was not disappointed. Prepare yourself for picture overload.
You know when you're watching TV and a commercial comes on advertising some delicious food, leaving you yearning for a bite of what you just saw? Well, the VIP evening event on night one of the festival was a "what you see, is what you get" type of affair. Three award-winning short films were shown, guiding you through the making of a vibrant rosemary gin cocktail, a beautifully presented bacon-wrapped filet, and a sweet pistachio donut. The sweet sights and sizzling sounds left mouths watering. The best part about watching these films — we actually got to eat everything we saw on screen. The evening was visually stimulating while satisfying your taste buds at the same time.
The films weren't the only highlight of the evening. The stunning and chic venue, Caliza Restaurant, located at the Mediterranean-inspired Alys Beach, set the scene for this showstopping event. (No pun intended).
There were numerous stations set up with mouthwatering samples from some of the South's top culinary talent.
Rock Shrimp Crudo from Chef Kevin Gillespie
Scallops with Carrot and Citrus Bone Marrow Crumble from Caliza Restaurant
One of my favorite dishes of the evening was this rare steak on a bed of creamy pureed mashed potatoes with mushrooms.
The bar was just as pretty as the drinks that were being made.
The cocktails did not go unnoticed either. This vodka cocktail with a side of fresh watermelon was quite the hit. The evening was quite successful. I left with a full stomach, happy and looking forward to day two of the festival.
Saturday afternoon we took a road trip to the Hub on 30A for a Southern culinary experience. Again, not only was I delighted by the food, but also by the venue. The center of various activities, The Hub offers the perfect outdoor gathering space for endless entertainment. Situated on an artificial turf lawn, you will find comfortable patio seating, a fire place, an event stage and huge screen — surrounded by three restaurants and a space for food trucks. This spot has it all.
From fried chicken and seafood of all sorts, to craft beer and local spirits, we did not leave hungry.
I sampled pretty much everything there was. My drink of choice for the day was a refreshing vodka cocktail with fresh strawberries, courtesy of Cathead Vodka.
Believe it or not, after the daytime activities, there was just enough time to head back to the hotel and get ready for more food, film and fun back at The Hub that evening. This event was a bit different than the others. As the sun faded away and the sky got dark, we were seated movie theater-style in front of the big screen, popcorn in hand, where we watched a series of award-winning food documentaries.
The best part about it all — we were able to taste what we saw on the screen. The food was amazing! We sampled "the perfect oyster", barbecue shrimp in a bread bisque bowl, burgers from "happy cows", and sweet potato cobbler, just to name a few. There wasn't a dish that I did not enjoy.
And to finish the evening, we ended with Karl's Balls, a Japanese batter based snack filled with diced octopus and a few other things.
The festival concluded with a Sunday brunch that I wasn't able to stick around for, but believe me, I ate my way through highway 30A! I couldn't have asked for a better weekend with great food, intriguing films, refreshing cocktails and plenty of sunshine. Trust me, I have the tan lines to prove it.
I'm marking my calendar for next year, that's for sure!