We may be in the off-season, but that just means that there are more incentives to dine out, and more special events being held. Before the summer gets too hot, here are a few happenings and specials to lure you out of the air-conditioned comfort of home.
For most folks, the hukilau is little more than a campy song, but it is based on the Hawaiian custom of casting a large net into the sea, herding the fish, then slowly pulling it to shore, after which the villagers would hold a feast. Fort Lauderdale will host the 15th annual mainland Hukilau, a metaphorical net thrown out to the entire world, to bring lovers of Polynesian/Tiki culture together. This year’s event will be held June 7-11 at the Regency Pier 66, with many events will being held at two well-preserved bastions of mid-century Tiki culture; the historic Wreck Bar at the B Ocean Resort and Mai-Kai on Federal Highway. Among the events scheduled are “mermaid” shows starring the Aquacats at Wreck Bar, rum tastings and classes on everything from the hula dancing and weaving palm frond hats to Polynesian cocktails. Of course, there will be a shopping bazaar and parties and dinners featuring Polynesian food and beverages and entertainment. Tickets are required for most events and there are also full day passes. For more information go to thehukilau.com.
Taste of Italy
Dine Out Fort Lauderdale… or Coral Gables or Naples
It won’t be too long before we come up on Dine Out Fort Lauderdale. Throughout September you’ll have a chance to sample savory, signature dishes created by chefs from some of the area’s top restaurants, at prices far below what’d you’d usually pay. Among the restaurants that will be offering specially-created menus at a $37 fixed price are; 5th Street Fisheries, Burlock Coast at The Ritz Carlton, Capital Grille, Chima, Cibo, Morton's, Ocean2000, Seasons 52, Timpano Italian Chophouse, Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille at the Riverside Hotel and Kuro. For more information, go to Sunny.org.
If you can’t wait that long, head down to Coral Gables, where they jump the gun with their own version, “Taste of the Gables, from June 5-25. For three weeks, you’ll be able to eat your way through Coral Gables. More than 40 restaurants will have exclusive prix-fixe menus at a discounted rate of 20% or more. Each restaurant's menu will showcase their chef's techniques and skills by including the best dishes the restaurant has to offer. Participating restaurants range from high-end steak house chains, such as Seasons 52 through little neighborhood storefronts. Go to restaurantweek.shopcoralgables.com for more information.
Or, motor over to Naples where they celebrate “Restaurant Week” from June 1-14. (Should we tell them that’s more like two weeks?) It’s the same deal as in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables, restaurants offer prix fixe meals for $35. The big difference? Each restaurant posts its menu on the event’s web page; naplesrestaurantweek.com so you know what’s being offered in advance.
Pride & Joy
Key West celebrates Pride, June 7-11. I don’t know how much this has to do with food, but some of the hotties on Duval are good enough to eat…St. Pete Pride is June 23-25, with the parade on Saturday, the 24th…For those of you who wait until the last minute, it’s Gay Days in Orlando through June 5. Go to gaydays.com to see if there are any tickets left for anything… Of course, we’ll see you at Wilton Manors’ own Stonewall Parade and Festival on Saturday, June 17. They’ll have to go some to top the Fort Lauderdale Beach Pride (but it’s not a competition, really!). The Festival’s Marketplace opens at 3 p.m. and will feature more than 100 exhibitors, food vendors and food trucks, shutting down Wilton Manors from just north of City Hall to Five Points. They’re not spending a dime on entertainment, so sing out Louise! The parade begins at 4 p.m. and lasts for an hour and a half (or until some queen passes out in front of a float!) It’s always hot as blazes, so keep yourself hydrated and wear sunscreen. Remember to eat something fried to soak up all that liquor, child!