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Pop the vote!
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Watch me declare my candidacy for Pop Chips Vice President of Pop Culture here.

Like what you see? Please vote every 24 hours, thanks!
 
 
All photos by Jake Romoser
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No need to travel all the way to Italy for some delicious dessert, Gelato on Duval has got it covered. Located in downtown Key West, Fla., this Italian ice cream and coffee shop is a delectable stop any time of the day or night.

Long time locals and co-owners, Helena and Chanice Dos Santos,  make the shop's sinful creations at affordable prices.
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With smart displays and playful flavors, Gelato on Duval will satisfy any craving. (Everything looks so scrumptious, how could it not?) Good luck trying to narrow your choices down to just one. Thankfully, Helena's sweet 9-year-old daughter lets you sample as many flavors as you'd like. In the end, the Nutella gelato won me over with its melt-in-your-mouth hazelnut and chocolate goodness.
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Each flavor is rich and decadent in its own right. Whether it's topped with juicy strawberries or crunchy cocoa beans, a lot of thought and love goes into each batch.

Want a heartier midafternoon snack? Grab a croissant or a sandwich to chomp on from the shop's large display counter. Who says you can't eat dessert first?
 
 
Photo by Jake Romoser
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Midnight Cookies! From bottom left: Bananas Foster, S'mores, Cookies 'n Cream
Don’t get stuck in a flavorless rut with last-minute gifts for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day. Instead, try these treats to keep the romance alive and spicy well beyond Feb. 14....


Click here to read the rest of my article for INsite Magazine.
 
 
All photos by Jake Romoser
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Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Sandwich
Yummy, convenient and on-the-go food from the Chow Now Food Truck. Check out my article for The Gainesville Sun here.
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Philly Cheesesteak
 
 
In the heart of downtown Key West is a Mediterranean restaurant unlike any other on the island. Azur, located at 425 Grinnell St., takes inspiration for its menu from both American and European cuisine.  

As part of the Key West Food & Wine Festival, Azur helped celebrate the early Spanish heritage of Cayo Hueso by hosting the St. Pablo the Patron Saint of Shipwrecked Souls Street Party.

The whole block was roped off, while a long row of rectangular tables flowed down the middle of the street. A large barrel poured endless sangria, and the Key West Junkanoos drummed, whistled and danced to the beat welcoming patrons.
Photos by Jake Romoser
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Various meat was displayed from one end of the table to the other. Quail, pork ribs, chicken, sardines wrapped in seaweed, squid and chorizo were grilled and seasoned to perfection right in front of you. 

As if that wasn't enough, when you finally made it inside Azur's blue dining area, another spread was layed out of nothing but sides and dipping sauces. Yellow rice, hummus, grilled vegetables, cheeses and salads added a punch of color to the otherwise brown plate.
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Our plates piled high.
The inside of the restaurant was spacious and serene. We sat on the back deck and basked in the warmth of a heater. I'd definitely like to come back on a regular day to taste Azur's Pasta Carbonara or the Portuguese Sweet Bread French Toast.
 
 
All photos taken by Jake Romoser
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Signature Duval Uncorked bottle with Cocktails Key West handpainted wine glasses.
The highlight of my Key West Food & Wine Festival weekend was definitely Duval Uncorked. The mile long street stroll allowed participants to peruse Duval Street's unique shops and funky boutiques while tasting single serving appetizers from Key West's most well known restaurants. 

Starting at either Kelly's Bar and Grill on Whitehead Street or at the Southernmost Point, guests did the Duval crawl with a fun lanyard around their neck and mini wine glass attached to the end. 

Three hours certainly wasn't enough time to make it to all 44 stops. FUN FACT: If we'd made it to every single one we would have consumed 2 1/2 bottles of vino. 

So, maybe it was best that we didn't.
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I've never been to ILONA's Restaurant on Applerouth Lane, but I just might have to become a regular after tasting their delicious Hungarian inspired cuisine. I went back for seconds after sampling the cabbage, sauerkraut, sausage and bratwurst with a dollop of sour cream

Slightly spicy with a smokey flavor, the sour cream added a freshness to the surprisingly non-heavy dish. The slice of baguette was just the right amount of crunch to balance out the rest of the plates mushy textures. 
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Owners Dan and Aranka are extremely friendly and also knowledge about all of the restaurant's flavors.
Some of the stops took us inside Key West's neatest galleries and venues. The prominent artist featured at Key West Gallery painted a life size wine glass and cork while guests perused the rest of his artwork. He took a break to chat and explain his style, inspiration and where he was going next.
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Artist at Key West Gallery
If you ventured all the way to the back of the gallery you were welcomed with the aroma of simmering post roast mixed with freshly baked bread. The French Dip on a Croissant from Tavern N Town was a full size sandwich made to soak up alcohol. A bit greasy for my liking, the meat was well seasoned and tender.
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Bleu Cheese, Rum Glazed Walnuts, Tomato & Gorgonzola from Fin.
After drinking nothing but red and white wine at multiple vendors the girls of Swankey Events livened things up with a super sweet Sangria. The floral blend was a godsend to my tastebuds.
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Swankey Sangria
This playful watermelon presentation gave a fancy twist to the old summer classic. Unfortunately, it didn't taste as good as it looked. Good thing the 7 Artists Gallery had lots of painted wine glasses and colorful tidbits to distract me from the too tangy taste.
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Watermelon Shots
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My mini wine glass! Too cute!
The wackiest wine I tried during our journey was one made entirely from avocado. One of a kind, this vino was fermented twice to bring out the tiniest nuances of avocado goodness. Although it was interesting, you won't find it gracing my wine rack anytime soon.
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Tuna Roll
My favorite pairing of the night came courtesy of Great Events Catering. Stationed inside Towels of Key West and Cocktails Key West the island's premiere catering company shook a superb Pomegranate Martini. The drink was fun, flirty and I loved the mini martini presentation. The Tuna Roll surprised me with its fresh crunch. My only qualm? I wish the portion was bigger!
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Pomegranate Martini
 
 
All photos by Jake Romoser
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Underneath a wide, white tent on the lawn of the Truman Little White House dozens of wine vendors from across the country set up tasting stations. Guests snacked on passed hors d'oeuvre's and filled their glasses with the latest vino on the market.

Now in it's second year, the Key West Food and Wine Festival started the weekend off right with Bess and Harry's Grand Tasting.

Vendors formed the edges of the tent while a large cheese and bread display from The Restaurant Store took center stage. 
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Endive, Bleu Cheese, Cranberries & Walnuts
One of the prettiest plated dishes came from Great Events Catering. The extreme textures of Endive, Bleu Cheese, Cranberries and Walnuts mixed together nicely. I'm not too fond of endive, so I would have preferred either larger portions of cheese or some other type of base.
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Callia Alta Torrontes
The Callia Alta Torrontes from Argentina left a nice, crisp taste on my palette with its dry finish. The floral notes weren't too sweet and I felt refreshed after finishing my sample.
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Conch & Snapper Ceviche in Asian Spoons
I wasn't expecting any non-wine vendors, but to my surprise there was, of all things, tequila. A nice woman from Opici Wine & Spirits of Florida poured me some BooYa, a silver tequila made from pure agave nectar and rated higher than Patron. The shot I was given went down smooth, and I gladly shouted the brand's catchphrase "BooYa!" afterward.
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Passion Fruit and Chocolate
At first I wasn't sure how to really talk about wine. Although I drink it often, I'm not exactly a Master Sommelier. One of the wisest things I learned throughout the two-hour tasting came from a vendor named Ron. 

"Nobody can tell you what's in your palette," he said. 

And you know what, he's right. 
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