Food Is In The Air…
Well it’s that time of year again when St Augustine turns to thoughts of food & wine. Oh sure, in the spring-time St Augustine we will host the 18th annual Taste of St Augustine; as well as the 34th annual (WOW, 34 years) Lions Seafood Festival along with others like Rhythm & Ribs – our favorite. But we also celebrate food in the fall as well.
For instance, we have the ever growing in popularity Spanish Wine (& Food)Festival, as well as the local St Augustine Independent Restaurant Association’s SAiRA Food & Wine Festival, which both events are held in September. And then in October, we have the GreekFestival and while food is not the main reason for this festival, it is a major part of it, no doubt. (Op-a!) And in early November, we will have the 30th Great Chowder Debate that wraps-up the later “food festival season” around here (Like it ever really ends).
St Augustine has about 450 years of Spanish history, so it’s only natural that we have a Spanish Wine Festival in North America’s longest inhabited city. But it’s more than some of the best wines from Spain. It’s also an educational and charitable event. One of our favorite charity actually; most of the events proceeds benefit Fresh Starts in the Culinary Arts. But it also hopes to bring the local residents, and the visitors to St Augustine, an up-close and intimate experience with the history and flavors of Spanish wine. And these eventsare paired with food as well.
Speaking of food; it’s no wonder that some of the best independent restaurants in St Augustine have band together to make the best restaurant association (SAiRA), and their fund-raiser each year is held one night at a local venue. We suggest buying one of their packages that includes a voucher for a St Augustine bed and breakfast, so you don't have to carry the worry of driving home with you. Just leave that on the curb.
The Greek Festival is not only a great cultural event (Greek Shrine a must see if you have not), it’s slap-full of some the best food found in the Mediterranean Sea region. It’s simple food, some of the freshest, tastiest and most unique food you will ever have. If you like to explore with food – come to the Greek Festival!
And finally, the local’s favorite, the Great Chowder Debate. This is a very contentious ‘debate’ because every seafood restaurant in St Augustine has chowder, and if you ask them, and their guests, theirs is the best chowder in town. What’s more, many restaurants have Minorcan style chowder, since the history of St Augustine has a large Minorcan population influx in the late 18thcentury when they had to walk to St Augustine in order to survive after the plantation they worked on in New Smyrna failed. So it’s not an easy or clear debate. It must be aggressive debated and that includes a lot of empty sample bowls and used spoons. Oh, and beer – lots and lots of beer, it’s the only way.
So come to one of these fun festivals or come to all of them. But be sure to get a room and stay over-night. It’s really the only way to relax and enjoy the Festival, and its food & wine, at hand.