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    Wednesday, 6 May 2015

    Fabulous Fun at Food & Wine on Pine….

    There was a huge buzz on the island the day before the Food & Wine on Pine. Only in its fifth year, it is already established as one of the biggest events on Anna Maria Island, attracting hundreds, maybe I can even say thousands from all over the area.

    Food & Wine on Pine attracted hundreds from all around Anna Maria Island

    It was fantastic cycling up Pine Avenue at 8.30am that morning and seeing everyone getting ready. Beach buggies weaved up and down the road, delivering people and products to their stands. The Anna Maria Rotary Club was setting up their huge tent right in the centre of the street. The sun was shining and the feeling of anticipation of a great day was palpable.

    The event kicked off at 11.30am and by the time we arrived at 11.45am, it was already really busy. We queued at the ticket stand and paid for our entry ($2 each), a plastic plate and wine glass ($1), ready for all the sampling we were going to do, and our vouchers. Each voucher ticket represents $1, and is redeemable at different rates for the food and wine presented by all the stallholders. And Pine Avenue was lined from either end on both sides of the street with them all. Over 20 local restaurants were cooking up some amazing food, wine stalls were sampling local and international wines and beers and many local artists were there showcasing a fantastic array of artwork, and craft wares such as handmade jewelry, pottery, metal and glass work.

    Pine Avenue on Anna Maria Island was lined with fantastic local stalls

    Local artists on Anna Maria Island showcased their array of artwork

    Stalls lined Pine Avenue on Anna Maria Island for Food & Wine on Pine

    The food presented was outstanding. Restaurants included the Sandbar, offering their Cajun Oysters (on the half shell with a shrimp and crab topping….amazing!), The Waterfront making their famous grouper and pulled pork tacos, Bridge Street Tavern, serving nitrogen ice cream which was incredible to watch being prepared, and tasted delicious, The Blue Marlin, Two Scoops with my favourite sea salted caramel ice cream, as well as sundaes and sorbets, pizza cooked in their mobile pizza oven from Polpo Pizza Company, as well as other delicious offerings from Mar Vista, The Beachhouse, Restaurant, Gamble Creek Farm, Paradise Bagels, Feast Restaurant, beautiful aromatic curries from Island Spice, Derek’s Rustic Coastal Cuisine, EnRich, A Bistro and Harry’s Grill, Tsunami Sushi, Bridge Street Bistro and many more!

    Over 20 local restaurants attended Food & Wine on Pine on Anna Maria Island

    Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor's stall at Food & Wine on Pine 

    The Waterfront Restaurant making their famous grouper and pulled pork tacos on Food & Wine on Pine

    The Sandbar at Food & Wine on Pine offering their delicious cajun oysters

    The Blue Marlin stand on Food & Wine on Pine

    Bridge Street Bistro on Food & Wine on Pine

    With regard to the wine offerings, I was really pleased although not too surprised to see and be able to sample wines. A Napa Valley based boutique winery, Lola was established in 2008 by Seth Cripe who is a native of Anna Maria Island and Lola wine can be found across the island, most notably in the Sandbar, Mar Vista and The Beachhouse Restaurants, but can also be purchased at the General Store on Pine Avenue. I sampled the Pinot Noir, the Chardonnay and the Dry Riesling that they offer, and I have to say I was really impressed. The chardonnay was certainly my preferred choice of the three. Full of fruit but balanced and with a touch of oak, I can see why I was told that this would be a great wine to have with rich seafood. They have 4 different vineyards each responsible for the grape for their 4 wines (2 x Pinot Noir) and the bottles average around $22 per bottle. Great value for money!

    Lola wine can be found across Anna Maria Island and at Food & Wine on Pine

    As for the artists there, two really grabbed my interest. Linda Heath and Robert Johnson. Linda Heath is a Gyotaku artist, a Japanese style of work, which involves fish rubbing using rice paper. Linda told me that with fishing and diving being one of her favourite past times, it made sense that this art form would become a passion for hers. She continued that her goal is to attempt to capture the colour and unique characteristics of each fish she presents. And the results are truly beautiful. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a photograph of any of her work, but you can examples of her work on her website.

    I have often seen Robert Johnson’s work around the island and have always loved it, so I was so thrilled to actually get to meet him. He takes his inspiration from all around the area and has two very distinct styles to his work, each very different from the other. I personally love the collection of whimsical and fun, bright and colour pieces he presents of local places, such as Ginny & Jane’s, Bridge Street, the beaches, and the island itself. This, he says is a relatively new style of painting he has taken, where all things straight are made crooked and details are accentuated to capture the personality and charm of the buildings and their inhabitants. They are so much fun and I bought one of his pieces, which I am so pleased with and will act as a reminder of my time here

    Robert Johnson's hand painted aerial map of Anna Maria Island

    As the afternoon heated up, so did the atmosphere. A real sense of party started to seep through the crowds! I think by that point both the consumption of alcohol and the music that was really going strong by this point were the cause.  There were some great musicians, playing a complete mixture of stuff, from folk, to jazz, to rock and it was really great to see some youngsters doing their thing too. You can’t beat a bit of Washboard Willy though, doing an awesome rendition of ‘In the Summertime’ on his washboard!

    Food & Wine on Pine saw musicians playing a great mix of music 

    Everyone was having a great time, and as the day was on at the same time as the Kentucky Derby, it was really wonderful to see many ladies in fabulous hats having fun!

    Food & Wine on Pine coincided with the Kentucky Derby, so Food & Wine on Pine saw some fabulous hats!

    There was also a Kids Zone, which was really great fun. Face painting, tattoos, games and competitions, including eating messy chocolate donuts hanging from string, using only your mouth and sliming one of the locals….not sure who would want to volunteer for that one particularly, but the volunteers, all of them, local islanders and business owners, did a fantastic job behind the scenes keeping the day moving, the stall holders in plenty of ice supply and managing the whole day!

    Food & Wine on Pine's Kid's Zone had many fun activities to keep children entertained

    Food & Wine on Pine was an amazing day. The concept itself is genius; the support was incredible, from vendors, to volunteers, organizers and to all those people that came. The weather couldn't have been more perfect and the atmosphere was absolutely electric! I can’t wait for next year when I am sure it will be even bigger and better again!

    Anna Maria Island's weather was perfect for Food & Wine on Pine

    Anna Maria Island's Food & Wine on Pine event and its buzzing atmosphere

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