Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival
If you're not careful, you could spend your entire weekend sloshed. (It's okay to use the spit bucket, people!) The biggie is the Tampa Bay Wine & Food Festival at the Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa in St. Pete Beach. The highlights:
Lush: Ooh-la-la, this is seriously swanky stuff. Indulge in high-end Champagne, reserve wines, gourmet cuisine and runway fashion by Ivanka Ska at this kickoff event Friday under a tent beachside at the resort. There's also a silent auction of exotic trips, rare wines and unique dinners. Starts at 8 p.m. $200.
Grand Tasting: Wander barefoot in the sand while nibbling goodies from local restaurants and chefs. Sip international wines, too. At the seminars, explore the differences between Irish and Scottish whiskeys, learn about "naked" grapes (that's organic) and find out how wine gets its flavor. It's 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the resort. $75, $100 VIP.
Beam Beach Bash & BBQ: Saunter down the beach a bit for barbecued ribs, brisket and pulled pork, all with a splash of Jim Beam bourbon, at the retro chic Postcard Inn, home of Wildwood Barbecue & Burger. General admission is $45 and it starts at 8 p.m. Saturday; VIP is $65 at 6 p.m.
The Don CeSar is at 3400 Gulf Blvd., (727) 360-1881. Postcard Inn is at 6300 Gulf Blvd., (727) 367-2711. Go to unleashyourpalate.com for info on all events.
Booze Brother: Drink With Dan Aykroyd
The former Blues Brother is on a mission, but it's not exactly from God this time. Dan Aykroyd will make a spirited swing through Tampa Bay to push his Crystal Head Vodka. Catch him for bottle signings from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday in Wesley Chapel at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, 1845 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. Then the actor and comedian skips over to the Bishop Tavern, 260 First Ave. N in St. Petersburg, to sign yet more bottles. Plus, you get $5 Crystal Head Vodka cocktails during the meet-and-greet. Doors open at 9 p.m.
Take the kids: Blueberry Festival
It's blueberry season! We'll drink to that — with blueberry wine, natch. Or if you prefer, Keel & Curley Winery will have shortcake, shakes and other goodies, too. The festival with local artists, vendors, free kids zone and U-pick berries ($3 a pound) runs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the lovely winery on a pond, 5210 Thonotosassa Road in Plant City. It's free to get in and park, but fees for wine and food. Bonus: On Saturday night, the Winery Jazz Series continues with Craig Chaquico of Jefferson Starship. Concert starts at 7:30 p.m. $48.15-$73.83. For both events: keelandcurleywinery.com; (813) 752-9100.
Palate meets palette: Artful Pairings
If you're going to be surrounded by beautiful plates and glasses, you might as well eat. And drink. The Florida Craftsmen is pairing three courses of "small plates" with wines as you linger amid the handmade dining room settings of its Artful Table exhibit and listen to live jazz by Kevin Wilder. Local foodie and chef Rita Fabula has created a menu of: blue crab soup; a sophisticated BLT of tomatoes, pancetta, greens and Gorgonzola dressing; and lobster in cream sauce baked in puff pastry. Dessert is a surprise. Plus, you get a little swag to take home: a butter dish by clay artist Jennie Sikora-Muehl. It's at 7 p.m. Thursday, so if you want to go, call (727) 821-7391. $75. The Florida Craftsmen is at 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Go to floridacraftsmen.net for details.