WORTH THE DRIVE:
Ocala Culinary Festival
The Ocala Culinary Festival runs through Sunday with dozens of food and educational events throughout Ocala and Marion County. The list is impressive, tickets for events priced individually. Here is a sampler: Tonight there’s an interactive cheesemaking class with Sarah Belyeu; on Friday, enjoy the Kingsford’s "Girls that Grill" women’s grilling clinic with Robyn Lindars, founder of grillgirl.com. Saturday night brings a collaborative dinner with Tampa’s own Jeannie Pierola of Edison: Food + Drink Lab and Ferrell Alvarez of Rooster & the Till, and on Sunday, the Grand Tasting runs noon to 4 p.m. at the Ocala Art Park. A casual affair, it allows participants to enjoy live music and mingle with neighbors, chefs, winemakers, mixologists and culinary vendors. ocalaculinaryfestival.com.
THE BLUES: BERRIES
It’s just about that time of year. Florida’s commercial blueberry picking usually begins in mid-March, with the u-pick season starting near the beginning of April, leaving some of us sticky fingered but happy in our hearts. One of the things you can count on this time of year is the Blueberry Festival at Keel & Curley Winery, for when you feel like appreciating blueberries with a higher octane. This is the 11th annual extravaganza celebrating the state’s second-most famous berry, featuring wines, craft beers, food and craft vendors, a kids’ zone, live music and u-pick blueberries. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Free, $10 parking. 5210 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City. (813) 444-3740. keelandcurleywinery.com.
Sarasota’s Whiskey Obsession Festival has swiftly grown into the largest celebration of its sort in the country, with master distillers and brand representatives presenting whiskeys from around the world, and a suitably huge number of whiskey aficionados zooming in from all over to imbibe and learn. It includes a range of tastings, lunch and dinner pairings and live music street party at various Sarasota locations through Saturday. Many have limited availability at this point and are individually ticketed. The Grand Tasting and Master Classes on Friday feature hundreds of whiskeys to sample, with a buffet and hors d’oeuvres, as well as interactive seminars from distillers and brand representatives. General admission is $95, $20 extra per seminar. 7 p.m., Made, 1990 Main St., Sarasota. (941) 953-2900. If you’re still raring to go, there’s an after-party at 10:30 p.m. at the Yacht Club, with free admission but various drink prices (yo, and remember that designated driver), 1100 John Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. (941) 365-4191. For a full list of remaining festival events, visit whiskeyobsessionfestival.com.
VINOY: FILM SERIES
The Vinoy Renaissance’s new restaurant Paul’s Landing, the one poolside with a faboo deck and outdoor seating, is embarking on something new. They’re calling it Cinema Peroni at Paul’s Landing. The premiere free showing will feature the black-and-white classic Casablanca on April 19, projected under the stars atop the spacious event lawn just off the restaurant’s patio. They are transforming the lawn with lounge seating, lawn games, entertainment and, as the series’ name might suggest, Peroni on draft. Need more enticement? Vinoy chefs will have four featured food stations ($12), additional local craft brews ($6) and a full liquor bar ($12). Food and drink tickets are available at the door. The movie begins at 8 p.m. 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg, (727) 894-1000.
Carrollwood has a cluster of notable restaurants, largely strung along the Dale Mabry corridor. Want a quick rundown? Head to the Taste of Carrollwood from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, where you can eat local and enjoy free samplings from 20 area restaurants, with beverages available for purchase. Learn about local vendors and enjoy family activities, a scavenger hunt and music. You can even run the bases of Steinbrenner Field, all courtesy of Carrollwood Area Business Association. Free admission and food samplings. 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa. (813) 264-0006.