Second Annual Cocoa Beach Uncorked

Give your Sunday brunch a twist at the Second Annual Cocoa Beach Uncorked Food and Wine Festival!

The festival is taking place at Alan Shepard Park in Cocoa Beach, a popular spot for viewing space launches and surfing icons. A celebration of Central Florida’s most renowned chefs, restaurants, and breweries, Cocoa Beach Uncorked is a culinary showcase served with stellar Atlantic Ocean views. The event is the east coast sister of Clearwater Beach Uncorked, now in its seventh year and well-known as one of the best food, wine and craft beer festivals on Florida’s west coast.

Halston and I made our way to the festival on Saturday, stomachs and tastebuds ready, and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Upon arrival, we quickly received our VIP badges, and a swag bag with a nifty little tray to hold our beer and food, along with a wine glass holder lanyard, which I may never take off.

Some of our favorite vendors included Two Henrys Brewing Company (I had two of their vanilla blueberry wheat!), Playalinda Brewing Company, San Sebastian Winery, Tequila Azul (I couldn’t enjoy their guac because I’m allergic to avocado, but their ceviche was so good!), Lord Hobo Brewing, Ohana J’s Steak & Seafood (their tuna poke was to die for!), Rising Tide Tap & Table (give me ALL the scallops), Florida Beer Company, and more!

Oh, and Halston was a huge fan of the inflatable furniture in the VIP Lounge.

If you’re interested in checking out the festival tomorrow, tickets are $55 per person, per day for general admission and $75 per person, per day for VIP access. All guests will receive a limited-edition wine glass, custom tote bag and enjoy the Grand Tasting Village with unlimited tastings from 1 to 4 p.m. Guests who purchase a VIP ticket will enjoy one-hour early admission to the Grand Tasting Village, where they will experience the Moet Chandon bubbly bar and find extra seating for relaxation and mingling. In addition to the Grand Tasting Village, the two-day event will feature a variety of VIP and interactive experiences, tastings, cooking demonstrations, and competitions between some of the area’s most notable and award-winning chefs and restaurants.

Make sure to share your experience on social media by tagging Cocoa Beach Uncorked on Twitter: @CocoaBchUncork, and Instagram: @CocoaBeachUncorked, and don’t forget to hashtag #COBU18.

Will I see you there tomorrow? Go! Make a beach day out of it! 

xx

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Road Trippin’: Austin

Disclaimer: This blog post will be extremely long because I love Austin, Texas and there is nothing you can do about it, okay? Proceed at your own risk. 

Our first stop on our great American road trip was Austin, Texas. You may recall that we initially planned to drive from Orlando to San Francisco, but decided against it since I had already visited New Orleans earlier in the summer and I also didn’t want to spend a day in Tallahassee. So we flew to Austin, rented a car and drove from there.

Where we laid our heads to rest: Our friends Ryan, Christina and MJ were nice enough to host us for the first few days of our trip. Thank you, my loves!

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Fun stuff: 

Mount Bonnell was the easiest hike we embarked on during our trip. The mount is a point alongside Lake Austin, a portion of the Colorado River and provides a vista for viewing massive waterfront properties that will make you think rethink your career choices. We saw people enjoying the sunny day on their boats down below and discovered that it is a prime location for catching Eevee’s on PokemonGo (you’re welcome, nerds).

I’m a huge fan of Miami’s Wynwood Walls, so of course I had to pay a visit to Austin’s HOPE Outdoor Gallery. The paint park was launched five years ago by a nonprofit looking to provide an inspirational outlet for muralists, street artists and the community as a whole. The murals are constantly changing so every visit feels like you’re there for the first time.


In my opinion, the only downside to Austin is that the closest beach is located 208 miles away. But before I could wonder, “Do people in Austin even know what they’re missing out on (insert shameless destination plug here)?” our friends introduced us to Barton Springs Pool. This recreational outdoor swimming pool, located in Zilker Park, is filled with water from the neighboring springs. Not realizing that we weren’t the only people in Austin slowly melting into a puddle, we ventured out to pool and were met with a line about a mile long (I swear!) of sweaty families trying to escape the heat.

Needless to say, we left and visited Bull Creek District Park and Gus Fruh, which were significantly less packed and did not have an entry fee. Note to the inexperienced Florida traveler: the springs in Texas are different than the springs in Florida and you will need water shoes. Think pebbles and rocks hurting your feet as you attempt to hobble to the shore, but hey, no alligators! We were also able to rent kayaks from Rowing Dock, kayaked to the springs and saw about thirty or so turtles on the way! There were hundreds of people out on kayaks, canoes and SUPs–I had never seen anything like that before.

 

I window shopped on South Congress Avenue, which leads directly into downtown Austin and is known for its unique restaurants and retailers. Mi Casa Gallery had me pointing at colorful Mexican and Latin American art and saying, “My mom would LOVE this.” Unfortunately, our trip had just begun and I couldn’t see myself lugging art for two weeks so I didn’t buy anything (sorry, mom). At Uncommon Objects, a store which sells a little bit of everything from antiques to jewelry to taxidermy, I had the pleasure of hearing my husband pick up random objects, look at their price tags and laugh. “Would you like a pair of my mother’s kitchen scissors? They’re $65. Or how about this button? It’s $35.” 75 eye rolls later, we went into Triple Z Threadz which sells up-cycled vintage threads with “badass embroidery.” This store has everything you need from a Sasquatch With A Wrist Watch shirt to a Gorilla vs Shark shirt to the wallet from Pulp Fiction. If only I were a male with an ironic handlebar mustache, oh the shirts I would rock…

Nomz (in order of importance): 

Whip In: I’ve recently gotten into Indian food and have found myself jonesing for naan and chicken tikka masala on the reg. So when I read an blurb on a travel magazine (yes, people still read those) on this Indian fusion joint, I had to go! The lamb samosas and bakra (goat) burger gave me life and I will dream about them for years to come.


Easy Tiger: I found this creek-side beer garden on an airline magazine (people still read those too) and the picture of a meat and cheese platter pretty much did it for me. We shared the mixed grill board and I chased it down with a White Avery Rascal. Our friends played ping-pong and I hugged dogs.


Tamale House East: From the outside, it doesn’t say much. From the inside, even less. But the magical back patio, with its fountain, colorfully-tiled tables and whimsical lights said, “you’re in abuela’s house, nena. ¿Que quieres comer?” The chicken tamales were a delight, some of the best I’ve ever had. The restaurant gets additional points for making me feel homesick for Mexico even though I’m Puerto Rican.

Other places we visited: Torchy’s Tacos, Whisler’sVoodoo DoughnutsZilker Botanical Garden, Austin Capitol Building.

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Zilker Botanical Gardens, pic c/o: Halston

Austin, you have my heart and my stomach and I am already planning my return (start preparing the air mattress, Ryan).

Have you ever visited Austin? Did I miss anything? 

xx




 

The Dinner Party Project: Dining with Strangers

My parents always told me to be wary of my surroundings and to never, ever speak to strangers.

But I’m almost a quarter of a century old and I do what I want!

Looking to spice up our weeknight routine, I signed my husband and I up for the Dinner Party Project (to eat dinner with absolute strangers!) after seeing one of our friends post about it on Instagram.

The project’s founder, Dana Marie Roquemore, had been known to say that she would love to host dinner parties for a living. So it all began with her hosting eight random guests at her home and once those friends told their friends about it, more and more people began signing up to participate. A movement was born!

How it works:

  • Visit the TDPP website and sign up. Once your name is in the database, it works similar to a lottery system meaning your name will always be picked at random.
  • If you want someone to go with you, they need to sign up themselves.
  • Wait until you get an email, letting you know that you made the cut. On this email you’ll be able to see the upcoming dinners on a calendar and can pick the one that works best with your schedule.
  • Once you register, you’ll be prompted to pay between $50-$90 for the experience. This money goes toward the chef preparing the meal, the host and/or venue.
  • Have fun!
  • Following the dinner, you’ll receive an email asking for feedback, reviews and a link to add gratuity.
  • Make sure to check TDPP’s Instagram and Facebook to see your group picture.
  • You will get a second post-event email with the names and emails of those who attended the dinner with you, should you decide to stay in contact with them.

Here’s how it went down:

Halston and I arrived at our host’s home in Baldwin Park and cautiously approached the door.

Most of the dinner guests were already inside. Thankfully, Chef Mike Garcia had already whipped up some cocktails which gave us something to focus on (and helped break the ice) as we all sat on the couch and started talking about what we do for a living. Side note: It is totally hilarious that little kids, with their limited vocabulary and mutual love for fire trucks can begin lifelong friendships and here we are, all adults in our 20s and 30s, perfectly capable of carrying on a conversation but struggling to figure out what to say to each other.

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Here’s a story, of a lovely lady…

Once introductions were done, we sat around the dinner table as Garcia went over the menu of chilled zucchini soup, seared chicken breast with carrots, pole beans, citrus gremolata and  vanilla coconut panna cotta citrus. Everything was delicious (and the veggies were from Bramble Tree Estate #supportlocal #shoplocal)!

 

 

Our host steered the conversation by asking us questions to spark dialogue. Some of her questions included, “What would your perfect Central Florida day include?,” When did you feel the most brave?” and “When was the last time you felt truly loved?”

After a couple of hours chatting and realizing we had a lot more in common than we initially thought (even common friends!), we parted ways and our magical evening ended.

Would I do it again? Certainly. It got me out of the house in a situation I wouldn’t normally put myself in. Also, the fact that I attached a dollar value to this was an incentive, as I was trying to make the most of the project rather than fading to the background and wasting the opportunity. I definitely recommend this to get you out of your comfort zone and routine! I brought my husband along because I don’t usually do well in these types of situations but had I arrived alone I would’ve survived and had just as good of a time.

Would you eat dinner with strangers? When was the last time you felt truly loved?

xx