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Your Year-Round Guide to South Florida's Best Food Events

For more on South Florida's food scene, check out New Times' Taste guide, hitting newsstands Thursday, February 21.

Sure, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival might be lighting up Miami-Dade this month -- but when it comes to the tricounty area, Broward and Palm Beach have way more street cred when it comes to celebrating food and booze. From casual fun like Beerfest or BaconFest to swanky shindigs like New Times' Pairings or the Boca Food & Wine Fest, with all the action happening locally, our counties would totally win a culinary smackdown.

Here's the lowdown on some of our area's best annual food- and booze-focused festivities:

BaconFest, February 23

For fans of the crispy pork product, bacon might just be nature's perfect food. That's certainly the attitude driving the creators of BaconFest, the ultimate ode to Porky Pig and his brethren.

Attendees will get to nosh on bacon-related treats from 20 South Florida dining destinations, including Kapow! Noodle Bar, Sybarite Pig, the Melting Pot, and Ms. Cheezious food truck. Chef Todd Fischer from the Discovery Channel's United States of Bacon will be one of the judges for the chef throwdown, where contestants will compete for best-of in both sweet and savory categories.

And what's a baconfest without the most famous bacon of all? Kevin Bacon and brother Michael -- the Bacon Brothers -- will perform live, along with the Dan Band (from the movies Old School and The Hangover). Festivalgoers can also play carnival games, scope out a bike show featuring 50 "hogs," and ride a mechanical pig named Harley who hails from Georgia.

The fest runs 6 to 10 p.m. at the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. The festival is now sold out, but a limited number of entertainment-only tickets will go on sale Friday, February 22 at 8 a.m. at Ticketmaster.com.

Beerfest, April 6

This New Times annual ode to brew brings 4,500 young professionals and devoted beer drinkers to downtown Fort Lauderdale to drink, eat, and be merry.

Now in its 16th year, Beerfest offers more than 100 of the world's best beers (including local craft brews) and a prime viewing area complete with Jumbotrons so attendees can catch the Final Four basketball action -- plus sweet live tunes too.

The VIP section -- for serious beer snobs -- will offer craft beers not available for GA, unlimited food samples from local eateries, liquor samples, and killer views of the stage. And drinking is that much more fun when a good cause is involved -- a portion of proceeds will benefit the Starlight Children's Foundation.

Beerfest runs from 6 to 11 p.m. at Huizenga Plaza, 32 E. Las Olas Blvd. General-admission tickets cost $30 prepaid online, $40 at the door; VIP tickets cost $65 prepaid online, $75 at the door. Visit facebook.com/pages/New-Times-Beerfest.

Las Olas Wine and Food Fest, April 19

Come April, Las Olas will be overrun with food, booze, and crowds jonesin' for both. The hungry hordes will descend on Fort Lauderdale's main drag to chow down on goodies from more than 70 of South Florida's top dining destinations. Alongside the eats, Premier Beverage Co. will serve Wine From Around the World at 45-plus tables. Visitors can score samples of the hottest new labels, varietals, and vino experiments.

New Times will administer the Clean Plate Charlie Awards -- named after our food blog, CleanPlateCharlie.com. Twelve judges, including our food critics and local chefs, will trot out their taste buds and dole out awards for culinary excellence, presentation, and popularity. All proceeds from the fest benefit the American Lung Association's local lung health programs -- so leave the cigs at home.

The event runs from 7:30 to 10 p.m. on April 19 along Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $100 for the festival, $275 for Prive. Visit lasolaswff.com.

Pompano Beach Seafood Fest, April 26 to 28

This beach party bonanza is a fun-filled tribute to the bounty of the sea. All things seafood will be served along with live entertainment, an arts and crafts area, and lots of other diversions.

The festival runs Friday from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Kids 10 and under get in free. Visit pompanobeachseafoodfestival.com.

New Times' Pairings, September

This swanky, sophisticated New Times shindig (note the modesty) showcases the best partnerships in wine and food. More than 40 of the area's best eateries trot out their culinary creations side by side with wines from across the world. And for those not wine-inclined, there are craft beers too.

And the eating and drinking's not for naught. Proceeds benefit the Jack & Jill Children's Center. From live music to specialty cocktails and tasty bites -- all relationships should be as well-matched as pairings.

The event date and location are TBD. Visit facebook.com/newtimespairings.

Fourth-Annual Boca Raton Food and Wine Festival, November 8 to 10

When it comes to Boca, would you expect anything less than the very best? This grade-A affair is a nonstop, three-day thrill ride of gourmet eats and classy cocktails, from the Grand Tasting and the Vineyard Party to Dinner Under the Stars and Bubbles & Brunch.

Visitors to the biggest affair -- the Grand Tasting -- can watch notable chefs from Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm serve their specialties in Kitchen Alley, then indulge in delicate desserts in the Sweet Endings Village. Boozehounds can down craft beers and learn how to cook with (and drink) rum in the Spirits Region. And local songstress Kendra Fulmer will open for the Urban Gypsy Band, so guests can burn off the absurd amount of calories they just consumed.

The festival takes place November 8 to 10 at 5000 T-Rex Ave. in Boca Raton. Ticket prices range from $45 to $150 depending on the event. Visit bocaratonwineandfoodfestival.com, or call 561-338-7594.

Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, December 13 to 17

This all-star, celebcentric festival almost doubled in size for its sixth year in 2012, and its lineup read like Gourmet mag's Rolodex. David Burke of David Burke Townhouse, New York; Arnaud Chavigny of Cafe Bouloud, Palm Beach; Jeff McInnis of Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, Miami; Jess Mauro of the Food Network; John Kunkel of 50 Eggs, Miami; and many, many more lend their kitchen skills to the mix.

This festival is known for its sleek and intimate events. And while they're still finalizing the lineup for December, we're betting it'll be even bigger and better than last year. As always, there'll be a charity component.

The festival takes place from December 13 to 17 at various venues in the Palm Beach area. Visit pbfoodwinefest.com.

15th Garlic Festival, February 7 to 9, 2014

The world-famous Garlic Fest is Delray Beach's ode to nature's most pungently palatable spice. Dubbed "the best stinkin' party in town," the 15th-annual incarnation of the event will feature delicacies like garlic ice cream, whole roasted garlic, garlic funnel cake, and garlic gator.

Although it's still a ways away, next year they'll be changing up the Garlic Chef competition in conjunction with a new sponsor -- and they promise it'll make waves across the tricounty area. Not to mention a huge opening act for opening night.

Needless to say, Edward Cullen isn't on the guest list. Visit dbgarlicfest.com.




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