Timpano, Tap 42, Cheese Culture, and the many wine purveyors are the winners of this year's Las Olas Wine and Food Festival. With the onset of thunder and lightning accompanied by inches of rain, these businesses were among the few to weather the storm, feeding festivalgoers hell-bent on getting their $100 worth. It was a crew that gleefully embraced the weather, stomping through puddles that stretched across the road.
Wine reps stood in the rain to fill empty glasses of those who sought shelter under awnings. Timpano line cooks wore white towels on their heads as they worked the hotline, sautéeing handfuls of mussels, flames licking hot pans. A chef distributed food with tongs, dropping morsels into cupped hands, like communion.
A slap hit the pavement like an exclamation now and then, the sound of staff snapping water from tent tops. As the storm endured, some grew impatient under
shelter, sending one volunteer, then another, to fetch bottles of wine from
boxes under tables. "Look at those wine vultures!" said an onlooker.
"Thank God New Times is giving away corkscrews," said the guy next to me. "It's like they knew we'd need these for provisions."
Over at Tap 42, design prevailed: Its tent was the most spacious and driest place on the strip.
With a selection of Ommegang beers, General Manager Andy Yeager and staff served
crispy Berkshire pork belly with house-made slaw and a Knob Creek
barbecue sauce over chips.
The most civilized table was Cheese Culture, with its
receiving line of employees slathering crisps with decadent Brie,
triple-creme cheeses, and a dollop of fruit. A lactose-intolerant tipsy
woman cursed the line in front of the shop. "I'm starving and can't eat
any of this," she lamented.
Farther down the road, a booze sherpa prompted his friends: "Drink up, girlies. You'll need an empty glass for this next stand."
Rain shifted to drizzle. The man
rolled up his pants, shoes in one hand, glass in another. A lone woman emerged to push her dog in a stroller down the street.
Another pooch --an old dachshund-- shivered behind his owner, a good-looking cop who works
for the city. A group came up to comfort his dog and ended up exchanging
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numbers with the man. A woman was smitten. "If I get arrested, can I make a request for you?"