As much as you might’ve enjoyed this year’s Cocoa Beach Uncorked Food and Wine Festival, you got nothing on Katie-Rose Watson.
So impressed was she by the 2018 Uncorked experience, Watson pronounced the recent event “the Bruno Mars of food festivals” – an affair “as cool as an ocean breeze” that’s attended by “one of the happiest crowds I’ve ever seen.”
Watson, who runs a food and lifestyle blog called The Rose Table and also contributes online to The Daily Meal as a member of its culinary content network, could not have been more complimentary in her assessment of the second annual Cocoa Beach Uncorked extravaganza, which took place April 28-29 at Alan Shepard Park.
Showcasing Central Florida’s most-renowned chefs, restaurants and breweries, Cocoa Beach Uncorked is a two-day celebration of food, wine and craft beer that gives its guests a chance to indulge in the finest tastes the region has to offer, while they unwind along Cocoa Beach’s spectacular oceanfront. Covering Uncorked this year for The Daily Meal, it was Watson’s first exposure to the festival. She was not disappointed, let’s say.
“Cocoa Beach Uncorked doesn’t try to be cool; it just is,” summed up Watson, a dyed-in-the-wool Texan who in fact was making her first trip to the Space Coast.
From among the broad range of foods the blogger sampled at the festival, she listed several standout dishes, including the tuna poke from Fishlips Waterfront Bar and Grill (“spoiler alert: I loved it so much, I went there for dinner on Sunday to order even more poke”); Tequila Azul’s scratch-made guacamole; Playalinda Brewing Co.’s trio of pork belly with fig jam, beer cheese dip, and shrimp and scallop ceviche; and Coasters Taphouse’s watermelon gazpacho with tomato, roasted bell pepper, grilled zucchini, basil, and crab.
Watson also served as a judge for the festival’s big Saturday morning chef competition, heaping praise on the creations presented by Chef Justin of Playalinda Brewing Co., Chef Ryan from Bonefish Grill, and Chef Jeff from Rising Tide tap & table restaurant.
Chef Jeff’s winning Landseair Sangria dish “tasted like fairies whipped it up in a magical realm,” raved Watson, anointing the meal as one of the best she’s ever had. “I felt like I was eating the future of food.”
As for the general ambiance of the event, Watson loved the fact that Cocoa Beach Uncorked is shoes-optional, to the extent organizers even provide a shoe-check service, so guests can enjoy their food and drink samplings barefoot on the beach. “Does a food festival get any more chill than that?” she declared. “Everyone was dancing barefoot in the sand, wine glass swinging from a lanyard as they walked from booth to booth to hear about all the culinary delights Florida’s Space Coast has to offer.” She reveled in the festival’s playlist and also found the inflatable couches and chairs in the elegant VIP lounge to be très chic and curl-upable.
Watson proclaimed Cocoa Beach Uncorked “a prime festival for foodies across the country,” noting the Space Coast’s proximity to an international airport and its abundance of hotels close to the festival site. The Daily Meal, meanwhile, quickly tagged Cocoa Beach Uncorked for inclusion on its list of Best Food Festivals.
Not a bad report card for a Space Coast event just two years old.