Gasparilla Inn's Food and Wine Weekend

By Megan McDonald January 23, 2012

Place settings at the Master Chef's Dinner.

Dining with Englewoodians and Sarasotans was half the fun.

Gasparilla Inn's master chef, Peter Timmins.

Apprentice chefs.

Learning the art of great gumbo.

Gasparilla's blueberry pancakes: the best I've ever had.

Forget the pirate parades in Tampa—Sarasotans should be celebrating Gasparilla in a much different way. A weekend at the Gasparilla Inn on Gasparilla Island is an oasis of  tropical calm, impeccably clean and at the edge of an outstanding golf course and beachfront club.

Although I am a semi-frequent guest of the Gasparilla Inn, we had not attended the Inn's food and wine weekend before. Now this is what I call living. Accommodations for two include cooking demonstrations, a casual wine and creative food tasting at stations one night, and a fabulous seven-course wine dinner presented by visiting guest chefs and accomplished winemakers another.

Since the last two years have been completely sold out, I highly recommend booking several months in advance for a deliciously serene weekend. 2013 dates are on the books for January 11-13. Even Laura Bush, who was in staying at the Inn while I was there, looked relaxed and showcased the island feel by taking a walk around the grounds and lunching with the ex-president beachside.

Oh, and by the way—the Gasparilla Inn still has the BEST blueberry pancakes I have ever tasted. Trust me. (UPDATE: Click here for the recipe!)

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