38th Taste of the Islands Sunday at Sanibel Community Park
By TIFFANY REPECKI
The longest-running tasting event in Lee County – and biggest fundraiser for the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel – will offer something for every palate on Sunday.
Featuring 14 island eateries, the 38th Taste of the Islands will take place on Nov. 10 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Sanibel Community Park. For just six CROW Bucks or less, attendees can enjoy an array of menu items from the restaurants, which are competing for top honors in several different categories.
“This event has become part of the Sanibel makeup, part of the island,” CROW Executive Director Alison Charney Hussey said. “And the proceeds go directly toward animal care, patient care.”
Each year, CROW cares for approximately 3,500 patients, including over 200 species of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in its veterinary hospital – one of the nation’s leading rehabilitation facilities for native and migratory wildlife. Proceeds from fundraisers like the Taste enable it to continue its work.
Hussey added that the event highlights some of the great island restaurants.
“So it boosts the local economy, as well,” she said.
This year’s list of participating eateries includes: Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, Matzaluna Italian Restaurant, MudBugs Cajun Kitchen, Rosie’s Cafe & Grill, Sandollar Restaurant, Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory, Sanibel Fish House, Shima Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, T2 Traders, Thistle Lodge, The Bubble Room, The Clam Shack, The Jac Sanibel Island Bar & Grille and The Timbers Restaurant & Fish Market
“We’re thrilled to say all of them have really yummy food,” she said.
Attendees will be able to sample from several participants.
“The good news is all of them are small plates, tastes if you will,” Hussey said.
The menu items to choose from will run the gamut, from seafood like shrimp, lobster and scallops, to meat options like pork belly, sliders and Philly cheese steaks. There even is a vegetarian category.
There will be pizza, meatballs on a stick, tacos and more for younger attendees.
“There is something for everyone,” she said. “There’s fancy food and comfort food.”
The event also will feature sweet treats, like cake, ice cream, bread pudding and more.
“Fantastic desserts,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to sampling everything that weekend,” she noted.
Judges for the competition will award the “Best Appetizer,” “Best Seafood,” “Best Meat,” “Best Vegetarian” and “Best Dessert,” with one overall winner taking home the “Taste of the Taste” honor. Attendees also will have a say, casting ballots to pick the winner of the “People’s Choice” award.
“We have celebrity judges,” Hussey said.
The panel ranges from a chef and culinary connoisseur, to foodies.
“We wanted to make sure that the judges would appreciate the restaurants’ offerings – have an experienced palate,” she said. “And we have people who just love food.”
Live music will be provided by the Private Stock Band.
Inside of The Community House, attendees can meet some of CROW’s Animal Ambassadors, plus enjoy some of the informational presentations that CROW holds at its visitor education center.
There also will be a silent auction, with bidding opening at noon and closing at 3:30 p.m.
“We’ve got a wide variety of items,” Hussey said.
Of the 50-plus prizes up for grabs, there are a pair of “Hamilton” tickets, eco charters, massages, gift certificates to restaurants, Key West Express tickets, a starter fishing kit, theater tickets and more.
She added that there will be a “lobster in a box” art piece up for auction.
“We have gorgeous art,” Hussey said. “Art for everyone’s taste.”
Attendees are encouraged to bid early and bid often.
There will be free parking and shuttle service.
Event parking will be available:
* East of Sanibel Community Park at Bank of the Islands, Sanibel Community Church (after 1 p.m.), Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ (after 1 p.m.) and Strauss Theater
* West of Sanibel Community Park at St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church (after 1 p.m.), Premier Sotheby’s International Realty, Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, U.S. Post Office and Chase Bank
The east shuttle service will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. between Bank of the Island and the Strauss Theater; the west service will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. along Palm Ridge Road, Library Way, Tarpon Bay Road and Periwinkle Way.
Toll receipts can be redeemed at the event for CROW Bucks.
Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets. Coolers, umbrellas and pets are not permitted.
This year’s event chair is Debi Neri, who also is a CROW volunteer. The title sponsor is Bank of the Islands/Edison National Bank, while Rosier Insurance is sponsoring the People’s Choice award.
Admission is $7; children ages 11 and under are free. The public is invited.
For more information, visit www.crowclinic.org/articles/38th-taste-of-the-islands.
The Sanibel Community Park is at 2231 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel.