Food & Dining

Key lime pie takes center stage

A participant gets deep into a past Key lime pie-eating contest at the festival.
A participant gets deep into a past Key lime pie-eating contest at the festival. Key Lime Pie Festival

Key limes have flavored Florida Keys cuisine since the 1800s. Contemporary lime lovers can celebrate the indigenous fruit and the dessert it inspired — the islands’ signature Key lime pie — during the Key Lime Festival July 2 to 4.

Highlights include a Key lime pie-eating contest, culinary tasting stroll and samplings of Key lime rum, beer and cocktails.

Events kick off at 11 a.m. July 2 with a tour of the Key West First Legal Rum Distillery, 105 Simonton St. As well as tasting the distillery’s Key lime rum, those attending can acquire signed copies of “The Key West Key Lime Pie Cookbook” and meet author David Sloan.

Believed to have originated in Key West in the late 1800s, Key lime pie was designated Florida’s official pie in 2006 by the state Legislature. Its primary ingredients are condensed milk, egg yolks and Key lime juice, with the creamy filling typically nestled in a graham cracker crust and topped with whipped cream or meringue.

The July 2 schedule also features the Key Lime Cocktail Sip & Stroll, where participants can sample Key lime martinis, margaritas and other limey libations at local watering holes. For those who prefer cuisine to cocktails, chef Paul Menta is to present a Key lime cooking class at Isle Cook, 218 Whitehead St., at 6 p.m. that day. It includes a three-course feast incorporating fresh local seafood, farm-fresh produce and the tiny limes. Reservations are required and space is limited; call (305) 741-7443.

At 2 p.m. July 3, Key lime pie fans can enjoy a leisurely sampling stroll that features five variations on the famed dessert — including one spiced with jalapeño. Stops include the pie’s presumed birthplace and a secret lair containing “the world’s smallest Key lime pie.”

Competitive consumers step into the limelight at 11 a.m. July 4 for the Mile-High Key Lime Pie Eatin’ Contest at the Waterfront Brewery, 201 William St. Contestants must outpace their rivals to devour a 9-inch pie, topped with mounds of whipped cream, without using their hands.

For complete festival information and schedule, go to keylimefestival.com

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