Almost every traveller to the Florida Keys samples Key lime pie, the island chain’s signature dessert. Visitors can immerse themselves in all things Key lime from 30 June through to 4 July, with events that include a Key lime pie–eating contest, gravity-defying ‘pie drop’ and food and drink tastings.
It’s all part of the annual Key Lime Festival, saluting the creamy pie and the tart yellow fruit that inspired it. Made of condensed milk, egg yolks and Key lime juice, the pie filling is typically nestled in a graham cracker crust and topped with whipped cream or meringue.
Believed to have originated in Key West in the late 1800s, Key lime pie is so popular that it was designated Florida’s official pie by the state legislature in 2006.
The Key Lime Festival is to begin at 6.30pm on 30 June with a cookbook signing and champagne reception featuring author and festival co-founder David Sloan, who penned ‘The Key West Key Lime Pie Cookbook.’ The event is scheduled to take place at the Curry Mansion Inn, a lavish property whose kitchen is renowned as the pie’s birthplace.
Subsequent highlights include the quirky Key Lime Pie Drop scheduled for 2 July. After crafting contraptions to protect miniature pies, contestants must drop their creations from atop the Key West Lighthouse without damaging the pie. A Key lime vendor village is to round out the fun.
The festival’s most popular event – and undoubtedly its messiest – is the Key Lime Pie Eating Championship set for Independence Day on 4 July at the Southernmost Beach Café. Entrants attempt to devour an entire nine-inch pie, topped with mountains of whipped cream, in the fastest time – without using their hands. The chow-down competition is free to watch. Doors open at 12.30pm and the contest begins at 1.30pm.
Other scheduled festival attractions include a Key lime scavenger hunt, tasting of locally distilled Key lime rum, pie-making class, Key lime cocktail tasting stroll, and the annual Key Lime Pie Hop. The latter takes foodies on a stroll to sample five variations of the famed dessert.
For sweet-toothed foodies visiting the Florida Keys, here are some great year-round spots to sample Key lime flavoured treats:
- Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe: Stop by the Key West institution for a taste of one of the island chain’s most iconic Key lime pies. While there, stock up on all things Key lime themed, from soaps to cookies
- Blue Heaven: A locals’ favourite, this foodies’ paradise in Key West’s Old Bahama Village is famous for its Key lime pie that comes topped with a mountain of meringue. Try it for breakfast
- Key Largo Chocolates: Discover the only chocolatier in the Florida Keys in the Upper Keys district of Key Largo, renowned for specialty chocolate bark with Key lime and pistachios. Be sure to also try the Key lime chocolate-covered pretzels, quirky ‘chocodiles’ and Key lime cake balls!
- Sweet Savannah’s Bake Shop: Located in Marathon in the Middle Keys, this popular bake shop offers a wide range of Key lime themed treats – from pies and ice-cream to cupcakes
For more information on the Florida Keys & Key West, visit www.fla-keys.co.uk.