This Weekend: Norman's 180, Ortanique, Atrio and Others at Food & Wine Festivals in Brickell and Coral Gables

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Courtesy of Coral Gables Wine and Food Festival
If you didn't have hundreds of dollars available to taste a marble-size portion of grub made by a celebuchef during the South Beach Food & Wine Festival, don't give up your sampling and wine-imbibing dreams just yet. There are two opportunities this weekend to taste food from dozens of restaurants amid fellow foodies. And, since nobody's paying Emeril to stand around for a photo op, tickets cost a lot less too.

First up: Taste of Brickell, a giant outdoor waterfront fest that will benefit Kristi House, a nonprofit that helps children who are victims of sexual abuse. A wine garden, featuring mostly domestic and European labels, will comprise the center of the festival. It will be surrounded by sample stations for several area restaurants including Area 31, Morton's Steakhouse, El Gran Inka, Atrio, The Oceanaire, Dolores/Lolita, Baru Urbano, Chophouse Miami, Fado Irish Pub, Gordon Biersch, Sushi Maki, Crazy About You, Boiler House, and Truluck's. And a rep tells us there are more restaurants coming on board last minute. There will also be sculptures and paintings by local artists on display and live music by Bay Area funk band Pocket Change and Elizabeth Elias, a local pop singer. A children's zone will feature rides and activities.

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The space where Taste of Brickell will take place.
The festival is open from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 26, at 1201 Brickell Bay Dr. Tickets cost $5 for Brickell residents (take an ID or business card) and $10 general admission. $25 buys you access to the festival plus a VIP room with complimentary cocktails, goodie bags, and, most importantly, air conditioning. It's rumored some Sony Ericsson stars might be hanging out there too. Wine and food will have separate price tags and be sold via separate tickets that cost $1 each (most wine samplings will cost $6-$8).

Also on Saturday is the Coral Gables Wine and Food Festival, featuring more than 30 area restaurants offering samples paired with international wines. Between Miracle Mile and Almeria Avenue, Ponce de Leon Boulevard will be closed off for the street gathering, which is hosted by the Miccosukee tribe and benefits the American Lung Foundation. Participating restaurants include Anacapri on Ponce, Barrio Latino on Sunset, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Il Grissino, La Marea, Liberty Caffé-Coral Gables Country Club, Norman's 180, Ortanique on the Mile, Por Fin Restaurant, Randazzo's Little Italy, Red Koi, Seasons 52, Talavera Restaurant, Tarpon Bend, The Bar, and several others. Live music will come via People You Know, which is not us trying to be mysterious but the actual name of the local band. There will also be two lounge areas serving cocktails.

That fest costs $65 to attend from 7:30 to 10 p.m., or $150 VIP to get in early beginning at 6 p.m.

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