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

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.

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

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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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