It's time to take a bite out of summer. After all, August heralds the start of some of the best food festivals across the globe, giving you the perfect excuse to escape your hometown and chow down on some first-class cuisine. We here at Oyster have the scoop on August's yummiest of the yum – and the best hotels at which to continue your foodie love affair, of course. So loosen that belt buckle, its chow time.
Foodie Fest #1: S.F. Chefs
The Chew: San Francisco's culinary "who's who" strut their stuff at this annual festival, which takes place July 30th through August 5th. Throughout the event, four grand tastings will allow you to experience all that the Bay Area's iconic restaurants and hidden neighborhood gems have to offer, including handcrafted cocktails, wine and beer from local vintners and breweries, and scrumptious dishes from a wide array of cuisines. Later in August, La Cocina presents the San Francisco Street Food Festival, a celebration of San Fran's best street food (and music). Epicures can expect global fare from 80+ vendors at this event -- you definitely won't go hungry!
The Bed: Old-world grandeur is alive and well at the Huntington Hotel, one of San Francisco's best boutiques, where rooms are cozy and the staff is attentive. Plus, the hotel's Big 4 Restaurant provides a swanky continuation of the foodie fun you'll experience during your trip. While traditional offerings such as crab cakes are available, chef Gloria Ciccarone-Nehls is best known for her use of exotic wild game, including wild paella of crispy frog legs and rabbit-rattlesnake sausage.
Foodie Fest #2: Miami Spice
The Chew: A two-month-long restaurant week in "the city where the heat is on," this festival puts the mouth-watering cuisine of Miami in the spotlight, beginning August 1st. Over 80 restaurants are participating by building three-course lunch and dinner menus that feature their signature dishes for reduced rates. There will also be daily specials you can snag on the event's website to make your visit even more deliciously discounted.
The Bed: The stunning Kelly Wearstler-designed Viceroy Miami is the perfect place to regroup after a night of indulging in all that Miami's chefs have to offer. Featuring a beautiful rooftop pool and lounge, large rooms with kitchenettes, and Michelin-starred chef Michael Psilakis' Eos Restaurant, this hotel is a foodie's paradise. The acclaimed Mediterranean-inspired small plates at Eos will delight the palate as the sumptuous design and views do the same for the eyes. Eos will also be participating in Miami Spice and you can view the special menu here.
Foodie Fest #3: Maine Lobster Festival
The Chew: 20,000 pounds of fresh lobster are eaten each year at this crustacean celebration: Now that's a lot of lobstah! Cooking contests, an all-you-can-eat blueberry pancake breakfast, parades, live music, kid-friendly events, and, of course, the lobster, make this a must-stop event for New England visitors. Taking place August 1st through 3rd in Rockland, the festival features vendors from across the state serving up lobster partnered with delicious sides, such as buttery rolls, local corn on the cob, steamed clams, crab cakes, and fried shrimp, haddock, and calamari.
The Bed: The intimate James Place Inn in Freeport is about an hour's drive from the festival, but each of those 60 minutes is worth it for a stay at this family-run spot. The inn is peaceful and polished, featuring fireplaces and soaking tubs in some rooms, hammocks, and modern amenities including free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs. There is also an extensive, free homemade breakfast – the perfect way to prep your stomach before making the drive to Rockland.
Foodie Fest #4: Los Angeles Food & Wine
The Chew: The entertainment capital of the world will play host to celebrity chefs and internationally-acclaimed wine-makers, August 9th through 12th. City-wide events – such as Giada De Laurentiis' Festa Italiana, an Asian Night Market, countless cooking demonstrations and chef meet-and-greets, and a pairing event entitled "Swine & Wine: The Marriage of Pigs & Pinot" – will take place over the weekend.
The Bed: A known celebrity hangout, Shutters on the Beach is the definition of opulence. Expensive artwork, luxe features, and an oceanfront location are just the basics here. With two stellar restaurants on-site, One Pico and Coast, visitors to Food & Wine will be able to compare the hotel's offerings with the multitudes they sample throughout the day. The verdict? It'll all be absolutely delicious.
Foodie Fest #5: 77th Annual Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival
The Chew: Alright, we were skeptical about this one at first too, but don't write it off your list just yet. Every year over Labor Day Weekend, Morgan City, the heart of Cajun Country, opens its doors to tens of thousands of visitors to celebrate Louisiana's oldest chartered harvest festival. This festival serves up home-style Cajun cooking, such as spicy jambalaya, fried alligator, and shrimp cooked eight ways from Sunday. There's also live music, a golf tournament, one of the largest craft shows in the South (featuring over 100 craftsmen), and a 5K run.
The Bed: An hour outside of NOLA, Morgan City offers some decent accommodations, but visitors may opt to stay in the capital for entertainment that doesn't consist solely of shellfish and fuel oil (just kidding, Morgan City, we love y'all). Our pick is the International House Hotel where trendsetters and celebs have been known to stay due to its quietly sexy vibe, attentive staff, and posh rooms. But celeb or not, if they're not visiting Morgan City for the festival, they're missing out on some serious grub. Rambla, the hotel's Basque-inspired restaurant, may beg to differ, however.
Foodie Fest #6: The Great British Beer Festival
The Chew: More gulp than chew, this festival is for the beer aficionados of the world. Over 66,000 people will flock to this massive celebration August 7th through 11th, which features over 800 ales, ciders, and foreign beers. Tastings, traditional pub games, live music, and small plates will also be featured.
The Bed: The pricey and prestigious Duke's Hotel is a 90-room boutique with a slew of special amenities, such as a cognac and cider garden, a drawing room where traditional afternoon tea is served, and the famous Duke's Bar, where James Bond creator Ian Fleming originated the character's "Shaken, not stirred" line. The hotel's restaurant, Thirty Six, provides not so much a meal as a gastronomic experience of modern English cuisine from Michelin-starred chef Nigel Mendham. As if that wasn't enough, the Perrier-Jouet Champagne Lounge serves some of the finest champagne cocktails you'll ever have.
Foodie Fest #7: Berlin International Beer Festival
The Chew: Does a one-mile long beer garden sound appealing to you, too? How about 2,000 different kinds of beer from over 300 breweries? Yup, you're not the only one. Over one million people attend the German capital's infamous annual festival, this year taking place August 3rd through 5th.
The Bed: The convenient location, luxe amenities, and Michelin-starred restaurant at the InterContinental Berlin make it the perfect pit stop for festival-goers. Hugo's French-Mediterranean fare from chef Thomas Kammeier is set against the panoramic backdrop of Berlin from the InterContinental's 14th floor; get a good base in your stomach before heading off to the ultimate biergarten.
Foodie Fest #8: Hong Kong Food Expo
The Chew: Hong Kong claims to be the city of food, and from August 16th through 20th, that title will be put to the test. Hosting over 900 of the city's most daring chefs, this expo guarantees that visitors will be able to feast on a wide variety of dim sum treats and delicacies at the Gourmet Zone, as well as partake in plenty of educational and business opportunities with those already in the know. The Hong Kong International Tea Fair is happening at the same time, so be sure to get a "cuppa" before heading out.
The Bed: Hong Kong is not short on luxurious hotels, but our choice this time around is The Excelsior Hong Kong. Owned by the Mandarin Oriental brand, this luxury hotel has a fabulous location overlooking the harbor – the views of which can be best seen from one of its upscale restaurant, ToTT's. Located on the 34th floor, ToTT's offers both indoor and outdoor dining, a playful design, and hip cocktails. The menu is fine, featuring crab soup and Australian rack of lamb, but the real draws here are the views and the bubbly. Meet at the restaurant with friends before (or after) attending the expo to dish on all the delectables Hong Kong has to offer.