Atlanta Food & Wine Fest at a Glance
Me at the Goo Goo table during Friday’s Tasting Tent session
Last Thursday evening, my sister, baby boy and I headed South for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. This trip wasn’t purely for fun, it was part of my job. As the Senior Marketing Manager for Goo Goo Cluster, I would spend the next 3 days working a table in the Tasting Tents.I know, I know. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!
Since Atlanta is a fairly easy drive, instead of being away from the baby for 4 days, I decided to take him along. Of course, that was after my sister happily agreed to come along and play babysitter while I worked.
The Goo Goo Girls working the table
Before I go into all of what I ate over the course of the weekend, I have to say that I had an absolute blast talking to people about Goo Goo Clusters. As always, we got the range of “What in the world is a Goo Goo?” to “Oh my God, I loooovvvveee Goo Goos!”. As a whole, I felt like there were definitely more people that had never heard of Goo Goo before, which never ceases to amaze me since they’ve been around for 100 years!
I guess because I grew up on them, I expect that everyone in the South did too, but that’s definitely not the case. However, judging from the reactions and feedback of the crowd, I feel confident in saying that we now have a few thousand new fans!
The Hungry Peach’s Pimento Cheese Egg
Now, a little about the Tasting Tent setup:
There were 3 sessions, one on Friday, one Saturday, and one Sunday- each 3 hours long. Within the tents, there were “tasting trails”. For example, we were part of “Southern Sweets”. Our tent, the main tent, also held Southern Snacks, Farm, Beef, Bourbon, Southern Wines & Spirits, and Imports and Inspirations (more booze). Since our tent held a majority of the alcoholic beverages, we saw more than our fair share of sloshed attendees, which definitely makes things more interesting!
Other themes in surrounding “trails” were fried chicken, craft beer, tacos, seafood, BBQ, whole pig, and lamb.
Peach Cobbler Cupcakes from The Hungry Peach
The very first dish I sampled at the Tasting Tents on Friday were Pimento Cheese Eggs. Not to be mistaken for the Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs I made a while back, these were just straight up Pimento Cheese that used a boiled egg white as a transportation vehicle. I probably could’ve eaten a half dozen of these easily, but kept myself to only two.
Atlanta’s The Hungry Peach, owned by two lovely ladies, Conor and Suzanne, ended up being one of my favorite vendors of the entire weekend. Fun tidbit: Suzanne competed on Food Network’s Chopped recently and won!
Pimento BLT from The Hungry Peach
Another standout was French Broad Chocolate from Asheville, North Carolina. Their Maple and Smoked Salt Chocolate Truffle and Sorghum Caramel Truffle were to die for. Lovely packaging and reasonable prices mean that I’ll be ordering and shipping these to a few friends for their birthdays this year!
Owner/Chocolatier Jael Rattingan was very sweet and graciously allowed me to bring home a box of 6 truffles on Sunday as the festival came to an end. I am not ashamed to admit that as of this morning (36 hours later) I am down to only 2 left in the box.
French Broad’s Salted Honey Caramel Truffles
Other Best Bites:
H. Harper Station’s salmon with peach remoulade and ginger beer (you know how I love ginger!)
One Hot Mama’s spicy chicken with sesame Israeli couscous
Boot Hill Saloon & Grill braised short rib on homemade tortilla
There were plenty of interesting sights to see at the Tasting Tents
Best Bite I Didn’t Eat: Cardamom Hill’s Indian spiced fried chicken breast
Kicking myself for getting out of this Atlanta southern Indian restaurant’s line on Saturday. The line was a few deep and I could see that they were waiting on chicken to come out of the fryer, so I bailed. That was before I started hearing people say that it was the best thing they ate all day! Ten minutes before the tents shut down, I made my way back over to see if I could grab a bite, and sadly they were all out.
Their Facebook page promises they’ll be back next year, and you can bet that I will be the first in line for that chicken. I will not make the same mistake twice!
Bite I’m not sure I liked or disliked: Ramp Pesto from Blackberry Farm. At first bite, I liked it. But then the flavor stuck around a bit too long in my mouth. Hmmm. Like or dislike? The jury is still out.
Me and Kevin Gillespie (and yes, I look like a drowned rat after running around in the rain all morning)
There were plenty of big name chefs milling about the area over the weekend. Within seconds of walking into the Loewe’s lobby on Friday morning, I spotted Bryan Voltaggio. I was a pretty big fan from his Top Chef days, but I didn’t get all goonie and ask for a photograph or autograph.
However, on Sunday when I spotted Kevin Gillespie at the Tasting Tents, my inner dork came out. I couldn’t resist a photo! So glad I introduced myself to him, because he took one look at my hoodie and declared his love for Goo Goo Clusters!
Highland Bakery’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
Since I was tied up with the festival most of the time I was in Atlanta, I didn’t have a chance to really explore any new restaurants on this trip. However, on Sunday I didn’t have to start working until around noon, so that gave us enough time to go out and enjoy a leisurely Mother Day’s brunch.
A guy at the festival had mentioned to me that I should stop into Highland Bakery while in town for a Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar, so when I looked them up online and saw that they served breakfast and were within walking distance, we decided to kill two birds with one stone and go there.
While the bar was quite delicious, there was a brunch dish we ordered that blew it out of the water.
Highland Bakery’s Peanut Butter Banana French Toast
The Peanut Butter Banana French Toast my sister ordered was insanely huge and amazingly decadent. My shrimp and grits dish was good, but I couldn’t keep my paws off her plate. Even between the two of us, we were only able to polish off about half of it. Highly, highly recommend a stop at Highland Bakery specifically for this if you’re ever in Atlanta!