Atlanta Food & Wine 2013
One of the many trips I’ve taken in the last few weeks included a drive down to Atlanta for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. You may recall that I had a great time working the tasting tents for Goo Goo last year. And while it was a blast, this time around I did things a bit differently.
Last year my kiddo was only 4 months old at the time of this event, and I had just left him at home to attend another show in Chicago earlier that week, so I hated to leave him again. When my sister volunteered to come with me to babysit while I worked, I jumped at the offer. In my off hours, we were able to go on walks, do some shopping, and enjoy a couple of good meals outside of the festival.
Of course, having a wee one in tow was definitely a little restricting. (No one under 21 is allowed in the tasting tents, so don’t start envisioning me pushing around a stroller while sipping wine. That was definitely not the case!) There was so much happening all around us that I couldn’t participate in, and yes, I’ll admit — a part of me felt like I was missing out. But this time, baby was back at home in Nashville, and my options were wide open!
Which means I woke up Friday morning and immediately began drinking champagne in the hotel lobby at the kickoff reception. Note: when your day starts this close to John Besh it’s not a bad thing.
Now, I don’t want to sound like a lush, so let me be clear- I didn’t continue to drink champagne all day. We just started with a couple of celebratory glasses (Ok, three. Four? Who was counting?), then it was time to check out some of the classes and demonstrations being offered.
View of “Give a Man an Egg” from my room at the Loews Atlanta
Classes with names like “Southern Sippers”, “This Little Piggy Got Spicy”, “Shucked Over”, “Makin’ Bacon”, “Foods of the Southern Tailgate” and “The Bourbon Show” made it extremely hard to decide what to attend.
“Butcher Renaissance” with Porter Road Butcher
One of my favorites of the weekend was “Butcher Renaissance” from the always entertaining Porter Road Butcher guys. If you’ve never been to their shop in East Nashville, you need to go. Buy some meat from them and pick up some cheese from my friend Kathleen, whose Bloomy Rind business shares their space. (If you live on the West side of town and crossing the river seems like another planet to you, just sit tight. They’ll be opening a shop on Charlotte pretty soon!)
The Goo Goo Girls!
While I told you already that I didn’t bring the little guy with me on this trip, what I haven’t yet mentioned was that I did have some other passengers on the ride down from Nashville.
You see, I needed workers to help at the Goo Goo table in the tasting tents. Last year I hired marketing reps from an agency in Atlanta. This year, my brain had an epiphany.Why not see if some of my best girl friends wanted to go and help out? From being around me all the time, they already know a lot about the product, and in various ways already promote it (both Amanda and Sherri give Goo Goos out to their clients!). Plus, the best part of the deal would be that we could have an honest-to-goodness girls weekend that we haven’t had in ages.
So that’s how I got my Goo Goo girls this year. Amanda, Sherri, and Lisa were the best helpers I could ask for. Thanks girls!
Proof on Main‘s salmon with bourbon barrel soy, radish, and ramp kimchee
To explain a little further how Atlanta Food & Wine weekend is set up, there are 3 days’ worth of activities. Starting on Friday and ending on Sunday, each day has different classes offered and each day has a 3-hour tasting tent session. Ticket options range from a “connoisseur” pass that gives you access to everything (plus some) for the entire weekend, down to a more budget friendly one day pass to a tasting tent session. You really can’t go wrong with any of the options!
Within the tents, most of the vendors stay the same from day to day, but a few swap out. Of those that are there every day, some serve the same items each day, and some have a different dish each time. What you don’t have to worry about is not having enough to eat or drink. There is SO MUCH amazing food and beverage every day!
Here I’ll share with you just a few pics of my favorites from the weekend, starting with Proof on Main Chef Levon Wallace’s delicious salmon dish above. Now I want to take a trip to Louisville just to go to this restaurant.
Ole Smoky Moonshine out of Gatlinburg – this stuff is incredible!
Lockeland Table‘s colossal shrimp
Smoked Beef Tongue Taco with Pickled Watermelon Rind, Chile-Lime Crema by American Grocery Restaurant
Beet deliciousness from Cakes & Ale – another restaurant I’m dying to visit the next time I’m in the Atlanta area
Phillip Ashley Chocolates from Memphis
We loved meeting the creator of these truffles, and we love how creative they were! He had his “Night on Beale Street” Collection which included:
The Memphis: a bbq truffle that captured the flavor of BBQ
The Mama Jean: sweet potato blended with milk chocolate ganache
Mirror Mirror: Prichard’s double barreled bourbon with dark chocolate
Coco Loco (pictured above) : coconut, pineapple, meyer lemon blended with white chocolate. Inspired by coconut pies, lemon ice box pies, and pineapple upside down cakes that can be found in BBQ or soul food joints in Memphis
And one of my favorites from last year back again: French Broad Chocolates from Asheville, NC
Spotted Trotter‘s palate cleanser – arugula cucumber custard with lemon pulp pate & peach granita
The award for the coolest display of the entire 3 days in the tasting tents goes to Spotted Trotter. (please note: this is not an official award. just my humble opinion)
Push pops with compressed brandy apple, blue cheese mousse and candied tasso by Spotted Trotter
Spotted Trotter’s meat cones!
Bettola‘s whole pig drew a crowd
All in all, an amazing weekend of food and fun. If you live anywhere within driving distance of Atlanta, you really should consider making the trip next year for this event. I know I can’t wait to go back again!