Recap: Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2014
Another year, another Atlanta Food & Wine Festival in the books! This was my third year participating in the festival, and each year really has been a different experience than the last. As I think most of you know, I am the Director of Marketing for Goo Goo Cluster, and we’ve been participating as one of the Tasting Tent vendors since the inaugural festival in 2012.
Since then, I’ve learned how to dress for maximum comfort and utility, what necessities to bring, and how to organize myself so I can get the absolute most out of the 90 hours I’m in Atlanta. After I got that first festival under my belt, I realized that I should really be doing double duty while there, which means simultaneously working as a representative of Goo Goo but also participating as a media member.
So yes, while it looks like it’s all fun and games, it’s actually a lot of hard work too! Taking classes, eating and drinking for hours upon hours, educating people on a brand, running to and fro to replenish product, and doing most of that in near 90 degree heat is exhausting. Honestly.
Okay, I know I’m not going to get any sympathy. It’s nice that my hobby of writing about food overlaps with my real life career, and I’m definitely thankful for that!
Now on to what I ate, drank, and learned ~
Revolution Donuts of Decatur, GA served up peach donut sliders as well as several other insane flavors like coconut creme brulee and maple bourbon buttermilk donuts.
The first class I took was a Technique Lab for “Cocktail Kegging” taught by Taylor Huber and Brooks Reitz of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Not only was it a fun and informative class, but they served the best Gin and Tonic I’ve ever had. Definitely check out their website to learn more about their products.
Some of my favorite savory bites of the weekend were the Smoked Fried Chicken with Sriracha Drizzle and Bacon Cornbread from One Hot Mama’s in Hilton Head, SC, and the Korean BBQ Pork with Kimchi on Sesame Leaf from Simply Seoul Kitchen.
And the Pork Belly on Grits with Smoked Peaches from Nashville’s own Farm House restaurant, a yummy Edamame Salad from Atlanta’s Tabla, and a crostini with Whipped Pork Butter and Meyer Lemon Sea Salt from Cured in San Antonio, TX. It might not sound like much, but man, oh man, was it delicious!
Really, the tasting tents are pretty much one blissful bite after another. There were a few things that I forgot to write down descriptions for, which is what happened in the case of Auburn, AL’s Acre restaurant. They had one of the cutest setups of all, and one of our favorite dishes served in little Chinese takeout boxes. For the life of me I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I know I went back on the second day to get it again!
The quick downpour that trapped us under a tent in front of Eden Roc Miami Beach‘s table was a blessing in disguise as we were able enjoy a few of their incredible Poached Wahoo with Avocado Mousse, soy vin and shaved Georgia peach samplers.
I will admit that Buttermilk Kitchen’s Korean BBQ Omelet sounded a little strange to me, but I tried it anyway and am I so glad I did! Definitely a favorite of the weekend.
One of the first things we saw when we arrived on that first day to set up was the Whisper Creek Whisper Wagon with some of our Nashville buddies inside. I’ll admit that we dropped by more than a few times over the course of the 3 day weekend to enjoy a Whisper Whacker or some of their new Pennington’s Strawberry Rye Whiskey. We had to beat the heat, you know.
So much more to say about these guys and their delicious concoctions, but I’m saving that for a longer post, so stay tuned!
I can’t think of a more perfect way to start the final day of Atlanta Food & Wine Festival than taking a class called “Sipping Chocolate” with Dan and Jael Rattigan, the owners of French Broad Chocolate. Not only is their chocolate incredible, but they are such a cute, interesting couple. If you’ve never heard their story or tried their chocolates, you really should check it out.
After a chocolate filled breakfast, the next stop was the 21C lounge where I was hoping to run into Chef Levon Wallace of Louisville’s Proof on Main. As luck would have it, he was there, and after chatting for a bit he directed our attention to their bar. I mean, it was almost noon after all. It was certainly time for a pre-lunch cocktail! Or, um, maybe three. Jasmine Cilantro Lemonade, Mango Cayenne Vanilla Shrub, Grapefruit Cardamom Thyme Shrub. I mean, c’mon, how could we have just one?
So there you have it. Just a quick look at what I consider the best of the best I discovered at the 2014 festival. As you can probably tell, I had a great time and am already looking forward to next year!