Recap: Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2015
Another Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is in the books! This was my fourth year attending the event, and the fifth year anniversary of the festival, and I have to say, it was probably my favorite of the bunch so far!
We got off to a bit of a rocky start when attending the “Pig Out” dinner on Thursday night, the first day of our arrival. Let’s just say that the small number of vendors and amount of food being served did not jive with the very large number of tickets that were apparently sold, making it pretty impossible to actually pig out.
Thank goodness we purchased VIP tickets because that meant that we had access to the absolutely delicious offerings served up by our friend Karl Worley of Biscuit Love and his compatriots from Chai Pani. Karl’s lamb burger biscuit with mint chutney & pimento cheese and the pickled shrimp atop grits with curry sauce from Chai Pani crew were outstanding! Truly the saving grace of the night.
But really, even with that one little snafu at the start of our weekend, overall the festival was a ton of fun and left me feeling like I’d been hit by a truck on Monday. A sign of a great time, right?!?
For me, the best part of the entire weekend is always the tasting tents. They are open for a couple of hours each of the three days of the festival and there’s more food and drink than I could ever possibly imagine sampling, though I always try my darnedest. I feel it’s my duty.
My choices for Best Bites in the tasting tents:
Day 1 Tasting Tent Best Bites
Fox Bros Bar-B-Q Smoked Pork Taco on corn tortilla with avocado, tomatillo salsa, pickled onion, cilantro and cracklin
Duck fat poached chicken thigh with spring vegetables and smoked tomato from Saltyard (Atlanta)
Smoked Pork Rillettes with Sweet Corn Salsa (can’t remember who these were from!)
Hot Chicken Hot Dogs from Biscuit Love (TN)
Day 2 Tasting Tent Best Bites
Pickled Peach Salad with capra gia feta vinaigrette, shaved pistachios, and wild watercress from Paces & Vine (Atlanta)
Cold buckwheat noodle salad with smoked chicken thighs, pickled mushrooms, kimchee, radish and peanuts from The Roosevelt (VA).
Indian Shrimp & Grits from Bhojanic Indian Food (Atlanta)
Day 3 Tasting Tent Best Bites
One Hot Mama’s applewood smoked bacon, brisket, and blue cheese beer sauce on kettle chips (SC)
Indian Chicken Salad with coconut milk, chile oil, and pickles from Hot Joy (TX)
Colletta‘s Braised Short Rib Agnolotti topped with salsa verde and pickled shallots (GA)
Peanut Butter Goo Goo Clusters (TN) — yes, even with all the other food options there, nothing else satisfies me like a PB Goo Goo!
Best Bite of the entire weekend: Colletta’s Braised Short Rib Agnolotti – man, I claim that I don’t even really like pasta all that much, but this dish was amazing. I went back for thirds, and would’ve gone back for more had I not been so completely stuffed.
As you may or may not know, each day, in the hours before the tasting tents open, there are a plethora of educational classes/demonstrations you can attend. There is truly something for everyone and I always have a difficult time deciding which ones to go to. This year I’m patting myself on the back because I made some really awesome choices.
Best Class of the Weekend: Bugs & Chocolate
Yes, you read that correctly. My favorite class was Bugs & Chocolate. Led by Nicole Patel of Delysia Chocolates, we were able to sample a selection of chocolate covered insects. And yes, I ate them and I liked them.
I’ve actually been curious about bugs as a delicacy for quite some time and for some reason, the thought of eating them really doesn’t phase me one bit. Hey, they’re a great source of protein! Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.
Best Class of the Weekend Runner-Up: Paired to Perfection
When I walked into a giant room of tables filled with Stella beers, I knew I’d made a good choice. “Paired to Perfection” with Shaun Doty (of Atlanta) and Marc Stroobandt (Belgium) was great fun.
Chicken and waffles + a table full of beer = good times.
My favorite quote of the festival came from Marc during this class: “People ask ‘are you a beer drinker or a wine drinker?’ What kind of question is that? In Belgium, we’re drinkers.”
Hah! From my observations at Food & Wine, I think the majority of this crowd definitely agrees with you on that Marc!