Cue music ...🎶 It's the most wonderful time of the year! 🎶 Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, y'all!
The past two years I have had horrible luck in weather-related travel issues when trying to get to the festival, but it still didn't stop me from eventually getting there ( even if a little later in the evening than planned ) and having a great time! Thank goodness I packed my favorite rain boots for the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival this year, because it was a wet one.
I spent the majority of my time at the Tasting Tents, nestled in the back part of Piedmont Park, and when the rain turned it all into a huge mud pit, the most determined of us foodies stuck around and enjoyed practically zero wait time at many of the booths, which more than offset the wet Atlanta weather.
Being greeting almost instantly with a mini-rosé garden certainly didn't hurt either. If you look carefully at that picture of a mid-pour glass of wine, you'll see the tokens used for voting for your favorite food or drink of the festival ( but you'll have to scroll to the bottom of this post to see what mine was! )
Glass of rosé in hand, I made a beeline for what were my favorite tents in terms of experience last year. First, and pictured above, Hendricks really brought their A-Game again, with a vibrant energy and this gentleman above wearing a grass sports coat in 90something degree heat in Atlanta. He must have been absolutely dying of heat but didn't show it for a second, while doling out cocktails from a steampunk-esque cocktail machine.
Seriously, this guy is a champion.
After a stop at Hendricks, I stopped by the Whiskey & Eggs - a collaboration between Knob Creek and Big Green Egg with a campaign-style tent setup complete with deck flooring, a bar, lounge areas and tables. Pictured above is The Smokehouse Cocktail, one of four featured drinks, made with cold smoked lemon juice, cedar plank roasted rosemary, and seltzer water with a grilled lemon wheel. Paired with a snack of Knob Creek Grilled Shrimp ( below ), it's the perfect first bite of food that won't weigh you down, with just enough liquor to make you forget it's a thousand degrees outside and you probably look like a wet dog at this point.
Of course I also made sure to drop by any vendors from my homebase in Charleston, SC, and had a great time meeting Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill ( and trying her to-die for soup with fresh chevre ), as well as the folks from Brown's Court Bakery.
My favorite treat from the South Carolina crowd was from Charleston standard, Poogan's Porch: a riff on a pb&j, with a delightful paté that was definitely one of the more elevated bites I tried at the festival.
With all of the treats, plus plenty of mixed cocktails, there was one bar setup I was particularly happy to find:
Bulleit Rye had an awesome steel trailer filled with an Old Fashioned bar where I was able to grab a drink that let the bourbon shine. A welcome addition to an otherwise fruity weekend.
That's not to say the fruitier drinks weren't delicious. Don Julio in particular had some great cocktails, plus a bartender who let me snap a picture of her even though she was slammed with business. ( Thank you! )
In fact, I ended up meeting quite a few fun people at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, including Michael, the guide for Inman Park Food Tours who introduced me to the awesome food of Deborah VanTrece of Twisted Soul.
Next time I'm in Atlanta I'm definitely going to have to check out their tours and stop by Twisted Soul for some food!
Oh and I also met the guy holding this dish in the photo above, who was pretty upset that I only wanted a picture of the food and not his face. Sorry, guy!
Last but not least, I got to try what ended up being my FAVORITE THING IN THE ENTIRE FESTIVAL: [drumroll please]
Okay, sorry, but I have no idea what it is. I saw it, I grabbed the tray, I put it in my mouth while moving on to the next station, and then I stopped dead in my tracks once the burst of flavors and textures hit my palate, turned around, and had to talk to the chef. From Chef Seng Luangrath of Thip Khao in DC, as well as Padaek, this little filled ball of rice was my FAVORITE bite at Atlanta Food and Wine Festival this year, and has me ready to go to DC and try her restaurants!
I capped the Tasting Tents off with a sip of sparkling rosé from Santa Margarita. Trendy rosés of all types were everywhere at the festival this year - a nice break from the many liquor based cocktails.
Year after year, Atlanta Food & Wine continues to be my favorite food festival, so much so that even a monster storm and being ankle-deep in muddy Piedmont Park couldn't keep me away this year! If you haven't been, I highly recommend treating yourself to one of the Learning Experiences, and of course grabbing a ticket to the Tasting Tents for at least one ( if not all! ) of the days you can.
What food festivals have you been to or would you like to go to? Did you try anything spectacular there?
Please share your thoughts on this recipe!