I was fortunate to attend the 5th Annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival this year, and my palate and happy belly have been thanking me ever since. The three-day festival was created in 2010 by Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter to shine an international spotlight on the rich food and beverage traditions of the Southern U.S.
Featuring 90-plus classes, four huge tasting tents, 250 contributors from the food and beverage industry, two dozen events, and more, the festival's mission is to celebrate, preserve, and promote Southern food and drink traditions and culture.
I can heartily say that, from where I sit, the festival knocks that mission out of the park. Bravo to the team putting this together, because it meant that I spent the weekend in places like this...
...eating food like this...
...and smiling like this.
So without further ado, let me show the sights and sounds!
The first event I arrived at was the South Carolina Culinary Road Trip, taking place on one of the rooftops at the Loews Hotel in on Saturday evening. The setting sun cast a warm glow on the relaxed crowd of several dozen people, who milled around sampling restaurants, distilleries, wineries, bakeries, and more from South Carolina.
It was a great opportunity to just fall into conversation with people, and find out what kept them coming back to the festival year after year. For most people, it was a combination of events like this, plus the massive tasting tent (which I'd be heading to the next day), as well as the classes, like:
- Bourbon, Barrels, & Beyond (about Kentucky bourbons)
- Mississippi: Unexpected Heritage (about the state's locally-sourced ingredients)
- Moonshine & Medicine (moonshine as the go-to cure for everyday ailments in the early 1900s)
- Bugs & Chocolate (sampling chocolate-covered insects)
- Connaissance Du Champagne (a celebration of champagne
The South Carolina Culinary Road Trip was an excellent way to get me excited for Sunday's full day of tasting fun.
My little floral number from Forever 21 (a steal!) was just about bursting at the seams, but nothing was going to stop me from sampling everything.
The live music caught an upward draft of wind and floated us into the evening, our glasses raised as high as our spirits. Such concluded my first day at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival.
The next day started off with a wine tasting class:
Which I thoroughly enjoyed, particularly this Malbec.
And then we headed over to the tasting tents. From the Loews Hotel at the corner of Peachtree and 11th St, the signs below were affixed to the sidewalk as you walked a few blocks west to the ticketed area.
A freak thunderstorm had erupted an hour prior but had thankfully subsided before we walked over, though it was good and muddy.
But a little inclement weather would not deter us. Even if that same weather did flood out the 75/85 highway connector. (We did not know at the time that flooding was going on.) The show must go on.
We (along with hundreds of other people) stepped into the enormous tents to fill up our festival glasses and bellies.
My hands were full most of the day. Sometimes even triple-fisting my beverages. Hey, I had to sample it all.
I even ventured to try a dish I hadn't tried since that One Horrible Experience at my school in Australia: octopus.
It was... better than I expected... but still not for me!
And this banana pudding will go down as the best I've ever had in life. The South really knows how to do it properly.
Alas, my friends, I eventually got to the point where I could eat not another bite, sip not another cocktail, carry not another glass. At that point, it was time for this photographer to sign off, go home, and fall asleep with a smile on my face wider than the Cheshire cat's.
It was a great pleasure (an embarrassment of pleasures, actually) to attend to the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival this year. Many thanks to 360 Media for the invitation, and congrats to the entire team who put together such a wonderful event... and especially congrats for your Proclamation from the Atlanta City Council!
See you next year.