posted on May 23, 2011 at 11:32 am
Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.
I’ve never been much of a food festival person, but I’ve definitely been to my fair share over the years. Most of the time I find them to be events where hordes of people crowd together into a space to throw elbows for small plates in the the spirit of stuffing their faces–not great cuisine. However, my opinions of such events has really started to change over the year because so many organizers are stepping up their games. It started with the Les Dames d’Escoffier’s yearly event in Serenbe. Perhaps it’s the drive down to Serenbe, but this event seems to really be limited to people who are all there in the name of good cuisine. My second inkling that these events could be something I looked forward to, rather than dreading, was The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival
, an event I have been to several times. It is always very well-organized, loaded with tons of great personalities and the beach setting couldn’t be more beautiful. I wasn’t down there this year, but I plan to be next year.
When I heard Atlanta was getting its very own Food & Wine Festival, I was excited, yet my excitement was tempered with a bit of cynicism. Would it be as good as South Beach? Would it be different from all our other food festivals? Was it worth the slightly pricey ticket? Well, after visiting on Saturday (full disclosure: I got in using a press pass), I can answer my own questions with a resounding YES, YES, and YES. I had such a good time that I contemplated buying another day pass for Moon and myself for yesterday, but I had to go eat for work so it wasn’t in the cards.
I have to give major props to the organizers for putting on an ambitious event loaded with amazing talent. The tasting tent area, while smaller than I expected it to be, was thought out and the food was actually good. Something you rarely find at such events. The street cart area was cool and while I didn’t partake in any of the chef events around town, I heard they were amazing. My favorite part, however, was the sessions where I actually learned something. I’d watch chef Linton Hopkins, Tyler Brown and Sean Brock expertly break down and utilize pig any day of the week. And Miller Union’s chef Steven Satterfield helped me learn how to pickle and make strawberry jam properly–something I have wanted to do for ages. In fact, I was so inspired, I made some of his pickles yesterday. I also enjoyed watching the Van Winkle tasting in action even though I don’t really drink. All in all, the session weren’t merely demos, they were classrooms. How could this nerd not be happy? I hope they bring back the same amount and variety next year as I feel it gave the festival much needed body.
All in all, I am placing The Blissful Glutton’s great big stamp of approval on this festival. It’s a must do. Don’t miss it next year.