The Atlanta Food and Festival is back this month from May 29th to June 1. The three day festival overtakes the Midtown Lowes hotel and surrounding streets. Not only are there tasting tents with restaurants from all over the Southeast, but unique food classes.
Unlike many food festivals, you don’t have to miss one part to experience another. The cooking sessions begin in the morning and go until the early afternoon, concluding before the tasting tents open in the afternoon.
In contrast to the Taste of Atlanta, which offers tastes of only Atlanta restaurants, the Atlanta Food and Wine festival brings chefs in from all over the south. What’s nice is because of the notably higher ticket prices to this event, it keeps the crowds down, which allows easy access to and no waiting for food. Whereas Taste of Atlanta has long lines, and vendors who don’t seem to be particularly happy to be there, AF&WF has friendly vendors and never seem to run out of food.
Choose your price point / culinary adventure. Prices start at $100 for a day pass to the tasting tents. But the best advice is to get the $185 day pass which gives you access to tasting tents + 3 classes. If you are a baller, go for the Connoisseur package which includes the 3 day pass, a private lounge, VIP classes and 3 off-site dinners / events.
- Oysters and Beer
- Frontiers of Frying
- Butcher Renaissance
- Boozy Breads and Spreads
Classes delve into the how to’s of cooking, giving attendees tips and insight on how to become better cooks. You also leave educated on how to purchase the best cuts / selections of many of the items and what to look for either at a restaurant or at a store.
Here’s an overview of some the classes I attended last year:
Asha Gomez – Most people think of all food from India being hot, hot, hot. Her region of India is not characterized by overly spicy or hot foods. Her Pork Vindaloo was the perfect mix of spice, texture and flavor.
Quote from Chefs Duane Nutter and Todd Richards on Race Relations in their Frontiers of Frying class “ Half the worlds problems could be solved if people would sit down and eat together.”Frontiers of Frying takeaways:
- Cook large items on lower heat. Ex. Chicken @ 325 degrees.
- For frying use an IPA or Pabst beer.
- Season as you cook – in layers, not all at once.
Oysters and Beer – Quick facts:
Oysters taste different because of saltiness of water / nutrients / depth of water
Oysters start out as male and become female.
Oyster farming is not a bad thing because no medications are used and you can control the taste. Chew oysters to get more flavor out of them. Serve oysters with a citrus beer or shandy.
Oh yes, they brought in an entire animal to show us the different cuts of meat. As we were guided on a breakdown of butchering, we were schooled on buying meat: Know the person who raises your meat. This is the only way to know you are getting quality meat. If you can break down one animal you can break down them all.
Tips from the Butcher:
Cook with pork lard not oil for great flavor.
Braised Pork Cheek is super cheap and makes a great appetizer and use in a salad.
- Low crowds
- No wait for food
- Wide variety of classes
- Plenty of water to keep hydrated
- Long walk from the hotel to the tents
- Parking was hard to find
You are better off to choose your day based on the classes offered, since the food offered each day is mostly the same. There was an exceptional amount of chicken and barbecue, each with their own designated area (hey it’s the south). Last year, Gus’s Fried Chicken and Skylight Barbecue (I won’t tell you how many trips to these booths I made) were highlights for me. The “catch all” or Main Tent was average. This had more of the spirits, sweets, appetizers, but was low on seafood. I guess it is difficult to find vendors who can prepare seafood and transport it to the tents and keep it tasty and fresh.
They get creative with the classes and offerings year after year, so I can’t wait to see what the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival has in store for us for 2014. You can find out more information about the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival and buy tickets here.
Disclosure: My tickets to the festival last year were complimentary, but the opinions expressed are my own.