Monday, November 1, 2010

Taste of Atlanta

Taste of Atlanta is surely one of the biggest, most approachable food events on the foodie calendar. With restaurants from the white table cloth (Eugene, Pacci) to the decidedly plebian (Waffle House), cooking demos, wine tasting, and local artisan vendors, there was truly something for every taste. Having been to my fair share of events this year, I feel pretty safe in saying that this event attracts a crowd that doesn't typically hit food events. And in my book, it's always a good thing if more people can tap into the wonderful world o' good eating.

I perhaps didn't my due diligence in advance, but I didn't realize how tastings were set up before I arrived. Your $25 ticket got you a book of tickets, which you could use to select tastings from several streets of options. So if you're going for at total bacchanal free-for-all like you find at other events, you'll be disappointed. But at a lower price point than most events, it probably works out to be about the same cost/bite as other events.

The tricky part of that set up is that it encouraged a food snob like me to walk the streets in search of the best options before I made my selections, so there was much doubling back. The other challenge was that on such a gorgeous fall day this event was so packed that some of the more popular vendors were a no-go if you weren't willing to wait in a long line. So no Morelli's or Sound Table for me.

I opted to start out my sampling with fries with truffle parmesan from JCT. For 3 tickets, the serving was HUGE, and was more than Mr. AT and I could justify eating given our day was just starting out. Man oh man they were good though. Perfectly crisp with notable truffle flavor, I'm drooling just thinking about them. Turns out they were my favorite bite of the day.

Local food vendors, such as Coles Lake Dairy were out dishing out there samples for free. I'm always a sucker for crackers and cheese, and these sweet fruit inflected spreads were wonderful.


Noon, a sandwich shop I've always wanted to try, but never get to since my office isn't all that nearby, was there dishing up divine fried chicken biscuits. Yes please.

The VIP tent held a wide variety of wines and beers to sample as well as high end bites from the likes of Nava and Dogwood. Oddly enough, the clear tented ceilings meant the tent was actually scorching hot compared to a relatively mild day outside. That didn't bode all that well for the temperature of wines. That said, there was a ton to choose from, and interesting beers such as those from Innis & Gunn especially stood out. My one quibble is that the pours of wine were so very small it was difficult to really get a read on the wines. For $25 extra bucks to get into the VIP tent, methinks a slightly larger pour would be nice. No one seemed to mind, though, and the atmosphere was plenty boisterous, so clearly plenty of drinking was being done!

Way back when, circa 2000, Nava was hot stuff. I never hear anyone talking about it anymore, so I was pleasantly surprised to find their shrimp and grits taco to be flavorful and crisp. In a day chock full o' shrimp and grits dishes, this was one of the best.

All in all Taste of Atlanta can't compete with some of the higher dollar tasting events when it comes to volume and quality of the eats, but at a much lower price point, it's not really supposed to. Rather, it's size and variety makes it the perfect food event for people who don't normally go to food events. And for those who hit all the events, like Mr. AT and me, it's still a relatively inexpensive excuse to get some sun, good eats, and catch demos from a notable lineup of local chefs.



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