Monday, October 31, 2011

Taste of Atlanta 2011

On Oct. 22 and 23rd, hoards of hungry Atlantans descended on Midtown Atlanta. No, it wasn't the Walking Dead, it was Atlanta's most mass appeal dining event of the year - Taste of Atlanta!

The hungry hoards

You name it, and they were there dishing out samples requiring 1-3 tickets. I always struggle with this kind of set up because it requires me to decide what's worth my tickets, but I can only imagine with an even this size that the full scale sample eating frenzy you typically get at events would cause trouble. My advice? Just eat whatever sounds good when you see it rather than hoarding tickets like I did.

So 10 tickets in hand, I went in search of the best morsels. Before I could even take a bite, I fell in a pot hole on 5th Street. Not cool! But I dusted myself off and made a beeline for Morelli's. Nothing takes away pain (and mortification!) like basil ice cream with a candied tomato topping.

Next up, meatball sliders from new Adventurous Tastes fave, No. 246. Hard to go wrong with a meatball! My generous friend also shared some of 246's doughnuts, too. Hello, these were amazing! What was she doing sharing?!


Taste of Atlanta is not all stuffing your face of course, there are also ample learning opportunities. We took in the global snacks Inside the Food Studio session, with host Tom Sullivan, the AJC's John Kessler, Miso Izakaya's Guy Wong, Sheik Burrito's Jahan Ostad, and Pura Vida (and Top Chef's) Hector Santiago.

Each chef talked about their favorite global snacks and showed the audience how to make several simple options. Samples were handed out so we could all sample the global snacks for ourselves. Guy Wong's stuffed rice ball (onigiri) with pickled plum sounded simple and tasty, so I was dismayed to bite in and find something oh so fishy inside instead of the plum. Bait and switch! 

Chef Santiago's shrimp dish was my favorite, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you how to replicate the dish since his demo focused on making a gelatin seaweed. Interesting to watch but definitely not going to be tried at home! For me a highlight was watching Tom Sullivan trying to banter continuously for an hour with fairly low key chefs. Someone give this guy a drink!

"Global snack" from Sheik Burrito
Tom Sullivan is working hard here!
Hector Santiago's shrimp dish
Guy Wong's pickled plum stuffed onigiri
If you're going to attend Taste of Atlanta, I highly suggest springing for the VIP ticket. That is where you'll find ticketless nibbles and better yet wine and beer! From South African wines to Belgian beers, this tent had it all. And since the crowds are a little less intense inside the VIP area, you can sample your little heart out. I snagged Three Sheets grilled cheese and STK waygu sliders to soak up my many wine tastes!

I missed the VIP seminars, but steaks and cabernet with Kevin Rathbun and cocktails with a mixologist from Holeman & Finch sound pretty awesome to me. There's just so much to do at Taste of Atlanta, though, so it's hard to get to everything. Next year, I suppose!

One of many sampling tables in the VIP area
Sad you missed it? Just 355 days (give or take a week) until next year's event!



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