Monday, October 15, 2012

Taste of Atlanta 2012 Recap

Taste of Atlanta, our fair city's annual 3 day bacchanal is now a memory. It always seems a bit futile to write about something that has already happened that you must now wait a year for, so I will write this with people considering the 2013 event in mind!

The first thing you must know is that the Friday night higher ticket Big Grill event was awesome. With top notch chefs (think Rathbun, Swift, Santiago and Fry) serving up imaginative and oh so tasty grilled meats, this event far exceeded my expectations! If they do this event next year, it is worth the splurge on $60+ tickets. Once you're in, there are no tickets to worry about "purchasing" your tastes, and the crowds are manageable. 

4th & Swift's bbq beef short ribs with spiced chocolate mole, pepitas and corn nuts
4th & Swift's bbq beef short ribs with spiced chocolate mole, pepitas and corn nuts were one of my favorite dishes of the night and exemplified the kind of high-end tastes on offer.

4th & Swift's table

And this wasn't your mama's cook out. Chefs got creative and pushed beyond the typical cuts with dishes like Livingston/Proof & Provision's spice smoked lamb neck. Conceptually that doesn't sound so good, but in reality, it was quite delicious with the smoky flavor and fatty meat you expect from bbq. 
Livingston/Proof & Provision's Spice Smoked  Lamb Neck with Pickled Pecans, Chicharrones and Grits
Rathbun's Jalapeno Shrimp Tacos with Achiote-Orange Crema
The event wasn't only for carnivores. Rathbun's served jalapeno shrimp tacos while The Optimist offered cod sliders.

JCT/Taria Camarino's Banana Pudding Bites
Perhaps my favorite dish of the night wasn't meat at all, but rather JCT's banana pudding bites made by Taria Carmarino (of sugar coated radical notoriety). Great googly moogly, these were good. Such a fun burnt marshamallow-esque topping with a oh so creamy banana filling. Despite being full, I went back for seconds.

The main Saturday and Sunday Taste of Atlanta event is quite different. I spend a lot of my time at food events, and I would consider it an entry-level food event. Inexpensive tickets and a broad swath of mainstream restaurants make it more approachable than most events. It is way more crowded, so you have to brave the hungry hoards, but other than a few out of control lines, most booths are easily accessible. If you're more a fan of the exclusive atmosphere, I'd recommend the Big Grill or at least VIP tickets to Taste so you can access the restricted VIP tent and alcohol.

The fancier chefs who'd been in attendance at the Big Grill were not as prominent at this event, but never fear, there was plenty of great food to be had. The way this event works, you have tickets that you must dole out for bites. I always find it challenging because I want to check out all of my options first. This year we managed to get it just right - spent every single ticket and left full.

Cibo y Beve's chef's demo
We ended up veering to the sweet with Chocolate Raspberry donuts from Sublime, Popcorn Balls from White Oak, and even with our very last ticket a Pecan Waffle from Waffle House. My favorite savory taste was from an unexpected source, a Philly Cheesesteak from Woody's, a restaurant in my neighborhood that I've never been to.

Although the day was chilly and windy, it was a great excuse to get out and sample items from Atlanta restaurants I rarely visit. Based on the crowds, plenty of people agreed!



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