My Diary: The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

I spent last week at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and my key learnings were as follows.  A) This place has really changed since I lived in Atlanta in my early 20s.  Back then: culinary-wasteland.  Today: farm-to-table utopia. B) A Street Cart Pavilion is my idea of a really good time. C) YUM.

Cobbler and Pimento Cheese Make Life Better

Upon arrival, we immediately hopped on the barbecue trail from the luscious barbecue of Memphis barbecue winner Jim ‘n Nicks, through the salted and cured offal/cheek/tongue/tripe meats of Abattoir. To the insanely “high-low” BBQ catfish from the Four Seasons.  The take-away here is the barbecue, always a staple in the South, has really come into its own. It’s no longer about the regional differences between using molasses or vinegar in the sauce.  Barbecue has become a much more nuanced high art – and, if one thing is clear this weekend, I am quickly becoming an aficionado.

Besides the new generation of barbecue, the other huge trend at AFWF were what people were calling the green giants of the Southeast farm-to-table movement:  Chris Hastings, John Besh, Tyler Brown.  I watched as all three, individually, extolled the history of the regional southern table as coming directly from the land.  The consensus seemed to be that we all need to be partaking in the farm-to-table movement…and not just by going to farmers markets but resurrecting victory gardens in our own back yards. (Read a fascinating Washington Post article on the topic: here.)  Getting a grip on hunger in the U.S. could be as simple as raising our own fresh food.

My mind is sated….next up: my stomach.

Rhubarb seemed to be THE ingredient du journey as we found it everywhere.  My favorite preparation was pickled rhubarb as an accompaniment on a cheese tray.  I also found refreshment in the inventively intense Rhubarb-Rosemary Cocktail. Now I started thinking farm-to-cocktail. The very definition of raising the bar…hallelujah!  The farm and the bar met once again as I tipped back a Blackberry and Sweet Ice Cream Cocktail spiked with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey Bourbon.

Regular readers of my musings know how I feel about India.  So, imagine my feelings about the HEAT when I discovered Masala Fried Chicken and Waffles….an homage to Gladys Knight’s original.

Super fun stand-outs of the weekend included frozen pops from The King of Pops and extras like the surprising hit from the cashew- jalapeño chutney at The Flying Biscuit.


I rediscovered a culinary Hot’Lanta that is deliciously green and soulfully rootful.  I was charmed by the deliciously inventive fare that embraced the traditions of the past while gazing intently into the future.  It’s true, the South has truly risen!   Next up at EC, The Southern Tasting Table menu.  Natch.