Taste of Atlanta had its Ninth year and I just attended for the first time. One of the biggest food festivals in the Southeast, it is well-attended by foodies and not-so-much foodies alike. There were over 80 restaurants that participated in this two day event on October 23rd and 24th. Weather this time of year can be dicey – warm with low humidity or the first cold spell of the season can hit. Luckily the weather could not have been more perfect, which meant peak attendance both days.
Had I been a bit smarter, I’d have planned my visit a bit better than I did. Instead of walking around scoping out the goods, I should have consulted my guidebook and mapped out a strategy. Sad to say I missed out on Empire State South, The Sound Table and Grindhouse Killer Burgers. But at least I know better planning for next year. Thanks to the folks at 360 Media for media passes. You guys rock!
I’d always wanted to try NOON Mitdtown but never made it there. Luckily for me, they had the two menu items I’d been lusting after – The Stack and Homemade Meatloaf Sandwich. And, oh yes, were they worth the wait. Food Porn (The Stack from NOON Midtown – Biscuit with fried chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and sausage gravy):
While there’s no argument that I stuffed my face, and noshed on some delightful goodies, I know I didn’t get to take in nearly as much as I would have liked to. Yes, even I can only eat so much. However, some of the highlights for me were:
- Pork Tostada from Salt Factory
- The Stack from Noon Midtown
- Everything from Bhojanic
- Short Ribs from Dogwood
- Sweet Potato Pancakes from Highland Bakery
In addition to food tastings, there were VIP tastings tents (beer, wine and exclusive tastings) as well as a new event called Inside the Food where well-known Atlanta chefs give a one hour demo in their area of expertise. I snuck in the VIP tasting tent a bit early on Sunday and was lucky to get some time alone with Reid from Hop City Brewery. This dude knows his beer! He gave me and Glen our own private beer tasting. W00T!
We drank so much beer, that there’s no way we could sip on any wine. It was blazing hot in the tents anyway, which didn’t really lend itself to sipping on any red wine. But they had a few takers.
Hugh Acheson (Empire State South), Joe Truex (Watershed), and Jason Paolini (Holeman & Finch) were just a couple of the chefs doing demos on the Inside the Food Studio cooking demos. These demos are limited to 50 guests and I was lucky enough to attend Holeman & Finch’s event and learn the secret to the Best Burger in America according the Food Network.
Jason brought some preformed patties and said it is pretty much just a mixture of ground and chuck, although he wouldn’t share the exact ratio. He did they say Holeman & Finch grinds their own meat for their much sought after 10 o’clock burger, but if you don’t have your own meat grinder (and seriously, who does?) you can get some good meat from a butcher. They use red onions, kraft american cheese and house made pickles. They serve their burgers up with house made ketchup and mustard. Oh yeah, they bake their own bread too. I was sitting next to the manger of their bakery, who told me there’s a lot o’ butter in those buns. My first Holeman & Finch burger ever was just as juicy and delicious as I had anticipated. What a great wrap up to the Taste of Atlanta!
Two suggestions for next year:
- Restaurants I know we are in the south, but could you please come up with something other than Shrimp and Grits?
- VIP tents were hot as blazes. Can we not have these next year?