How Did Peaches Measure Up at This Year’s Peach Jam?
Our contributor reviews the Atlanta festival
Atlantans have seen our fair share of peaches over the past week: spooning different BBQ sauces into our mouths, kicking back peach-based cocktails, licking a peachy Popsicle, and of course ending it all with the crumbly, sweet goodness of peach cobbler. All thanks to Slow Food Atlanta and Community Farmers Market, sponsors of this year’s Peach Jam 2013. We may think we’ve eaten the last peach after all these tastings, but the season is just getting started and peaches are in abundance on nearly every farmers' market table. The question still remains: Do you agree with the winning recipes from Peach Jam’s competitions?
All-American barbecue is the quintessential signaling of summer. Restaurant chefs and amateurs combined the sweet flavor of peaches and to create sweet and savory toppings for the whole roasted pig. Guests used their spoons (and taste buds) to vote for this year’s winner, a peach mustard BBQ sauce from Rick Watson of Big Tex Decatur. Second place went to amateur Hamilton Barnes from Oakhurst, Ga., who is striving to have his own BBQ joint called Front Porch BBQ. He smoked peaches on pecan wood from his dad’s pecan tree, and created a smoked peach sauce with peach nectar and preserves. With a sauce that tasty, people are sure to be stopping by his front porch soon.
Shaking or stirring, muddling or puréeing, the mixologists used all their tricks to "wow" the judges with a unique cocktail using fresh peaches, farmers' market ingredients, and a base alcohol revealed at the start of the competition. Four rounds, four liquors: gin, rum, tequila, and bourbon; and four contestants in each round. Tequila reigned this competition with "The Helmet and the Feather" by H. Harper Station’s mixologist Mercedes O’Brien. Rosemary, thyme, and lavender paired with honey and peaches for a savory winning cocktail.
Creativity really comes into play when you have an "all things peaches" competition. Some contestants aimed to capture the sweet tooth with rich peach cheesecake or a peachy Popsicle. Morgan, the food blogger for Peaches Please, took advantage of the morning hours for the farmers' market and served up breakfast. Her sausage biscuit was topped with a spicy peach jam that contained Sriracha and ginger. But it was the unconventional duck liver and peach gelée terrine with pickled peach mustard that won this competition, by Jeremiah from Wrecking Bar Brewpub.
Sweet endings were in store at the peach cobbler competition on Sunday. Even though contestants were all making the same dish, each recipe highlighted peaches in a different way; caramelized peaches were topped with granola, mixed with herbs, and blanketed in fluffy biscuits. Melissa Varnadoe took the prize with her vanilla bean cobbler.
Check out the slideshow to see all the Peach Jam action.
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