Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2011

The Daily Meal attends the inaugural festival in Atlanta. Check in for regular reports

4:00 p.m. Back at the tasting tents the fact that it's Friday and not yet time to blow the whistle hasn't kept people from congregating around the whole spit-roasted lamb and drinking lots of wine. There's Chef Tim Love hanging with festival co-founder Dominique Love. A Bakon Vodka bloody Mary, Biltmore wine, Becker viognier, a great dish from Top Chef Masters contestant Suvir Saran (chicken with peanuts) was being served by his fellow competitor, Hugh Acheson. But straight moonshine might have been one of the most fun things to taste. The cherry moonshine with some Coke? Nice. There's some fun being had here at Atlanta Food & Wine.

6:30 p.m. Multiple dinners going on sound exciting. I'm hitting Pig Out Texas-Style at Ford Fry's JCT with Chef Tim Love of Lonesome Dove.

9:00 p.m. OK, here's the deal. This is fun, and Food & Wine folks are here, but not that many food options and it's not a sit-down dinner. Chef Tim Love previewed fare for his upcoming new restaurant, a global taqueria (read more). A good taco with bourbon and Coke roasted pork with pickled chiles was on the offer, but they ran out of margaritas, and Abattoir is across the train tracks. Supposedly the after party is at JCT so this will have to be quick.


3:30 a.m.

Long story short (too late) Abattoir's food was great, though the service suffered a bit, perhaps from it being a Friday and the first day of the festival. Smooth chicken liver, crispy fried head cheese fritters, and a refreshing tomato and cucumber salad. Back at JCT there were more margaritas — a lot of them. There was mesquite smoke in the air from a just-kept-from-dying fire and an amazing breeze cooling the night. All seemed right with the world. Plus the Cochon 555 guys and wine expert Anthony Giglio were holding court. Spotted: Bryan Caswell, Tim Love, Kate Krader, Chris Grdovic, John Currence, Kat Kinsman, and more.

12:07 p.m.

About last night, let's put it this way, when you wake up and you have a hunk of face bacon in your room you know you had a good night (gift from the Cochon 555 guys). This morning meant attending Anthony Giglio's wine seminar, the Great Grenache Smackdown, followed by a one-on-one interview with him. A few tips? Anthony on developing your palate: "People ask me, how do I learn to speak about wine? 'How do I get your palate?' It's very simple. Do your homework, drink wine every day." Also, during the summer, when you're outside and trying to keep your wine chilled, freeze some grapes and then pop them in your glass. "They're nature's ice cubes for wine."


2:15 p.m. A quick lunch outside at Hugh Acheson's Empire State South. Dude is funny. Came out to say hello, and claim his title of Top Chef Masters' king of the one-liners. Food was good too. The Vidalia onion soup, chicken liver, and shrimp and grits were all very good. He also noted that he would be doing a dish at the tasting tents that would feature boiled peanuts (a personal favorite, going to have to return).

4:45 p.m. Jumped between three seminar/demos: "Putting Up" by Chris Hastings, "Gulf on the Grill" with Adolfo Garcia, and "Sommelier Round Table." In terms of learning things, and access to chefs, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival has been truly great. The only problem is there's too much to attend and no way to get to it all. The seminar, "Southern 101: Where Next," is happening at the same time as "The Growing Popularity of Goat." It's a tough call what to pass on. In terms of learning something though, there are so many great opportunities.

Chris Hasting talked about putting up shrimp and said that his nickname as a kid was "Creekboy" because he used to be the one crabbing, clamming, and shrimping. He also gave a shout-out to Farmer Lee Jones, "If you want to know how farming should be done go look up the Chef's Garden. Lee Jones is one of the all-time greatest American farmers." Adolfo Garcia of Rio Mar in New Orleans talked oysters on the terrace, saying, "Gulf oysters have had a good year." And in the Sommelier Round Table, Virginia Philip, M.S., Heather Porter, Clint Stone, and Stephen Satterfield featured a delicious South African Syrah, a sparkling rosé, a sherry, and a Chateau Musar from Lebanon.