Friday afternoon’s tasting tents at the 2013 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival were on tap to feature both traditional and innovative Southern cuisine and drink. There was a spread of old and new vendors representing Southern states including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (as well as several other countries).
Traditional Southern spirits ranged from Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon moonshine to delightful bourbon from Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery based in Nashville, Tenn. Less traditional, yet up-and-coming regional spirits presented with vendors including North Carolina’s Cardinal Gin and Mississippi’s Cathead Vodka. Unsurprisingly, there was a wide selection of craft brews with standouts including pints from North Carolina’s Mystery Brewing and Kentucky’s Kentucky Ale.
Barbecue, in various preparations, was in nearly every tent. Many vendors opted to serve pulled pork sandwiches, but Alabama’s Jim & Nick’s lusciously grilled pork ribs and corn on the cob reigned supreme. Fried chicken was also a natural crowd favorite; Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken from Memphis, Tenn., had most folks forgo their napkins to lap the crust’s spicy juice off their fingers.
I (somewhat) healed my late-afternoon food coma with a strawberry mint julep chocolate from Asheville, N.C.’s French Broad Chocolate Lounge, as well as gelato from Atlanta’s Honeysuckle Gelato. In trying to taste the best of what the South has to offer this weekend, the size of my stomach might be my biggest challenge this weekend.