Scenes From the 2011 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

By
Arthur Bovino

There's always a food destination to find no matter what time you find yourself arriving in a great food city. In this case a delayed flight meant most restaurants were closed at 1:00 a.m., but the original Chick-fil-A, the place where the fried chicken sandwich got its start, is actually open 24 hours a day. Called the Dwarf House, it was a must-stop, late-night destination.

The Original Chick-fil-A at the Dwarf House

Arthur Bovino

There's always a food destination to find no matter what time you find yourself arriving in a great food city. In this case a delayed flight meant most restaurants were closed at 1:00 a.m., but the original Chick-fil-A, the place where the fried chicken sandwich got its start, is actually open 24 hours a day. Called the Dwarf House, it was a must-stop, late-night destination.

Spicy Chicken Sandwich Platter

Arthur Bovino

A toasted, buttered bun with dill pickle chips. The bottom bun half gets condensed to be come thin and a little sweet. Crunchy, crispy, salty, with a little mustard and zest. It's a pretty tasty fast-food sandwich.

Chef Cathal Armstrong: Eggs Three Ways

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Cathal Armstrong of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Va., talks about preparing an omelet with hollandaise and gribiche (made from eggs, pickles and capers).

Cathal Armstrong's Omelet with Gribiche

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An omelet with varied texture, soft and airy, made by layering two-day old eggs, whites, and hollandaise. Served with Todd Thrasher's pisco sour.

Todd Thrasher of Restaurant Eve

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Mixologist Todd Thrasher makes a pisco sour while joking with the crowd, "You've heard of the slow food movement. Well, I believe in the slow cocktail movement."

The Connoisseur Lounge

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A media welcome with drinks, food, chefs, in a wide open space overlooking the food truck event and the rest of Atlanta.

Bourbon, Bluegrass, and Barbeque Lunch

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On an outdoor deck upstairs at the Four Seasons a bluegrass band played while sweet tea bourbon cocktails flowed and bites like lamb sausage with goat cheese, BBQ shrimp banh mi, and pulled pork tacos with watermelon were served.

Grilled Oysters with Tarragon and Radish

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One cook at the Bluegrass lunch couldn't help but gush over the attractive Southern women at the festival. Party on, single chefs! Left, one of the best bites at the lunch.

Slow-Cooked Pork Belly with Barbeque Peanuts

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A great dish at the Bluegrass Lunch. Peanuts were softened but retained character. Stellar.

Shaved Strawberry Ice

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Shaved strawberry ice with tequila and basil buds tasted fresh, refreshing — of summer.

The Varsity: "What'll Ya Have?"

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A break in the action in the afternoon after lunch and before a preview of the street cart pavillion and tasting tents meant a visit to The Varsity. An Atlanta hot dog and cheeseburger institution.

The Varsity Drive-In

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You can go inside, of course, but how often do you get to do drive-in with the tray on the window and your meal on the dashboard? Gotta do the drive-in, man. There are beautiful, brown, thick-cut, juicy onion rings with great crispy yet pliable, fall-away exteriors. The chocolate shake is kind of icy, really good if you like gelato. And the chili cheese slaw dog is covered with fine chili and finely diced slaw. It's a juicy dog — strong.

The Varsity's Double Chili Cheeseburger

Arthur Bovino

There's something going on with the buns 'round these parts — they get condensed and sweeter. This is a greasy, cheeseburger. There's no way to eat it without greasing up your hands. Tasty, though more chili and cheese wouldn't hurt. Hey, if you're going to go that messy, go messy all the way.

Street Carts Pavillion

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A VIP preview of the food trucks in the lot across from the Loews Hotel. It started with CÎROC vodka drinks mixed with blueberry lemonade to refresh festival-goers dealing with the hot Altanta sun.

Dietrich's Fine Foods

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Dietrich's Fine Foods was offering sweet, moist Alabama teacakes.

Jamie and Sean Dietrich of Dietrichs FIne Foods

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Jamie and Sean Dietrich's Airstream food truck is tricked out with an awesome air conditioner which allows for serving surfers on Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. Sean, a jazz pianist, did most of the renovations on the Airstream. Jamie, a private chef, noted that the perfect sandwiches to serve surfers were her four cheese gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, or one of the following: roast beef, turkey reuben, or hummus sandwich with quinoa tabouleh, "With people coming off the beach, they've often done a lot of drinking, so you really need to fill them up."

 

 

Tasting Tents

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Atlanta Food & Wine is a very walkable festival — most things are within a five block area, including the tasting tents, the most crowded place so far on Friday.

Whole-Roasted Lamb

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The American Lamb Board did a whole-roasted lamb on a spit in the center of the tent complex.

Chef Hugh Acheson of Empire State South

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Tim love was hanging with festival co-founder Dominique Love, people were getting happy on a range of alcohol including wine from Biltmore and Becker Vineyards, moonshine, and Bakon vodka bloody Mary's. There was a celebrity chef-studded crowd including Hugh Acheson who served fellow Top Chef Masters colleague's tasty chicken with peanuts after he was called away.

Pig Out Texas-Style at JCT Kitchen

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At Chef Ford Fry's JCT Kitchen, he and Tim Love of the Lonesome Dove did a whole-pig, spit-roasted as well as a preview of the food for his upcoming 1,000-person global taqueria. There was a slow-roasted pork tacos (pulled hog, roasted banana, sweet peanut drizzle, and herb salad) and bourbon and Coke roasted pork tacos with pickled chiles (a winner).

A Break From the Festival at Abattoir

Arthur Bovino

With the Tim Love party over at JCT and the after-party starting at 11 p.m., a visit to Abattoir on the other side of the train tracks from JCT was in order. Service was a little harried, but these appetizers were all on point: head cheese fritters with sweet chili relish, tomato and cucumber salad, and veal sweetbreads with sorghum and lemon.

Abattoir's Potted Chicken Liver with Apricot Butter

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Of the dishes tasted at Abattoir, the chicken liver was one of the best. Smooth and delicious.

JCT After Party

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Margaritas had run out at JCT earlier... but there would be plenty of them flowing freely at the after party. Food media and chefs partied late into the night. It may look quiet here before the storm, but the fun would cast the next day's early-morning mustn't-miss seminars in, ahem, a too-bright-need-water-and-Advil light. They know how to party in the South.

Cochon 555 at JCT

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There were hot dogs, and a gorgeous spread of cheese, but some of the best eats at the after party were the killer, thinly-sliced charcuterie provided by Cochon 555 — some seriously delicious stuff.

Festival Co-Founder Dominique Love

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The lovely and charming Dominique Love demonsrates how to elegantly enjoy a hot dog at the JCT after party.

Great Grenache Smackdown

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Wine expert Anthony Giglio demonstrates several ways that you should not hold your wine glass. This one, "the quarterback," is a no-no for several reasons, including the fact that your hand will warm the glass, and so, the wine.

Chef John Currence

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Chef John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Miss., talks about the merits of tamales.

Gulf on the Grill

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Chef Adolfo Garcia of Rio Mar in New Orleans, talks oysters on the terrace at the Loews Hotel, "Gulf oysters have had a good year."

 

Chef Adolfo Garcia's Grilled Shrimp and Chorizo

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"Wow, I feel like Jesus trying to feed the multitudes," Chef Garcia joked after looking up while plating his dish: grilled shrimp, potatoes, and chorizo.

Chef Chris Hastings on Pickling

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Chef Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Ala., talked about putting up shrimp. Some advice, "When choosing your spices for pickling think about what you like. Start with a court bouillon, put your spices in a pot and boil." The spice blend he used included: thyme, lemon zest, chiles, coriander, fennel, red mustard, celery seed, and black, white, and red peppercorns. Add Verjus, Champagne vinegar, fennel, carrots, spring onions then boil and add shrimp. When they float remove them. You can put them up for a week and still eat them.

 

 

 

Sommelier Round Table

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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.

Lunch at Hugh Acheson's Empire State South

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A brief lunch at chef Hugh Acheson's Empire State South with wine expert Anthony Giglio who lamented that the lunch menu did not include an incredible soft poached farm egg with Anson Mills grits, maitake, and nettles that was on the dinner menu. Other dishes like the Vidalia onion soup, and chicken liver pâté.

Steak and Eggs and Smoked Trout Biscuit

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Wine expert Anthony Giglio demonstrating how to make sure your wine bucket is at its most effective level: make sure there's enough water mixed in with the ice.

Chef's House Party at Chef Kent Rathbun's House

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Chef Kevin Rathbun hosted dinner on the gorgeous back patio at his beautiful house with chefs Stephen Pyles, Kent Rathbun, and Jeff Tunks.

Chef Rathbun's Chef Party

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Clockwise from top left: Chef Rathbun, chef Pyles, Pyles' fish tamale, and McGrady's sommelier, Clint Sloan.

 

One of the tastiest Southern items on the offer at the house tonight was the plateful of chef Rathbun's barbeque boiled peanuts.

 

What's chef Stephan Pyles' advice on how to make a good tamale? "The key to great tamales other than buying my book is to make them in the Oaxacan-style. And to use more stock than you'd think."

 

McGrady's sommelier Clint Sloan talked about the merits of underappreciated Lebanese wines.

 

 

Bar at the Loews Hotel

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On Saturday night between events, the bar at the Loews Hotel was bumping.

Chef Whitney Otawka and Ted Lee

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Chef Whitney Otawka of The Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island, Ga., and Ted Lee talk at the Street Cart Pavillion. Chef Otawka's oxtail posole was fantastic.

After Party at Empire State South

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There were many dinners happening at the same time on Saturday evening, and many chefs, food media folk, and festival-goers hopped over to Holeman & Finch for the famed late-night, limited-edition burger. But the after party destination was Chef Hugh Acheson's Empire State South, a restaurant whose outdoor courtyard and bocce court make it a great party spot.

Monobrow Preservation Society

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Sommelier Clint Sloan parties with Chef Hugh Acheson.

Fried Chicken and Honey

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Chef Ashley Christensen of Poole's in Raleigh, N.C., gave a demonstration on how to make her version of her mother's fried chicken. She touted imperfections, the darker bits for example, places where there is more and less caramelization that really make the dish special. Chicken thighs are soaked in a 12-hour kosher salt and sugar brine, then dredged in buttermilk, and placed in a bag with all-purpose flour and salt before being fried in canola oil at 325 degrees.

 

Holeman & Finch Public House

Arthur Bovino

If you can't score one of the 20 to 25 or so burgers being served at Holeman & Finch starting at 10 p.m., or you just don't feel like dealing with the hassle, all hope is not lost. The burger is available at brunch too, when they serve several times that many.

Burger Brunch at Holeman & Finch

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It's a veritable burger assembly line on Sunday afternoon inside chef Linton Hopkins popular chef hangout.

"The Burger"

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Two patties, two slices of American cheese, bread and butter pickles, thinly-sliced red onion, a toasted bun made up the street at the Holeman & Finch bakery, and homemade condiments. The homemade mustard and ketchup make the burger.