Just when I think that the people behind Taste of Atlanta can't possibly top the previous year's festival, they go and do it! This year I was privileged to attend The Big Grill kick-off party for the first time, and what a blast that was! They are not kidding about the Grill theme, the picture above was just a small sample of all the different kinds of grills being used by some of Atlanta's top chefs to create smokey treats for us to sample.
Smoked Cod Sliders from the Optimist
Banana Pudding Bites from JCT Kitchen/No 246/the Optimist
Yacht Rock Schooner were blasting out great music all night long, keeping us entertained as we ate and drank our way through all that delicious food!
Grilled Banana Split from Davio's made with High Road Craft ice cream, this was one of my favorites!
The next morning, I ignored all of the previous night's overindulgences, and headed back down to the festival bright and early. They had a lot of different activities going on this year, so I created a list in advance of which panel/demo/activity I wanted to be doing at any given time. I had to check out the Kids Great American Bake Off winners in the Dixie Crystals Family Food Zone. Makenna Stalvey and Autumn Gruber were so cute as they showed the audience how to make their Colorful Wisdom Cake.
Next I headed down to check out the food trucks. Mac the Cheese seemed to be very popular with a line snaking half way down the block!
Honey-Pasilla Chile Smoked Salmon Chip from Inc. Street Food
I loved how so many of the restaurants really went all out with their decorations, Milton's Cuisine & Cocktails rustic front porch facade was so impressive!
Chef Brian Horn manned the pommes frites station for JCT Kitchen, if you've never tasted their fries, you really need to. They are my favorite in the city and for the festival, they serve them Belgian style with plenty of different dipping sauces to choose from.
Thai salmon wrapped in rice paper with citrus ponzu from SOHO American Bistro inside the VIP area
Manchego and quince paste skewers from Barcelona, their gazpacho blanca in the background was also delicious!
I absolutely loved these little Ahi poke tacos from Del Frisco's Grille - I try not to eat more than one of any thing to let others try them, but I may have broken my rule and had two of these.
One of the more entertaining booths this year was the Honest Tea Honest Compliments stand. I will admit that I was willing to wait in line to hear someone say something nice about me and I was not the only one. I was impressed by the range of honest compliments offered, they didn't just give one or two, they found something different to compliment about everyone ahead of me in line. In case you were wondering, I apparently have a very nice smile.
Another new addition to the festival this year was the Kitchen Workshop, limited to VIP ticket holders, this is such a fun way to learn the secrets of some of Atlanta's most talented chefs! Plus, we had the very best equipment to work with, Cook's Warehouse, who were a sponsor, gave us all Shun knives to use. As those are my favorite knives, I was tempted to take one home with me, but I resisted the urge.
I took Chef Adam Evans of the Optimist's class on shrimp and had a great time!
These were our beautiful fresh shrimp, provided by Whole Foods.
After I de-veined them, I just cooked them until barely done, they were perfect!
Chef Adam making the sauce we would use to drizzle on our plate
High Road Craft provided another of my favorite bites at the festival
Their chocolate bread pudding a la mode with home made fudge sauce was the height of indulgence!
These mini sticky toffee puddings from the Atlanta Grill were another excellent sweet treat!
I can't wait to see what fun new things Taste of Atlanta will come up with next year!