ACityDiscount attends Atlanta Food & Wine FestivalPosted: Jun 26, 2015
AFWF 15 May 28 - May 31 2015
It’s official: the 2015 Atlanta Food and Wine Festival has come and gone. This was the fifth installment of Atlanta’s premier food and beverage festival, and with their 2015 event, AFWF founders Elizabeth Feichter and Dominique Love have reminded Atlanta why their festival is number one.
This year’s festival was the biggest to date, and with an innumerable collection of wonderful Southern plates and drinks, it was most certainly the best. ACityDiscount was a Bronze level sponsor of the 2015 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, and a number of our team members were able to attend the event.
Opening Night Events: Pigging Out / A Night Of Alabama BBQ
This year’s celebration of Southern cuisine and culture saw appearances from a number of familiar faces, as well as plenty of new ones. This year, focus shifted from the concept of Southern food on the whole to the inherently regional nature of Southern cuisine. The festival’s opening night celebrations embodied this idea of regionalism, but did so in vastly different ways.
While the 5th edition of the opening party, ‘Pig Out: Market Style’, offered attendees a glimpse at the breath of different regional styles the South has to offer, another event, ‘A Night of Alabama BBQ’, offered attendees a deeper look into Alabama’s rich culinary history through the lens of barbecue. Both offered patrons an array of food and drink options, and were the perfect prelude for the festival to come.
Classes: Learning More about What We Love
One of the true charms of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is the learning environment that has been cultivated by Love and Feichter; the pinnacle of which is the classes and learning sessions. This year’s class selection was a near overwhelming collection of food and beverage sessions that were presented by some of the top minds in the South. Chefs, mixologists, sommeliers and critics shared great insights into various realms of Southern food and drink.
Chefs, like Beard Award nominee Steven Satterfield and acclaimed BBQ champion Chris Lilly, taught festival attendees how to minimize waste when dealing with vegetables and leftover BBQ, respectively. Justin Amick, an acclaimed Atlanta sommelier, and Greg Best, a Beard Award nominee mixologist, shared tips in the beverage classes. Nicole Patel, of Texas-based Delysia chocolatiers, led a class featuring chocolates with insects in them. These classes and panels gave those in attendance a very hands-on experience, each featuring samples of delicious food and drink.
The 14th floor of the Atlanta Loews Hotel was abuzz throughout the duration of the weekend’s classes. In between classes, many of the presenters were doing book signings and bumping elbows with festival goers. This provided face time with panelists and chefs alike, and gave those in attendance a chance to pick the brains of speakers they might not have been able to sit in with.
Tasting Tents: Too Many Tastes, Such Little Time
This year’s tasting tents took on a much more regional flavor. While there were still areas dedicated to bourbon, BBQ, chicken, and other mainstays from previous festivals, there were some state specific tents sponsored by the state tourism bureaus of Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Playing into this year’s distinctive regional focus, these state specific tents allowed exhibitors to play with the notes that make their state stand out. Featured items such as Alabama white BBQ sauce and South Carolina’s coastal seafood were abundant in these areas.
The tasting tents were absolutely jam packed this year. With well over 100 exhibitors, as well as standalone food and beverage stands, the only way to sample and imbibe your way through the entire gamut was with a 3-day pass. With some of the exhibitors alternating menu items and some of the area’s finest restaurants alternating days in the VIP area, there was still the possibility to miss out on the weekend’s most scrumptious bites or cocktails.
Some of the team’s favorite menu items included:
While Sunday’s showers delayed the opening of the tents on the final day of the festival, patrons were not deterred, and with good reason. A number of the best bites of the festival were served up exclusively on Sunday by Atlanta’s Seven Lamps, Oxford’s (MS) Big Bad Breakfast, and the Atlanta airport’s One Flew South.
Leftovers: Weekend Takeaways
Overall, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival weekend was a smashing success; a fantastic reminder of the traditions and heritage of Southern food and drink.
In a continued tradition of looking forward, the festival also showcased the future of Southern cuisine. The rich agricultural traditions of the South give birth to quality, rustic cuisine, and as a breadth of global influences begin to make their way below the Mason-Dixon, how we define “Southern” is beginning to change.
The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is the embodiment of both respecting the heritage, while embracing the new and innovative. ACityDiscount is proud to have again been a participating sponsor of the event, and would like to thank all of the other sponsors, festival founders and volunteers, and all of the exhibitors that worked so hard to feed us all weekend long. We know we aren’t alone when we say that we can’t wait for next year!