Friday, November 1, 2013

Taste of Atlanta 2013 - Grand Daddy of Atlanta Foodie Festivals

2013 turned out to be a banner year for Taste of Atlanta!
Sun, fall weather, warm temperature, great food, and fun people all got together for a celebration.  A celebration of Atlanta's heritage of food and the proprietors there of.

As per Federal Trade Commission Regulation,  16 CFR, Part 255; Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising - - See more at:
As per FTC Regulation, 16 CFR, part 255; Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising - Taste of Atlanta provided me with a Media Pass for the Sunday Taste of Atlanta event in downtown Atlanta, Tech Square.  The reviews of the products I encountered at the festival are my own and are not provided by any one or any entity.

Taste of Atlanta ran for its 12th year October 25-27 2013.  This 10 city block festival was a three day celebration of the food, restaurants, and people of Atlanta.  What a celebration it was.  The food was excellent with many different offerings, some entertainment mixed in, learning opportunities for the aspiring chef in all of us, and the wonderful people of Atlanta. All enjoying themselves in the spirit of cultural diversity by the mouthful.  Atlanta is the southern cultural Mega-Center featuring a melting pot of diverse people and cultures represented by its citizens.  The menu was full of various offerings from Atlanta brand name restaurants and manufacturers with some large chains such as Waffle-House present to bring the Atlanta hometown experience to an abundance.  Some food prep in the tent kitchens was conducted by students of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute. This was a real nice experience to see the students working along side veteran chefs learning and gaining experience. Bravo Le Cordon Bleu!  This festival was a taste-bud tingling experience of epic proportions.  If you have not attended Taste of Atlanta yet - What are you waiting for!  There are many reasons why you should attend; a litany of adventures can be had in the weekend experience that is Taste of Atlanta.
Scenes from Taste of Atlanta 2013 * SweetHeart with Micah the Photographer

Taste of Atlanta was founded 12 years ago with the first foodie festival for downtown Atlanta.  Every year attendance gets larger, the food and drink offerings grow, and the festival gets better organized.  2013 was my first year attending the event and as such I visited with a Media Pass for Sunday the last day of the festival.  Although, I have no prior experience attending the festival I was very pleased with the event, the organizers, the support folks, and the festival proprietors. The representation by the fine dining establishments of Atlanta was immense.  The success of the event is simple.  Paid admission, food tickets, and a smart recycling effort help pay for the event and most importantly, revenue sharing of the food tickets with the vendors help them [vendors] defray some of the costs of setting up shop for the three day event.  What about those vendors?  These are the proprietors - owners if you will - of local restaurants in Atlanta that logistically plan the expert preparation of food offerings curbside at the festival for three days straight.  The infrastructure required to be a success at the festival is phenomenal.  These curbside kitchens were running like pit crews at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  Tight areas to work in, high demand for product, efficiency, speed, and expert food prep all came together in each tent kitchen orchestrated by the owner, an executive chef, or both.  The culinary offerings were amazing.  The variety was grand.  Many a palette was satisfied.  The gastronomic cavities of all attendees left full with good cheer.  I did purchase extra food tickets and I was very glad I did.  I ate from 11 am to 5 pm.  The only downside was tired feet. Last but not least, the one perfect ending of the festival was a large barrel of ice cold Diet Coke cans handed out by the Coca-Cola Corporation to all leaving event participants.  What could be better than that?  Nothing. Thanks Coca-Cola!

So what did I sample and what was really good?  Pretty much everything I ate was good to very good and some offerings were excellent.  There was only one offering I did not care for and basically I don't like smoked salmon so the dish I had with smoked salmon was not on my favorite list.

Here is my list of favorites from 2013 Taste of Atlanta in the order passing through my alimentary canal. Ha-ha!

Sweetwater Growers - Infused Crushed Red Pepper Olive Oil; (Free Tasting)   Delightfully light excellent tasting olive oil infused with red pepper to a slight heat level.  Very fine starter for what was to come.  A local grower, Sweetwater Growers has a wide variety of infused table oils that were just smashing!
Sweetwater Infused Oils

Grilldabeast -  Smoked Fried Chicken Wing; A zesty complex preparation with a crispy sauce, slight tang, slight heat, and oh so good.  This was excellent food truck fare by a well known, well established Atlanta presence - Grilldabeast!
Me - This is Darn Good!

Figo Pasta - Rice Ball Marinara; A saucy Italian style vegetarian rice ball of fine mozzarella cheese and rice, deep fried to crispy perfection, topped with a fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan sprinkle.
Figo Specialty
This was outragiously good.  Probably one of the best offerings in taste, preparation, and portion size.

Shout - Steak Kabob; Freshly grilled steak on a skewer with veggies and pineapple garnish.  Absolutely simple but absolutely scrumptious.

Shout - Fresh Chicken salad on sliced bread;  A sweet offering of light chicken salad garnished with fresh grapes on a crispy round of bread.  Yummy.

High Road Craft Ice Cream and Sorbet - Vanilla bean ice cream with hot peach cobbler;  This was ice cream nirvana.  A scoop of luscious vanilla ice cream topped with hot peach cobbler.  Smooth and creamy fresh made ice cream with a deep vanilla tone topped with fresh peach and crunchy cobbler.  All I can say is WOW!
High Road Ice Cream

Yogli-Mogli - Frozen yogurt; (Free Tasting) A nice respite on the culinary hunt.  Chocolate plain and simple.  Might I digress...

Sugar Shack - Rich chocolate brownie; A delectable massive offering of chocolate perfection; two large brownie wedges of rich dark chocolate origin.  Bittersweet but not overly sweet.  Volume wise, this was a huge plate of brownie desert of high quality master culinary art . I finished both wedges with a cup of joe.  Where's my insulin shot?
Sugar Shack Brownie

Community Coffee - Black coffee; (Free Tasting) A fine offering from the southern family owned coffee roasting company.
A nice, hot, flavorful, and full bodied caffeine fix.

Taqueria del Sol - Brisket Taco;  A savory offering of saucy brisket cooked to tender perfection mixed with salsa garnish on a soft taco whirl.  An excellent offering hand made right in front of me.  Very tasty and complex flavor wrapped - Yummy.

Sparkling Ice - Kiwi Strawberry beverage;  (Free tasting) Light, bubbly low calorie beverage of great taste and sparkling effervescence.

YEAH! BURGER - Beef mini slider;  What more can you say, its Yeah! Burger with pickle and Yeah! sauce.  I scarfed the slider down like no tomorrow.  Savory, juicy, full of flavor yeah its YEAH! BURGER

Morelli's Gourmet Ice Cream - Ginger lavender ice cream; Gourmet is an understatement.  This ice cream was well worth waiting for at the end of the day.  A nice size scoop of tasty ice cream with delicate lavender flavor contrasting a ginger bite.  Definitely, not your grandsons ice cream.  This is an adult offering with a mature tingling of the taste buds.

Taste of Atlanta has something for everyone.  Young and old, culturally diverse, all can find a favorite at this mega smorgasbord of tasting Ecstasy.  Of course I just have to mention the offerings I just could not cram down my pie-hole like cupcakes, cheese cake, shrimp, quail eggs,Waffle House, giant 12 inch pretzels, chocolate dipped fruits, on and on and on.  Italian, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, seafood...  Yes I saw lots of food I just could not eat any more!  In between the vast rows of tent kitchens was the entertainment by local radio stations like Kiss 104.1, 97.1 the River and B 98.5 FM. Even the Hulk Hogan look alike man sat next to me on a bench while he ate a corn dog.  Non-food vendors are also present offering newspaper subscriptions, insurance, trucks, cell phones, etc.  These are the vendors that help pay the cost of running such a festival.  Last but not least were the vendors who supplied goodies to all (swag) if you will.  I only collected a few items listed below but there were many more vendors handing out samples and gifts.
Kings Hawaiian coupons
Dukes Mayo trial size
Food Should Taste Good chips
Larabar trial size
Tobasco mini's
Coca Cola Corp Diet Coke

Taste of Atlanta was a grand orchestration of celebratory revelry in the heart of downtown Atlanta focusing on the Atlanta restaurant scene.  Ambiance was full of fun and good cheer.  All attendees behaved themselves and appeared to be having a very wonderful time.  Support team members were numerous throughout the festival.  These were the folks who were constantly emptying trash bins and recycle waste bags.  These were attentive folks doing a necessary job while causing minimal interference to the celebration at hand.  I was glad to see some vendors offering food to these hard working individuals keeping the festival clean and clutter free.

Yes there is money involved and money to be made at Taste of Atlanta but that is not the most important factor driving the success of this annual festival.  It is the people, love of good food, and cultural diversity represented and celebrated in the food.  All involved with the festival seemed to be having a good time and the restaurants thoroughly enjoyed presenting tastes to the people of Atlanta.  Of course, great thanks goes to Atlanta Police Department for keeping security tight and traffic around the festival moving smoothly.

If you have not attended Taste of Atlanta yet you should.  Here is why:
The restaurants of Atlanta need your support for their existence and their employees
The festival is a marvelous day out with cool temperatures of the romantic fall season
Tickets are a really good value for the entertainment, great food, great people all wrapped up in this wonderful 3 day festival.
The APD really know how to keep traffic to and from the festival moving safely on the surrounding streets.  It was a breeze getting in and out of the festival with convenient parking very very close.

For more information connect with Taste of Atlanta via;
facebook taste of atlanta
twitter taste of atlanta
pinterest taste of atlanta
foursquare taste of atlanta
youtube taste of atlanta 

Some Photography by Micah Coletti
Scott R. Mayorga
Straight Talk From The Hematech

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