Peach sliders from Revolution Donuts
Recently, I was telling a friend about how I was at Ben & Jerry's on a press trip and heading to the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for media coverage. They laughed and said that it didn't sound like "work."
It is work. It's just that I happen to have a great job .
Every now and again, I pinch myself to make sure that this is real.
Empire Breakfast at Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
I landed head-first into this whole writing thing, because a passion for food, travel, and writing came together on this personal pet project, and people liked what I had to say.
Passion rules the world, yes? And, when, we are passionate, we produce great things. It's the story of humanity.
And, it's the story I heard over and over again at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival.
French Broad and Olive & Sinclair chocolates
Dan and Jael Rattigan quit law school and business school to hit the road and head to Costa Rica where they started a small chocolate shop and bakery that quickly became popular with the expats. After a few years, they moved to Asheville, North Carolina to open up the French Broad Chocolate Lounge , one of the best chocolate shops we've ever visited. At the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, they presented a talk on Sipping Chocolates, and we tasted a maple and smoked sea salt Liquid Truffle. The silky smooth ganache floated on the tongue and the smoked sea salt contrasted beautifully with the velvety sweet maple syrup.
Olive & Sinclair chocolates
Like French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Cacao Atlanta and Olive & Sinclair are bean-to-bar chocolate makers, starting with finding high quality cocoa beans across Central and South America, importing those beans, and producing their own beautiful chocolate. They are working to change the way we look at chocolate, developing something purer and more complex than the typical Hershey bar. I took a Raw Chocolate class with Kristen Hard of Cacao Atlanta and we learned how to taste chocolate as the master chocolate makers do; it's an intense process where we compared and contrasted quality, style, flavor, and texture.
Barbecue and meats at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
And, as with the chocolate, there are other chefs who focus entirely on smoking and barbecuing the best meats out there. Like John Rivers of 4River Smokehouse who taught a class called "De-Regionalized Barbecue" and created what Patrick called the perfect brisket rubbed simply with salt and pepper. At the Tasting Tents, we talked to chefs who had spent years perfecting a recipe for brunswick stew, ribs, or pulled pork. Their eyes lit up as they raved about a certain producer or a type of technique.
In one of my favorite classes on Cheese & Fermentation, Chef Matt McCallister of FT33 in Dallas confessed that he has rented an apartment across the street from his restaurant and crammed it full of refrigerators so he can store all of his extra cured meats and pickles. That's 1500 square feet of refrigerators. That's passion.
Scenes from the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival
It was a weekend full of passion. Passion for food. Passion for drinks. Passion for all of the good things that make life sweet.
The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is held each spring in Midtown Atlanta. Tickets start at $100 for Tasting Tents only up to $3,000 for the full Connoiseur experience. I would recommend a day pass or a multi-day pass which gives you the ability to attend both classes and the Tasting Tents. It's an amazing event and the best Atlanta food festival I've attended. It's worth every penny, especially since the Tasting Tents are all you can eat and all you can drink, and everything taste was excellent.
For lots more information on the 2014 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, check out my posts at About Food Travel on:
* I received a media pass to attend the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival but, as always, all opinions are mine and mine alone.