The pairing of food and drink is quite possibly older than marriage itself. So when the time came to select a theme for the 2014 Taste of Atlanta’s Friday night kick off party, the team decided to “marry” chefs with cocktails, ingredients, and style to create a harmony for the palette.
Here are just a few foodie moments from Culinary Matrimony at Taste of Atlanta 2014.
Saltyard’s executive chef and partner, Nick Leahy, proffered an oyster trio which was our favorite tasting of the evening. This trifecta included a raw oyster in champagne shooter, fried oyster with slaw, and oyster chowder. Leahy shared his inspiration for the oyster shooter – right after he and his wife said “I do” on their wedding day, the first thing they ate was an oyster and a glass of champagne. Note the adorable picture of Mr. & Mrs. Leahy on their wedding day, which was on display at Saltyard’s booth. Now that’s culinary matrimony.
Speaking of matrimony – for the first time in our relationship of six years, my husband ate collards and liked them! Of course, it was thanks to chef EJ Hodgkinson of JCT Kitchen (where we said “I do” four years ago) with his grilled chicken in a “White Alabama Sauce” topped with the collard greens salsa verde. Kudos to Burge Organic Farm for the tasty ingredients.
Ford Fry’s restaurants brought their A-game to Taste of Atlanta. It was great to see our pal, Chef Craig Richards, executive chef of St. Cecilia, and sample his grilled octopus with chorizo and lemon-bay kale oil. We first met chef Craig back in his days at Ecco when he showed us his rooftop garden. For Culinary Matrimony, the fresh kale came from Tucker Farms a local purveyor of produce and hydroponic greens.
Ron Eyester of Rosebud, The Family Dog, Timone’s, and now Top Chef fame presented a crowd favorite. Our pal Arianne Fielder said it was her favorite dish of the night. Also, apparently she kept sending over shots of Four Roses Bourbon to “The Angry Chef” but he was in the zone. The man has already mastered shrimp & grits, so of course he was going to rock a lobster stuffed twice-baked potato was with chunks of fresh lobster, grain mustard and saffron aioli.
Culinary Matrimony was an awesome way to kickoff the 2014 Taste of Atlanta. The tasting tent was packed with people noshing on tasty treats and sipping bubbly and cocktails. We told y’all a few of our favorites, and we’d love to hear about your foodie moments. Please sign our “guest book” below.
Editor’s Note Thank you to our newest contributors, Jamie K. White, for covering the Taste of Atlanta Preview!
Taste of Atlanta, a three-day culinary affair featuring over 90 restaurants from all neighborhoods of Atlanta is officially here! The event will take place in Midtown area starting today, Friday, Oct. 24 through Sunday, Oct. 26.
Pretty Southern was privileged to attend a tasting preview at a few of the downtown area participants: Alma Cocina, Smoke Ring, BLT Steak, and Max Lager.
The first stop was Alma Cocina: a cozy place with a sophisticated take on Latin and Mexican cuisine, located downtown next to the Ritz Carlton.
Amaluna is the newest Cirque du Soleil extravaganza now showing under the big top at Atlantic Station. For the first time in Cirque du Soleil history, the cast is more than 70% female with 46 artists representing 17 nationalities. The Cirque development team wanted to create a brand new show making a conscious effort to showcase the strength and beauty of woman. The band is also 100% female, another first in Cirque history. You go girl(s)!
I am the only Hokie in a family of Tar Heels. I was born and raised wearing that beautiful hue of Carolina blue, and in college traded most of it for the unique but equally beautiful palette of Chicago maroon and burnt orange. Explaining my allegiances to the Hokies and the Tar Heels always garners some confused facial expressions the inevitable question, “So what do you do when they play each other?”
My “TarHokie” Family
The question wasn’t always met without hesitation, especially in my younger Hokie days. I essentially had to learn how to cheer for another team. But now, I don’t even think twice, especially regarding football.
For the last several years, my family has attended the VT-UNC football games, in both Chapel Hill and Blacksburg. Games in Chapel Hill are like homecomings for my parents, and memories of my childhood in Carolina blue become suddenly vibrant. I see kids dressed in full UNC gear; the little girls in UNC cheerleader outfits remind me of myself at that age. I look at them and think, “I remember when I had an outfit like that.”
Then I see a Hokie family with their kids rocking the maroon and orange, Hokie Bird hats and Hokie cheerleader outfits, and I think, “That will be my kids one day.”
A few weekends ago, we went to the UNC-VT football game in Chapel Hill; my cousin Alexis, also a UNC alumna, joined us. I was outnumbered three to one, but I like to think my Hokie spirit made up for the numbers. When we got to our seats in Kenan Memorial Stadium, I added a dash of maroon and orange amidst the sea of Carolina Blue. A few other Hokies were seated nearby, so I waved to them and flashed my best VT hand signal. We high-fived after touchdowns and made sure we sang “Tech Triumph” extra loudly when appropriate.
One time, I might have yelled, “Get him!” a little too loudly on a Hokie defensive play, and an older lady a couple rows down turned around and gave me a stink eye. Naturally, I yelled even louder on the next play. Even my parents and Alexis laughed.
Hark the sound of Hokie victory
The game ended in the Hokies’ favor with a 34-17 victory. As is tradition, the UNC band and spirit squads led the remaining Tar Heel fans with the singing of “Hark the Sound” and “I’m a Tar Heel Born.” I hummed along to the tune I’d heard since birth; even as a Hokie, I couldn’t resist the melody. For a small moment, it felt like I was turning on my Hokie allegiance. But that feeling faded quickly. Yelling, “Go to hell, Duke!” feels good no matter what colors I wear. Everyone hates Duke.
Mom always says that, when it comes to these games, “Our family can’t lose,” and she’s right. Since I became a Hokie in 2010, my allegiance spread to them, and they cheer for the Hokies almost as much as their alma mater. Our allegiances aren’t really split. They’re just varied. Besides, maroon, orange, and Carolina blue don’t look so bad all together.
And maybe next time, I can introduce Alexis to football weekends in Blacksburg.
Kate Robertson is a features writer for Pretty Southern, a Virginia Tech alumna, and a current graduate student at Elon University in North Carolina. She’s working toward her MA in Interactive Media, and afterwards hopes to further her career as a kick-ass writer.
Originally from Atlanta, Kate enjoys exploring the Piedmont region of North Carolina, especially its wide offerings of wineries. Follow her on Twitter @kate3robertson and check out her blog, A Thought and a Half.
Taste of Atlanta at Tech Square in Midtown.
More than 90 of Atlanta’s most notable and on-the-rise restaurants have signed on to participate in Taste of Atlanta 2014, which will take place Oct. 24 to 26 in Midtown at Tech Square. Festival-goers will be able to savor truly authentic flavors that represent every corner of the city. “I think people will be hard pressed to find more culinary variety in one place,” said Chef and Restaurateur Ron Eyester of Top Chef and local Atlanta establishments Rosebud, The Family Dog, Timone’s and his latest concept, Diner.
With every signature taste, the festival showcases just how diverse and progressive our city’s dining scene really is. I welcome any opportunity to support my fellow chefs and our local food landscape, and that is exactly what Taste of Atlanta brings to the table!”