Highlights from Taste of Atlanta

Atlanta’s diverse food scene was on full display this weekend at Taste of Atlanta. With everything from farm to table restaurants to eateries that featured international cuisine, along with cooking demonstrations, a farmers market and plenty of wine and beer, the two-day festival showcased why Atlanta is a great place to call home.

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s Taste of Atlanta:

A Variety of Restaurants on Display . . .

Dale DeSena founded Taste of Atlanta nine years ago as a way to taste a variety of restaurants all in one place, to better know where to dine out for the rest of the year. For one to three taste coupons, festivalgoers could experience an assortment of restaurants and cuisines. From barbecue to burgers, Thai to tacos and pretty much everything in between, the varied food scene was well represented. With more than 80 restaurants offering up dishes, people were certain to find a new place to visit.

. . . Including Ethiopian Cuisine

If you haven’t tasted Ethiopian food before, get yourself to one of the Atlanta area’s ten plus Ethiopian restaurants right away! Outside of New York City and Washington, DC, Atlanta is one of the best cities for trying this cuisine. At Taste of Atlanta Desta Ethiopian Kitchen served a variety of festival-friendly versions of traditional Ethiopian dishes that hopefully brought the delicious cuisine to a new group of diners.

I Scream for Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream

With a long line all weekend, Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream was one of the most popular spots at the festival. And I can attest that it was worth waiting in line for a scoop! Morelli’s ice cream is made locally from fresh and natural ingredients. Owners Donald Sargent and his wife, Clarissa Morelli are constantly creating new flavors based on unusual flavor pairings and suggestions from customers. I was hooked from my first taste of roasted banana, and couldn’t get enough of ginger lavender and the simultaneously creamy and spicy coconut jalapeño. Even as the weather gets cooler I’ll be visiting the shop in East Atlanta Village to see what new flavors they create.

A Celebration of Local Produce and Products

Georgia’s bounty was on full display at the Farm to Festival Village, which showcased Atlanta’s local sustainable movement. Festivalgoers could buy fresh fruits and vegetables from organic farms, taste and purchase locally produced jams and cheese, and even order farm fresh chicken and eggs. Local chefs including Jay Swift of 4th and Swift and Keira Moritz of Pacci Ristorante got guests’ mouths watering with cooking demonstrations that incorporated locally grown and produced ingredients.

Well-Run and Entertaining Food Seminars

At “Inside the Food Studio” guests learned cooking techniques from top rated chefs in an intimate setting, with dishes ranging from an Asian-influenced bouillabaisse to Holeman & Finch’s famous burger. Led by the charismatic Tom Sullivan and well-run thanks to the staff and volunteers, the seminars were enjoyable and enhanced the overall festival experience.

For VIP Ticket Holders, a Variety of Wines & Beers

If you’ve ever been to Hop City, you know how tough it is to select just one beer from the store’s enormous selection. At Taste of Atlanta there was only the problem of deciding which beer to try first! Inside the VIP tasting tent beer fans could sample dozens of beers from Hop City, as well as the two excellent ales from the new Decatur-based brewing company, Wild Heaven Craft Beers.

Wine fans were able to drink around the world with whites and reds from California, France, Italy, Australia, Chile and Argentina. Finding out where to purchase the wines wasn’t a problem — the tasting sheet doubled as an order form for Murphy’s Wine Shop, which made it simple to place an order at the festival.

The best part of the VIP experience was attending the wine seminars, which offered an in depth look at wine styles and growing regions with food pairings from local restaurants. From a taste of Greece or Paso Robles to dessert wines, the seminars were a fun and informal way to expand your wine knowledge.

Now that I’ve had a taste, I can’t wait to enjoy a meal at the many restaurants that make Atlanta a great dining city.