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The only cheese dip recipe you’ll ever need, plus 6 other things I learned at the Atlanta Food & Wine festival

Thousands of festivalgoers, chefs, mixologists, cookbook authors, and other food and drink authorities descended upon Atlanta over the weekend for the 5th annual Atlanta Food & Wine festival held at the Loews Hotel in Midtown. Organizers Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter have put in more elbow grease than the fryers at Popeye’s to rally the region’s most talented culinary minds to our city. Below, a few observations from my time at the event.
Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Our favorite events at Atlanta Food & Wine Festival 2015

This month (May 28-31) will mark the fifth year that thousands descend upon Midtown for a weekend of lectures, drinking, and eating. A few of our favorite events on this year’s lineup.

20 Atlanta festivals to enjoy in May

Festival season is in full swing by May, when you can celebrate everything from craft beer to Greek culture.

Seafood, health, and wellness to be themes at 2015 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

The fifth annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival (AFWF) will be held May 28-31, and early bird ticket sales begin Friday, February 13. Founders Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter say this year’s guests should expect the unexpected with a bevy of new programming.

11 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Events You Don’t Want to Miss

Arguably one of the biggest culinary events of the year, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival (AFWF) will be held in Midtown next Thursday (May 29) through June 1. Founded in 2010 by Dominique Love and Elizabeth Feichter, the festival is intended to showcase the food and beverage traditions of the South through classes, dinners, and events led by acclaimed chefs and mixologists.

In Praise of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

On the final afternoon of last year’s Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, comments began popping up on Twitter. “Goodbye to a great food city and the festival that brought it to the world. I’ll never miss this one again,” tweeted Josh Ozersky, a food columnist for Time magazine. Raphael Brion, national editor for Eater.com, posted, “Atlanta is a great food town and has an equally great food fest.” I felt something between pride and vindication. Craving respect is encoded in our city’s DNA, and this four-day event, in only its second year, was emerging as the culinary ambassador that we’ve long needed.

The 2013 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival to feature Anne Quatrano, Linton Hopkins, Kevin Rathbun, and more

Now in its third year, our city's most ambitious culinary event, the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival (AFWF) will be held May 30 through June 2. Ticket pre-sales begin tomorrow.

Summing up the 2012 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Around 3 p.m. yesterday, as many of us were still crowded under the tasting tents at the second annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, avoiding a downpour during the event’s one day of inclement weather, tweets started rolling in from national taste arbiters. Josh Ozersky (@OzerskyTV), a food columnist for Time magazine, wrote, “Goodbye to a great food city and the festival that brought it to the world. #afwf12 I'll never miss this one again.” Raphael Brion (@raphael_brion), national editor for Eater, said, “Atlanta is a great food town and has an equally great food fest.”I saw these comments and felt something between pride and vindication. I heard a lot of first- and second-hand remarks this weekend about how surprised visitors are to discover the culinary riches here, and how the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is becoming an ambassador for the city like we’ve never had before. It’s the brilliance in the ambition of co-founders Elizabeth Feichter and Dominique Love: The festival offers seminars, cooking demos, special dinners, and small bites from the best chefs across the South, but Atlanta finds itself in a spotlight as a cultural hub. And, of course, it inspires locals and visitors to try our finest regional-minded restaurants.The most frequent comment I heard from foodies who travel the festival circuit is how the quality of the cooking really shines in the tasting tents: At other gatherings the standout nibbles from the best chefs can be too interspersed with less inspired bites from big sponsors. I agree that in the three days I chowed through the AF&W festival’s afternoon tasting tents (full disclosure: I had a media pass) I found the food refreshingly un-corporate. Independent restaurants from Maryland to Texas devised clever one or two bite dishes. I loved that the “tasting trails”—stands grouped in themes like fried chicken, seafood, tacos and tamales, cheeses, bourbon, the whole pig, wine—swapped out vendors daily and included smart variety. On Saturday, for example, H. Harper Station served a lovely little sliver of quick-cured salmon spiked with foamy peach remoulade and ginger beer, and the next day Octopus Bar doled out corn soup punched up with crab and herbs. My personal favorite from the whole event was probably fried chicken from Birch & Barley served with a square of fried brioche, a shard of smoked chicken skin, and a scattering of spiced pecans. On Sunday, the fryers for several chicken vendors were some distance from the actual tents, and the fried chicken ran out so fast the cooks couldn’t keep up—but it was more than worth the wait for a second round.As for the pre-tasting tent classes, the organizers cut the number from 124 last year to eighty-eight, but the choices still numbered between nine and sixteen per session! Do you learn how to build a better bar at home, watch two star chefs compete while cooking in cast-iron skillets, or learn more about aperitifs and digestifs? Taste through country hams or craft beers? I tended toward the more avant-garde sessions, like the one dreamed up by Matt and Ted Lee (aka the Lee Bros.) in which chefs demonstrated recipes with which they’re experimenting: Andrea Reusing from Lantern in Chapel Hill, for instance, set milk into a fragile savory custard using ginger juice (it was delicious).Overall, the festival has an irresistible rhythm: first some learning

Food Chatter: Q&A with Atlanta Food & Wine Festival’s Dominique Love

The second annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival takes place Thursday, May 10 through Sunday, May 13, in and near the Lowes Hotel Atlanta. The major themes for this year’s festival, according to co-founder Dominique Love, are sourcing, Southern heritage, seafood, cocktails, and "farm fresh."Love, co-founder Elizabeth Feichter, and their team are creating a dynamic program that includes more of the South’s premiere culinary talents, an exciting array of Southern cocktail experts, and expanded breadth of food and drink in the popular Tasting Tents. (Full disclosure: I will be moderating a panel at the festival entitled Soul Food, exploring expressions of comfort foods in different cultures.)I interviewed Love via email while she was attending the Charleston Wine & Food Festival a couple weekends ago.

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