Food & Wine is about more than stuffing your face.
Though you know from my last post on the topic that I stuffed it well.
My favorite feature of Atlanta’s Food & Wine Festival is the focus on education. Each day of the festival begins with classes led by well-known Southern chefs and libation experts. You get to choose 3 per day from a long list. Proof that life is full of tough choices.
My strategy was to choose classes that were diverse. The amount of time I spent creating my schedule is embarrassing, but in the end it paid off!
Without rambling on (hopefully), I want to share some photos and takeaways from a few of those classes.
This Little Piggy Got Spicy
This class was taught by Chef Asha Gomez, a lady I admire and respect (she inspired me to try curry leaves!). She owns Cardamom Hill, one of the best Indian restaurants in Atlanta. She focuses on cuisine from her home-region of Kerala. It’s much different that the spicy curry dishes many associate with Indian food!
I especially love Asha’s mentality when it comes to trying new things:
I will never walk away from a fruit, vegetable, or spice that I am not familiar with. I will always pick it up and try it.
- While some of her dishes may seem like fusion, she prefers to call it evolution. Her fried chicken recipe is one her mother made back in India!
- Curry powder is a Western thing; in India curry simply means that something is braised with a sauce
- Classic Indian spices are black pepper, cardamom, and ginger; cumin and red chili pepper were introduced later by foreign merchants
- There is no naan in Kerala – gluten is not produced there so their main carb is rice
- The smaller the pepper, the spicier it is (I can’t believe I never realized this, but SO true)
- To learn the nuances of a spice, blanch a vegetable it in it
Chef Nathan Lyon taught this clean eating course. You may be familiar with his series on Discovery Health, A Lyon in the Kitchen, or from his appearance on The Next Food Network Star.
- When you salt food, do it from high up; this allows the salt to be distributed more evenly
- Sea salt is better than table salt (duh), and you can use less of it
- You don’t need to spend a ton of money on a variety of knives, rather have a couple of favorites and keep them sharp
- His focus on eating seasonally was best demonstrated with a delicious gazpacho-esque smoothie combo (that I forgot to take a pic of): watermelon, tomatoes, jalapeno, parsley, mint, cucumber, red pepper, red onion, red wine vinegar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice
Beer & Doughnuts
Beer Director Greg Elbert and Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac (read: doughnut genius) from Birch & Barley and GBD Chicken & Donuts in Washington DC blew my mind with this session. Who knew beer would be so tasty for breakfast?!
- Gose - old German beer style from Leipzig, unfiltered wheat beer, crispness and low hop, hints of coriander
- Allagash Curieux – this is Allagash’s Tripel Ale in Jim Beam bourbon barrels, amber color, soft and flavorful, yeast and vanilla upfront with hints of tasty bourbon at the end (this was my favorite)
- Avery Anniversary Twenty – new release (we were the frist in GA to try it), copper color, super hoppy IPA, citrus sweetness, surprisingly not bitter
- Passion Fruit glazed, churro-style
- Classic yeast doughnut with a chocolate pudding filling, topped with chocolate glaze, maldon salt, and Cocoa Krispies
- Sour cream doughnut with a grapefruit and campari glaze
- Like wine, the best pairing is the one that tastes good to you
- What tastes good to me is the Allagash Curieux with the chocolate yeast doughnut or the grapefruit glazed
- When pairing food and drink, “make sure the impact matches” (this is why we typically don’t drink a light white wine with a T-bone steak)
Aged to Delicious Bourbon and Cheese
Led by Tim Gaddis of Atlanta’s Star Provisions and Seth Thompson of The Bourbon Review magazine, this session was a boozy treat. At least it was after noon at this point. To be honest I think all cheeses go with bourbon… I was an easy sell.
- Blanton’s Single Barrel – amber color, lots of citrus on the nose, nice caramel and clove taste
- Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey – reddish gold color, more oak and leather in taste, some vanilla
- Woodford Reserve Double Oaked – dark copper color, tons of butterscotch up front, deepens to a warm and woody finish (easily my #1)
- Four Roses Small Batch – amber color, lighter with more caramel and fruit on the finish
There isn’t much in terms of education notes to share here – you really have to experiment at home!
The cheeses were all scrumptious - we sampled Sweet Grass Dairy’s Green Hill Cow’s Milk, Ossau Inaty Sheep’s Milk, Rogue Blue, and Gouda. I’d had all but one before (I love cheese, what can I say).
The one I hadn’t tried was actually my favorite! It was a Aged 5 Year Gouda. It wasn’t smoked – it was a deliciously sweet butterscotch/caramel flavor that sung when paired with the Woodford.
One other note: don’t be afraid to go to events by yourself! I went solo on Saturday and met two awesome friends who I hung out with into the evening.
Were any of the lessons/takeaways new or surprising to you?
What is the most valuable food or drink-related lesson you’ve learned?