The time to Eat, Drink and Repeat has arrived…
In just a couple of hours, many will gather in the lobby of the Loews Atlanta to toast the official opening of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. Bringing together talent from across the Southeast to holistically tell the story of our region through food and beverage, tickets are still available to this can’t miss event of the year. But for those who already have tickets and are counting down the minutes until the tents open, our insider’s guide to navigating the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival will arm you with insider tips to make the most of your weekend in the city whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran, including several updates from last year’s edition.
1) First things first – Wear comfortable shoes. I can’t stress this enough. Festival classes and the Tasting Tents are all in walking distance from each other, and ladies, your sky-high heels impress no one I assure you… and you won’t be impressed either when they’re sinking into muddy grass or you’re hopping around on a twisted ankle. Top choices that work for both men & women include Birkenstocks, Toms, and Hunter Boots. I especially love the latest collaboration they’ve done with J. Crew. As an update from last year – I called it that Birkenstocks and Toms were the way to go, so hopefully you listened. Because this year, everyone has caught on and the price tag is steep on some key styles – especially for some incredibly rare ones like the black on black Birkenstock (which I happily own) and have now become: impossible to find.
2) Eat Breakfast. Seems counterintuitive, I know. You’re going to a food and wine festival after all. Well, the tasting tents don’t open until 3pm Friday and 2pm on Saturday, and classes that feature tastings offer different sized bites (i.e. from just one little oyster to a fried chicken picnic basket – it varies widely). Or if it’s a beverage class, for example, bourbon on an empty stomach at 9am won’t do you any favors later in the day under a hot sun. Be smart and grab some fresh and locally made Bamboo Cold Pressed Juices available at Saltwood Charcuterie & Bar in the lobby of the Loews Atlanta hotel. Try flavors like the Coffee Almond or Seasonal Greens, and remember to pack a Food Should Taste Good Macadamia Chai Bar, then thank me later.
3) There’s an App for that – Paper work is so 2014. This App has everything you need in one place. From the full festival schedule to creating your own custom version, the talent, maps, tickets and more – you’ll find everything you need to navigate your way through Midtown. When planning your schedule, note that some classes are repeated on multiple days, giving you the chance to keep your options open. And don’t forget to post your experience on social media throughout the weekend. Key festival handles to note include the official hashtag – #AFWF15, Twitter – @ATLFoodAndWine, and Instagram – atlfoodandwine.
4) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – Bring your favorite BPA bottle such as the Bobble which comes with a built-in filter to fill up at the Tasting Tents, and drink all the smartwater available during classes. Between the hot sun and copious amounts of craft cocktails, water should be the beverage you imbibe most throughout the weekend. Plus, it’s really good for your complexion… that’s a win-win. Had too much of a good thing? You need electrolytes. Add a Nuun tablet to your water first thing in the AM to rehydrate and refresh for the day.
Our friend Miles Macquarrie from Kimball House makes it hard to turn down a craft cocktail though…
5) Bring an umbrella or poncho – Just in case. It’s the summer and afternoon showers that appear out of nowhere are the norm, especially in the South. You’ll be the chicest person around when you don your poncho – or make a new friend and share your umbrella.
6) There’s more than meets the eye – Classes and the Tasting Tents aren’t the only things going on – from evening dinners to sponsored events around the city, explore all that’s happening in celebration of this year’s event. Some favorites include and Rathbun’s Watch List on Saturday at 7:30pm, where you can try delicious bites like the ones pictured below from last year’s event.
7) Totes – You’d be surprised how much swag you will collect over the weekend. From information cards and boxes of chocolate to samples and giveaways, it adds up. Bringing a tote, like this FEED bag (which also does a lot of good for others with each purchase), allows you to collect all your goodies while still keeping your hands free to carry your wine glass and try every sample in the tents. And while they’ve been working to perfect the wine glass carrier, it just never works out… I’ve spilled too much wine to know better. But I’m also a bit of a klutz, so take that into consideration too.
8) Leave the keys at home – As mentioned earlier, the main part of the festival is located in Midtown and both classes and the Tasting Tents are in walking distance. Why deal with parking when you can enjoy the comfort and convenience of an Uber? They have an app (of course) and store your credit card for easy payment, and they are always available. Plus, that way you can try all of the wines (shameless opportunity to promote one of our favorite memes/blogs).
9) Take a break – How convenient that Exhale Spa is just seven floors down from where festival classes are being held! Make some time to stop by whether for a massage, a steam or even a yoga class so you can recharge each day of the festival…
…or, be indulgent and take a cocktail break at the new Saltwood Charcuterie & Bar located in the lobby of the Loews Atlanta hotel. I’m obsessed with this one drink that includes Gin, St. Germaine and lavender… yes, please!
10) Go on an adventure – This is an incredible opportunity to have an entire region’s best talent all at your fingertips. Don’t shy away from the unfamiliar. Explore, imbibe, consume, laugh, savor… this is your chance to try something new and discover a whole new appreciation for the culinary arts. As our namesake implores – eat, drink and repeat!