Sunday, September 13, 2009

Corks & Forks 2009 - Atlanta

Visiting Atlanta has a number of pluses, and a variety of festivals is one of them. This time it was the Summer Shade Festival in Grant Park. Inside the Summer Shade Festival was the Corks & Forks event, and while the Summer Shade was free, the Corks & Fork was not.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be all sunshine for the foodies. The bottom fell out right when Jennifer, Aaron and I were on the way to dim sum. Luckily, it had slowed to a drizzle by the time we made it to Grant Park.

As soon as we got to the park, we could tell the rain had put a damper on the Summer Shade Festival, but we preserved and kept walking to the Corks & Forks tents.

On the way, we found the Muir Glen tent with free sample of bruschetta. It wasn’t too bad for canned tomatoes.

Once we got to the Corks & Forks tents, we were each given a bag of poker chips.

The idea was to use one poker chip at each of the tables. However, no one seemed to pay that idea any mind.

Moving on, we had missed some of the more interesting demonstrations at the Viking table, so we kept walking to the first table, Legal Seafood.

Their sample dish was a small bowl of gazpacho

As much as I like the idea of gazpacho, I never really have enjoyed it. Even so, this was not a very good example of the dish. With only the tiniest frozen shrimp in the soup, you really got the idea that Legal Seafood phoned it in for this event.

After a few, quick steps to the right, we stopped at Woodfire Grill’s table.

I was disappointed to see that chef Kevin Gillespie wasn’t at the event, However, Woodfire Grill had stepped up with their sample dish.

It takes guts to serve a pork terrine at an outdoor event, but this was a tasty, well executed dish. I really do need to stop by the Woodfire Grill next time I’m in Atlanta, although I’m sure it will be swamped from Gillespie’s Top Chef success.

It wouldn’t be Corks & Forks without a few wine samples.

Here the Opici Import company has some of their products along with wines from the Wente Vineyard.

I tend to avoid wines that have “RELAX” on the label, it’s a little too Frankie Goes to Hollywood for me.

Holy Taco seemed to have made a genuine effort to impress the crowd at Corks & Forks.

They had a table of gazpacho that was much better than Legal Sea Food’s, marinated olives stuffed with either anchovies or sardines, I forgot ask, and dry chorizo that had been marinated in balsamic.

Holy Taco also had a fantastic flying pig on their table.

The Shed at Glenwood had an interesting take on watermelon and beets

I didn’t get a chance to try the beets, but the watermelon had been cut with a melon baller, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and topped with a little feta.

It’s not often that you see a combination like this, but it all works beautifully. The tart of the balsamic really balances well with the sweetness of the melon.

The guys at Six Feet Under had an interesting idea

I was immediately interested in the idea of hot crabcakes, so I was more than willing to wait.

Unfortunately this crab cake with micro green over a thin yogurt was a waste of crab meat. As soon as they put the hot crab cake on the cold soup it began to disintegrate. Even by itself the crab cake wasn’t very good, I had expected better from Six Feet Under.

Moving on, the next stop was the Melting Pot. There was no way for this to go wrong.

It’s a giant strawberry, a brownie, and short cake all doused in warm chocolate. Of course it was delicious, and they gave you a coupon for a free dessert, it was a win-win.

The last table in the first tent was for the metrotainment bakery

They didn’t beat around the bush with their offerings. They went straight for the heart with a raspberry chocolate cake and coconut crème cupcake.

I realize the raspberry chocolate cake almost looks soggy in that picture, but the cake was just that moist. It was decadent and frankly delicious.

Someone with a piping bag made quick work of the cupcakes, but the toasted coconut was a nice touch.

I thought it was a nice thought to have a UGA cake for the upcoming season. However, either a hungry kid or a mischievous Auburn/Georgia Tech fan marred the Georgia G. Jennifer’s friend Megan did not approve of me belittling the UGA G.

Now it was time to move to the second tent. With it came more wine and it’s wonderful companion cheese.

Cabot was there with a nice selection of cheese including a pepper jack and a “seriously” sharp cheddar.

Canoe had one of the most interesting tables at the whole event. When you walked up, you were given the choice of rosemary or chocolate ice cream and pistachio or chocolate covered rice krispy topping.

I went for the rosemary and pistachio and was immediately a fan. I was half expecting an overly woody taste from the rosemary but everything was in proportion and delicious.

Ever moving forward, we stopped at the table for Livingston Restaurant & Bar.

The guys at Livingston were more than eager to talk about their Asian style pork slider.

I was more than happy to try one. They really did an excellent job, as the pork had been perfectly braised and had just enough soy flavor.

They insisted that we try their tart, who were we to refuse? It may have been a little messy but Livingston had done a dynamite job for Corks & Forks.

I had a feeling that Two Urban Licks didn’t try their hardest for this event.

Sure there was a nice salad, but there was no one at the table.

After Two Urban Licks came TAP and their odd shrimp potato salad.

The shrimp was good, but I could definitely have done without the potato salad.

The next table forced Jerry Jeff Walker into my head.

Savida sangria has both a red and white sangria.

The red is a pretty good option

But the white is the best of the bunch. I was surprised to see there wasn’t any brandy in their ingredients list. How can you have Sangria without brandy?

I was hoping to finish my tour of the tables with a bang, and when I saw this sign.

I knew what I needed to try.

Made with red brick double chocolate porter, this is my first beer float.

The first taste was amazing and really did taste like a chocolate float. Aaron and I immediately began brainstorming ideas for beer and ice cream combinations.

As far as food oriented festivals go, I’ve been spoiled on years of Jazz & Quarter Fests in New Orleans. This isn’t to say that Corks & Forks was a waste of time, the four of us had a great time trying everything. However, I’m still disappointed in how some restaurants didn’t really try to impress the crowd. The idea behind this festival is to get people interested in coming to your restaurant, and for some, it will be a long time before I darken their door.

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