Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
Last night, a group of food bloggers descended on four Midtown restaurants that will be dishing up samples at the 10th annual Taste of Atlanta, October 22nd and 23rd.
When I was contacted by event founder, Dale DeSena, I was excited, not only to be invited to participate, but also because my company, Cooper Global Transportation, was chosen to provide the luxurious chauffeured transportation to drive us eaters around town!
Our group of 25 bloggers, Brave PR staffers and Dale herself, started at JCT Kitchen, welcomed with a couple of signature cocktails that captured the essence of Autumn. The scarecrow was made with pumpkin ale, spiced rum, brown sugar chai and orange. Myself, and a few others, found it heavy on the cloves. But everyone seemed to enjoy their signature martini the JCTea, a mix of tea infused gin, Grand Marnier, lemon, Fee Brothers orange bitters.
Two big platters of delectable morsels were placed on the communal tables, photographed like starlets by the hungry (literally) blogger paparazzi, as Chef de Cuisine Brian Horn described the selections. Then we each grabbed a plate and a bite of each….the pork belly appetizer I was hoping to try and a taste of pasta from their entree selections. Crispy chunks of pork belly sat upon fried slices of banana and frissee, dressed with peanut sauce. Amazing! Even better was the sweet onion and fontina agnolotti, dressed with crumbles of Humboldt Fog and shitake mushrooms, wittily described as “expensive” on the menu. A great start to the TOA Tweet-Up!
On to our second restaurant, Ri Ra, an Irish pub in Midtown. The enormous space is striking, constructed with pub salvage from County Wicklow near Dublin, including ornate crystal chandeliers and intricate woodwork.
Our server took drink orders, so I tried a Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Platters of beer battered fish with two dipping sauces were placed on each table. After a few photos we were ready to dig in but the platters were inexplicably taken away to another table for serving. It was curious that they served us fish without the chips. One of the bloggers’ companions….not even a food writer, mind you….noted that there was no seasoning on the fish. Indeed, it was apparent in the first bite that salt was omitted. The sauces did little to perk up the flavor.
We boarded the Cooper minibus and made our way to Tuk Tuk Thai Loft, owned by Dee Dee Niyomkul, who’s family owns Nan Thai and Tamarind Seed. The space is gorgeous. Inspired by the street food her grandmother used to sell in Bangkok, Dee Dee recreates these dishes with great success. Our group was served lychee mojitos, which I skipped but heard was great.
Servers appeared with platters of tastes, many of them disappearing before we could get our cameras out. Chicken satay and Thai vegetable samosas to start, then a platter of miniature spinach leaf wraps filled with minced chicken, peanuts, onions, and ginger. My personal favorite was the Thai beef jerky with sticky rice and cilantro. Chef DeeDee came out to chat with us after we had sampled many delectable dishes, making for a memorable visit.
Everyone was feelin’ good, and having a great time getting to know each other! Our last stop was The Barrelhouse, a new gastropub on 5th street. Tennessee barn wood covered the walls, making for a warm and casual atmosphere. A cocktail called fruit cup was offered, made with vodka, simple syrup, cherries, pineapple, mint, and soda.
A tiny hot dog bun was delivered, filled with meltingly tender beef short ribs. It was a little dry, but the flavor was fantastic. I gave my little cup of banana pudding to a fellow blogger, anticipating a sweeter dessert as I texted LC, who was arriving from Texas via the Marta station nearby. Perfect timing!
Don’t miss this year’s Taste of Atlanta on the streets around Tech Square….with more than 80 restaurants participating you won’t leave hungry!