The Wine Cellar at 610 Magnolia was the site for “Lite Bites & Bourbon”, Friday, February 24th. The event was a preview for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival . Hosted by Chef Edward Lee (610 Magnolia , Top Chef ), Matt Jamie (Bourbon Barrel Foods ) and Preston Van Winkle (Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery ), the local setting made for the perfect atmosphere to introduce local Louisvillian’s to a festival that focuses on the food and beverage traditions of the South.
Having never been to The Wine Cellar , I arrived early and was greeted by Jared, a hired mixologist whose most popular drink of the evening was a cocktail he named the “Hillbilly Sour” that was complimented with local brand, Four Roses Bourbon. Chef Edward Lee appeared in the tent now and then to tend to minor details and shake hands. Matt Jamie of Bourbon Barrel Foods, his lovely wife, the frontman of the band “Your News Vehicles ” Scott Mertz, and I enjoyed a conversation in the crisp spring air when Matt took it upon himself to shuck fresh oysters in the outdoor kitchen. Preston Van Winkle warmly held conversations with all in the tent near the bar, Chef Lee would stop by the kitchen to say hello then top a few oysters with a homemade whiskey bourbon sauce and serve them on a plank of cypress to whomever was hungry. I was not a bit surprised that the hosts not only worked the crowd, they seemed genuinely happy to be doing the actual work that made the evening a success.
Although everyone was dressed for high-society, there was Southern hospitality in the air; the co-founder of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival , Dominique Love greeted everyone with a smile, as the local hosts entertained using the tools that not only make them successful, but simply ‘likeable’. The theme of the evening was to provide a taste of what it means to be Southern because, after all, that’s what the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival  is all about.
We convened indoors to where Chef Edward sliced the best portions of an entire pig he had roasted. “She was a very nice pig, and is ‘almost’ happy she could join us here this evening,” the Chef joked. Also served was a blend of “Southern” food, including: edamame with boiled peanuts, “Father’s (fried pork) Cracklin’s” and of course, kim chi? These offerings were confusing until the hosts explained that the Festival was about ALL things Southern, globally, not just in America. This year, our hosts will be among some of the best the South has to offer including: celebrity/award winning chefs like John Besh and Edward Lee, sommeliers, and brand & beverage innovators the likes of Tabasco, Bourbon Barrel Foods, Rip Van Winkle Distillery and Brown-Forman.
AF&WF returns to Midtown Atlanta this May 10 –13, 2012. Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is the first culinary weekend in the U.S. to focus exclusively on showcasing the food and beverage traditions of the South. Guests will eat, drink and learn about the rich culinary scene from the region’s best talent. Early bird tickets, with the lowest pricing of the Festival season, are available now through March 31, 2012 at the official site of The Atlanta Food & Wine Festiva l.
Chef Lee’s portion of the event sold out quickly last year because, “My mom bought all the tickets,” he joked. This year his contribution is titled “Is Soul Food, Food?” If you can, we suggest you try and get there before his mom does.
(Photo by Kit Helton)