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All posts tagged wine

What We’re Crushing on Now – Atlanta Food & Wine Festival May 28-31

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

In its 5th year the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival will once again take midtown Atlanta by storm – in a good way – Thursday, May 28 – Sunday, May 31. Elizabeth Feichter and Dominique Love are the dynamic duo responsible for the growing success of this four-day, exquisite and delicious event. Chefs, sommeliers, and those, in the wine and food know, from all over the South will come together to present seminars, Champagne Brunch, exclusive dinners, and a collaborative experience of the Tasting Tent event. Here guests can sample and sip their way through the South while chatting it up with fellow foodies, wine and distillery peeps, and top-tier chefs.

SPIT: Eric Crane of Empire Distributors says he won’t stop till he’s a Master Sommelier POUR, SABER AND SWIRL: (clockwise from left) Five Atlantans dedicate their lives to becoming Master Sommeliers  There are 211 Master Sommeliers in the world. Eric Crane, Matt Bradford, Marie Ballard, Justin Amick, and Joon Lim are vying for spots on that exclusive list.

Eric Crane of Empire Distributors Photo courtesy of Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

VODA Magazine had a chance to catch up with Atlanta local, Eric Crane, advanced sommelier and Director of Training and Business Development for Empire Distributors. Crane will be presenting two seminars within the wine industry. He shares what he’s most excited about, how the festival has grown, and professional tips on how to make the most of your Atlanta Food & Wine Festival experience. Hint it involves always having a “party pal.”

In the Festival’s 5th year Crane enthusiastically says, “They’ve made it this far, there’s more synergy. It puts a nice spotlight on Atlanta and the Festival allows you to eat and drink your way through the South.” Another one of the Festival’s highlights are the Tasting Tents. Crane’s recommendation is the fried chicken section. He says, “There’s nothing better on the planet but that, usually.” He refers to festival Sunday as “Lazy, Southern Sunday.” “By that time everyone’s had too much fun during Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.” There’s a Champagne Brunch on Sunday that I’m personally looking forward to. For me bubbles are always welcomed. To get the most out of your festival experience, Crane advices to stay hydrated and pace yourself. Lastly he adds, “Always have a drinking partner, a party pal. There’s less errors.” Eric will be co-presenting on Friday, May 29 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM American Oak in All Its Glory seminar. Then on Saturday, May 30 from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM is the Acid is Your Friend seminar. For more information and for tickets visit, www.atlfoodandwinefestival.com

 

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A Trip to the Happiest and Coolest Seaside Town – Beaufort, NC

Beaufort, NC Waterfront

Beaufort, NC Waterfront

When a coastal town gets rated number one “Happiest Seaside Town in America” by Coastal Living Magazine and “America’s Coolest Small Town” by the readers of Budget Travel Magazine, you go. And when your friend calls you up to attend a wine and food festival in that same town, without hesitation, you go now! I quickly packed an overnight bag and headed east for approximately three and half hours to the Southern Outer Banks, also referred to as the Crystal Coast.

I arrived on a rainy Saturday afternoon, but it didn’t halt the charm of this coastal town. It sits on an inlet with oak tree-lined streets and quaint, yet stately homes with huge porches occupied by friends and families gathered for a weekend getaway. I was there for a total of 24 hours and while I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, a friend of mine described it to me as, “A college town for older, wealthy people.” Although, there is not a college there and the people aren’t retirement-age old, but more like baby boomers and their children – most of them counting Beaufort as a second home.

Aqua Restaurant Beaufort, NC

Aqua Restaurant Beaufort, NC

The waterfront boasts breathtaking views that go on for miles. Sailboats dot it like sprinkles on an ice cream cone. If you aren’t one of the lucky few to own a home there – or have friends that do – there are options for accommodations like endearing bed and breakfasts and an Inn along the waterfront, which is where I chose to stay, the Inlet Inn. My room was adequate for the short time I was there.

Best in Show Beaufort Food & Wine Festival

Best in Show Beaufort Wine & Food Festival

Once freshened up, I drove a short, two miles to the Boathouse where the festivities of the Beaufort Wine & Food Festival were taking place under a huge white tent. My dear friend, an advanced sommelier and director of training and development with Empire Distributors, pointed me in the right direction to start off with some bubbles and then over to his brands for a taste of some divine reds.  I was pleased to find a sparkling I had not had before the Etoile Brut from Domaine Chandon, yes please! It is toasty and delicious! The best in show went to a line in the Kendall-Jackson family not found in your typical grocery chains like other Kendall-Jackson wines. It was the 2012 Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County and one word can describe this beauty, quenchy! It was juicy, soft, and elegant.

Local Chocolates from Raleigh

As I perused the tasting tables for some bites, I spotted Cary’s own Le Farm Bakery and discovered the most delicious, artisan chocolates from Raleigh. The name is Escazu and I fell in love with the Single Origin Guapiles variety from Costa Rica. The Goat’s Milk Single Origin Carenero from Venezuela came in as a close second. The goat’s milk offered this subtle tang while lending a creamy mouth feel.

I asked the locals at the festival which dining spots are not to be missed and twice Aqua came up. I spotted their tasting table and while the samples were not gluten-free, they looked exquisite as did their menu. I loved what chef had printed on the top of the menu that was on display, “Dining out should be both memorable, but fun.” Chef Jayson Foster puts his twist on classics and knowing they source their wine from the region’s top distributors, I knew a visit here would not disappoint.

Caprese Salad with Microbasil at Aqua Restaurant Beaufort, NC

Caprese Salad with Microbasil at Aqua Restaurant Beaufort, NC

The gracious and lovely manager, Kim, welcomed me in with open arms even though I came at an hour when they were getting ready to close. I promised not to linger and ordered cold menu items to try to be respectful to the kitchen team. I decided on chef’s version of a caprese salad and the seared tuna. The caprese salad was modernized with bits of fresh cantaloupe and microbasil, instead of traditional basil leaves, and the flavor it lent danced on the tongue. Equally as delicious was the seared tuna to which chef added thinly sliced bits of green apple. I was in heaven. To add to this delight, and from the recommendation of the knowledgeable and friendly bartender, I paired these two courses with a cherry bomb in a glass, otherwise known as the 2012 Cherry Pie Stanley Ranch Pinot Noir from Ranch Carneros, Ca. At $25 a glass it was worth every exquisite sip.

Tuna with Granny Smith Apples at Aqua Restaurant Beaufort, NC

Tuna with Granny Smith Apples at Aqua Restaurant Beaufort, NC

My time in Beaufort, NC concluded with a rainy, yet enjoyable walk around the charming town and along the waterfront to take in the sea air and observe the locals and tourists out for a their Sunday morning exercise and pre-brunch gatherings. I can’t wait to get back to this cool Crystal Coast gem and get another dose of happiness.

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Feast and Fête – It’s Spring Gala Season

Photo Courtesy of High Museum WIne Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Gents, dust off your tuxes, and ladies, it’s time to get svelte to slip into those gala gowns – Spring time has arrived so let the soirées begin. High on our list (no pun intended) is the 23rd Annual High Museum Wine Auction “Uncork A Southern Tradition.” Wine Spectator magazine named this the fifth largest, charity wine auction in the US. Events start on Wednesday, March 25th and run through the weekend.

Photo Courtesy of High Museum WIne Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

We’re most exited about the Industry Tasting on Thursday, March 27th and the Vintners’ Reception and Live Auction on Saturday, March 28th. The Industry Tasting was ranked the most prestigious tasting in the Southeast. Here, we’ll meet guest vintners educating and introducing us to their choice selections. We’ll mingle with over 900 wine-trade attendees at this premiere tasting.

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

We’ve left our schedule open on Friday evening and may pass on the Friday Fête. This event is for the gourmand and party-goer. James Beard chefs will feature their succulent selections, guests can bid on silent auction items, and attendees will shake their groove thing to sounds of a live band. We may save ourselves for Saturday when the grand finale happens at the Vinters’ Reception and Live Auction. Top-notch chefs and winemakers will showcase their finest savories and sips and the highly-anticipated 23rd Annual High Museum Wine Auction will feature rare and fine wines, art, trips, and dining experiences. Uncork A Southern Tradition benefits the High Museum in Atlanta. Let the bidding begin!

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

Photo Courtesy of High Museum Wine Auction

For more information, please visit call Carole Ashworth at 404-733-4543 or carole.ashworth@woodruffcenter.org

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Where We’re Going Next – Seed Food & Wine Festival Oct 15-19

VODA Magazine SEED

When we caught wind of the first-ever healthy food and wine festival, our bags were packed before we could blink. Next week, in Miami (one of our favorite cities), the inaugural Seed Food & Wine Festival will take over the streets of midtown bringing health, food, fun, and wine. We knew it will be great when Whole Foods Market signed on as the presenting sponsor. Events start on Thursday, October 15th with a showing of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2, accompanied with healthy bites, juices, and craft beers. The film is followed by a VIP cocktail reception.  Read more…

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Engage All Senses with the Jordan Winery Tasting & Tour Experience

Photo credits Chris J Hamilton

Photo credits Chris J Hamilton

The moment you step foot onto the Jordan Winery property you know you are in for a truly unique and world-class experience. This is a winery experience that engages all five senses. Their mission – food, wine, and hospitality – says it all. As you approach the breathtaking grounds and chateau-style reception area you are welcomed inside and greeted by your host for the afternoon – ours was Sean Brosnihan, Guest Service Manager. Refreshing cucumber and lemon-infused water was offered and the location of the restroom was pointed out. Sounds simple, but it’s these small details are what five-star hospitality is all about and Jordan nails it.

Read more…

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We’ve Got Your Labor Day Plans Covered in Pinehurst – 25th Annual Pinehurst Food & Wine Festival

VODA Magazine 25th Annual Pinehurst Food & Wine Festival

Get to town (or if you’re a local, stay in town) this Labor Day holiday.  Moore County has some fabulous events going on the weekend of August 30 – September 2 that you won’t want to miss.  On actual Labor Day come on down for the Sandhills Cycling 24th Annual Tour de Moore Classic North Carolina Bike Ride benefitting Habitat for Humanity of the NC Sandhills. New to the ride this year – and note this is a ride open to all ages and athletic ability – is that they have partnered with Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative, for some fabulous food.  Even more good eating will be had with restaurant partner, Elliotts on Linden and live music by Tony Barnes.

For an equally wonderful time make your way to Pinehurst for the 25th Annual Food & Wine Festival.  Some big name chefs will be on hand and wonderful wineries to match.  This year’s Silver Anniversary theme is “A Passport To The World,” a weekend full of wine tastings, seminars and gourmet cuisine from across the globe. The world-class Resort, where the festivities are held, are offering overnight accommodations including tickets to the festival’s three-day events. Tickets are on sale now and you can learn about participating chefs, wineries, the weekend’s itinerary and more by clicking here.

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