I broke my 2012 festival cherry at Bacon Fest a couple of weeks ago. However, my real barometer for festival season is the Inman Park Festival. This is my favorite festival of the year. It’s still “neighborhoody” and relatively small. But those days may be over.
This year’s footprint was the largest I’ve seen. And I overheard many people saying the same thing. The parade alone was an hour-long. I spent a lot of time dodging golf carts driven by police, festival staff, coordinators, and the like. We’ll see how it is next year. But that’s not why we’re here.
I want to alert of two notable discoveries in the food department.
Pacific Rim Noodle House
As much as I love festivals, I normally don’t get into the festival food. Corn dogs, funnel cakes, gyros, kettle korn, etc., has never really excited me. I find it easy to pass it all by. But every so often there is something new along the food midway that catches my eye. This time it was a soba noodle veggie bowl. Hmmm. I think I’ll try one.
It was the best eight bucks I’d spent in a long time. Cooked on the spot, the heaping paper bowl of noodles, broccoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms was deeply satisfying. Add a squirt of Sriracha and a dash or two of soy sauce and it turned into a meal in a cup… bowl… paper hat…whatever.
I will definitely look out for this booth at upcoming festivals, and I suggest you do the same. For you local folks, I’m not sure if it’s affiliated with Pacific Rim Bistro. I was too busy stuffing my face to ask.
Now for the BIG news (though I may be late with this)…
There is a King of Pops Truck! I had heard rumors and still couldn’t believe my eyes.
At the time I was talking to someone and almost missed it! There it was, plodding along in the parade in its yellow-orange glory. I almost wept, even though they weren’t throwing out free pops.
Those two discoveries made my tired feet, sunburned nose and lighter wallet a little easier to accept. It was a good day.
Notable t-shirt slogans of the day (editor’s notes in parentheses):
I Dumped Adele (should I say thank you?)
Staph (someone’s clever take on staff…yuck, yuck, yuck)
I got out of bed for this?
Relax, we’re smokin’ (I just like the attitude)
I like my bourbon… with a side of bacon (should’ve seen that one at Bacon Fest)
I Love Bacon (I wore this one and made many friends during the day)
First the pollen begins to fall. Then the temperatures start to regulate. The King of Pops dusts off the rainbow umbrella. All that means spring has arrived in Atlanta. And with spring come the festivals. What better way to open festival season than with BACON FEST!!!!!
You heard me correctly. Bacon Fest. Six hours of swine, beer and music. I missed it last year. But I went Whole Hog in 2012. Hey, it may be the last one, if the Mayans are proven correct.
At the core, it’s a fundraiser for Dad’s Garage Theater Company; a worthy cause. Crank up the fundraiser quotient with bacon and beer and you’ve got a real winner. Bacon Fest is more sideshow carnival than food festival. Yes, there is plenty bacon, but it’s not a pretentious place where celebrity chefs come to regale us with bacon foam mac ‘n cheese (though that sounds mighty tasty) and the like. This is a John and Jane Public, come as you are gathering. Still, if you have a hankering for bacon, this is the festival for you.
The first booth I encountered after getting wristbanded and ID’ed, was the D.B.A. BBQ gang serving BLTs. That’s how you start a bacon fest. And immediately next to it… a cup full of bacon. OK. I see where this is going. Bring it on!
Bacon, bacon, bacon…
P’cheen gets a special mention for bringing in a whole hog. Here piggy, piggy. Oink Alert! Be on the look out for Bone Lick BBQ, soon to open on the west side of town.
Fun ‘n Games
Put Bacon Fest on your list for next year. You’ll have fun. You’ll eat bacon. You’ll drink beer. You’ll visit the quirky carnival booths. You’ll have fun. But get your tickets early.
We’re coming up on the end of festival season in the ATL. As if you didn’t know, we have festivals out the wazzoo beginning in April. Of course, my favorites focus on food; film and music are close runners up.
There are good ones, bad ones and some that are so-so. I went to the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival last weekend and was a bit disappointed – to put it kindly. The organizers have a little work to do to live up to the name. But it has potential. Luckily I had my Morelli’s fix the day before.
I’m looking forward to Taste of Atlanta in October. It’ll probably be my last true food festival this year. But to carry me over I will dive into various “eat-ups” around the city. My first will be this week. A FoodSpotting eat-up at Steel. That’s right, we’re going out for sushi!
If you’re not familiar with FoodSpotting, it’s a food lovers app. Less narrative than Yelp and semi-immediate like Twitter. It’s a place to share where you get good food with like-minded foodies. You “spot” something yummy by snapping a photo and uploading it for all to see. It’s a great way to discover new dishes and new places to eat. I spot everywhere.
This eat-up idea is going to catch on like wildfire. I know of at least one local group of FoodSpotters, led by my foodie pal Emily (@poodle_power), that organizes smaller eat-ups. I’ll become a regular.
What place would you suggest for an eat-up? For now, I’ll plot how to cover every single booth and tasting table at Taste of Atlanta. I’m too greedy to get my doppelganger involved. Oh yeah, and sushi on Wednesday.
I’m going to let you in on a secret. Well, it’s not a big secret. Actually, a bunch of people know already, but it’s still only the “in” crowd and the “cool kids” who know. You know?
I’m reluctant to tell, but I must stay true to the mantra that sharing is caring. And I’m all about sharing my food experiences, as I hope you’ve realized by now.
They bill themselves as a “southern speakeasy” and that describes the experience perfectly. Each seating is for 10 people only. It’s invitation only. There is a fixed menu with beverage pairings.
It is everything I enjoy about dining – whether it be dining in, out, off a table, from a truck, etc. You get a food experience at a PushStart dinner.
You’re getting the inside scoop into the culinary world of an up and coming (but established) chef in the person of Zack Meloy. But letting you know also increases the number of people vying for one of the 10 coveted spots at his weekly dinner table. That’s the part I don’t like. I don’t want to fight for my seat with newbies searching for one of the best dinner parties in Atlanta. But I guess the competition makes the prize much more worth winning.
How it works:
Submit your email to be included on the invitation list. Wait with bated breath for the email to come out announcing the next date and menu. Hope that you RSVP in time to get a seat. These seats literally sell out in minutes. Prince, The Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, and The Police sell out events in minutes. Yeah, it’s that serious.
What to expect:
If you’re one of the lucky 10 (it took me three tries to win a seat), you’ll be treated to an intimate setting with nine others you likely won’t know. There is one community table and one menu with beverage pairings. What happens from there is based on the parties at the table. However, in general there’ll be great conversations about anything. At a minimum, there will be good food.
At my dinner, the menu and our host, of course, were the main topics. But conversation also ventured into travel and tourism (I now know about the best way to travel to Cuba, and a lot about Costa Rica), favorite dining spots, zombies, food trucks and picnicking in Atlanta in the middle of August (yeah, who does that?).
PushStart Kitchen really focuses on the entire experience. Food. Beverage. Company. Service. Atmosphere. It all matters. If there were a restaurant that put the package together as nicely as this team, I’d eat there weekly. But I wouldn’t tell you about it. I’d have to keep it my special secret… at least for a while.
1st Course: This won the evening for me. The flan was perfectly creamy. I could eat a pan of the olive bread, and asked that more samples be brought to the table. The combination of flavors allowed each item to sing in perfect harmony across my tastebuds. I only wished for a doggie bag.
2nd Course: I liked this idea but longed to replace the charred onion with garlic for the cous cous. But I’m a garlic nut. The pepper was oh, so sweet and yummy. What if we had whole peppers stuffed with cous cous? Oh my, what a dish!
Dessert: The caveat is that I’m not much of a dessert guy, but it’s blueberry season. You can’t deny the blueberry. That said, I had to try it. I needed all flavors in each bite for this to work for me. The candied lemon was phenomenal and is the key to bringing it all together.