My first bite of the day was an Orange Dream Star from Sublime Doughnuts. I really liked the texture, and I appreciated the fact that it wasn't sweet enough to make one's teeth ache, but I'd probably choose a different flavor next time. The top tasted a bit like orange juice, and the vanilla filling was pleasantly light, but I don't think it quite achieved the Creamsicle effect to which they seemed to aspire.
Orange Dream Star Doughnut from Sublime Doughnuts
I never get to go to Bhojanic. :( Why must half of the best restaurants in Atlanta be out in Decatur? Anyway, I took the opportunity to snarf up one of their tasty samosas:
Vegetable Samosa with Mint from Bhojanic
These escargots from L'Thai were perhaps the biggest surprise of the day. I'd never had snails prepared this way, and it worked! The bright Asian flavor profile was a huge success with the soft, melt-in-your-mouth escargots tucked in a crunchy pastry shell. Outstanding.
Escargots from L'Thai
This extreme close-up might lead you to believe that this taco from Iberian Pig was of normal size. In fact, it was a 2.5 bite mini-taco, but those bites were fantastic. Perfectly tender, rich, smoky pork encased in a crisp shell ... sooo good. I couldn't share it with my spouse because of the cilantro, and I've really tried hard to feel bad about that. :)
Pork Cheek Taco from The Iberian Pig
If the taco above looks larger than life, this fried oyster Po-Boy from Serpas True Food is one of those deceptive "objects in mirror are closer than they appear" photographs. This was probably the largest "bite" I had all day, and it was a bit of a challenge to eat. Nevertheless, the oyster was perfectly tender, the Creole tartar sauce was pleasantly creamy, and the pickle was appropriately tangy. Quite harmonious. I've been meaning to get to Serpas for ages, but it's rather a hike from the north end of Atlanta.
Fried Oyster Po-Boy with Creole Tartar Sauce from Serpas True Food
Another place that's been on my list for ages is the Shed at Glenwood. They were one of several restaurants that was only participating in ToA on Saturday (staffing the restaurant was probably a factor), and I'm so glad I didn't miss them.The picture doesn't do it justice, but this was definitely the best bite of the day. If only I'd had a glass of Sauternes to accompany it. :)
Foie Gras Torchon with Pear Jam from the Shed at Glenwood
We'd saved our food tickets so we could finish with ice cream, so Morelli's booth was our last stop of the day. The Salted Caramel was good, but the Maple Bacon Brittle was a disappointment: it just tasted like maple ice cream. I found one tiny piece of brittle in the entire scoop, and when I say tiny, I literally mean about the size of a large pinhead. Maybe I was just unlucky, but it seemed kind of like false advertising.
Salted Caramel and Maple Bacon Brittle Ice Cream from Morelli's
I didn't get a photo, but I also tried Sweet Auburn Bread Company's famous Sweet Potato Cheesecake Fit for a President but I have to confess that it wasn't all that. It was good, but not great. I did like the fact that it wasn't very sweet, and that you could really taste the sweet potato.
My family has always teased me about my penchant for unusual drinks. "It's a Katharine drink," they'll say, wrinkling their noses dismissively. Well, CasCal was giving away free samples of their fermented soda at Taste of Atlanta, and I actually quite liked the Fresh Tropical flavor. Their representative liked my comment so much that she wrote it down, and had me repeat it slowly to make sure she got it right. (I said that I thought CasCal was a perfect complement to the upscale-but-fun food served an event like Taste of Atlanta.)
My favorite moment of the day occurred on our way to Morelli's. Kaleidoscope Bistro and Pub was serving fresh Pork Rinds accented with Togavashi, but they were in the same area of the festival as Serpas, Shed at Glenwood, and Sweet Auburn, so I was hesitant about spending more tickets before exploring the last street's worth of booths. They looked really awesome, though, and I was wavering about going back.
As luck would have it, two women walking ahead of me had a plate of said pork rinds, and I asked for their counsel to help me make my decision.
"Pardon me for interrupting," I said, "but I was thinking about going and getting a plate of those. Are they good?"
"Oh my God, yes," said one. "You have to try them."
Her friend chimed in, "They are in no way like the bagged kind."
"Here, why don't you take this one?"
"Oh, no!" I exclaimed, slightly embarrassed. I didn't mean to give the impression that I was trying to ninja their food! "I couldn't possibly -- that's so nice of you, truly, but I can go get my own," I continued, smiling apologetically.
"No, please do! We're 'bout to leave -- we're full!"
And these kind, generous ladies gave me their last pork rind.
And it was fantastic. And I am so going to Kaleidoscope now.
But really, the reason it's my favorite moment of the day is because, in the midst of all the discord that happens every day in America, where so often we focus on what divides us more than what unites us, food brings us together. Food is non-partisan: it has no political affiliation ... and I love that about it. I love the convivial spirit, the joy of sharing an experience at an event like this.
I'm looking forward to next year already.