Sunday, August 09, 2009

On a Perfect Day: The Killer Tomato Festival

I'm filled to the gills.

Today in Atlanta, GA on the WestSide of town, I celebrated with a few hundred others at JCT Kitchen & Bar the Killer Tomato Festival benefiting Georgia Organics. The event fĂȘted local farmers and generated a lot of appreciation for their efforts growing the almighty tomato. Who could not rally around to support this mission?

"A member-supported non-profit organization working to integrate healthy, sustainable and locally grown food into the lives of all Georgians."

My 3-Line Summary

The weather: hot. The atmosphere: carnival. The mixologists: unbelievably inventive. The chefs: truly inspired. The music: The Spazmatics (from Austin!) with a remix featuring a Chewbacca mating call. In French: "Grosse ambience".

Heirloom Highlights

Everyone's booth clearly featured careful planning and incredible execution showcasing top notch creativity with their tomato. Some of my suprise favorites came from the mixologists. No one dissappointed. Holy cow I could have grazed the whole day there!

That said there were some booths that clearly stood out.

Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill and Top Chef Season 6 contestant blew it out of the water creatively with his 3 twists on gazpacho popiscles. I can see why Hardy will shed a tear and miss this place. The green tomato and melon foam top was the best of the 3. Can't wait to see these on TV someday.

If I had the ability to change outfits and disguises at whim, I would have done so to continually visit and drink from Cara Laudino & Miller Union's The Gold Digger. It was that good. Mixing layers of ginger, honey, and tomato heaven - with vodka. I felt compelled to revisit at least 3x times claiming that I had a case of short term memory - hardly.

My visit to Restaurant Eugene's table and Chef Linton Hopkins' Potted Tomato transported me, Hollywood style, to the main ingredient's provenance at the Love is Love Farm -
it was that fresh 3 different ways: in marmalade, as consomme, and pickled. Chef's smile seemed to say, thanks for flying, come again.

I was thrilled and surprised to be recognized by Lauren of Repast for my appearance on television the other day reviewing Top Flr. As a fan of Mr. Truex whose restaurant has been my birthday distination for the last 2 years (December), his entry did not disappoint: local heirlooms, tomato parfait, tomato sorbet and tarragon. Repast is the definition of what I mean when I talked about a restaurant being 'return worthy'. I also liked that Repast sourced its ingredients from the localvore program I belong to, Moore Farms & Friends.

Congratulations to Lara Creasy on defending the home court and winning the Cocktail Shakedown with her entry, Ginger was a Sweet Tomato. It was a great name and a great drink also featuring ginger. Specifically ginger-infused Square One Organic Vodka. Delicious.

From my viewpoint I wouldn't have changed a thing about the whole experience. Did I mention a great Austin band of Cedar Street fame, The Spazmatics played? It was great fun. Let's do it again next week shall we? Or let's pick another ingredient: Strawberry Fields Forever? Others? Comment below.


See more of the photos taken from the festival on my Flicker Photostream:

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