Southern Food Tour: 2/22/13

Date Night was out of town this past Friday so instead of our normal report we are sharing a special food event that we recently attended. The “Southern Food Tour” features some of our finest southern chefs cooking regional foods. Throw in beer from Monday Night Brewing, whiskey from American Spirits, a hot band, and 200 people and you have the makings for quite an evening.

We are at the Goat Farm Arts Center, an area that’s part artists’ colony part special events facility, and part armageddon.

They have only restored part of the Goat Farm.
They have only restored part of the Goat Farm.

They used to make cotton gins here in the 1800’s but tonight Ford Fry, Kevin Gillespie, E.J. Hodgkinson, Adam Evans and Suzanne Vizethann are making food, lots of food.

Let's party!  This part of the restoration is done.
Let’s party! This part of the restoration is done.

In a big open room there are food and beverage stations set up around the perimeter. The center features a breathtaking glass sculpture of flowers descending from the high ceiling.

It’s a cold night and the first station we come to is offering shots of American Spirits Rye and fried apple pies. Life is short, eat dessert first! The shot warms us and our first dessert takes the edge off our hunger.

Tonight we are with occasional culinary companions Claudia and Randy, who last joined this blog for the Bells of Christmas Beer dinner at Big Tex. We have never attended anything like this and we spend some time scoping out the situation. We realize that we are too late to score one of the (too few) tables for a home base. We see that as the room begins to fill up some of the food lines are getting pretty long so we just get in the closest line.

Next up, Chicken biscuit sliders from the Buttermilk Kitchen. The biscuit is light and fluffy and the chicken moist and tender. Moving one line to the right, we get a taste of pulled pork on a cornmeal pancake. Now that’s Southern food. Our biggest “problem” turns out to be juggling food and drink while standing. Between each line, or course, we retreat to the stage to set down our drinks so that we can free up our hands to eat.

As we wait on the longest line, we have some gumbo from The Optimist.

Chefs from The Optimist discuss the gumbo.
Chefs from The Optimist discuss the gumbo.

This is excellent, with lots of fresh crabmeat in the brown roux. Finally, we get to the head of the line and get a reward–pork loin, pork belly and pulled pork from a pig that has been roasting outside.

Pulled pork, pork belly and pork tenderloin.  The best dish of the night.
Pulled pork, pork belly and pork tenderloin. The best dish of the night.

This is the best dish of the night and is worth the wait in line.

All the food has been a hit, but there is one miss tonight. The tamales offered by the JCT Kitchen are way TOO HOT.

Hot tamales.  Way too hot!
Hot tamales. Way too hot!

They burn out our taste buds and have us racing to Monday Night Brewing (welcome to the neighborhood) for a refill.

The boys from Monday NIght serve them up.
The boys from Monday NIght serve them up.

And speaking of Monday Night, their Scotch Kilt and IPA offerings are wonderful pairings with tonight’s food. They just opened their brewery around the corner and you can be sure we will be there when the weather warms.

The soundtrack for the night is provided by Blair Crimmins and the Hookers, an Atlanta based band that’s a lot rag time and a little bit rock and roll.

Blair Crimmins and his hookers serve up the ragtime.
Blair Crimmins and his hookers serve up the ragtime.

They play 2 sets of fast paced music that is reminiscent of the 1920’s, when the goat farm was a sheet metal factory. Before the band starts, we get a cinema verite film on southern food. It’s not a movie I would have made, but it is entertaining.

We end the night with cocktails from American Spirit while listening to the band. A good reporter would have remembered what was in his cocktail, but he does remember that the cocktail with whiskey and hard cider was the best drink that he tasted.

We would only make two suggestions for improvement. First, they need more seating. We stood for over 3 hours and it’s hard to hold your plate and glass without a table. Second, we would have liked a menu so we could give proper credit to each chef. The next food tour event is on April 18. We can’t wait to see what they’re serving.

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