Monday, May 23, 2011

Attending a Food Festival When You Have Dietary Restrictions

For the past couple weeks my life has been wrapped up in the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, working out sponsoring and exhibiting details for my company. Simultaneously, I was so excited; I couldn’t wait for the amazing dishes and drinks. But for some reason I never thought of my dietary restrictions. Walking into the festival Friday my heart sank a bit when I read the signs “Fried Chicken, Cheese, Low Country, Bourbon & Whiskey.” I had completely forgotten the South is big on flour and butter. Luckily though I learned southern hospitality is still just as big. After talking to a couple chefs I realized many were happy to make special bites for me.

At the opening party, High Road Craft Ice Cream & Sorbet served up a green tea sorbet with sugared blackberries dipped in bourbon, which they left out the bourbon for me (I don’t risk it with bourbon even if they says it’s from corn since so many of them are mixed blends).
Photo from the wonderful blog - Eat. Drink. Repeat.!

Hugh Acheson from Empire State South featured a Crisp Pork Belly with Corn Rice Grits and Peanut Slaw, omitting the grits since they had dairy in them, and a Boiled Peanut Hummus with Local Vegetables and Buttered Toast; omitting the toast – for obvious reasons.

The King of Pops also had a sweet treat that was perfect for the hot weather. They were handing out Raspberry Lime Patron pops – amazing!

So while you might not be able to eat everything at a food festival don’t be discouraged from going. Ask the chef if they can accommodate you (it’s easier if they’re building the dish components on site). Or if you would prefer to plan ahead – email the restaurants participating and ask what they plan to serve. Also try to go first thing or later in the day when there’s less of a crowd. Of course there’s always the wine to enjoy!