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Euphoria Greenville Food Festival 2014

Posted on 27 August 2014 by Administrator

Euphoria Food Wine and Music Festival is back for another year this fall. Taking place on September 18 -21, Euphoria Festival takes over  downtown Greenville with an obscene amount of food, frolicking and festivities. Greenville is a small city, with a huge foodie scene.

The Association of Food Bloggers attended last year but took  too many pictures to share in a single post, so we’ve compiled a video with the best shots:

If you are in the Southeastern US and can make it to Greenville, you owe it to your self to check out the festival. If you have 3 days and a fair amount of disposable income, the VIP pass is for you. With it you get:

  • Complimentary transportation to euphoria events upon request
  • VIP Party
  • Your choice of a VIP Experience (Eat, Sip or Listen)
  • Your choice of one Wine Seminar
  • Saturday night wine dinner
  • Your choice of Songwriter’s Recipe or Swine and Dine
  • Admission to the Sunday Supper

If the VIP pass is too pricey, or you simply want to pick and choose your event, you can buy tickets a la carte and put together your own package for the weekend. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on exploring the Falls Park and the Reedy River in the heart of downtown Greenville. Deal? It is quite spectacular. Here’s our top 5 list of Euphoria Food, Wine and Music experiences:

1.) Sunday Supper – it is a family style event in a beautiful setting and food is prepared by famous chefs.
2.) Wine dinners – I love these because a chef takes over a restaurant and prepares food to pair with wine over multiple courses. They added a food truck park last year which I attended but didn’t think it was all that great.
3.) Wine lecture – these take place Saturday afternoon. Wayne Belding, Master Sommelier is quite talented at sharing information in an approachable, non-snooty way.
4.) VIP after parties – Lat night Friday and Saturday nights. Lots of fun.
5. ) Jazz brunch – delectable options, bloody mary’s and music!

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Food Writers: How to Avoid Packing on the Pounds

Posted on 19 August 2014 by Administrator

There are few adults who don’t battle weight problems. As difficult as it is for everyday consumers tempted with all the overly processed and high fat foods in the grocery, it is exceptionally hard when your job / hobby requires eating food. I myself, fight a daily battle, trying to ward of calories. So, here are some tips that have helped me manage weight in the face of the tempting goodies at media dinners.

Making Dinner Your Biggest Meal
Of course, you would consume the most during dinner, the biggest, heartiest meal of the day, right? Wrong. At least some of the time. A media dinner is when many of us indulge. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat large portions when dining at home. Why not have a salad or forgo the carbs when dining at home. You would be surprised how just trying this trick just a couple days per week helps to avoid weight gain.

Eating 2 or More Meals Out per Day
Sure, sometimes with crazy schedules, we end up eating out for lunch and dinner. But unless you are ver disciplined (like you’ve got a calorie counter app on your phone) this is a good way to pack on pounds. Instead, why not pack a light lunch if you know you are going to a media dinner. Or if you have a lunch outing, make a green smoothie for dinner.

Watching TV
Here’s the scenario: you’ve just got home from a long day at work but, gasp!, you need to crank out a blog post for this week. It is tempting to turn on Netflix and munch on a box of crackers, etc while you get that blog post complete. But watch out. You may end up consuming more than you would expect. If you need a snack take out a portion and put it on a plate. Once it is done, then you are done until dinner.

“Family Style” Dining
One way to sabotage good eating habits is when food is served family style. Really pay attention to how much you put on your plate as it is easy to overindulge. Remember most restaurants want to feed you as much as possible, so go easy when you are serving yourself.

Overdoing it on the Alcohol
A glass of wine is one thing, a bottle is something else. At media dinners, the wine is often free flowing. Try to limit yourself to one or two glasses. Even if it is a wine dinner, you don’t HAVE to drink each glass in its entirety. Just have a couple sips. Besides adding on hundreds of calories to your meal, alcohol can make you eat more, especially more unhealthy items.

These are the best ways that I’ve found to discourage weight gain in the six years I have been blogging about food. And if you hate to waste food like I do, ask the restaurant to box it up. They don’t mind.

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Foodies On the Road

Posted on 10 August 2014 by Administrator

By Grant Goggans

Whenever you are traveling, it is easy to focus on the destination and overlook all the fun places that you might can stop between home and the object of your journey: the mountains, the beach, the big foodie
festival in the next city.  But if we’ve learned anything from our travels, it’s that some of the best eating can be found in the spaces between big cities.

The phrase to remember is “plan ahead.”  Remember in the days before
you blogged, when road trips meant you pulled over and got some interstate fast food as quickly as possible while roaring ever onward to your destination. There’s no need to do that anymore.

The first suggestion is to take a few minutes before you leave, looking over your route, and find a better place to stop than the same, over-familiar fast food that’s already available in your neighborhood. Use resources like Urbanspoon
or your fellow food bloggers to find places to eat ahead of time. Don’t think of cheap food as fuel; make your stop a destination. Certainly, you will add a few more minutes to your trip if you sit down and eat instead of using a drive-thru, so just leave a little early, and enjoy a meal at local barbecue joint or a meat and three, and enjoy some vegetables instead of a greasy bag of fries.

With that in mind, keep an eye out for local farms along your route.
Take a few minutes at either a large farm or a small roadside stand, and get a basket of strawberries or blackberries instead of bags of potato chips and candy
from a gas station. A note of caution, however: if your family is anything like mine, you might end up with a back seat full of unintentional jam, preserves, and jelly from some of these farms!

Another thing to remember: throughout our country, there are pockets where you
can find regional specialties that simply are not available anywhere else.  If you’re in Memphis, bound for Huntsville and a weekend at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, you’re probably going to use US-72 and pass right through the slugburger region of northeast Mississippi. You’re definitely going to want to stop at Borroum’s Drug Store or the White Trolley Cafe in Corinth and try one of these odd throwback sandwiches.  

How about a trip from Charlotte to Atlanta?  You can pull off in Greer SC for a plate of hash over rice at Mutt’s, and also stop in Commerce GA for a bowl of chicken mull at Banjo’s.  They’re each just a few minutes off the interstate and hardly a detour at all. You’ll get to experience a meal you can’t find at home, and you also get great new content for your blog.

Some of you may be wondering what in the world slugburgers, hash, and mull are. But I also bet that you’re opening Google in another tab to find out, because you love food.  Are you ready to get on the road and try them for yourself yet?

On a related note, wherever we go (and we travel a lot!), my family plans ahead for what we call “Baby Mercy Breaks.”  Whether it’s just ten minutes to get a few wiggles out or an hour or more of leg-stretching, knowing in advance where we can find a highway rest area, state park, or a children’s museum is incredibly helpful, and keeps everybody in the car sane and happy.  

Don’t just use them for quick restroom breaks; plan to stop and get some exercise for a few minutes!  This is a good policy whether you’re traveling with young’uns or not.  Even if you’re riding solo, a twenty-minute walk will keep you invigorated and awake and ready for the next leg of your journey. Just plan ahead and make the journey as important as the destination!

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Just a Byte Podcast – Interview with HMS Host Chef, Renate DeGeorge

Posted on 23 June 2014 by Administrator

Just a Byte Podcast

The Just a Byte Podcast features dining trends, social media, interviews and foodie news. In this interview, we’ll be talking to Renate DeGeorge of HMS Host. HMS Host helps to bring restaurants into airports all of the world. They help restaurants pair down their menu offerings and find items that will work in the smaller kitchens of airports.

Renate shares with us the process of selection of restaurants, how they decide which items to include in a menu, and even how they are able to source from local vendors at different airports around the globe. It is quite a fascinating process.

Podcast 3Thinking INside the Box with Culinary Director of HMS Host, Renate DeGeorge

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Sud de France Festival – New York City

Posted on 04 June 2014 by Administrator

poster-festival-sud-de-france_large_focus_eventsHave you heard of this incredible food and wine festival happening in NYC next week? Sud De France is an organization created by the region’s government in 2006. Its aim is to support and encourage international exchange with businesses in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, and to promote the region’s history, heritage, gastronomy and culture both at home and abroad.

Since not everyone can make it to this beautiful region of France, they are bringing it to you with the Sud De France Festival, beginning on June 9. For three weeks attendees can try mouth-watering versions of staples like cassoulet, bourride sétoise, cod brandade, and more, all paired with wines from the region.

For a complete list of events and participating stores as well as information on how to purchase tickets, please visit their website: suddefrancefestival.com

Camille Becerra, executive chef of Navy, the new restaurant and raw bar in SoHo. The menu at Navy showcases Becerra’s commitment to seasonal and local ingredients and her affection for approachable yet refined New American cuisine. Here is a recipe from Navy:

Fresh Anchovies with asparagus, fried egg & almonds
Serves 4

12 fresh anchovies
4 eggs
1 bunch asparagus
1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped coarsely
1 bunch scallion
1/4 cup fresh herbs like parsley, basil or chervil
Dressing
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup agave
Pinch salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Prepare your dressing. Slice scallions using the whites for the dressing and reserving the greensfor garnishing. Warm the vinegar and agave together in a pot, pour over the sliced scallion whites, cover. Once cooled whisk in olive oil, salt and pepper.

Clean anchovies, salt them and then dredge them in flour. Warm a pan with olive oil over medium heat. Cook the anchovies till a slight golden color forms. Clean out the pan and heat up over high heat. Add the asparagus into the dry and hot pan, season with salt and pepper, cook until asparagus begins to char slightly on all sides. Fry eggs according to preference. Arrange the asparagus on four individual plates, top with fried egg, the sardines and drizzle with dressing, top with almonds, sliced scallion greens and herbs.

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ambrose farms fined u-pick strawberriesTFvjeaNkZXy-PkDIdG0_kNtOOSXmrW7in1lpxv97HVsGt2qxBlGQCPQa3c9Y9pgA2sR1IYoaAvPIqY-KQo6Bb8farmer_fined_for_signageAmbrose Frams U-pick strawberries

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Farmers Fighting Absurd Bureaucracy

Posted on 28 May 2014 by Administrator

ambrose farms fined u-pick strawberries

Pete Ambrose of Ambrose Farms

File this under absurd bureaucracy: a Charleston area farmer placed signs around the city to spread the word about the availability of strawberries at this farm. Anyone can come pick them and then pay for their pickings. But the government wasted no time giving Mr. Ambrose a fine of $1092 for his seven signs, citing that the signs were a code violation and a nuisance.

It was especially upsetting to me since I was visiting the farm as the film crew was there (see story below) interviewing Mr. Ambrose shortly after the citation had been given. As I walked along the farm, seeing row after row of beautiful bright red strawberries waiting to be eaten, it infuriated me that things like these continue to happen all over our country.

WFXG FOX54 Augusta – Your News One Hour Earlier

Quote from Ambrose Farms Facebook Page:
“You can try to teach a child about food in a classroom or a grocery store, but it will never compare to the hands-on education a kid will get from standing in the middle of a field, pulling a ripe berry off of a living plant and tasting how sweet it is right out of the dirt.”

farmer fined for improper signage kids visiting farms

I got a chance to speak with Mr. Ambrose directly. He has a passion for having folks come out to his farm and really get a feel for what they do and see the fresh produce. It was especially fun to watch the young ones having a ball picking their own strawberries. Such a shame that the government (even in such small communities) has to ruin such a well-meaning effort.

TFvjeaNkZXy-PkDIdG0_kNtOOSXmrW7in1lpxv97HVs fresh strawberries csa

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The Guaranteed Blog Post: A Sticky Situation

Posted on 21 May 2014 by Administrator

I recently saw a dialogue that appeared on a Facebook Group page for an organized outing. The organization was approached by a restaurant to have its member bloggers sample food, with a guaranteed blog post on each blog after said free meal. What’s wrong with this picture? What if you don’t’ like the food? What do you then?

how to host food bloggers

image source: FoodNetwork.com

When some group members questioned the expectation, they were told they could shy away from a positive view in exchange for an informational post. That seems drab and a bit calculated (more mentions on blogs and social media are good for the restaurant).

I feel for the restaurants, I really do. One of the most missed experiences I have is the seasonal menu tastings that Seasons 52 used to do for bloggers. They hosted us + a guest in their private dining room and we were privy to a special screening with Master Sommelier George Miliotes to discuss the well thought out wine and cocktails paired with the multi-course meal we were about to sample. The service and food was impeccable (and each dish is under 475 calories I might add), yet most bloggers failed to ever write anything. Although Seasons 52 never admitted it, I can’t help but feel this is why they stopped doing these exceptional events for bloggers.

Here’s the restaurant / publicity company perspective:
You mean we just send one email out to a person who handles inviting all the other bloggers? And each and every blogger we invite will absolutely write a blog post? Yippee! This is win-win for us!

As a blogger, I only attend events I have the full intention of writing about. Did you read that word “intention”? While it is unfair to take a free meal at a restaurant knowing you will not write a word, it is also unfair to your readers to write something that isn’t your true sentiment. I also organize monthly blogger dinners and adhere to a “no pressure to post” motto. The restaurants trust that I’m inviting bloggers that I’ve personally vetted to be ethical and use their best judgement when it comes to reviewing.

To get another opinion, I contacted Dianne Jacob, author of Will Write For Food, speaker and educator on food writing and blogging. Here’s what she had to say:

AoFB:  What is your opinion on bloggers who attend a complimentary tasting or meal with the understanding that they must write a blog post about the meal?

DJ: I can see how the restaurant would want that, but I would not agree to attend with that stipulation.

AoFB:  What do you think of restaurants or PR companies that stipulate this as a requirement for hosting a blogger for a meal?

DJ: They are trying to do what they think is best. It’s up to bloggers to do what they think is best too. It’s their blog, and they should not feel obligated to write a post, especially a complimentary one, in exchange for a meal.

AoFB:  What effect does this requirement of a post per meal have on the food writing industry?

DJ: Bloggers have a reputation for being pushovers. It makes readers take their opinions with a grain of salt. Many are not confident about their skill level in evaluating dishes, so it is easier to write a positive piece about attending an event than to make critical decisions about the food and restaurant.

how to host a blogger dinner

One member of that group commented on the facebook conversation, saying that restaurants often expect a glowing blog post if they are hosting bloggers even the experience is less than satisfactory.  This brings up a good point. Restaurants sometimes view bloggers as low hanging fruit. Sorry, but it is true. They believe that since we are not paid journalists, then we should gladly write a positive review in exchange for a free meal. One publicist even went so far as to send a blogger friend of mine a nasty email stating “Why would you attend the dinner if you didn’t intend on writing a blog post?” when she chose not to write anything after a disappointing meal. Hey buddy, take a hint, we were being kind by NOT writing.

And restaurants, here’s why these are the bloggers you don’t want at your restaurants:
The blogosphere is vast and diverse. Not all bloggers are created equal. Sheer numbers of social media followers don’t tell the full story. The trustworthy bloggers have carefully nurtured a relationship with their readers and won’t take chances to screw that up. That means not taking a free meal with a promise of a shallow review. The ones that do write an honest review are the ones whose readers will take action and show up at your restaurant.

Of course a complimentary meal and a good review are not mutually exclusive for ethical bloggers. After all, how many bloggers can afford $100+ dinner 4-5 times per month? But that doesn’t mean you should gush on and on about the restaurant. If you like the food – super – share that with your readers. If you didn’t like it and don’t plan on writing you at least owe the restaurant or publicist that invited you an explanation of why.

There seems to be a tipping point right now in food blogging. Are food bloggers going to continue to stay relevant? How do we rise above the noise while growing and nuturing readers? While our association provides guidelines of ethics to follow, at some point, you, the blogger, have to take responsibility for your blog, brand and writing and decide what your personal ethics are.

 

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Atlanta Food and Wine Festival is May 29 – June 1

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Atlanta Food and Wine Festival is May 29 – June 1

Posted on 14 May 2014 by Administrator

atlanta food wine festival pig out

The Atlanta Food and Festival returns to Midtown Atlanta May 29th to June 1. More than simply a food festival with small tastes, the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival features instructional classes and even a food “lab” which focuses on niche techniques. What’s more, it focuses on the entire Southeast region, rather than just the city of Atlanta.

Richland Rum

Unlike many other food festivals, the Atlanta Food and Wine festival is designed to get the most bang for your buck. Classes start in the morning and are done by early afternoon, just in time for the tasting tents to open.

atlanta food and wine vendors atlanta food and wine vendors

What’s nice is because of the notably higher ticket prices to the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, the crowds are lower, which means no waiting in long lines for food. A misnomer may be the “wine” part of the festival as it is really more all-inclusive of booze in general. Not necessarily a bad thing as cocktails have become much more complex of late.

atlanta food wine festival booze atlatna food and wine food

Choose your price point and culinary adventure. Prices start at $100 for a day pass to the tasting tents alone. Your best bet is to get the $185 day pass to the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival which gives you access to not only the tasting tents, but three classes. If money is no object, go for the Connoisseur package which includes the 3 day pass, a private lounge, VIP classes and 3 off-site dinners / events. This package runs about $2,000.

Sample Classes:

  • Oysters and Beer
  • Frontiers of Frying
  • Butcher Renaissance

Here’s an overview of some the Atlanta Food and Wine classes I attended last year:

oyster class atlanta food and wine festival

Oysters and Beer – Quick facts:
Oysters taste different because of saltiness of water and nutrients
Oysters start out as male and become female.
Oyster farming is not a bad thing because no medications are used.

Chew oysters to get more flavor out of them.

Serve oysters with a citrus beer or shandy.

Butcher Renaissance

butcher class atlanta food and wine festival butcher class atlanta food and wine festival
Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, they brought in an entire animal to show us the different cuts of meat. Along with a lesson in butchering, we were educated on buying meat.

Tips from the Butcher:
Cook with pork lard not oil for great flavor.
Braised Pork Cheek is super cheap and makes a great appetizer and use in a salad.

 

Pros

  • Not overly crowded
  • No lines for food
  • Variety of classes

Cons

    • Pricey
    • Tasting tents were a far walk from the hotel
    • Parking was scarce

atlanta food and wine festival gus fried chicken atlanta food wine festival meat

When choosing which day to attend the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, pick this based on the classes you want to attend, as the food is largely the same day after day.There was an exceptional amount of chicken and barbecue, each with their own designated area (hey it’s the south). However,  the “catch all” or Main Tent was average. This had more of the spirits, sweets, appetizers, but was low on seafood.

Now in  it’s fourth year, the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival gets better each year. They get creative with the classes and offerings year after year. You can find out more information about the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival and buy tickets here.

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A Progressive Dinner at the Atlanta Airport

Posted on 06 May 2014 by Administrator

blogger dinner atlanta airport
The Association of Food Bloggers partnered with HMS Host for the first ever, progressive dinner at the Atlanta Airport. Just how does one plan a progressive dinner at an airport?  By going through lots of red tape. But it was so worth it, as we all had an incredible time dining airport style.

As you may be aware, if you’ve traveled through the Atlanta airport, it is huge! There are multiple concourses connected by trains and as if that wasn’t enough, they’ve just added a new international terminal. Our group of 10 met at the Atlanta Chophouse, an upscale pre-security restaurant. The two-story restaurant features dark woods and a casual, welcoming ambiance.

restaurants atlanta airport dining

A delicious sampling of Ahi Tuna and Buffalo Shrimp started the evening off. The Buffalo sauce was on point, an opinion supported by each blogger, including one of our members who hails from Buffalo. Not only were the appetizers tasty, but we found that the greens the accompanied the dishes were locally sourced, something HMS Host strives to do in each city’s airport they are in.

Before we got too comfortable we were whisked away to our second destination. But not before we made our way through security. At the risk of sounding incredibly snooty, it was pretty neat to have our own security escorts.

Besides working with existing restaurants to source from local vendors, HMS Host helps to bring local restaurants into the airport. That’s right – you can still eat like a local even if you never leave the airport. Case in point is Ecco restaurant, a favorite of Midtown Atlanta diners.

upscale dining atlanta airport upscale dining ecco atlanta airport
Ecco, a modern European / Mediterranean restaurant features cured meats and cheeses, pizzas, pastas and other European influenced dishes. Executive Chef of HMS Host, Renate DeGeorge, works with restaurants to help them pair down a regular menu to a manageable amount of airport offerings and pick dishes that will work best in smaller kitchens.

eat at atlanta airport restaurants atlanta airport

You wouldn’t guess this was airport dining at all with a selection of meats and cheeses, honeyed fried goat cheese and stuffed piquillo peppers (locally sourced from Brasstown Beef, of course).  Enjoy all of these foods while sipping on a well-crafted cocktail too. We sampled the Gigi Says, a vodka ginger cocktail.

atlanta airport international terminal dining
This being a progressive dinner, we headed out to our last stop – the food court, even taking a cocktail to go, which anyone can do, while in the dining area of the international terminal. This new area in the airport is much more upscale – even by food court standards than other terminals at the Atlanta airport.

What’s a visit to the city’s airport without a taste of the south? The Pecan (whether you pronounce it “pee-can” or “pe-caan”), is another local favorite in Atlanta. Staying true to their roots, diners can try a southern classic like Shrimp n Grits. Or embrace the new-ish Chicken and Waffles craze complete with options of honey mustard and sweet syrup to drizzle atop. Do save room for their namesake – Pecan Pie.

where to dine atlanta airport where to eat atlanta airport

While The Pecan provided us with dessert at the Atlanta airport progressive dinner, it wouldn’t truly be a complete visit without stopping by The Varsity, one of the longest running, most iconic restaurants in Atlanta. Make sure you get a paper hat and take a selfie before flying off to your next destination.

atlanta airport dining options

In the Atlanta airport, we’ve long suffered from a small selection of boring chain dining selections. Not only is it a welcome addition to have some of the local, beloved restaurants at our airport, but also knowing that they are supporting local vendors by sourcing from them.

Huge thanks to HMS Host for helping us make the first progressive dinner at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta a huge success!

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Just a Byte Podcasts

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Just a Byte Podcasts

Posted on 29 April 2014 by Administrator

Just a Byte Podcast

The Just a Byte Podcast features dining trends, social media, interviews and foodie news.

Podcast 16 Things Every Blog Should Have

Podcast 2Interview with Author, World Traveler and Blogger, Beth Robinette

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