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I was credentialed for the 2015 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for the first time ever! This was huge for me because I’d never even attended as a civilian, and now DineWithDani is part of the press to cover the event. My how things change!

Anyway, it was a very rainy day in midtown. After checking in at the Loew’s Hotel and walking the few blocks to the festival grounds, patrons were scuttled into nearby parking garage until the storm [sorta] passed. Those of us waiting in the covered garage were allowed first entry when we the gates finally reopened– after all we were the first there.

I’ll admit a little bit of unwarranted disappointment when I first entered. I saw an area of booths to my left in the mud (um, no) and then I saw a tent full of liquor and sweets. I couldn’t fathom people paying hundreds of dollars for this, but once i got thru the liquor tent, I found two others behind it with all the good stuff!

*sigh* ahhh. This was what the hype was all about. My first bite of real food was an oyster with pot-liquor shaved ice on top. What? Wait, you froze pot liquor and now you’re gonna shave it on top of an oyster? How did you know this is what my heart desired when I didn’t even know? It was everything!

After that I saw barbeque joint after barbeque joint, from one end of the tent to the other. Places from right here in Atlanta to South Carolina to Texas. It was amazing. And they were all decent too. The stand out for me was One Hot Mama from South Carolina. Yes, please! Next time I’m there– that’ll be a stop on the road.

There were chocolatiers, bakeries, new american cuisine, new southern cuisine, indian, italian, and more, serving combinations I couldn’t even imagine. I was blown away by One Flew South. I’d heard good things and they were happily confirmed with some type of fava bean, chicken cracklin-something that made me dance. I ate at that booth twice!

There were bourbon companies, tequilas, beers, vodkas, wines. And I. Was. Lit. About halfway through. If you’re not into the food, no worries, there is plenty of booze to keep you occupied. But then, why wouldn’t you be into the food? The tasting tents are the best part of the festival right? WRONG!

The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival offers VIP experiences like cooking demonstrations, dinners, book signings, parties, trainings, etc. I heard so many wonderful things about those that I can not wait to attend next year! Hopefully as credentialed media so I can actually interview the amazing chefs who come from all over the country. And maybe even as a presenter! I met a group of ladies, The Cocktail Bandits, who presented this year. I’m already in love with what they offer. So I now know that the standard is pretty high! Much like the ticket prices.

I won’t pretend that this festival is in everyone’s reach. A day pass is more than $100 for the tents alone. The VIP experiences come at a VIP premium. But if you want to make it happen, you won’t be disappointed. For some food festivals you have to pay to enter and then pay for tickets to get the food. At the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival all of the samples/small plates are included in your ticket price. No surprises, no tickets, no long lines to re-up when you run low on tickets. I actually think I prefer this model because I know what it will cost up front to have the full experience.

I’ve made a slideshow of photos provided to me because my camera got wet. Womp womp. But I posted a few iphone videos on the official Dine With Dani facebook page from the festival grounds. I got all made up that morning, but you’ll can see how frizzy my hair got in the rain, how runny my makeup was from the steam and how glossy my eyes were from all the bourbon.

Anyway, when you see tickets go on sale for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival– be sure to grab them. It’s totally worth it. Wear comfortable shoes, check the weather report before leaving the house and if you have a wine glass lanyard– bring it! Trust me, I’m an expert now!

AFWF 2015.

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