Autumn in Atlanta officially kicked off this past weekend with an amazing variety of events throughout the city. From the Fall Fest in Candler Park to the Mimosa Festival at Atlantic Station, residents definitely knew where to have fun.
For the Gnome Queen, I attended the 6th Annual Cheese Fest Atlanta over in the Historic Fourth Ward Park.
And let me tell you, it was fantastic.
Started in 2012 by Gourmet Foods International, this year’s event provided attendees with: 4 huge Tasting Tents, the Meltdown Competition featuring popular Atlanta chefs “grilling it out” for the coveted People’s and Judges’ Choice Awards, VIP Pairing Sessions, Live Entertainment, and a whole lot of cheese.
A special aspect of this year’s event also included a portion of all proceeds going to the local nonprofit: Giving Kitchen. Giving Kitchen’s mission is to provide emergency financial assistance to restaurant workers and their families while in need through the Giving Kitchen Crisis Grants.
The event kicked off around 5 P.M. with a light bit of rain; however that didn’t stop attendees from munching on over 100 different Vendor’s samples and goodies. While several of these Vendors were either local or from the States’, many also traveled from Europe and South America. With an assortment of cheeses, olives, charcuteries, crackers and more, the Cheese Fest Atlanta came prepared.
The Gnome Queen began her Cheese-Quest at the Tasting Tents which had an amazing variety of cheeses, ranging from Goat’s and Cow’s to Lactose-free options as well.
While I won’t play favorites on which types of cheeses I prefer (because all cheese is delicious), the Gnome Queen definitely enjoyed the variety of “sharp”, tangy, and pepper-based cheeses as well as many of the more goat and soft cheeses. Some of these came from: Vermont Creamery, Cypress Grove, Rio Briati, Parlano, Sartori, and a collection of vendors from Proudly Wisconsin Cheese.
I even got to try some of the Award-Winning Blackberry Farm’s goat cheeses which were without a doubt amazing.
Two notable pimento cheese-makers came locally from food service company: Suga’s and the restaurant: Home grown. Home grown provided their Award-Winning pimento cheeses which included original and jalapeno.
As someone who has an absolute love for mascarpone cheese, BelGioioso did not disappoint either.
I even went back for thirds.
For those who came specifically for the non-cheese items such as olives, crackers, sauces, and charcuterie, Cheese Fest Atlanta had you covered.
Local meat-boutique: Spotted Trotter had a mouth-watering variety of samples to choose from as well as a Pig and Pint Pairing later on.
Busseto, Principe “The Prosciutto Family” and Creminelli also had a succulent collection of meats and crackers to choose from.
Divina, Pickled Pink, and Delallo came ready with plates of olives, veggies, peppers and fruits.
While Rustic Bakery, Venus, Thinster’s, Cello, and ParmCrisps produced the crackers, cookies and breads.
From Chaza Bros. came some savory Hot Sauces;
Goodson with the Pecan Butter;
Pepper Lane provided the Spicy Jellies;
And Lazzaris brought the fig sauce. Lazzaris also supplied a boozy shot of Fourth Ward Distillery Vodka with juiced fig.
I may have taken two or three….
Savannah Bee Co. had a variety of honey and honeycomb samples to taste while Mike’s Hot Honey had an enticing spicy-sweet margarita shot.
By 7 P.M., patrons and even the Gnome Queen began to feel the oncoming food-coma. However, the journey continued to the one and only: Meltdown Competition.
From gourmet grilled cheeses topped with ice-cream to thick mac & cheese, the Gnome Queen made sure to try everything. (Twice.)
Later on that evening, the winners of the 2018 Meltdown Competition were announced: Little Alley Steak won 1st place for Judge’s Choice and High Road Craft Ice Cream own 1st in People’s Choice
Congrats to the winners, and to each participant who’s food absolutely held a special place in my cheese-induced coma.
So if you’re kicking yourself for not attending the wonderful 2018 Cheese Fest Atlanta, welp better buy tickets next year.