Eat It and Like It: Start planning now for food and wine fest


By Jesse Blanco

Is it too soon to talk about November? No, of course not. After all, this is the South, y’all.

Chances are a good number of you already know what your tailgate menu is going to be for the Georgia-Florida game on Nov. 1 (3:30 p.m. kickoff, by the way) so it’s not entirely unheard of ‘round these parts to start making plans for the fall. I most certainly am.

Labor Day night, I’ll be parked in front of my TV watching the University of Miami take on Louisville — it’s what we do as football fans, no? Of course it is.

Well, the foodies among us should seriously consider similar behavior. The second Savannah Food & Wine Festival is scheduled for mid-November.

Events and attendees are beginning to be rolled out and they will never be less expensive to attend than they are right now. If you have any intention of enjoying this year’s festivities, we should be prudent in our planning.

As a quick recap, last year’s festival was nothing short of spectacular for a first time out. There were specialty dinners all over town with tons of smiling faces and happy guests.

Overall, the food (and I tasted a lot of it) was spectacular and the venues were stunning.

To be fair, there were a few growing pains here and there, but nothing that wasn’t immediately addressed within 48 hours of wrapping up last year. This year will be bigger and this year will be better.

Of that I have no doubt.

Tickets are available now for Taste of Savannah, which last year was one of this city’s best culinary events.

If you were there that day, you remember the Chamber of Commerce weather, the packed house and the overall good time in Ellis Square.

This year, the plan is to expand “Taste” into Johnson Square, as well.

There is going to be more room to move around, more space to sample more foods and more space to taste more wines.

After one go-round, Taste of Savannah has officially made the transition from a wonderful themed evening for locals at the International Trade & Convention Center to a bona fide regional and perhaps national event.

More than 50 percent of the visitors last year attended from out of town. Don’t you think that number is going to increase?

Of course it is. Especially with the addition of higher-end restaurants like The Florence, 39 Rue de Jean and Pacci.

Foodies are going to start flocking to our fine city in larger numbers and they may just pick a week of foodie fun to do so.

You have the inside track; you are already here. And while I feel comfortable in saying there are still plenty of tickets available to Taste of Savannah right now, I also have no problem saying the day may come when every ticket is sold.

Still squeamish about the type of food they offer there? We need to move beyond that. Sure, there were some adventurous items to sample, but some of the most popular that day were crab cakes. Crab cakes and corn dogs.

Heck, even The Lady and Sons had a booth there and the fried chicken was being replenished 90 to nothing.

I know because I kept following behind the guy carrying it just to I could smell it.

Fewer calories that way.

The 2014 Savannah Food & Wine Festival is going to be another huge success and a shot in the arm for this city’s food scene and culture.

We won’t become Charleston in a year or two, but we are growing. Events like this will only accelerate that growth.

A list of restaurants hosting wine dinners will be rolled out sometime next month, but in the meantime, go to www.savannahfoodandwinefest.com for a list of what is on tap already.

There are plans for a number of new events, including a heritage hog roasting at The Westin (good old-fashioned barbecue) and another James Beard Foundation dinner at The Mansion on Forsyth Park. There will be something for everyone the week of Nov. 10-16. You’ll be able to enjoy a good bit of it, if you plan ahead.

Oh, and Florida will be better this year, but I still like Georgia by double digits.

See you on TV,  Jesse

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