When traveling, the best experience you can have is making a real connection with the people who live there. A location’s culture is found in its food. When you share that food, you imbibe more than a meal… you become a part of that culture.
While the consciousness of travelers’ grows, their desire to experience local culture, especially through food, is becoming a major element of their travel plans. Culinary tours are becoming a more in-demand segment of both domestic and international travel in 2018. Local cuisine is the gateway to learning about other places and (literally) the flavor of the land.
By taking a cooking class or a walking tour of the culinary specialties of the regions you are visiting you can gain an even more intimate connection and forge a great memory of the locale.
Georgia (USA) is considered by many the culinary heart of the South, with lots of traditional and classic foods forming the backbone of Southern dining. Many regions of the state are renowned for their epicurean distinctiveness.
If you find yourself visiting the Peach State to take in the history and culture consider taking the opportunity to get on a tour that samples some of the best and most distinctive eateries of the area. Or take some of the many culinary classes offered that teach you to make your own first class dinner, and take home some inside know-how and skills.
I’m offering some suggestions about three famous regions of the state. Taking a culinary tour or cooking class of these distinctive travel spots can help you learn about the area, the food, and the people, and get you some great eats that will send you home whistling Dixie.
In this article I begin with the town I know the best:
As an international community, Atlanta is rich with the cuisine of many nations and cultures. In just a five mile drive, you can encounter dozens of regional foods, restaurants, markets, and cooking. You have to try the food while you are here, but selecting the recommended locations, friend’s tips, or famous icons can be hit-or-miss. A walking food tour lets you see some sights and sample select locations so you can have more choices. And taking a local cooking class will put you in touch with the people most knowledgeable about the local food scene.
- ATLANTA’S SOUTHERN FOOD TOUR: If you want to experience the delicious Southern cuisine of Atlanta, consider this guided, 3.5-hour, small-group food tour. Led by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable foodie guide, you can try as many as 15 food tastings at seven of the most popular restaurants in historic downtown Atlanta. Learn about Atlanta’s culture and history while you get to understand the city’s belly. On your tour you will visit some of Atlanta’s signature spots:
- Paschal’s: the unofficial headquarters of the Civil Rights Movement
- Smoke Ring: a contemporary barbecue spot (watch for my upcoming review of this restaurant – it’s a fabulous place for barbecue)
- Arden’s Garden: Atlanta’s oldest juicery
- Just Add Honey: a boutique tea company (I will be doing a video article of this unique and hip shop, coming soon)
- Panbury’s or Grindhouse Killer Burgers: offering amazing meat pies or burgers
- Metro Deli: Sweet Auburn’s classic soul food
- Miss D’s Pralines: a Creole-style candy shop (yep, I’ll be visiting Miss D soon as well, for a behind the scenes video article)
- THE COOKS WAREHOUSE: Not just a store for knives, pans, and other great kitchen gadgets, The Cook’s Warehouse has multiple locations around Atlanta. The Cook’s Warehouse Cooking School books as many as 150 classes per quarter taught by guest chefs in four kitchens. You can cook, eat, and shop for some of the great gear you just learned how to use. And with Sherlock Wine and Spirits Merchant paired in some of the locations, you won’t go thirsty afterwards, either.
- VINO VENUE/ATLANTA WINE SCHOOL: One of the most unique venues in Atlanta (or anywhere, in my opinion). This elegant yet comfortable Dunwoody landmark is a great place to sample different wines from their Enomantic Wine Dispensers, or take in a few bites from the bistro-inspired menu. Successfully stretching the gamut of what a facility can do, this one-of-a-kind location and brand is at once a:
- full-service restaurant
- an elegant wine bar
- a wine retail shop with a huge inventory and knowledgeable staff
- an event venue booking 250+ events a year, including corporate team building classes
- a WSET-certified wine education facility for both professional training and beginners looking to learn more about wine
- and, of course, its a great place to take a hands-on cooking class where you will create your own dinner under a chef’s supervision, a glass of wine never far from your hand! Dozens of classes give you the opportunity to learn not only about Southern cuisine but great, flavorful examples of other regions of the world that connect nicely with the variety of wines Vino Venue has available.
These places just scratch the surface of the culinary tourism Atlanta and the Metro Area have to offer. No matter what your tastes or level of skill/experience, there are chefs, foodies, and fellow travelers who are excited about experiencing the soul of a city or locale through the food the natives eat.
Check back for new posts where I offer suggestions for culinary tours and cooking classes in other favorite tourist destinations in Georgia: Savannah and the Blue Ridge Mountain area.