FOR MORE INFORMATION:http://killertomatofest.tumblr.com/
By Liz and John Attaway
How do all the good, classic horror novels start? It was a dark and stormy afternoon at an urban Georgia farm. The lights flickered and then faded leaving the goats bleating and stirring in their pens. Small red dots start to liter the horizon spilling over the distant hills as far as the eye can see. What the urban Georgia farm didn’t know was this was the end, the end of life as they knew it because the Killer Tomatoes were coming and they were hungry. Ok, so maybe killer tomatoes aren’t scary but they are mighty tasty and pair well with food and drinks more than you can ever imagine. That brings us to the Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival where everything and I mean everything is diced, chopped, pureed, relished, jammed, pickled or stuffed with tomatoes. Take into the account the eclectic site filled with goats, filing cabinets built into a wall, several large barn-like rooms with rustic and odd décor, the festival was primed for festival goers to explore and enjoy this unique festival.
Over its six years this was the festival’s first year at The Goat Farm Arts Center after outgrowing its home at JCT. Kitchen & Bar in years past. This year boasting 70 chefs and mixologists that made everything from bourbon and tomato concoctions for the attendees to shot, to tamales, to tacos, to desserts, to popsicles and so on and so forth, I could go on for hours. There were several special eats that I thoroughly enjoyed, while my favorite was Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails’ tomato tart with tomatoes from Milton’s Acre. This pizza-like tomato tart was topped with Green Zebra Tomato chow-chow with a little tomato crème fraiche to accent the sweet with the creamy. I went back for seconds because it was fresh, hot and just plain good. Another one of the tomato food invention was Miller Union’s gazpacho that mixed heirloom tomato watermelon and cucumber into a wonderful tasty, dish. Cool and tangy, sweet, the gazpacho was a delight in the heat of the summer day. Outside I found several wonderful tomato mixtures that are worth mentioning here. Farm Burger brought an heirloom tomato sloppy joe that was toped with pickled green tomato and fresh tomato relish. It was filling and good. Down the row was Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand where Delia Champion brought her chicken chorizo tacos stuffed into a corn shell and topped with roasted tomato salsa. Who doesn’t love tacos? So good! Finally, who can resist a fried green tomato slider from Bantam & Bitty & Chick-A-Biddy? It was freshly fried right in front of the attendees and they definitely win the award for longest line, but it was worth it. The people voted for their favorite tomato mixture was drum roll please; Gunshow’s cherry tomato fried pies with tomato ice cream. The judges gave top honors to Osteria Mattone + Table & Main’s tomato tartar with buttermilk caviar.
As far as the drinks, Wild Heaven knocked it out of the park again with their Civilization Barley Wine that was smooth and flavorful filled with cranberries and cherries. It was quick to go! They also brought the Blackbird that they added a little bit of tomato and chardonnay to, which was good but we much preferred the Civilization. There many other liquor cocktails on hand that included gin with shrimp garnish, moonshine and Georgia peaches, bourbon with sherry and tomato, vodka mixed with pepper, hers and peaches to name a few. They were all interesting in their own right but my favorite was Paper Plane’s Red Dawn: bourbon, lime heirloom tomato and topped with sherry. This is the first time I’ve had tomato in a drink and not spit it out as I’m not a huge fan of anything like bloody marys or drinks of the like. The people gave the best tasting small plate to Miller Union’s The Night Shade Lightning that included moonshine and peaches. The judges decided on JCT Kitchen + The Optimist’s All In One Basket that included vodka, tomatoes, peaches, peppers, herbs and citrus.
On top of the food and drink, the festival is all about helping out the local organic farmers through the nonprofit Georgia Organics and helping out “members of the Atlanta restaurant community facing unanticipated hardships” The Giving Kitchen. Two other things of note were the filing cabinet wall sculpture by David Baerwalde* that was a big point of discussion among attendees, as well as my run in with a celebrity. The filing cabinet wall was one of those things you probably won’t ever see again. It’s unique and filing cabinets really do work as planters! Not to mention that if you look through the drawers, you never know what you’re going to find. We found a drawer full of documents from what looked like a steel company or contractor that worked at the site from the mid-90’s back to the early 80s. We found hand written notes, customer files, and projects from moving walls to fixing flooring. Finally, that brings me to the highlight of my visit to The Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival: my selfie with Stephen Collins. I was walking in one of the rooms and saw a guy that looked familiar and I immediately knew it was him but I wanted to make sure. I’m sure my eyes bore into the back of his head because I had to stare. Finally, I figured I would ask if he was Stephen Collins and he said, “I am” and turned to face me. He was thin but the voice was unmistakable as I watched him for years on 7th Heaven and recently followed his journey on Revolution. He was nice enough to let me take a picture with him. Thanks, Stephen Collins, for making my day.
Overall, we had a blast trying new food, cocktails, and running into celebrities. Never mind the gloom, rain or humidity, that all paled in comparison to the eclectic charm and stellar eats of the festival. Now, I can truly say I’m tomatoed out.
*Check out David Baerwalde’s collection of art at http://dbaerwalde.wix.com/site