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Weekend Getaway Where to Go Next – Atlanta

The fifth annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival gave us reason to find our way back to this hot city often referred to as Austin’s sister city. I’d describe it as a grown-up version of Austin – the older sister who exudes confidence and grace while still retaining their fun-loving, playful side. In the all too short weekend visit we packed a lot into a city that has loads to offer and we share our must-dos with you below.

Photo credit Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Photo credit Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

Stay

Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta

What better way to check into a property on a Friday afternoon then to start off with happy hour … in the Spa! Monday through Friday this midtown Mecca offers spa happy hour complete with two 25 minute treatments of choice and a glass of sparkling wine or sparkling cider for the teetotalers. It’s just the right prescription for kickstarting the weekend in a stress-free and fun state. Rooms are casually comfortable with all the luxuries of home (or what one could wish for at home). Bathrooms are adorned with ample-sized vanities and marble bath and showers with brass features. Service is, as always, top notch! www.fourseasons.com/atlanta/

Ritz-Carlton Atlanta

Get a taste of the downtown flavor at this ornate jewel box of a property situated in the heart of the city on Peachtree Street. We loved the look of the terrace dining at the Atlanta Grill. Flawless check-in with a welcome glass of Prosecco sets the tone. Views from top-floor rooms are like none other – we overlooked the ferris wheel and felt like we were part of the city skyline. The complimentary hotel car gets you where you need to be in comfort and style. www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Atlanta/

Eat

Atlanta Grill at the Ritz-Carlton

This is the place to dine downtown. Pick a seat in the cozy, yet elegant dining room or choose a more casual perch on the terrace overlooking the city streets as you watch the action below. Chef Shaun Thomas under the direction of Executive Chef, Ramesh Kaduru, turned out bites so delectable we swooned even more over each course. Sommelier Brian White offers gracious hospitality as he guided us through the interesting wine list and offered his suggestions to complement the courses perfectly. We sipped a French rosé from Provence paired with Chef’s rabbit terrine and were delighted with the Vacqueras Blanc, Chateau de Montmirail, Rhone Valley white wine we enjoyed with grilled octopus. Brian steered us in the right direction with a Russian River Valley pinot noir that enhanced the “Fish n Grits” style grouper.

Photo credit Katie Lesnick

Photo credit Katie Lesnick

For dessert, he shared with us a very special, and small production, Patron Anejo Tequila, one of his own personal bottles. It was the perfect ending to a perfect meal. www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Atlanta/Dining/AtlantaGrill/

Lure

Be sure to make reservations at cool and hip hotspot. I cozied up to the bar and ordered  a well-crafted margarita while waiting for a table. A well-rounded, seafood-centric menu tempted us to keep things simple as my dining companion and I shared several courses including Cobia Ceviche, Yellowfin Tuna Crudo, and Tuna Conserva salad. Service was friendly and efficient. Get there early if you wish to get a seat at the three-deep bar. www.lure-atlanta.com

The Café at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead

Be an uptown girl (or boy) for the evening at this upscale outpost for fine, yet comfortable dining. Enter through the lounge with live music wafting through the air as you find your seat in the main dining room. We couldn’t resist a sushi start as we eyed the sushi chef and fresh offerings passing through the lounge area on our way to the dining room. We started with the Ritz Roll – Spicy Tuna topped with Tuna and, of course, Caviar. Dinner was a rich Halibut paired with Lafite, Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux, France suggested by sommelier Linda Torres. My dining companions were content with a rich Bordeaux that complimented a classic burger and beet salad. www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Buckhead/Dining/TheCafe/

Play

Piedmont Park

It’s all about the balance. Situated in midtown, Piedmont Park sits on 189 acres and plays host to a variety of events and is the perfect backdrop for a stroll or jog. We laced up our running shoes and sweated out some of the previous night’s toxins. In addition to the walking and jogging paths, the park has picnic areas, tennis, playgrounds, and the Lake Clara Meer dock. Don’t miss this little slice of heaven on your visit to Atlanta. www.piedmontpark.org

Photo courtesy of High Museum of Art

Photo courtesy of High Museum of Art

High Museum of Art

Known as one of the leading museums in the Southeast, this stunner has more than 14,000 pieces of works in its collection. Not to be missed are the Gordon Parks photography exhibition, the Coca-Cola bottle exhibition, and the Los Trompos installation on the Piazza. www.high.org

Photo credit Andrew Thomas Lee

Photo credit Andrew Thomas Lee

Empire State South

Also in midtown is the a gem of an adult playground with indoor/outdoor areas. Inside candlelight tables set the mood for intimate dining with friends while the lively bar provides a perch for those looking for a more energetic vibe. The outdoor space is dressed with patio tables and chairs, adirondaks, and a bocce ball court runs straight through the middle of it all. Cocktail service is not provided outdoors – the only flaw at this dynamic dining and drinking spot. Drinks are prepared with care, the bites are to die for, and the wine list is well thought out. Add this to the list on your next visit to Atlanta! www.empirestatesouth.com

Photo credit Nicole Carbon

Photo credit Nicole Carbon

Intermezzo

Linger and lounge at Intermezzo – one of the best people watching spots in all of midtown. It sits on the corner of Peachtree Street. Pretend you’re in Paris as you find a seat on their outdoor terrace lined with marble-topped cafe tables adorned with a petite vase of flowers. We took refuge from the rain and sipped on a sparkling rosé cava, it is was divine. www.cafeintermezzo.com

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Photo credit Nicole Carbon

Photo credit Nicole Carbon

It’s not too early to start making your plans for next year’s festivities taking place June 2-5, 2016. In its fifth year, the festival stunned with world-renown chefs from the Southeast. We sipped and nibbled our way through the South. In addition to the tasting tents, don’t miss the seminars. These are led by top industry professionals in a fun, yet educational setting. We attended Eric Crane’s and Andrew McNamara’s “Acid is Your Friend” seminar and learned all about what “quenchy” wines are and why you should be drinking them now. Crane is an advanced sommelier and Director of Training and Business Development for Empire Distributors and McNamara is a Master Sommelier and Director of Fine Wine for Premier Beverage Company. We learned that, “alcohol is a social lubricant,” and high acid wines do not cause dry mouth often associated with high tannic wines. With high acid wines, “conversation flows,” so these are the perfect dinner party wines. Examples of high acid wines that we tasted included Veuve Cliquot Rosé, Pewsey Vale Riesling, and Luc Belaire Rosé. Yum and quenchy! There’s so much more to this dynamic city that we didn’t yet experience and are happy to have reason to go back for more! www.atlfoodandwinefestival.com

Nicole Carbon

Nicole Carbon

Nicole Carbon is the Editor-In-Chief of VODA Magazine. She is based in beautiful Sarasota, FL. For over a decade, she has been writing for both print and online media outlets about food, wine, travel, and other lifestyle-related finds. She received her Level 2 Award in Wines certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and writes a monthly wine column in the Venice Gondolier Sun. She contributes to Edible Sarasota, writes a health and wellness blog, and various feature articles and content for other media outlets. Previously, she wrote two magazine columns titled “A Girl Walks Into a Bar,” and “Inside the Kitchen.” Her work has appeared in the Austin American Statesman, Austin MD, Austin Monthly, Austin Woman, Austin Man, Citysearch Austin and Los Angeles, CultureMap.com, JetBlue’s blog, SRQ Magazine, and the list goes on. She has also made TV appearances on local NBC and Fox news affiliates as well as Cooking Channel’s Eat Street.

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