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Local flavors make summer gatherings even more neighborly — it’s just so much more interesting to serve items made right here, in Atlanta! Festivals, farmers markets, and pop-up shops place the newest vendors right in view and we’re more than thrilled to sample their wares. I’ve been snacking around town quite a bit lately … all in the name of research, of course. Here are some standout recent discoveries:

Earth Biscuit Foods

These little vegan crackers use spelt grain as a base, making them easier to digest and packed with a bit more protein. The perfect size for dips and spreads, Earth Biscuits sell for $7.50 a bag in five distinctive flavors — Speltine, Multigrain, Black Pepper, Black & White Sesame, and Spent Grain with Rosemary. Purchase Earth Biscuit Foods at The Mercantile, The Little Organic Market, Preserving Place, Simply Fresh, Lucy’s Market, and at Peachtree Road Farmers Market

Earth Biscuit Crackers, delicious vegan snacks, $7.99. (Image: Preserving Place)

Earth Biscuit Crackers, delicious vegan snacks, in a variety of yummy flavors, $7.99. (Image: Preserving Place)

Jekyll Brewing

Recently, as I strolled Whole Foods’ aisles towards the end of a long day (my entire, restless brood trailing behind me), a girl with a tray asked me if I’d like to try a beer. I looked behind her searching for her wings and golden harp, but instead saw the display table for Jekyll Brewing  — a brand new brewery based in Alpharetta. I tried a sip and immediately put a 6-pack in the cart. With 5 blends currently bottled and more on the way, this fresh new contender has hit the local craft beer scene running. Brewery tours available.  www.jekyllbrewing.com.

This newcomer to the local craft brew scene has definitely hit the ground running!

This newcomer to the local craft brew scene has definitely hit the ground running!

Kula Project “Do Good” Blend

The work of the locally-started Kula Project brings Rwandan farmers the opportunity to create sustainable communities through fair-trade agriculture. The rich “Do Good” blend of coffee roasts beans from these successful farm, spreading hope with every warm sip. Available online ($15) at kulaproject. org or at Land Of A Thousand Hills Coffee in Roswell.

Rich Rwandan-grown, Do Good Blend coffee helps farmers create sustainable communities.

Rich Rwandan-grown, Do Good Blend coffee helps farmers create sustainable communities.

The mission of Kula Project Coffee

NaturAlmond

NaturAlmond takes nut butter to a whole new level, a level that even Oprah herself celebrates as one of her personal favorites. Using a family recipe passed down from grandparents, the founders of NaturAlmond create heavenly blends of completely natural almond butter — original recipe, salt-free, honey roasted, and maple caramel. Try these as dips, blended for dressings, topping fruit, mixed for icing desserts, in creative sauces, or just spread on a sandwich. Available at Kroger and Whole Foods.

Locally-made NaturAlmond nut butter has hit the big time, earning Oprah's coveted seal of approval and popping up on shelves at Whole Foods and Kroger.

Locally-made NaturAlmond nut butter has hit the big time, earning Oprah’s coveted seal of approval and popping up on shelves at Whole Foods and Kroger.

Pure Bliss Organics Granola

Handmade in small batches, Pure Bliss Organics granola can easily become an addictive snack, particularly the chocolate/peanut butter Naughty-but-Nice flavor. Whole grain, no trans fat, high fiber, vegan, all-natural … surely it’s okay to consume bags and bags, right? Sooo yummy mixed with yogurt for breakfast. Available at Whole Foods, Kroger, Nuts’NBerries, Parish Foods & Goods, Sevananda, and assorted farmers’ markets. www.pureblissorganics.com

Organic granola, handmade in small batches from Pure Bliss Organics, $6.50 (Image: Pure Bliss Organics)

Organic granola, handmade in small batches from Pure Bliss Organics, $6.50 (Image: Pure Bliss Organics)

AFWF TASTING TENTS

The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Tasting Tents offered up rows upon rows laden with every possible Southern delight— from beers and barbecue to coastal seafood and fried chicken, grilled meats to artisan cheeses, regional wineries to master distillers, home grown fruits and veggies to the sweetest of baked goods. Over the course of the three-day event, we attempted to sample a little bit from every booth and picked some local favorites that made a big impression: 

American Spirit Whiskey

Founders of American Spirit Whiskey distillery met while at UGA and eventually turned their mutual love of whiskey into a mission to create their own blend. The result is an amazingly smooth, un-aged, white whiskey equally as enjoyable on the rocks as it is in cocktails. I prefer the latter, happily sipping an ASW Wiregrass made with bitter lemon soda and Chick-Fil-A sweet tea … a beverage soon to be served on my front porch this summer. Available at a variety of liquor stores including Ansley Wine Merchants, H& F Bottle Shop, Southern Wine & Spirits, Green’s, and Reds Brookhaven. www.AmericanSpiritWhiskey.com

Amazingly smooth, un-aged American Spirit Whiskey blends the best of Southern traditions into one bottle.

Amazingly smooth, un-aged American Spirit Whiskey blends the best of Southern traditions into one bottle. (Image: American Spirit Whiskey)

Belles Organics Cocktails

These pre-mixed premium cocktails are completely organic and taste as fresh as fruit from a roadside farm stand. Started by a North Georgia couple who’d served these farm-fresh cocktails to guests for years, Belles Organics combines organics spirits and juices into playfully sassy packaging reminiscent of Gone With The Wind’s Belle Watling (bet she’d keep glasses full of these mixes). I tried the Georgia Belle, organic peaches and cream combined with organic vodka for a sweet lil’ ole ladylike cocktail … FiddleDeeDee! Available at a variety of liquor stores, including Hillside Liquor, Tuxedo Wine & Spirits, Sherlock’s, Toco Giant, and The Juice Box.

Organic cocktails with a hint of sass. (Image: Belles Organics)

Organic cocktails with a hint of sass. (Image: Belles Organics)

Frozen Pints Craft Beer Ice Cream

Yes, beer ice cream, and it’s fantastic. How do you top the refreshment of ice cold beer on a hot summer day? By kicking it up notch and churning that cold brew into sweet ice cream. I tried both the light Honey IPA and the richer Brown Ale Chip with it’s malty base and chocolate chip lusciousness …  I need to try all seven flavors at some point. Available at Savi Provisions, Ale Yeah!, Hop City, and Whole Foods.

Forget the frosty mug, how about a Frozen Pint of craft beer ice cream?

Forget the frosty mug, how about a Frozen Pint of craft beer ice cream?

Kim’s Cheese Straws

A well-guarded cheese straw recipe can be as much of a treasure as heirloom silver and as Southern as growing tomatoes and serving sweet tea. Kim Marsh Kaiser from Statesboro brings some serious competition to the cheese straw game with her savory selections. Her “Hot Habanero Cheddar Cheese” flavor spikes just the right amount spice to tickle the tongue without burning your lips off! Can’t wait to get these piled on a hostess platter. Available online ($7.99) www.marshcabinbakery.com

Kim's Cheese Straws spice up Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Kim’s Cheese Straws spice up Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

Just the right amount of heat in Kim's Cheese Straws Hot Habanero Cheddar. ($7.99, www.marshcabinbakery.com)

Just the right amount of heat in Kim’s Cheese Straws Hot Habanero Cheddar. ($7.99, www.marshcabinbakery.com)

Preserving Place Onion Confit

Martha McMillan of Preserving Place joined the Festival this year, spreading local Georgia love on crackers piled high with sweet onion confit. Every time I passed that booth, I had to grab another one and I was not alone: she could barely keep her serving platters full! Oh the possibilities for serving this savory blend —from fruit and crackers, to sandwich spreads, as an accompaniment for summer grilling. Purchase a jar for $15 at Preserving Place on the Westside or from their online store. www.preservingplace.com

Spread on crackers  or serve with meat from the grill,there are endless possibilities for this savory creation. $15, Preserving Place.

Spread on crackers or served with meat from the grill, there are endless options for this savory creation. $15, Preserving Place.

Head on out to shop for these treats and fill your coolers and picnic baskets with the latest and greatest incredible edibles. And while you’re out there, let us know what else you find!

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