Foodies

How Middle Georgia celebrates Fall: Grilling, Tailgating, Festivals & Food trucks

GRILLING

The dog days of summer are behind, the kids are finally back in school, and it’s time to recharge, revamp, and get ready for fall. Yes, Labor Day has arrived. And with that, one final chance to fire up that grillor maybe you’ll just send your grill a text!

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) sponsor a yearly expo aimed at everyone from the professional home builder to the at-home grilling enthusiast. There they showcase the latest and greatest in grilling technology. This year they included a grill that links to your smart phone via Bluetooth and has voice command technology. That’s right, technology is not just coming to your wrist; it’s also coming to your grill.

The Smart Grill by Lynx sends you notifications, by voice command or via an app, letting you know when your food is done. You can customize your preferences, so no matter how you like your steak, rare, medium, or well-done the Smart Grill has you covered. According to their Website, “The Smart Grill learns your personal preference for doneness by using a copyrighted learning algorithm” It also includes a database of recipes, the ability to tightly control temperature with infrared burners, and the ability to easily add a smoker box. The price you ask? Well, this bad boy will set you back thousands of dollars.

Want a more cost effective way to add that smoky flavor to your favorite entrée? Opt for a Big Green Egg (BGE). A Georgia based company; Big Green Egg porcelain smokers are incredibly popular for good reasons. They don’t billow black smoke, heat in a flash with no lighter fluid, cook veggies, tofu and meats and can be used year round. The Egg can also smoke at a low temperature, so you can leave your meat for hours or even over-night, making it a multi-taskerer’s dream.

Katie Wurst, a Chef Instructor says she has even cooked peach cobbler and pizza in the Egg. When it comes to cooking with the BGE, she says “make sure you have enough charcoal in it, half way up the fire ring.” The best advice for budding grill chefs she says is, “to have a really good instant-read thermometer to temp your proteins.” Want to learn to grill from one of the best? Check out her Big Green Egg 101 grilling class July 27th at Robinson Home.

TAILIGATING

As the leaves change colors, and the temperature drops, football is first and foremost on the mind. Of course, you can’t talk about football without first talking about tailgating. Tailgating has become a sport in and of its self. Hours of planning the perfect spread, time set aside to practice nabbing the perfect spot, along with flawless execution of the perfect game plan are the necessary elements to the perfect tailgate party.

An avid Mercer Football Fan, George Harvey is known for his elaborate tailgate parties. In what can easily turn into a 14 hour day, George starts at 6 a.m. and doesn’t end until the game is over. “I love people, I like to have fun, I like to get out there and cook. What better way of having fun then eating.” Harvey also loves to share his food and subscribes to a more the merrier philosophy. He has shared his food with Fraternities, the ESPN3 cameraman, neighboring tailgaters, parking lot attendants, kids, as well as the opposing team. George said anyone is welcome, “We are all family and friends until game time”.

If you stop by George’s tent you are likely to find grilled meat, sides and home-made banana bread. He has even served deer sausage links with a maple glaze. His first tailgate he grilled 15 ribeye steaks, but says now he includes everything from chicken to baby-back ribs. You can’t miss him. He’s the one with the big Mercer flag and the customized Mercer corn-hole game. He might even be handing out plush footballs to the kids. However once the Bears start to play, the focus turns to footballGO BEARS!

One of the largest tents on campus is the Parrish Construction tent hosted by Charlie Griffis along with Leadership Macon. They have a 20x30 tent, and grill chicken, boudin sausage, hamburgers and hotdogs, feeding on average 75-80 people. The boudin sausage and marinated chicken from M&T meats in Hawkinsville are the crowd pleasers, but it’s the camaraderie and love of the game that keep Charlie returning year after year.

“I went to Auburn and had SEC football, and then went to Mercer for Graduate school. I was so excited when we got a football team. I want it to be as fun as any Auburn game, and we throw out the red carpet as much as we can.” Griffis sets up the tent the night before a home game. “I am excited we can do it and support Mercer now. It’s a great institution.”

FESTIVALS

Fall celebrations have “Fairly” good food, quite literally. Fans from throughout the State come to The Georgia National Fair for the rides, concerts, lights, and food. As soon as you walk through the fair gates, you’re hit with the smells of funnel cakes, cotton candy, and catfish. That’s rightcatfish! For the first time ever the Fair will be allowing a food truck serving catfish dinners to be part of their food service vendors. For 25 years, the fair has been offering the usual suspects such as candy apples, cotton candy, BBQ, pizza, taffy, corn dogs, and boiled peanuts. Some of the vendors are as much a staple as the rides. Cindy B. Bellew, Commercial Sales Associate at the Agricenter, spoke about the food vendors and their commitment to the Fair, “We currently have about five concessionaires that have been with us since day one. Two of the families, Taylor’s Doughboy Concessions and Famous Gabby’s are ones that are now being run by the children of the company’s original operators. This has been great to see the business handed down and work out so well with the new operators. ”

With over 36 food concessionaires and a total of 72 stands, the Fair offers fun treats for everyone, from the unusual, deep fried candy bars, to the tried and true, turkey legs, roasted corn, and funnel cakes.

Raise your mug to another festival sure to please this fallOctoberfest. With over 100 beers on tap, Macon Octoberfest is set for its third year. Last year close to 5,000 people sampled Georgia-made beers, and this year they are expecting over 7,500 beer lovers. Not sure which ones are your favorites? No problem, this year they are offering tasting packages. So, you can try all the beers you’d like, including the new Imperial Stouts. There will be plenty of food to fill your belly as well. Locally made bratwurst and sauerkraut will be available as well as Francar's Buffalo Wings and other Bavarian foods offered by Good-to-go catering.

The festival was started by Shannon and Lisa Harris, Alpine hiking specialists, who loved attending the local Bavarian festivals in Munich. Those German festivals highlight local eats and beer as well as promote the local community overall. They wanted to emulate a similar festival here in Macon.

Designed as a venue to help promote nonprofits and local breweries, Octoberfest gives to charities like All About Animals, the L.H. Harris Ecology Center, and the Alzheimer’s Association a platform to fundraise. This year All About Animals will again sponsor their wiener dog race and an all breed dog costume competition.

This Fall there are plenty of events to please the palate. The Taste of Home cooking school, America's #1 leading cooking school, is doing a live cooking show September 17th at the Macon Centreplex. Their culinary specialists bring energy, excitement and their love of cooking live to thousands of participants each year. In addition, the International Taste of Soul 2015, is bringing "Around the Rotunda in 80 Dishes" to the Tubman Theater on August 30th. There you can try foods from all over the world along with signature cocktails.

Middle Georgia is bursting with events this fall. Along with the ones mentioned above, there is the Ocmulgee Indian Festival, Cherry Blossom’s Tunes and Balloons, the second annual Zombie Run in Perry, and the Golden Day’s Festival at Macon’s Farmer’s Market. Not to mention all the other outdoor markets and concerts allowing you many opportunities to enjoy the cooler fall weather.

FOOD TRUCKS

You can’t speak of Fall Festival Food without paying homage to the Food Truck. For the second year in a row Cherry Blossom sponsored a Food Truck Frenzy at the Mulberry Streets Arts & Craft Festival. Based on its success, the food truck phenomena is here in Middle Georgia to stay.

Don's All-American Hotdawgs is a local truck based in Dublin. What started as a hotdog cart, lovingly called The Dog House, has now turned into a Food truck, however the owner Don Gay claims, “It’s more of a trailer than a truck.” Saturdays you can find him selling hotdogs in the Big Lots parking lot, and if he’s not there he’s across town at the Rite-Aid.

Gay was looking for something to fill his Saturdays and decided a hotdog cart would be a good hobby. It would allow him to spend time with his son and experiment perfecting the perfect chili dog, since as Don said “I never ate a chili dog from a burger joint I ever liked”. He makes his chili from scratch and says “People want to buy my chili by the buckets. I haven’t figured out how much I am supposed to charge for that.”

Don has been selling hotdogs for about 3 years, and offers slaw-dogs, cheese-dogs, and sausage-dogs along with all the fixings. Steamed buns make all the difference, according to Don. “You can have the best chili and the best dog, but it has to be cradled by a warm steamed bun, to be the best chili-dog.”

Kip Kirk, owner of Foodapalooza, always wanted a Food truck. About five years ago he finally shared his dream with his wife and they headed to the Food Truck Park in Atlanta. He had been in the restaurant business for 13 years, so he had the background, now he just needed the truck. They found an empty shell and drove it home where Kip customized it with a little advice from other ‘truckies’. His first event with his new baby was in the spring of 2013, a Racers Reunion in Byron.

Kip’s eclectic menu mirrors his years of experience in the restaurant industry and the food he had tasted while traveling. Take his fusion-Korean BBQ Taco for instance. It’s the cuisines of Korea and Mexico in one perfect bite! He also offers favorites like his BBQ bacon cheeseburger and a wicked pimento cheeseburger. And, hold the mayo, EVERYONE loves his cream cheese-based pimento cheese. A twist on a Canadian poutine, Kip’s hand-cut fries covered in brown gravy and shredded cheese are another fave. For dessert? Well, chocolate covered bacon of course!

The name Foodapalooza says it all. According to Kip, “When you get together with crowds and have a good time, it’s a palooza, and when you stick food together with palooza, you are definitely going to have a good time."

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