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Southern Food & Spirits in Georgia

"As God is my witness, I'll never go hungry again." Scarlett O'Hara made that exclamation in the classic film "Gone With the Wind," set near Atlanta, but wherever you go in the Peach State, you'll find great traditional and modern takes on southern cuisine and spirits. Time your visit to one of the many food festivals or make a reservation at a great restaurant to enjoy sophisticated or down-home cooking

Classic Georgia Flavors
You'll find plenty of peaches in Georgia, along with peanuts—local son Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer before he was president. Popular dishes in Georgia include chicken and dumplings and shrimp and grits. Fried chicken, okra, black eyed peas, and collard greens are other traditional favorites. If you've never tried fried green tomatoes, make sure they're on your plate at least one meal during your visit.

Brunswick stew is a Georgia invention; be sure you have the Georgia style, with a tomato base. The original recipe uses meats like opossum, squirrel, or rabbit, but any Brunswick stew served now is more likely to use chicken. Georgia's coastal region pulls in great fresh seafood, and nearly all of Georgia's bodies of water have catfish. You'll find southern barbecue everywhere. Be sure to leave some room for pecan pie for dessert; Georgia's one of the country's top pecan producers. Or try cornbread cake, Georgia's sweet take on traditional cornbread.

Food Festivals in Georgia
If your visit to Georgia coincides with a food festival, take advantage of the great opportunity to try local food. In Atlanta, the annual Food & Wine Festival gives you the southern take on new food trends while the Taste of Atlanta showcases the city's great restaurants. Summer is the perfect season for the Watermelon Festival in Cordele in southern Georgia; there are lots of other seasonal food festivals throughout the state as well, like Peanut Proud Festival in Blakely, the Vidalia Onion Festival in Vidalia, the Peach Festival in Morven, and the Blueberry Festival in Alma.

Jekyll Island, one of the beautiful coastal sites in Georgia, has an annual three-day Shrimp and Grits Festival. Port Wentworth features an annual Oyster Roast, BBQ, & Music festival. Drink up at the Craft Beer Festival in Decatur. There's lots more to sip and savor at the Savannah Food & Wine Festival, with tastes of food, wine, and cocktails. And that's not even the entire food festival calendar!

Great Restaurants in Georgia
Great dining should be part of every vacation. When you're in Georgia, make a reservation at a top-notch restaurant like Paula Deen's Lady & Sons restaurant in Savannah, named International Meal of the Year by USA Today in 1999. The Varsity in downtown Atlanta is a great choice for casual dining, especially if you're headed to a Georgia Tech football game.

Not too far outside Atlanta, just 40 miles, is Georgia's largest winery, Chateau Elan, founded in 1982. Stop by for a tour and tasting of their burgundy and white wines. Tasting flights include seven or eight selected wines. There are also restaurants on site and you can even indulge in a cooking class.