Food & Drink

Food and Wine Weekend at Callaway Gardens runs Friday through Sunday

This weekend’s Food and Wine Weekend at Callaway Gardens will be executive chef Bill Justus’ first big event since being hired three months ago.

Justus, who came to Pine Mountain from Hershey, Pa., said his biggest challenge so far has been coping with the Southern summer.

Dealing with the heat has even influenced his meal planning. For this weekend’s event, he’s incorporating some light salads into the menu.

He’s also going to use local vegetables and herbs as much as possible.

Along with Justus’ food, Callaway Gardens has scheduled Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden’s expert, David Chambers, and Michael Venezia, corporate director of education for United Distributors. Chambers will offer tips on growing vegetables and Venezia will teach guests about wines, particularly the difference in the world’s varietals, including merlots, cabernets and sauvignons and zinfandels.

This weekend’s Food and Wine event will not be Justus’ last one, he said. “I’ll see how it goes, but I want to do different wine dinners and wine receptions during the year,” he said. It all begins Friday at 5-7 p.m. with a reception.

It’s a chocolate kind of night. Pastry Chef Alon Balshon of Alon’s Bakery and Market in Atlanta, will be the guest chocolate “guide.” He’ll show which wines will pair best with various chocolate desserts. Saturday at noon, Justus and Chambers will present the Harvest Workshop and cooking demonstrations in Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden. Chambers will talk about growing vegetables and Justus will cook them as part of a Southern-style barbecue.

Tasting stations will include rieslings, sauvignon blancs, chenin blancs and chardonnays. In addition to the traditional Southern barbecue options, Justus promises a cocoa-rubbed pork loin, something he learned from working at Hershey Lodge.

Saturday night, from 5-6:30 p.m., there will be a tasting of five wines. These will be the wines served with the five-course dinner starting at 8 p.m., where guests can discuss the wines with expert Michael Venezia. A Champagne brunch is slated for Sunday.

It’s a three-flight course brunch paired with Southern favorites and French Champagne. The Friday Chocolate-and-Wine Tasting is $40; Saturday lunch is $40; Saturday night wine tasting is $25; Saturday night wine tasting dinner is $60 and the Sunday Champagne brunch is $65. Weekend packages are also available, based on choice of lodging. Packages are $720.29-$1,186.45. Call 706-663-2281.