This past weekend I experienced the culture of 70 countries all without leaving the US. How you ask? I attended the Atlanta International Night Market at Northlake Mall.
The unseasonably warm evening was filled with delights for all the senses. Food and drink were abundant in the Food Village, Food Truck Alley, the Beer Garden, and the Conscious Cocktail tent. Various arts and crafts were on display in the Artisan Village and vendors hawked their wares in the Retail Village. The young ones busied themselves in the Kids Village with rides and games while the sights and sounds of various performing groups brought the whole cultural immersion to life.
I arrived at the mall on the first night of the Market and found lots of available parking. The entrance area had plenty of staff, making the check-in and ticket purchasing process quick and painless. Walking through the gate, I immediately entered the Retail and Artisan Villages. I opted to come back to this area later and walked past all the tents to the Food Village. As I walked through smelling all the delectable goodies, I could hear music coming from further inside the Market. I followed my ears to the main stage where talented and beautiful young women from the Atlanta Korean Cultural Center were performing a graceful dance.
Once the dancers completed their set, I decided to check out the VIP area which was attached to the Sunshine Alchemy Conscious Cocktail tent. This area was covered and had tables and complimentary food and cocktails for those who chose to upgrade to this option. It was also a good spot to take in the entertainment.
Inside the VIP area was also the Sunshine Alchemy cocktail food truck where you could sample their two seasonal frozen cocktails, both made with Tito’s Handmade Vodka. I tried the first on the list, Wicked Pumpkin, made with Tito’s and pumpkin pie mix. Woohoo, was it strong! It was also quite tasty. It had just enough spice and sweet pumpkin flavor without being overbearing. Since I hadn’t eaten anything yet, I figured I would check out the snacks in the VIP tent. There wasn’t too much variety – that was to be found out in the Food Village – but I had a little snack to tide me over. There were crispy fried chicken wings, buffalo chicken, fried rice, firecracker shrimp, and what looked like a gumbo. I opted for the shrimp and the buffalo chicken. Yum!
The cocktail tent was hopping so I took a moment to take a selfie at the J.R. Revelry red carpet backdrop. At this point, I was ready to go check out what was available for food in the Food Village and the Food Truck Alley. There was a LOT… almost too much to choose. But this intrepid “stay-at-home traveler” sucked it up. Walking down the food truck choices I saw everything from Mexican to barbeque to street corn to Maine lobster. From there I moved to the food tents where I found Chinese, German, Korean, and Irish cuisines as well as tropical foods and vegetarian choices and so much more.
Time To Eat
I opted for dim sum at the Happy Valley tent. Because I wanted to try more than just two pieces of one item, the nice women allowed me to build my own plate. I had one each of fried shrimp, pork dumpling, chicken foot, pork bun, and red bean paste bun. The shrimp was served with a spicy sweet dipping sauce that was matched perfectly. The pork dumpling was steamed to perfection and all but melted in my mouth. The chicken foot was a delight with its own dipping sauce. It may have been a lot of work for a little bit, but it was worth it! The barbeque pork bun is one of my all-time favorite dim sum foods. This one was sweet and savory with a sticky sweet breading that left me wanting more. I finished with the red bean paste bun, an item I have always treated like dessert. This one was just what I was hoping it would be, with just the right amount of sweet paste encased in a sweet dough rolled in sesame seeds. Everything was absolutely wonderful. I could have happily eaten one of everything they had, and maybe two of some things, but I didn’t have nearly enough room to fit it all.
I sat at one of the tables that were set up between the tents in the Food Village. There was a small area in front of the tables where a group of musicians was performing. These talented young people played Asian music on marimbas accompanied by drums and electric guitar. The performers took turns dancing as well. The whole experience was beyond delightful.
When I was finished with my food, I walked through the tents looking for something to drink. I found my favorite, bubble tea, in a tent towards the front. Their choices ran from milk tea to juices with everything from the typical tapioca pearls this beverage is known for to fruity flavored jelly. I opted for a mango juice with lychee jelly. This was just right for finishing off my meal. The sweet cool juice and chewy jelly were refreshing and light, cooling me off as I walked through the rest of the market.
Take A Stroll
After my meal, I walked to the Beer Garden. Though I wasn’t interested in drinking any of the beers, I did want to see what was available. For those so inclined, there were beers from South America, Asia, Europe, North America, and the Tropics. While I was there, I didn’t see too many people taking advantage of this opportunity, but it was only the first night. As I left the beer garden I noticed a large dinosaur head out of the corner of my eye. The Kids Village! I walked over to see what was keeping the wee ones occupied. The dinosaur was a T-Rex slide which was accompanied by other rides and bounce houses and games. Everyone seemed to be having a ton of fun.
As my night was winding down, I decided to finish up by taking a stroll through the Artisan and Retail Villages. There was a balanced mix of mass-produced items like light up balls and wands for the kids and handmade goods like clothing and baskets. There were also artists with paintings, sculptures, and jewelry. There was even a tent where you could get a massage!
I had so much fun at this event. I will definitely be attending the next one. For more information and to learn about future events, visit the AINM website here.
Well, I got in for free, but I had to pay for my food and drink.