OK Foodies… It is with a great deal of excitement that I present the Cast Preview Review of the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!!! Now before I post all of these pictures, I want to let you know that there were five of us touring tonight and I did not eat all of these dishes myself, although I probably could have. I tried to skip my old favorites so that I could showcase some of the new dishes. I couldn’t help myself at the Greece Pavilion though. We did skip over Canada, which was oh so hard to do, and thank goodness Argentina had run out of empanadas by 7:30 p.m. or I might have popped.
We made it to Epcot around 5:30ish and boy was it hot! Here’s a pic of the decorations at the entrance to the park…
We grabbed a Cast Preview Guidemap and planned our attack! After making our way through Future World we decided to tour counter clockwise around World Showcase. The first booth we visited was Puerto Rico. Here are the two dishes we sampled….
Hubby was the test subject for the Ham Croquetas. These tiny appetizers are made from minced ham. They’re breaded and deep fried and served with a sauce made from Mayo, Ketchup, and Garlic. I have only ever had the sauce served with Tostones (twice fried mashed unripe plantains).
Hubby is a big fan of guava and had to try the Guava Cookie, which was not a traditional cookie, but a bar cookie. It was dusted with powdered sugar. I do not like the smell of guava so I did not try this dish. Hubby said that it was soft like a cake and was outstanding!
The next pit stop was Chile. My friends opted for the Corn and Cheese Arepa. It was basically a cornmeal pancake. The arepa itself was sweet with a kick! We could see some peppers in the cake, but it was balanced out with the sweetness of the corn and finished off with melted cheese. It was not too spicy though. If you are afraid of spicy dishes, don’t shy away from trying this one. The kick was very mild.
The husband settled on Rock Shrimp Ceviche, also in Chile, and after one bite handed it over to me. Heck Yeah!!! I thought this dish was phenomenal! I love rock shrimp any way I can get them. Classic ceviche is marinated in a citrus-based mixture and is bitter. The acids pickle or “cook” the raw shrimp without traditional heat. This dish was served cold and also contained tomato, cilantro, and onion. It was topped with, of all things, popped corn. If I had had more room I would have gone back for seconds later in the evening.
On to Greece… Spanakopita has become a staple at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. I told myself that I was only going to try new dishes for the Cast Preview…but I broke the rule here, and had Spanakopita (I wuv it!) My rationale?… I was also going to try a new Grecian Dish of course and I was killing two birds with one stone. The Spanakopita was delicious as usual…Popeye would be proud!
The new Grecian dish I sampled was the Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce. The seasoning on the chicken was perfect. It was served in a super soft pita and was topped with a generous helping of Tzatziki Sauce. For those who are unfamiliar with Tzatziki Sauce…it is a yogurt based sauce with cucumbers and dill. This dish was fantastic! Make sure you grab some napkins for this finger food…I managed to get sauce all over my hands.
After Greece, it took all of the restraint I had to stroll past Canada without grabbing a Cheddar Cheese Soup and Maple Glazed Salmon. But I did it. Ugh!
We were on a mission to make it to France for the Braised Short Ribs in Cabernet with Mashed Potatoes! This is my new favorite dish for the year! I will be going back to get this dish on my next visit for sure. I must say that I have not sampled anything from the France kiosk in several years. Our last venture there was the husband’s ‘go’ at Frog Leg Soup. (I’m sorry but frog legs must only be consumed by Parisians and Rednecks.) But back to the Short Rib dish. Oh so yummy. The meat was extremely tender and was topped with a mound of mashed potatoes and a Cabernet reduction. I don’t drink wine…but I love any dishes cooked in wine. We ended up with two servings of this dish before the night was through.
Our dear friends sampled the Chocolate Milk Creme Brulee. I did not try this dish so I can’t give a review. I did snap a photo though….
I was getting a tad bit thirsty and headed over to The Brewer’s Collection for a cold one. I am a sucker for a good beer and love the darker micro brews and reds. I decided on a Fire Rock Pale Ale by Kona Brewing Co. What a great choice! The beers will be available in 12 and 22 ounces, but for the soft opening you could only get a 12 oz cup. I had a long conversation with one of the cast members at the kiosk and asked why they had stopped offering the $3.50 6 ounce pour (this was an option at Festivals past). I loved the 6 ounce pour because it made it possible to sample several flavors without getting “knee-walkin’ commode-huggin” drunk before your circle around World Showcase was complete. I was told that the 6 ounce option would be available this year, but I did not see it as an option on the menu placards. You may have to just ask for it…
Our entire group was delighted that the Sukiyaki Beef Rolls had made it back to the Japan kiosk. This was a favorite dish! The year before last, the rolls were filled with cooked minced beef, wrapped in seaweed and rice, covered in sesame seeds and then seared on a hot grill. This year they were covered in minced scallions and served COLD!!! YUCK! Guess the “powers that be” decided it was too much trouble to get the grill out and opted to serve the dish cold. Don’t get me wrong…the dish still had good flavor, but it just seemed wrong! If you have not sampled the dish hot off the grill, then you will probably enjoy it. For “sushi”phobes…this dish is cooked! Go ahead and give it a try!!!
Our next visit was to Mr. Samuel Adams at the Hops and Barley kiosk. I had to go for the Sam Adams Black Lager. It was smooth and chocolatey. I almost forget to take a pic for you guys until I had half finished it. I guess the Fire Rock Pale Ale had started to creep up on me. Everyone had a sip. I was accompanied by wine drinkers who weren’t so fond of this beverage. My bestie’s hubs said it had a nasty aftertaste, or as the sommelier in him would say, it had a “lousy finish”. I had to respectfully disagree.
The husband was ready to try another dish…On to Germany and the Spaetzle Gratin with Ham and Cheese (aka fancy pants mac n cheese). Skip this dish! It was bland and the ham tasted like sausage. Definitely not like Mamma used to make!
Everyone was looking forward to our next dish…Seared Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato Puree and Mango BBQ Sauce from South Africa! And yes…it tastes as good as it sounds. The beef was tender and juicy. The BBQ Sauce was a perfect complement and the Sweet Potatoes had a hint of lemon, of all things, which actually worked well with the dish! Put this one on your list of things to try this year!
My cohorts washed their Beef Tenderloin down with a Chilled Mango Lassi from India, which they compared to a Mango Smoothie.
Another group member sampled the Rice and Lentil Crepe with Potato and Onion Filling which he said was not as good as some of the other dishes that were served at the India kiosk in the past. I overheard the chef at this booth tell another guest that the filling also consisted of eggplant.
We were all disappointed to see that the menu in Mexico differed from the menu that was officially released. Absent were the Chilaquiles (wa wa wa) and in it’s place were Corn Tortillas with Chipotle Chicken. However…as I reported in an earlier post, you can get Chilaquiles at the Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico Pavilion anytime now.
On a side note, we noticed that the free-standing menu boards were powered by solar panels afixed to the top. Way to “Go Green” Disney!!!
We’ve almost made it all the way around World Showcase Folks…but we can not end the evening without stopping at Argentina for the Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri and Boniato Puree. We were surprised to discover that the dish came with two skewers of meat. Although we took bets on how long that would last, and figure that the dish might be reduced to only one skewer later on, only time will tell. This dish was excellent as usual. We asked for extra Chimichurri, so your sample might not look exactly like the one pictured below.
I couldn’t end such a prefect evening without dessert! So it was back to Greece for a slice of Baklava. If you love honey and you love nuts you will love the Baklava. Get a slice! Sorry the pics not so good, but I was anxious to get it in my mouth!
This concludes my gastronomical adventure for the evening. I hope that you get the chance to make it to the 2009 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Bon Appetit!
Until Next Time,
P.S. We’re Celebrating Spring in the Fall with a look back at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival!