Food and Wine festival '07 @ Disney's EPCOT, Orlando, FL
Please post rants, raves, and whatever else you feel like telling us Hounders about this event in it's 12th year.
Has anyone ever made it 'around the world' while drinking from each of the festival's offerings. I ate my way 'around the world' last year, but kept walking back to Sam Adam's for the 11th Anniversary lager. Soft opening on 9/27/07 shouldn't be crowded.
I just got back from Orlando and we went to Party for the Senses last night. In general, I felt that the food quality was excellent, and the experience was lovely. It was *definitely* worth the ticket price -- it is the travelling, staying and paying for getting into the park that make it a questionable investment. There were 21 savory dishes and I ate 20 of them. The other had run out temporarily and by the time it was back I was onto dessert and indifferent to savory. Although each night of it is different, I want to share my highlights/lowlights to give an idea of what's offered -- also, note that both higlights (4 of 7) and lowlights (3 of 5) from my list are from Disney chefs (11 of 21 offerings). Everything I didn't mention as bad was good to very good, to be fair to the ones not mentioned here. Also, the dessert per se made was ridiculously good... something with vanilla ice icream and chocolate hazelnut mousse and a cookie I think... the end of the night is a blur. Anyway, here are some of the things I experienced... I will be back next year for sure if I can get the time off again.
HIGHLIGHTS (In order, very best to least best):
Lasagnette with pesto and boster by Roberto Donna of Galileo Restaurant, Arlington VA
(for me, this was the single best by far... I am considering a trip to Arlington and definitely writing them a letter. Wow).
Duck Confit over crushed red yams and carrot oil, by Anthony Scott of Disney (Grand Floridian)
Chipotle Glazed Pork, mushroom and shallot ragout with vegetable cous couso by Andrew Aubin of Disney (Cinderella Castle, I think)
Pistachio crusted lamb with coconut boniato mash by Jeff Page of Disney (MGM)
Hawaiin Wahoo with okinawa purple sweet potato and big island salsa by Bill Brown of Disney (Epcot special events)
Seared Scallops over Buckwheat Noodles with honey-yuzu vinaigreete by Cat Cora (Scallop was AMAZING, noodles were less exciting. I took a picture with Cat Cora, which was more exciting than either).
Roasted Quail "Pops" with chipotle honey and rosemary crust by Kurt Fleischfresser of The Coach House in Nichols Hill, OK
LOWLIGHTS (all things I threw away after a taste, no particular order):
Prawn Saganaki with Ouzo by Angelo Kaltsounis of Ilios Noche in Charlotte, NC
Cucumber Tomato Cilantro shooter with felafel by Edwin Santos of Disney (Contemporary Resort)
Savory Meatloaf Danish with Carrot Jerky by Ron Asimos of Disney (MGM)
Seared Salmon with Yukon Gold and Sweet Plantain mash topped with mango salsa by Tony Benitez of Disney (Epcot. Notice that this is almost the same dish as the Wahoo, except that that one tasted great. Strange).
Circassian Chicken by the Ministry of Cuture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey. I'm sorry, Turkey.
I've been reading about the Festival for years and would love to go but that won't happen until I'm retired, LOL (long way still). I can never get away from work at that time year *sigh*
However, I do try the recipes and the Cha Sa Chicken I made for a BBQ last summer got raves. So far I haven't seen any of the recipes posted for 2007.
Would anybody have time to post the recipes you collected here - especially the new ones? The macadamia nut bar sounds heavenly!
OK, feeling a bit sheepish here, as this is the first time I've even heard about this event and I'll be down there next weekend on business. Glad I read this board, so thanks all!
I've never been to Orlando, but I have gone to Disneyland more times than I can remember. Does it REALLY cost $75 to get in now?! Whatever happened to E tickets? OK, dating myself here...
I found the program online (http://adisneyworld.disney.go.com/med... ) but I cannot see where you call to register for some of these events. It looks like some are included in admission, some are not, and some you have to pay an additional fee with your admission. Help! A bit confused. What am I missing? And can I buy these events online like I can the park tickets? It looks like I save a whole four dollars (whoooo!) if I buy online. No AAA discount Mickey? What gives?
BTW, any recommendations for next weekend's events?
Thanks for everyone's help in advance.
Here's a good site to get you started http://www.allearsnet.com/tp/ep/foodw...
They have the program on line and you can see what events are going on. Additionally, you can scroll down the list on their website and see what events you would like to attend that might cost an additional charge, and it provides the phone number to register for any of the events that need reservations. EPCOT does have free events (listed in the program) but you will have to get in line early.
You're not missing anything. Some of the events are an additional charge to the entrance charge. Some events are being held at some of the hotels at Disney and thus does not require you to pay the entrance charge, just the cost of that event.
No you can't buy the events online. Hope this helps a little....
I didn't really participate in the festival, although I was there while it was going on. It was just too hot on the day I was there. But I was amused on the bus in (we stayed at a hotel that offered a free shuttle to all the Disney parks) to hear the following exchange:
Bus driver: Epcot Center, anyone going to Epcot?
Man with toddler: No, we're going to Magic Kingdom. Right, kiddo? (looks adoringly at toddler, who wriggles excitedly)
Woman with toddler: Yes, we're going to Magic Kingdom! (pauses, looks anxiously at husband) Do we want to go to Epcot?
Man with toddler: (snorts) If you want to drink....booze!
Now, Magic Kingdom is the uber kid park and Epcot's the most adult-friendly park, so their park choice was perfect. It's just that the disapproving voice he used cracked me up.
I just went on Saturday and it is NOT WORTH THE MONEY!! We paid $75.00 each to get in and no they don't offer a Florida residents discount on one day tickets. Then you have to pay for each sample. The samples ranged from $4-10 each and for each country you pay for food and wine seperately so you spend about $15 at each stand and there are 35 stands. The only food i tried was the escargo from France and it was $4.50 and delicious. You got 3 pasteries with escargo in them and my last one wasn't cleaned properly and was filled with sand which is disgusting. The samples are not really enough to fill you up and the sample beer and wine were in about 8oz cups. I will never go again.
You can get a Florida resident discount if you purchase your tickets online at Disney's site. Also they have a will call option and the tickets are available the day of purchase at the ticket counter. Just got my tixs for Epcot, going Sunday. Can't wait to try all the yummy foods and imbibe in some libations! I always sample the foods that I can't find in my local restaurants or are simply ones I would never attempt to make myself.
Epcot Food & Wine
My apologies for the delay in posting this. It's been a challenging week at work and all this rain is making me lazy. Hopefully this will be in time for you weekend visitors.
Having spent nearly nine hours at Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival on the first Saturday (9/29/07) of the event, I'd like to share my notes and impressions with the board.
What we experienced, to make note, is only a small part of the total number of events and activities that take place over the six weeks of the festival.
Nearly all have a price attached to them and except for some of it that happens away from Epcot -- such as The Vertical Tastings and the Guest Chef Dinners – being in Epcot translates into a need for either an annual Disney theme park pass or multi-day tickets to enter. Otherwise it's a $75-plus pop each day you go.
Disney estimates 1 million people will participate in the event. Now I suspect they mean a smaller number of visitors will experience 1 million EF&S interactions, from buying a glass of wine to one of the full-blown events, but that's still a lot of people.
The point being a vast majority of those people's EF&S experience consists of buying some tapas-sized food plates and/or a glass of the wines, beer, coolers or other beverages offered at the 28 kiosk marketplaces spread around the 1-mile long World Showcase lagoon.
On the day of our visit, weather, walking and time was our enemies. Since my girlfriend and I (a woman who had never in her life visited a theme park and only did so at my behest) were also attending the Taste of the Senses event that (allegedly) began at 6:30, we did not want to overeat, so we were limited in how many plates, sips, etc. we could consume. This was complicated by the need to hydrate -- since the weather went from oven hot to chilly rain three times during the afternoon. We drank a lot of water.
Let me emphasize, I did not try every dish around the lagoon that I wanted. Some of my notes refer to eating the same dish last year, which could have changed this year and will be noted. Truthfully we didn't drink much wine. I had previously done a tasting of 12 of the wines being poured and I have those notes to fall back on.
The kiosk food tasting was done to accommodate my wine column, which won't publish until Oct. 25 and the food picks are designed to match the earlier tasted wine.
TIPS: Get a copy of the Festival Guide and open it to the two double-paged map in the center. Listed here is each menu item and beverage selection available. Determine your most favorite items and them plot a course -- starting at Mexico and moving clockwise or at Canada and moving counter clockwise. Keep in mind there are a few stands not next to a pavilion, such as the don't-miss Peru pavilion, but the map makes it easy.
My quick impression from walking through the Festival Center in FutureWorld is that it isn’t worth the trip. There are free classes running all day, with tastings, but the area primarily centralizes the stuff found elsewhere, unless you want a signed cookbook or something.
We started on the Mexico side.
The spicy beef empanada in the Argentina kiosk had a kick and was a really good pairing with one of the bigger reds --- I liked the Norton Reserve Malbec.
We tried both items at the Mexican kiosk; the chilaquies were one of my two favorite items. It’s a tortilla covered with shredded chicken and two kinds of cheese, deep-fried and the topped with an excellent salsa verde.
The chorizo taco, by contrast, was just sausage and tortilla. I almost think the prep person forgot some of the ingredients. It needed, at least, some cilantro or lime juice. Also small – and not a double tortilla as would be the normal presentation.
I had the boxty, an Irish pancake served with bacon and garlic butter, but the line was long and the portion appeared to be infinitesimal – bite sized – so we passed.
I thought the chicken sha cha, a dish served in the China pavilion restaurant normally at a slightly lower price, was quite good. Marinated dark meat with a peanut sauce – same deal with the pot stickers, except they scrimped on the ponzu sauce, Annoying that they couldn’t come up with something special – even the caramel and ginger ice cream is made locally by another company, marked up from the pavilion restaurant and sold.
By now it had rained and we were now wet and the steam from the rain made it unbearable. We passed on several items on my list because the 20-minute or so wait didn’t seem worth it. We walked some of the food off.
Interestingly the new(er) system of paying first and then handing the laminated card to the second station for service worked well in some places and not in others. And in at least 2 cases, I got double served because the cards stuck together. (I gave the extra food back).
Other kiosks not using that set up seemed to work about as well.
The Maine lobster roll (US pavilion) was adequate. At $6 it is the most expensive item and it is still a small portion.
The seared buffalo with scalloped wild onions at the Oklahoma kiosk looked like supermarket roast beef with sauce. Nicely cooked, and I thought the onion was better than the beef.
Passed on both the lamb slider (New Zealand) and the lamb chop (Australia) as I had them last year and the appeared to be identical. Trick with the slider is to ask for extra sauce; otherwise it can be quite dry.
My other standout dish was the cilantro duck (Arroz con Pato) in Peru. It’s shredded duck mean with a nice fresh cilantro flavor, mixed with peas and rice. Great street food!
For two of use we dropped a little over $50 without drinking much alcohol. Perhaps I have a larger appetitie, but the earlier post about spending $20 for two seems low, unless you just ate the cheapest stuff.
We ended up full and soaked with time to kill. Getting a pint at the UK pub was a challenge, finding a seat impossible. Don’t understand why, during the afternoon down time between lunch and dinner that they can’t open up at least the dining room for bar patrons. They turned away more business than they did in the time we waited.
Program states clearly that Taste of the Senses starts at 6:30. When we arrived the tent was nearly full and we spent the first 20 minutes finding a table, hitting the bathroom to regain a modicum of freshness, then worked the menu to select our choice bits of food and drink.
Overall, the takeaway impression for me this year was that the overall quality of food was the best in years. No peaks and valleys, with only one or two standouts and no clinkers. Fewer out of town chefs than ever and no name chefs at all.
I like that they give the creative Disney chefs stuck in obscure locations a chance to shine – but I came to eat food from restaurants I have heard of but never eaten in.
I had two standout dishes. One was a lovely crab cake and corn beignet from the Equinox restaurant in Washington. The freshly fried cake was paired with a schmear of crème fraiche that had a little bottarga (dried mullet roe) mixed with it. Great balance of flavors.
The other was a golden gazpacho garnished with a grilled shrimp from the Encore restaurant in Memphis.
My top wine was the Chimney Rock Elevage – their Bordeaux blend that was out of this world.
The cheese selection was pared back to six cheeses. The double cream French brie-style was the best. There was a Kerry Gold table that I didn’t bother with.
We had good service including a whole bottle of water when we asked for a glass.
The Cirque performance was, as always, quite good and didn’t seem as intrusive this year.
Also had my share of the Utopias, Boston Beer Co’s 50 proof cognac-style beer that they are selling at the marketplace for $190 a bottle as long as it lasts.
Overall a good experience. As said elsewhere at $135 – plus tax – comparable to any “Taste of” charity event with no annoying auction. At $200 plus, factoring in admission, I think I’d rather eat at Victoria and Albert’s.
re: Bob Mervine
re: Bob Mervine
I second Bob's assessment of the chilaquiles in Mexico - very good. I also really enjoyed the Manti (kind of a ravioli) with yogurt sauce from Turkey (a little off-putting in concept, but delicious) and both dishes from South Africa - spiced chicken skewers and Bobotie, kind of a lamb lasagna with mango chutney. I also agree that the Peru stand is not to be missed, and I also highly recommend both savory items from the Dominican Republic, although I'm not sure how best to describe them. Those things are all worth a return trip. The spicy calamari stew over saffron rice from Spain was very good. I also tasted the lamb sliders from New Zealand, the escargot and quiche from France, and the pistachio baklava from Turkey and found them worth both the wait and prices. I skipped and would have liked to try Chile's tomatican, the boxty from Ireland, both Indian dishes, and possibly Germany's. I also began my day by running the Race for the Taste 10K, and at the end was able to try the Beef Empanada from Argentina, which, honestly, is too heavy post-race, but the mango and strawberry fruit salad with cilantro from Chile was perfect, as was the kiwi and custard roll-up from New Zealand. The only sour notes for me were the kefta from Morocco which wasn't worth the extraordinarily long wait, and the pierogies from Poland which my 100% Polish boyfriend believes to be frozen Mrs. T's. On the other hand, I recommend the Polish beer Okocim for those who have never tried it. As an annual passholder, I don't have the exorbitant entrance fees complained about by others, and therefore I hope to return before the event ends. On the whole, I would highly recommend it, but probably only for those who either a) will be visiting the parks anyway, or b) have access to free, reduced, or annual admission, as the entrance fee seems to dampen people's reception of the food.
Was at EPCOT the past two days and tried many things as a result. I'm just going to list the things I had and a simple yes or no as to whether I would have it again. If anyone has a specific question I'll answer it.
-Papas con Chorizo:no
-Boxty Potato Pancake:no
-Chicken Sha Cha:no
-Sausage in Pretzel Roll: yes
-Cabbage Roll: yes
Hops and Barley
-Crab Cake: no
-Beef Roll: yes
-Lamb Chop: yes!
-Macadamia Nut Bar: YES!YES!YES!
-Cheese Soup: yes
-Maple Custard: yes
-Arroz con Pato: yes
Overall my two favorites were the Austrailan offerings. I'll be trying more as the month goes on. I also went to one of the culinary demonstrations yesterday and it was very nice. I'm planning on hitting several more of those before the event is over.
re: Bob Mervine
I must say that the small portion really was one of the main reasons I was disappointed. Other than that it just wasn't what I had expected. I didn't think it tasted much like a potato pancake. I'm so used to the type of ones you get at Jewish deli's that it wasn't the flavor I was looking for.
Went Saturday for select promenade tastings and Taste of the Senses.
Am working on a long post but won't get it done probably until Wednesday.
Two promenade favorites were the cilantro duck at Peru and the chiliquena (? spelling, notes at work), a fried chicken and cheese ball with salsa verde from Mexico.
Taste offered some of the overall best quality in recent years, but more limited selection and too many Disney chefs. Standouts were the crabcake beignet w/creme fraiche and dried roe and the golden gazpacho with grilled shrimp.
More to come.
re: Bob Mervine
As to the cost, it's a relative question. Without an annual pass or other way to gain free access, you have to tack anoother $75 or so onto the dinner cost of $135 plus tax.
That's the equivalent of a dinner at V&A and, in my mind, not a comparable value.
If we eliminate the entrance fee in the equation, then we are in the realm of a nice charity "Taste of"-type event, to which it compares quite favorably.
re: Bob Mervine
Thanks Bob. One of the problems I have with the Mouse is the hideous prices they charge just to drive into the parks. Entrance fees, parking fees, etc. tacked onto the cost of walking around noshing can make the Festival seem like an expensive deal.
When I'm in an environment such as that, I want to eat and feel satiated. I don't want to leave the park and get sucked into the first Burger King I see just because I'm still hungry. I want to eat dang it and I don't want to pay hundreds just because it's Disney.
Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but then you should probably attend a festival that isn't at Disney. There are lots of excellent events out there that don't have the hefty price of admission; many people attend the one at Epcot because it IS Disney and they feel it's worth it to pay for that environment. If you don't enjoy Disney in addition to the food, don't go.
I went last Thursday for the soft opening. Italy was the only one not open. If you've been in the past, the only difference is that they moved the kiosks around. They moved India to the other side by China. And instead of the Florida shrimp it's the Dominican Republic. I didn't drick this trip because I went alone, so I started in Mexico and worked my way around. Here is a quick view of what I ate and what I plan to go back and eat:
Chanpagne: Goin' back for the truffles
Chile: Shrimp con pebre Salsa
Argentina: Beef Empanda
Mexico: Conga Juice
Spain: Goin' back for the Spicy Calamari. Didn't have the serano ham
Ireland:Goin' back for the Boxty w/ bcon chips
China: Skipped it and don't plan to go back
India: Skipped it and don't plan to go back, last year's stuff was pretty tasteless
South Africa: The bobotie from last year is back with a mango chutney
Turkey:Goin' back for the Pistacio Baklava
Germany: Debriziner Sausage w/ Sauerkraut
Itlay: was closed
Poland: Cabbage Roll w/ spicey beef, Kielbasa w/ potatoe perogies
Hops & Barley: Goin' back for the Sam Adam's Boston Lager chicken drum
USA: Goin' back for the Lobster Roll, had teh BBQ Pork Rib w/ slaw
Japan: Skipped and don't plan to go back it's the same stuff that's always there festival or not.
Australia: Grilled Lamb chop, Goin' back for everything else
Moroco: Bastilla ( line was too long didn't even actually see the food)
Oklahoma 1: set up to look like a Route 66 diner, not sure why. Didn't look at the menu
Oklahoma 2: Seared Buffalo w/ scalloped wild onions
France: They didn't have the chocolate creme brulee so I'm boycotting them!!
Iced Tea fusion: it was off the beaten path so I skipped it.
Great Beers: no Stella this year, or at least I didn't see it.
New Zealand: Lamb Slider, Kiwi Custard Roll ( as good as the first time I had it)
Canada: Line was ridiculous!!! The Salmon was worth the wait. Waiting until it gets colder to have the cheddar soup Goin' back for the Custard w/ Almond Crumble.
Peru: Goin' back for everything they had
Dominican Republic: was too full and too tired.
Now I'm hungry again....
re: NY P8ntball
Oh my God!! We just got back from Orlando and you did a great job of putting down everything right here! I was impressed with the variety of things you could sample (some better than others) and the relatively small lines. We had arrived at the park early and had to get something in our bellies at lunch, so we actually sat down at the restaurant in France to eat - big mistake! Didn't realize all we were missing out on! My husband and I said we would leave the kid at home next year and see if we could eat and drink our way around next time (would be a HUGE feat to accomplish!!)
I wish I could go this year. I went two years ago while I was working at Epcot, and I liked going to the free cooking demos in the Odyssey. I got to try some good food at most of the demos. I also went to the free wine tastings. Interns don't make much, so I had to take advantage of any and all freebies!
As an old Epcot hand -- I worked for Disney when we opened the place -- I've done the around the world excercise more times than I should admit.
Have never tried it during Food & Wine however -- this year there are 35 kiosks. Don't think I am up to it.
One Indianapolis radio station used to bring down a plane load of listeners Each year they made up a t-shirt with a new logo for the World Showcase crawl -- with a big red international :"NO" symbol over the Morocco pavilion because they would not serve just a beer at the restaurant.
We went a few years ago. Only complaint is that there isn't an offering where you can pay a set price and then sample an array of food and you have to pay per item. We would've gladly paid $50 or so and then gotten to try a better array of things. Another thing was we wished there was a bigger representation of nations there. All in all, it is fun.
PollyannaFlwr wrote: "Only complaint is that there isn't an offering where you can pay a set price and then sample an array of food and you have to pay per item. We would've gladly paid $50 or so and then gotten to try a better array of things."
If I understand you, you mean you want an event to pay a single price and then sample unlimited items of food and wine ??
If so, Palate of the Senses each Saturday night is just that -- except I think the ticket is up to about $100 a person now.
Far and away the best deal of the festival,, unless you are a serious wine drinker who can grab one of the vetical tastings.
This year they have instituted something called the Andes Mountain Wine Bar, serving about 35 of the best wines from Argentina and Chile. I tasted a half dozen of them last week and they're are a couple of really awesome wines by the glass.
I'm also curious to see what hath Oklahoma wrought? The state is sponsoring an exhibit, spending major bucks. Remains to be seen what the wines are like, but the native American food is supposed to be spectacular.
Most of the food offerings run about $1.50 (New Zealand sliders) to $4.00 (Lobster roll). I'm not talking about the sit down dinners like the Party for the senses and the other reservation required ones. Those are special occasion type deals.
Soft opening is on the 27th of Sept.
I'd say it's cheaper to eat around the world than go to a restaurant. I think my mom and I shared 5-6 dishes for lunch last year and we were pretty stuffed. Not bad considering we probably didn't spend more than $20 between the two of us. If you have a bigger appetite you are probably not talking more than that for one person. With 25 countries that each have 3-4 dishes each, you'll have more than enough left to sample for dinner and a second day! All the food we had last year was very tasty.