'08 EPCOT Food & Wine
We went over this last weekend. The weather was really hot & humid, which probably effected our reaction to the things we tried.
Santiago, Chile…Shrimp & Cilantro Salsa were OK, but not anything special.
Barcelona, Spain…Chilled Tomato & Garlic Soup was like a smooth Gazpacho, but with less vinegar. Refreshing in the hot weather. Churro with Chocolate Sauce is sort of like a stick donut, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. I was served with a chocolate dipping sauce, which was really good. I could have made a pig of myself with these.
Vienna, Austria…The Beef Goulash w. Bacon Dumpling wasn’t bad, just wasn’t the dish to have in that weather.
New Delhi, India…Pretty good Samosa, but the dough got a little soggy in the weather. The Tamarind sauce served with it had a nice little kick.
Munich, Germany…The Regensburger sausage tasted like a cross between a knockwurst & American hot dog. The sauerkraut & the very good pretzel roll it was served on made it worthwhile.
Dublin, Ireland…The Boxty (a sort of potato pancake) with bacon chips, garlic & Irish butter was tasty, but a sort of mismash of flavors. The real star of this booth was the Frozen Irish Coffee. This would have been a rich, creamy treat of any day, but really hit the spot considering the weather.
Hops & Barley (North America)…The Lobster Roll had good chunks of lobster & not much in the way of fillers, but I didn’t like the roll is was served on (it wasn't a buttered NE hot dog roll.)
San Francisco…Seared Beef w. Cheddar Polenta had rare beef and came with a garlic-wine sauce. I could easily eaten & enjoyed a full size entrée portion of this dish…best thing I had from the booths.
Louisiana…Not a bad Crawfish Etouffee! It had a lot of meat & even the small portion had my mouth tingling by the time I was done. The Praline Bread Pudding was rich & creamy and came with a Bourbon/Caramel sauce. This was good, but be warned…it is sweet (a little too much for me.)
Lyon, France…The Escargot was very good & the little Brioche buns soaked up all the juices, making them a real good finger food. I would have preferred a thicker burnt sugar topping on Milk Chocolate Crème Brulee, but as they were blow-torching them as you ordered it, I can live with that compromise. The custard had good chocolate flavor. As I have a somewhat serious chocolate thing, it was hard not to order a second.
Krakow, Poland…The Pieogies were stuffed by rich mashed potato, with perfectly caramelized onions. The Kielbasa that came with it was nicely grilled, but the sausage itself was a little under seasoned.
As someone else mentioned, the wines at the booths were OK, but nothing stood out. I was mostly sticking to the many good beers being offered, but, again, that probably had a lot to do with the weather.
I was out there this weekend as well and found some of the food items were decent tasting, but came away from the whole thing thinking that for what they charge for the miniscule portions ($3.50 for two spoonfulls of cheese soup.... etc) , it's much better to go to one of the many good restaurants around that area for a meal.
I did not get to do a whole lot of the private events, but they have a bunch. When you go in, each stall has a booklet showing all events. Foodwise, of the stalls, my favorite were France, the US ones, Australia and Mexico. none of the wines really grabbed my attention. I think Canada's Moosehead was the best of the beers. Here's a sloppy set of notes from my world tour:
Santiago Chile: Shrimp w/cilantro salsa. Spicy beef empanada. Dulce de leche.
Buenos Aires, Argentina: Beef w/chimichurri served w/mashed potatoes. Very tender piece (properly cooked to prevent toughness), robust chimichurri, a little too strong for me.
Mexico: Chilaquiles. A little too much going on for me, everyone else loved them. Quesadilla con chorizo. Loved it. Capirotada. Don’t remember what it was but it was a great dessert.
Barcelona, Spain: Didn’t appeal to me, didn’t try them. Tuna was an odd selections for Spain’s vast cuisine.
Vienna, Austria: Skipped
Shanghai, China: People complained that the Chicken Sha Cha was bland. Pot Stickers were good, nothing interesting however.
New Delhi, India: Good samosa with Tamarind Sauce. Liked the Red Curry Shrimp over rice as well.
South Africa: Durban Spiced chicken was pretty good, a bit spicy. Didn’t care for the Bobotie so much.
Melbourne, Australia: Now we are hitting some highlights. The shrimp were good. Did not have the fish (really should have). The lamb chops were EXCELLENT. One of the better items out there, no questions asked.
Munich, Germany: Pretty sure I enjoyed the spaetzle, but nothing wonderful either.
Bologna, Italy: Boring offerings.
Ireland: Good Cheeses and your money’s worth of them, good soup.
New England (Hops and Barley): The US actually shined among all the countries. Great crab cakes and great lobster roll. Hated the lobster roll last time I came so was resistant to trying it, but they were night and day. Also, we brought a small can of condensed milk and went to town on the funnel cake and ice cream in the permanent North America stand. Recommend everyone else do the same.
San Francisco: Seared beef medallion with cheddar cheese polenta. Nuff said. A little garlic sauce on the beef. Strawberry shortcake was pretty good as well.
Tokyo, Japan: Spicy tuna was not bad. California roll was disappointing. Rice issues partially at fault.
Wellington, New Zealand: Last time I came, this was the only country I remembered enjoying. Their lamb sliders were completely different this time and unappetizing. Scallops were a sort of weird ceviche and even worse. Did not try dessert, but I would avoid this stall first and foremost.
Marrakesh, Morocco: Beef and chicken were good. Not sure if I had their Baklava or Turkey’s. Leaning towards Turkey. Either way, baklava was exactly what you want. Crisp, buttery layers, sweet filling. Winner overall.
Louisiana: Back to the US. I recommend the gumbo, the etouffee and the bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce. If you have to choose between gumbo and etouffee, go with the etouffee.
Lyon, France: Another highlight, and this one is genius. Well at least I had not seen it before. Quiche was good, but the escargot were stuffed in miniature buns which consequently absorbed the butter, oil, garlic and other herbs. Loved them. Also stop by the permanent stall serving grand marnier and Grey Goose citron slushees. Depending when you go the Grand Marnier may be a bit sweet or the Grey goose a bit dry, but never both and never enough to not make them perfect for a hot day.
Istanbul, Turkey: See my comments regarding the Baklava in Morrocco.
Montreal: Loved the cheese soup, hadn’t had a good one in some time. A bit much bacon though. Salmon could take it or leave it. A bit of fishy smell due to the inclusion of the skin. Maple custard was great and paired beautifully with their icewine.
Athens, Greece: Didn’t like any of it.
Poland: Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies were good. Cocktail not so much. Too cloying.
Puerto Rico: Avoided after last time despite succumbing on the Lobster rolls
re: Scott Joseph
There are many events during the day that are free -- which means included in the regular admission to the park. Wine tastings are complimentary, as are culinary demonstrations that usually offer a sip or a sample.
And indeed many of the events that do require an additional fee have been sold out for months. Still plenty to do and experience -- make your own fun.
As many of you know, despite my embarrasing username I am the dining editor of Orlando Magazine. I also host an on-demand cable TV show called On the Town that features Central Florida restaurants. I spent this past Saturday taping the foods and beverages at all 27 international marketplaces at the festival. For many, chefs joined me to explain the foods in detail. A sommelier spoke about several of the wines. To see what's on offer, go to Bright House Digital Cable channel 300, then press Food and Wine, then any marketplace and PLAY. Sixteen are up now, and the rest of the marketplace features should be up within a day or two. It's fun to know the background before you show up to taste.--Rona
I have not heard good things from friends who have gone. The wine is cheap and is the worst in years. My friends complained that it used to be about the best wines from around the world and not so much anymore. The current Issue of Robert Parker did the best value wines from around the world and Italy had over 600, which is more than France, Spain and the U.S.A. combined. But they are offering the wines from Banfi in the Italy area. This should tell you something.
Finally, Almost all the events are considerably more expensive than they were last year and they are showing off vintages instead of the better ones.
The event seems to be about the cheapest possible wines instead of the best wines from each country.
To be honest, we're always underwhelmed by the food at the booths. I like the concept, but I think that it's too often a case of the "lowest common denominator" instead of a chance to try something interesting and unique from each country. Ah, well.
We did go to the Bocuse d'Or event this year, which was rocking! I am still overwhelmed by the level of talent that was present - when was the last time someone like me got a chance to be in the same room as Paul Bocuse, Jean Georges Vongerichten, Thomas Keller, and so on? I put a recap here, as well as the full review with photos on our food blog: http://hpandaw.wordpress.com
I'm surprised you haven't liked the foods at the booths. I am always surprised at how good they are. I haven't done an official sweep-through yet but during my shoot sampled the escargot at Lyon, France, which was amazing, a crisp sausage with sauerkraut on a pretzel roll (Munich, Germany) that I loved, and the chilled tomato and garlic soup at the Barcelona, Spain, marketplace, and that was good too.
I went last year but ended up not buying anything from the food stalls (lines were too long) and eating at Les Chef de France instead (my favorite restaurant at Epcot and thank God for my 50% cast member holiday discount!) Here is a link to the festival menu... http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/guides...
I was at the right place at the right time last year because I ended up meeting a really nice guy whose date to "A Party for the Senses" flaked out on him and he offered me her ticket. I went and it was so much fun and I was served Soba Noodles with Scallops by Iron Chef Cat Cora. If you can afford it, it's a really cool thing to do.
Here's a blurb on it...
A PARTY FOR THE SENSES - 2008
Hosted by Vanity Fair
This popular venue takes place each Saturday during the Food and Wine Festival at the World ShowPlace located between Canada and United Kingdom Pavilions. You’ll begin this memorable evening with reserved seating at the 5:45pm performance of the Eat to the Beat Concert. $135 per person plus tax, gratuity included.
From 6:30 to 9:00pm, you’ll be sampling the culinary creations of 25 renowned chefs and over 25 wineries and breweries. Each tasting station will be a new sensation for the senses.
Have fun! :o)