November 25, 2013
Margarita of the Month: November
Nearly a year ago Miss Bonnie and I, along with several people who share a lot of her genetic material, took a sail on the Disney Fantasy.
On that trip we had the opportunity to take a galley tour to see where and how they produce the huge volume of great food served in the various dining rooms on the large vessel.
It was fascinating to see the massive gleaming kitchens…
and the large, glass-fronted walk-ins.
One of the things I found most interesting was that there were laminated pictures taped up of the dishes being served that night so that the chefs could see the proper plating of each.
In addition there were also actual recipes and pictures of the cocktails that were being served!
And yes, Dear Dedicated Readers, there was one featuring Eating (and Drinking) Around the World’s favorite spirit, tequila!
And since Miss Bonnie & I, along with more than a handful of our Nearest & Dearest, will be taking another Disney Cruise in just a few short days, I figured it was the appropriate time to share that recipe with you… so let’s make a margarita!
4 oz Gold Tequila
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Agave Nectar
Granulated Sugar for the rim of the glass
Lime Zest for garnish
Moisten the rim of the glasses with a bit of lime and dip into sugar. Set aside.
Add all the liquids to your cocktail shaker, throw in a handful or two of ice and shake until well chilled.
Then strain into the prepared glass and garnish with a bit of lime peel…
then drink up!
This makes a couple of smallish drinks, or one Eating (and Drinking) Around the World size cocktail… this is a pretty strong, but darn tasty beverage! Give this one a try for sure and imagine you’re sailing the Caribbean!
Now about that aforementioned trip we’re taking… we’ll be on the Dream his December… and it will be a Celebratory Cruise… I’m sure you’ll be hearing more about that before too long…
But until then, it’s back to the kitchen, and the bar! See you soon!
November 23, 2013
Dedicated Readers will know that I’m not one to eschew a nice, juicy Rib-Eye or turn my nose up at some lovely pork belly, but yes, I will occasionally dip my toe in the vegetarian (and even sometimes vegan) pool to test the waters…
All kidding aside, I know that cutting back even a bit on my meat consumption is good for me, and the planet as well…
So here’s a vegetarian recipe I’ve made more than once (so yes, it’s a good one), and it’s one of those that’s easy enough for a weeknight (like Meatless Monday), and versatile… you can add extra veggies to it, adjust the quantities a bit depending on what you have on hand and it will still turn out well!
I first came across this recipe on the Adored Home blog as one of her Meatless Monday recipes, and the original recipe comes from the Yummy Morsel blog (ain’t the interconnection of the interwebs great?). I was also inspired to write this one up for you after I was given several samples of vegan “cheese alternative” products called Vegan Gourmet Shreds from Follow Your Heart (the Vegenaise® people…). You can certainly use “real” cheese, but this casserole is an application where “not-real” cheese actually works pretty well.
Okay, let’s get on with it – Let’s Cook!
6 Small Corn Tortillas (of course you can use flour if you want, and cut/tear larger size tortillas to fit if that’s what you have)
1 Onion, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 or 2 Jalapenos, chopped (you can use Serranos or other pepper of choice if you like, quantity depends on your heat preference)
1 Can (about 15 oz) Black Beans, drained and rinsed (or Black Soy Beans if you have/prefer)
1 Can (11 oz) Corn Kernels
1 Cup Picante or Taco Sauce (mild, medium or hot as you prefer)
1 Cup Salsa (ditto)
1 Tsp Cumin
2 Cups (or more if you prefer… and you might) Mexican Style Cheese, shredded (in this case I used the Vegan Gourmet Fiesta for this inside and topped with their Cheddar – you can use any real or vegan cheese of your choice: Mexican blend, cheddar, jack, etc)
1 Tbl Oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium to medium high heat and saute the onions and bell pepper until getting soft.
Add the cumin and jalapenos and stir for a few seconds then add the salsa and picante sauce and stir. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the beans and corn and stir well to combine. Remove from the heat.
Spray a baking dish (I used an 8″ x 8″, 2 quart Pyrex dish) with some cooking spray and spread a third of the mixture from the skillet on the bottom of the dish.
Next top that with a layer of the tortillas – I overlapped two from side-to-side as shown above then tore a third in half to cover the rest of the mixture.
Top the tortillas with about a third of the cheese (or as as much as is needed for a nice even layer).
Add another third of the skillet mixture and spread it out. Top this with another layer of tortillas and another third of the cheese.
Spread the remaining mixture on top and cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Take out of the oven and remove the foil. Top with the remaining cheese and put back in the oven until the cheese is melted, maybe 5 minutes or so…
Remove from the oven and let stand 5 or 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with a side of salsa and a dollop of sour cream (or plain yoghurt or some vegan-sour-cream-like-alternative, of which I have no idea what that would be…). A nice green salad alongside wouldn’t hurt…
Like I said above, you can adjust this recipe as you like: add more/use other veggies (chopped sauteed mushrooms would add “meatiness”), add something like Boca crumbles or Gardein beef-alternatives, etc if desired, or whatever you think might be good…
Easy, pretty quick and fairly inexpensive… and it tastes good too! I’ve even frozen this with good results. So give this one a try and let everyone know what you think in the comments section!
Thanks to the good folks at Follow Your Heart for the samples of their Vegan Gourmet Shreds (and in effort of Full Disclosure, I was given the samples free of charge). They worked well in this recipe (as well as on a flatbread I tried them on), and no it’s not the same as a dairy cheese, but if you’re vegan, have a problem with lactose, or just looking to reduce your intake of dairy/animal products these products are worth giving a try. There are (at the time of this writing at least) discount coupons available on their website.
Okay, that’s this edition of Let’s Cook… so now it’s, as always, back to the kitchen! See you again soon!
In Part One of our look at the opening of the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival I gave you a trip-report type post on some of the events of the first weekend (including a look at the Thursday soft-opening), and now in Part Two, we’ll take a closer look at some of the food items and some other thoughts and comments on this years festival.
So let’s eat!
One of the new dishes in Brazil is a sea scallop with a tasty tomato stew alongside rice. This was a good one to start with – there has usually been a scallop dish at the festival the past several years, and I’ve thought all of them have been pretty good, and this one was as well.
The ragout was particularly good, and I think would go nicely alongside other proteins like fish or chicken – fortunately this recipe is in this years festival cookbook, so maybe we’ll give it a try soon…
Also in Brazil was a big winner of a dish…
Crispy Pork Belly… mmmm… pork belly…
We had this at the Tables in Wonderland Sneak Preview dinner in the summer (see “Getting a sneak peak“) and was blown away… but heck, it’s pork belly, and we loves us some pork belly here…
The lamb in the Australia booth is a perennial favorite – this version is identical to the one served last year, but there were no complaints about that, especially from Miss Bonnie… this is always one of our top “likes”, and this one topped with potato “crunchies” (aka crushed salt & vinegar potato chips) is just lamb-a-riffic!
We weren’t so crazy about the shrimp in Australia however, the garlic-infused invertebrates were cooked fine, but the promised accompaniment of “Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon Myrtle & Rapini” was almost non-existant… maybe I just got a poorly plated version, but this wasn’t anything special.
There’s normally a special margarita featured at the Mexico kiosk, and this year is no different…
the slightly thick Mango-Habanero Margarita was very spicy, and very good – I actually think the heat level might be a bit much for many guests – but Dedicated Readers will know I have no complaints with extra heat… as we’ll see as we go on, I think many dishes were less “toned-down” than in the past – “spicy” dishes that in prior years may have been a bit tame seem to be really spicy this year – not blow your head off hot, but defiantly less mild than before… and I think this is a Good Thing…
New in Singapore this year is a chicken curry with lemongrass and coconut milk – a nice sized portion and a reasonable representative of this style dish – if you’ve had this type of curry before, this is probably not the best one you’ve ever had, but it’s pretty good, and if you’ve never tried anything like it before this is worth taking a bite of…
Another favorite from Singapore last year, the Mahi with an absolutely delicious “Singa” sauce fortunately made a return to the festival this year.
One of my favorite booths since it’s introduction a few years ago is South Korea, and it’s been very popular with Epcot guests (which is still pleasantly surprising to me). The new (and popular) item this year is a hot dog topped with a kimchi relish. This is another dish we loved at the preview dinner, and despite it being a sorta-skimpy half-dog portion, it’s still Dang Tasty! Just wish they had given a bit more thought to the name…
One of my favorite new dishes this year comes from Africa…
the Berbere Style Beef was full of rich flavors and was one of the dishes (as I noted before) that wasn’t pulled back on the heat level! Even though my serving was a bit short on the beef, I was very happy with the taste and enjoyed each bit of okra and tomato!
It was interesting to note that on the standup menu, as well as the printed materials (such as the Passport booklet), this kiosk is now just listed as “Africa”, while the booth sign still calls itself “South Africa”.
And from what limited research I’ve had to do on this dish, it seems it’s more Ethiopian… defiantly not South African… if anyone has info or recipes for this dish please post in the comments!
The country of Cheese (and shouldn’t there be one?) once again had a nice cheese plate (including Beecher’s Flagship Reserve, a personal favorite).
This year the Cheese booth added a nice Blue Cheese Souffle which is paired with a fig jam.
A new caffeinated adult beverage is being served at the Coffee Cart in the American Adventure…
a spiked coffee that’s served hot or frozen – I tried the hot version topped with whipped cream and really enjoyed it!
Nearby at the Hops & Barley Market there’s beer…
and more beer…
and some food too… the New England Clam Chowder was advertised as being with “a side of Tabasco”, and on the soft-opening day there were the little tiny bottles of hot sauce being served with the chowder, but by the next day they all seemed to be gone…
luckily nearby were multiple Tabasco dispensers… the chowder was pretty good, but nothing special, but will be a nice option on some cooler fall evenings.
Lobster is featured here, with the Lobster Roll returning and a new Lobster Tail dish this year… it was cooked well and the accompanying butter sauce was most delish… not sure if it was really worth the $7.50 price tag, but it was tasty!
There’s always plenty to like in Japan, the Spicy hand Roll is a welcome returnee, while a tame cooked-intro-sushi-for-the-squeemish filled with chicken made it’s debut.
There was also a new veggie dish in Japan…
I liked the miso sauce, but the rest of the tofu/veggie dish was. well, just kinda there… a Sapporo draft helped immensely…
In Morocco I tried the Harissa Chicken Roll – what looks like a fried egg roll is filled with a slightly creamy and nicely spicy poultry filling – pretty good, I’d say this one is worth a try (even though it could have used some side of some sort… don’t ask me what though…).
There’s some new stuff in New Zealand….
and it’s all pretty darn good… I’m a big mussel fan, and this version made me happy…
but I really liked the sausage and pickled mushrooms, especially the ‘shrooms… yes, I’ll have another serving please…
And as noted in Part One, I really liked the new savory waffle in Belgium.
Canada still has one of the all-time festival favorites in the Cheese Soup…
but we both thought the new trout dish there is also a hit – heck, there’s bacon – how bad could it be?
In addition to the spiked Dole Whip, the Refreshment Port also features a nice sweet snack in the Pineapple Fritters.
Two pineapple rings battered, deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar – Miss Bonnie thinks it needs some sort of dipping sauce (and I can’t argue that it wouldn’t hurt) – but it’s still a tasty snack, and at $1.99 one of the real deals this year.
Scotland is the new featured booth this year, and much ado has been made about the “Vegetarian Haggis” (which almost seems like an oxymoron). It’s basically like a veggie/grain burger along with rutabagas and mashed potatoes… not too bad at all, but really nothing to get all worked up about… but haggis???
But the real winner at Scotland was the dessert…
the whiskey flavor really goes nicely with all the rest of the parts… Dedicated Readers know I claim not to be much of one for sweets, but I’d gladly down another one of these… or maybe two…
So there’s a look at some of the food, so on to a few other things…
Disney seemed to be making an effort to provide a few more tables/dining areas during the festival….
a few semi-backstage areas were opened up and tables set up for guests. Some maybe not always real convenient to the booths, and a few seemed to go unnoticed by diners, but I give them lots of credit for trying to make extra table areas.
I was chatting with a guest from New Jersey while waiting in line for a New Belgium Fat Tire at the Craft Beers booth, and he noted that with the huge variety of brews available the festival should really be called the “Epcot Food & Beer Festival”, and I couldn’t argue with him! Between the Craft Beers, Hops & Barley and Brewer’s Collection kiosks there were 22 different beers offered! Add the others from the rest of the booths and we’re talking over 40 interesting beers just at the kiosks around World Showcase! This is a Good Thing…
This year we saw many of the existing food & beverage locations offering special Food & Wine Festival offerings, and I really like that they’ve done this – there has been an occasional item in the past years, but this year several spots (such as the Outpost in Africa) have offered specialty drinks or food (like at the Refreshment Port). Using the normal sites to add even more items for guests now seems like a no-brainer…
So? What did I think?
Overall I thought it was a great version of the festival – I especially liked to variety and more adventurous (and spicy) nature of many of the dishes – and now that the festival is winding down I’m already counting down to next year!
Did you make it to Food & Wine this year? I’d love to hear you’re thoughts!
Back to the kitchen (and maybe one last visit to the Food & Wine Festival…)… see you soon!
October 18, 2013
With the Swan & Dolphin Food & Wine Classic coming up this weekend, I thought it was about time to share a drink recipe that was featured at the Classic last year: the Caipirinha.
Known as the national drink of Brazil, this is a simple, refreshing cocktail – so let’s make one!
2 oz Cachaca (Brazilian Rum)
1 oz Simple Syrup (or 1.5 Tbl sugar)
1/2 fresh Lime, cut into quarters (plus a slice for garnish)
Fill a rocks glass with ice to chill it.
Put the lime pieces and the simple syrup (or sugar) into your shaker and muddle to release the limes’ juicy goodness.
Add the cachaca and the ice from the glass and shake well.
Pour the contents (including the ice) into your chilled serving glass, garnish with a lime slice…
and then Let’s Drink!
I really enjoy this beverage, it’s especially great on a hot summer day in Florida (okay, I know it’s getting chilly in a lot of the world right now, but it’s still good in chilly weather)! Give it a try and let everyone know what you think in the comments!
And speaking of the Food & Wine Classic (which I was at the beginning of this post…), if any of you are going to be there, keep an eye for for Miss Bonnie and I!
If you’d like a look at last year’s event, check out Food & Wine Classic 2012: Food Photo Gallery, or click on the Food & Wine Classic category to the right to see all posts about the Classic.
Enjoy the drink, and maybe we’ll see you this weekend at the Classic!
The Best Time of the Year is here! The 2013 version of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is now open and in full swing! I (along with the usual suspects) was there for the opening weekend (including the soft opening/preview day), and of course Dear Dedicated Readers I have pics and comments to share with you! In Part One here I’m going to basically give you a “trip report” type post of some of the events of the first weekend, and in Part Two to come I’ll look closer at more of the food items and have some thoughts and comments on this years festival so far… So without any further delay let’s dig in!
Starting at the front of the park, I really like this year’s display with the Fantasia-inspired utensils…
and the “cookbook” behind Mickey….
even though you have to get at an angle to read all of it…
As you head towards World Showcase you once again encounter the popular cranberry bog, making it’s third consecutive appearance at the festival… more on the bog later…
And (thankfully) the first booth you encounter at the World Showcase is once again Craft Beers… sometimes you just need a beer to get you to that next booth all of 20 or so steps away! Where’s there’s…
more beer! Yea, beer!
All the cool kids know that even though the Festival officially opens on a Friday, most of the food booths will go through a test-run on the Thursday prior, so this year I made my way there for the preview day and met up with with Mama Ginny and Papa Harry to get an early start on the feasting.
In years past it seems a few booths would start to open up about 1 PM or so and then most of the rest (but not always all) would trickle open throughout the afternoon (and usually they shut down a bit early, about 8 PM), but this year was a bit different… we headed around World Showcase about 11 AM, planning on taking some pictures and just enjoying the day until we eventually came across some booths opening.
As we passed the Refreshment Port (which is serving as one of the F & W booths this year, featuring the spiked Dole Whip and other pineapple goodies) we noticed activity inside…
I asked one of the ladies inside if they were ready to serve, and she answered in the affirmative! I asked if I would be the first one to be served, and when she again said yes, I ordered up the first boozy Dole Whip served at the festival! Papa Harry quickly came up and asked for the second spiked Dole Whip, and we all quickly dove into the icy, orangey, delights…
At the Flower & Garden Festival this past spring the first version of an alcohol-laced Dole Whip made it’s appearance to much happiness & joy (see the post: Flower & Garden… and Food & Wine!), and this version with Orange Dole Whip spiked with Creme de Cacao is a very tasty treat! As it’s still fairly toasty in Florida, this is a great boozy treat for festival-goers!
We made our way around the lagoon going past several booths that were still to open…
with our past history at the Thursday soft-openings, we weren’t expecting too much activity or actual openings until early afternoon…
but as we passed by France and made it to the Belgium booth, lo and behold the queue was opened up just as we neared and we were welcomed to place our orders!
Here it was not even 11:30 and booths were opening to serve the early attendees (for contrast you can check out another preview-day escapade in the post Mission Impossible???).
We ordered one each of the three waffles being served this year (the berry-topped version as in prior years, a chocolate-topped one, and my choice, a savory Potato and Leek Waffle topped with Braised Beef).
We continued our circuit around the World Showcase and sampled at many of the now-opened booths.
By 1 PM the majority of the kiosks were serving…
and by 2 PM it seemed all were open.
We continued to rotate around the World Showcase a couple of times…
tasting and toasting as we went… Mama Ginny and Papa Harry bade me farewell mid-afternoon and I took a bit of a resort break and returned in the evening for some more sampling… we’ll look more in detail at the food in Part Two of this post…
On Friday, the official opening day of the festival, I started by checking out the Festival Center (which wasn’t open on Thursday).
As I went around the Festival Center, I ran into a friend waiting in line for an upcoming food demo – he had an extra ticket which he offered up to me and I gladly accepted his generous offer (this was just one of several Magical Moments on this day… thanks again Richard!).
I got to see wine expert Andrea Robinson (nee Immer) demo a really nice and easy salmon entree accompanied by lots of great wine advice (of course, coming from one of only eighteen female Master Sommeliers in the world).
The dish was paired with the delicious Eroica Riesling from Chateau Ste Michelle.
As I said my goodbyes and made my way back to World Showcase, I discovered a new addition to the American Adventure pavilion that had sprung up overnight…
the small gazebo-shaped gift shop that had been shuttered had re-opened as Block & Hans, Purveyors of Fine American Ale.
I was told by the cast members working the shop that this was a permanent addition (or I assume at least as “permanent” as anything in WDW is…), and not just for the duration of Food & Wine. Yippee!
I made a couple of more booth stops and headed back to the resort to await Miss Bonnie’s arrival…
We soon returned together to the World Showcase and met up with Mama Ginny and Papa Harry for a bit of music and even more dining…
and we then made our way towards the Cranberry Bog to see some of our friends frolic inside it… little did I know that the Magic of the day would continue into the evening…
Now if you’ve been to the festival in the past few years you’ve no doubt seen the Cranberry Bog… it popped up three years ago on the walkway between Future World and the World Showcase and has been a surprisingly huge hit with guests ever since… it’s basically a big above-ground swimming pool filled with water and, what else, cranberries… during the first weekend actual real-live cranberry farmers are slogging around in the bog telling guests about the tart little fruit (Disney cast members perform that task thereafter).
Last year the bog hosted a media event on the first Friday of the festival with several well-known Disney bloggers, pod casters, Orlando-area food bloggers and members of the traditional media donning waders and getting their chance to play in the bog (you can see some pics, etc from the bog that year in the post Epcot Food & Wine 2012: First Tastes, First Thoughts… Part One).
As we looked on, my Eating (and Drinking) Around the World press agent (aka Miss Bonnie) decided to take charge and see about getting yours truly into the Bog… after all I’ve been blogging about the bog haven’t I?
Well, yes Dear Dedicated Readers, we were soon escorted into a private reception area filled with food stations (all featuring cranberries of course) and beverages. After hobnobbing with the other guests and sampling the food there we were taken to don our waders and have our turn inside the Bog! We did have to delay our start for a bit as we downed our third portion of pork belly… don’t judge…
Once inside the Bog we were served cranberry cocktails and snacked upon several cranberry-laced edibles.
All in all it was a very magical end to a magical day….
Saturday we returned to Epcot (big shock) and continued to sample some of the goodies…
and we eventually headed to the Festival Center so that Miss Bonnie could check out this years merchandise…
and also so we could take part in one of our favorite activities: stalking Celebrity Chefs.
On this day there was a meet-and-greet with the adorable, effervescent and very tall Chef Carla Hall of Top Chef and more recently the ABC show The Chew.
We were the very last people in line… Carla was spending plenty of time with her fans and stayed well past the prescribed cut-off time… when we got to meet her she jumped up out of her chair and gave us both a huge hug. She thanked us for waiting so long, and of course we thanked her for staying! We chatted for quite a while, and she (nor any of the attending cast members) didn’t rush us through to finish up – she seemed truly glad to be there and to meet us.
I mentioned to her that they should bring The Chew to the World to film some episodes during Food & Wine (it is an ABC property, owned by Disney, after all) and she heartily agreed.
As fun and nice as she appears on TV, in person Carla is all that times 10! It was well worth spending some time in line to have a few minutes with her.
The only thing I regret is not asking her about those freaky big-head commercials with her and Rocco Dispirito… I just don’t get them…
So Dedicated Readers, let’s call this an end to Part One… in Part Two we’ll look at more food! And more drink!
Back to the kitchen, see you soon!
October 3, 2013
Yes Dear Dedicated Readers, Eating (and Drinking) Around the World was at the opening of the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and yes, there will be a full post chronicling the events of those fun first days, but for now I’m going to give you a few pics… an appetizer, and a teaser, for the post to come…
Hungry yet? If not…
so there’s your teaser… will be back soon with more details!
For now we’re back to the kitchen… but in a few days we’ll also be back (again) to Epcot for the Food & Wine Festival! Hope to see you there! If not, we’ll give you the lowdown here!
September 26, 2013
It was a couple of days before the official opening of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival…
the booths are up and the menus are on display…
One of the new items at the South Korea kiosk this year is a hot dog topped with kimchi and mustard, and of course it’s call “Kimchi Dog”…
A woman behind me while I was taking some photos was overhead asking “Is it supposed to be real dog?”
I knew those comments would be coming, just didn’t expect to hear one even before the festival opened!