Taste of Africa Street Party: A preview of things to come?
July 19, 2010
Through the great Interwebs, those of us “Cool Disney Kids in the Know” got wind of a three week event to take place in Disney’s Animal Kingdom – the Taste of Africa Street Party. From July 9 until July 24 we would be presented with special food and beverage offerings, beer and wine tastings (that alone enough to entice yours truly), and music and a dance party featuring a band and DJ. So it didn’t take too much arm-twisting for myself and two-thirds of the Harem to decide we needed to be there on the opening evening…
So that first Friday, Miss Bonnie, Mistress Sandra and myself made the trek to Animal Kingdom and wound our way to the African village of Harambe. As the afternoon parade wound it’s way through streets of the village several carts followed the last float into the area. Stilt dancers, musicians and drummers entertained the crowd as the party began. We had strategically placed ourselves near the entrance to the Tamu Tamu courtyard where a placard promised the pleasures of the Taste of Africa Beer & Wine Walk.
As we not-too-patiently waited to be allowed in, I queried one of the supervisory-appearing cast members as to the origins of this event. She told me that it was test for future, perhaps regular, events of the type to be held in Animal Kingdom.
As we were finally allowed to pony up our cash, we were given wrist bands and a “passport” and escorted into the courtyard area. Inside were five stations, three for wines, one for beer, and another for the younger crowd with a selection of juices. Each wine station had four choices and featured a specific wine region of South Africa, and the four beer selections were from all over the continent. The young cast members at each area were very enthusiastic and well schooled in the beverages they were presenting (even the cast member who was a college student from BYU…).
As you made your selection your passport was stamped. There were spaces for four stamps, with the assumption being you’d try one offering from each area, but as Miss Bonnie wasn’t tempted by the beers, she went back to one of the wine areas for a second choice there, so technically if you wanted you could have all four selections from just one of the areas and be done with it (or go back and get another passport…). At the last station they presented us each with a card listing all the wines – a marketing ploy to be sure, but one that did work (at least on Mistress Sandra).
If you’ve done one of the wine walks during the Food & Wine festival, this was the same concept. It was actually quite fun and a very good use of this space.
It was in the courtyard where we serendipitously met my new best-friend-to-be… I was wearing one of my half-marathon shirts (yes, yours truly, the aged lover of food and drink has finished, albeit barely, three half-marathons…), and was approached by a cast member and we began discussing races – he had actually completed all the Disney marathons! As we continued to chat the partial-Harem joined us – I enquired as our new friend’s position there at the park… he pulled out his business card and told us he was the Food and Beverage Manager of Animal Kingdom… score!
We continued to chat with him for quite a while, and he reiterated the “test” nature of this event, and as a potential way to draw and keep guests to the park later into the day and evenings. We eventually bade him farewell, with he certainly not knowing what a potential mistake he had made by providing me with his email and phone number…
From there we sought sustenance and made our way down the street… three of the regular counter service locations in Harambe were now serving appetizer-sized servings (much like at the Food & Wine Festival) of special offerings.
We started at the Kusafiri Bakery where they were serving Berbere Rubbed Beef with Mealiepap (like a corn pudding topped with slices of savory beef), Curried Chicken with Jollof Rice (quite tasty and with a bit of spice) and Banana Bread Pudding (mmm… bread pudding…). We tried all three offerings, and they were all were quite well received in our little tasting group.
Next was Tamu Kibanda and the offerings of Avocado Shrimp Salad (cool and tasty) and the popular Indian snack of Samosas with Mango Chutney (fried pastries filled with potatoes and peas).
Tamu Tamu featured Bobotie with Blattang (like an African quiche with a fruit relish/chutney) and Flatbread with Dips (the dips being Tabouleh, Baba Ghanoush and Tomato Hummus). Also there was a thick and sweet Mango Shake that was quite good.
The always-popular (with me, at least) Dawa Bar had a couple of special adult beverages for the occasion: Sugar Cane Mojito and Cane Sweet Tea Cocktail. Both were quite sweet, but not overly so, and very refreshing and appropriate for the heat of the summer.
The food was uniformly good, very good in fact. We had a tough time selecting a favorite item, but the Chicken Curry and Avocado Shrimp Salad were probably our top two items.
A nice touch was that they provided recipes for several of the items, and we gladly took copies with us (look for the Chicken Curry here soon…).
The carts that rolled in after the parade had set up in various locations along the street. There was a young gentleman showing how coconuts were grown and prepared; at the Curry Fire Pit one cast member was grinding fresh spices in a traditional method while another stirred a savory curry over an open fire; a Samosa cooking demonstration was at another cart while sugar cane juicing took place in the Dawa Bar area.
There was a band playing at times along the street and the rest of the time a DJ was sitting atop one of the buildings, so there was constant music adding to the “street party” atmosphere.
Despite only lasting about three hours, this was a great event, and we all had so much fun that we made plans to attend again on the final weekend (and we hope the Harem will be in full force then…).
We had lots of ideas and speculation on how an event (or events) of this type could transform this normally quiet park in the evenings into a truly magical place… but we’ll save those ideas for now… We’ll share those (and perhaps new ones) after we make our second trek to Harambe, and of course will let you know of changes, if any, from the first weekend…
Back to the kitchen now… working on the Cape Malay Chicken Curry recipe…
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