Overheard at Disney…

December 20, 2013

A couple (of apparently Anglo-US origin…) is pushing a stroller around World Showcase in Epcot and nears the American Adventure…

“What’s this? America? Why would you come to America to see America?”

Kinda hard to argue with that logic I guess…

Margarita of the Month: November

Eclipse

Eclipse

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.

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It was fascinating to see the massive gleaming kitchens…

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and the large, glass-fronted walk-ins.

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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.

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In addition there were also actual recipes and pictures of the cocktails that were being served!

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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!

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Eclipse

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

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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.

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Then strain into the prepared glass and garnish with a bit of lime peel…

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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!

Epcot entrance area

Epcot entrance area

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!

Seared Scallop with Ragout of Tomatoes, Peppers & Hearts of Palm with Carnaval Sparkling Moscato

Seared Scallop with Ragout of Tomatoes, Peppers & Hearts of Palm with Carnaval Sparkling Moscato

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 with Black Beans, Onions,  Avocado & Cilantro

Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions,
Avocado & Cilantro (as served at the Preview Dinner)

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…

Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto & Potato Crunchies (left) and Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon Myrtle & Rapini

Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto & Potato Crunchies (left) and Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon Myrtle & Rapini

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…

Mango-Habanero Margarita

Mango-Habanero Margarita

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…

Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut & Jasmine Rice

Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut & Jasmine Rice

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…

Seared Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice & "Singa" Sauce

Seared Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice & “Singa” Sauce

Another favorite from Singapore last year, the Mahi with an absolutely delicious “Singa” sauce fortunately made a return to the festival this year.

Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard Sauce along with Jinro Chamisul Soju

Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard Sauce along with Jinro Chamisul Soju (aka Korean Rocket Fuel)

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…

Berbere Style Beef with Onions, Jalapenos, Tomato, Okra & Pap

Berbere Style Beef with Onions, Jalapenos, Tomato, Okra & Pap

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!

Menu at the Africa Kiosk

Menu at the Africa Kiosk

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”.

"South Africa" booth

“South Africa” booth

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!

Artisan Cheese Selection

Artisan Cheese Selection

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).

Almond Crusted Blue Cheese Souffle with Fig Jam

Almond Crusted Blue Cheese Souffle with Fig Jam

This year the Cheese booth added a nice Blue Cheese Souffle which is paired with a fig jam.

Ja mon!

Ja mon!

A new caffeinated adult beverage is being served at the Coffee Cart in the American Adventure…

Shakin' Jamaican Coffee with Kahlua, Vanilla & Caramel (hot version)

Shakin’ Jamaican Coffee with Kahlua, Vanilla & Caramel (hot version)

a spiked coffee that’s served hot or frozen – I tried the hot version topped with whipped cream and really enjoyed it!

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Nearby at the Hops & Barley Market there’s beer…

Beer Flight at the Hops & Barley Market

Beer Flight at the Hops & Barley Market

and more beer…

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

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…

Pick a hot sauce, any hot sauce...

Pick a hot sauce, any hot sauce…

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.

Griddled Lobster Tail with Garlic Herb Butter along with a La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Griddled Lobster Tail with Garlic Herb Butter along with a La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

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!

Spicy Tuna Hand Roll and "Snow" Sake

Spicy Tuna Hand Roll and “Snow” Sake

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.

Teriyaki Chicken Hand Roll

Teriyaki Chicken Hand Roll

There was also a new veggie dish in Japan…

Youki Tofu topped with Miso Sauce, Edamame and Served with Grilled Vegetables

Youki Tofu topped with Miso Sauce, Edamame and Served with Grilled Vegetables

I liked the miso sauce, but the rest of the tofu/veggie dish was. well, just kinda there… a Sapporo draft helped immensely…

Harissa Chicken Roll

Harissa Chicken Roll

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….

Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter & Toasted Bread Crumbs

Steamed Green Lip Mussels with Garlic Butter & Toasted Bread Crumbs… you had me at mussels…

and it’s all pretty darn good… I’m a big mussel fan, and this version made me happy…

Venison Sausage with Pickled Mushrooms, Baby Arugula and Black Currant Reduction

Venison Sausage with Pickled Mushrooms, Baby Arugula and Black Currant Reduction

but I really liked the sausage and pickled mushrooms, especially the ‘shrooms… yes, I’ll have another serving please…

Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef and a Stella

Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef and a Stella

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…

Seared Rainbow Trout with Bacon, Frisee and Maple Minus 8 Vinaigrette (left) and Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup

Seared Rainbow Trout with Bacon, Frisee and Maple Minus 8 Vinaigrette (left) and Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup

but we both thought the new trout dish there is also a hit – heck, there’s bacon – how bad could it be?

Dole® Pineapple Fritters

Dole® Pineapple Fritters

In addition to the spiked Dole Whip, the Refreshment Port also features a nice sweet snack in the Pineapple Fritters.

Dole® Pineapple Fritters

Dole® 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.

Vegetarian Haggis with Neeps and Tatties along with an Innis & Gunn® Original Beer

Vegetarian Haggis with Neeps and Tatties along with an Innis & Gunn® Original Beer

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???

Scottish Banoffee Tart with Bananas, Scottish Whisky Toffee, Walkers Shortbread Crumbles and Sweet Cream

Scottish Banoffee Tart with Bananas, Scottish Whisky Toffee, Walkers Shortbread Crumbles and Sweet Cream

But the real winner at Scotland was the dessert…

Inside of the deliciously oozing Banoffee Tart

Inside of the deliciously oozing Banoffee Tart

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…

Temporary table area near the new Mo Rockin stage in Morocco

Temporary table area near the new Mo Rockin stage in Morocco

Disney seemed to be making an effort to provide a few more tables/dining areas during the festival….

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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.

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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…

One of the things I’ve liked best the past few years about the beers being served at the festival is the selection of sizes offered – in addition to the usual 12 ounce pour (and the 22 ounce souvenir glass for many selections), they also offer a 6 ounce glass for most of the beers available at only a modest mark-up for the smaller serving (usually only an extra quarter, see the menu above). This allows guests to try a variety of beers without getting too bloated (or blotto…), and if you wind of trying one you’re not too fond of, it hasn’t been much of a “beverage commitment”.
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And if you’re in need of something at home to pour a beer (or any other beverage for that matter) into, the merchandise locations have you covered…
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from wine glasses…
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to Mason jars with a handy handle…
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to (finally!) a Food & Wine margarita glass! This is by far the best variety of glassware we’ve seen for sale at an Epcot event.
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And of course there are shirts…
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and shirts…
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and even more shirts.
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And there are plenty of other items to part you from your hard-earned cash from posters to cookbooks to pot holders and on and on and on… most of which feature this years logo (which I like very much) or the bumbling chef mascot.
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And we can’t forget Mama Ginny’s favorite bear, Duffy!
One thing that’s inevitable at the Food & Wine Festival is lines…
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and (at least in the first weekend) we saw an odd thing at more than one booth: queue lines were being doubled up – as guests would go to the registers to place their order, they would be given their receipt and then sent back in line to wait to go to the window. This was (understandably) causing quite a bit of confusion among guests… I did see this at multiple locations, so it wasn’t just an aberration at one booth… it may have made the lines appear shorter, but did nothing to speed the process overall. Don’t know if this continued or was being used extensively… did any of you experience this and if so what do you think about it?
Festival offerings at the Outpost in Africa

Festival offerings at the Outpost in Africa

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…

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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!

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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!

Food & Wine Festival display at the main Epcot entrance with Spaceship Earth in the background

Food & Wine Festival display at the main Epcot entrance with Spaceship Earth in the background

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!

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Starting at the front of the park, I really like this year’s display with the Fantasia-inspired utensils…

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and the “cookbook” behind Mickey….

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even though you have to get at an angle to read all of it…

The Cranberry Bog

The Cranberry Bog

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…

Craft Beer Booth Menu

Craft Beer Booth Menu

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…

A couple of the adult beverages available at the Hawaii booth

A couple of the adult beverages available at the Hawaii booth

more beer! Yea, beer!

Gift shops open early on the Thursday before the "official" opening of the Festival

Gift shops open early on the Thursday before the “official” opening of the Festival

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.

Staff in Hawaii booth prepping for beer service... we offered to test for quality control but they were having none of our foolishness...

Staff in Hawaii booth prepping for beer service… we offered to test for quality control but they were having none of our foolishness…

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.

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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…

Refreshment Port menu during the Food & Wine Festival

Refreshment Port menu during the Food & Wine Festival

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…

The very firat Ornge Dole Whip with Creme de Cacau served at the 2013 festival! Whoo-hoo! You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning!

The very first Orange Dole Whip with Creme de Cacao served at the 2013 festival! You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning! Whoo-hoo!

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!

Canada Kiosk as yet un-opened..

Some activity at yet to open Canada Kiosk…

We made our way around the lagoon going past several booths that were still to open…

All's quiet on the Ireland front...

All’s quiet on the Ireland front…

with our past history at the Thursday soft-openings, we weren’t expecting too much activity or actual openings until early afternoon…

Setting up the queue in France...

Setting up the queue in France…

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!

Belgium open for business!

Belgium open for business!

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???).

Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef and my first Stella of the festivel

Potato and Leek Waffle with Braised Beef and my first Stella of the festival

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.

Chef Jens going last-minute instructions to the cast in the New Zealand kiosk

Chef Jens giving last-minute instructions to the cast in the New Zealand kiosk

Florida open for business

Florida open for business

By 1 PM the majority of the kiosks were serving…

Mama Ginny thought that the Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll in Germany was a real wiener!

Mama Ginny thought that the Bratwurst in a Pretzel Roll in Germany was a real wiener!

and by 2 PM it seemed all were open.

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We continued to rotate around the World Showcase a couple of times…

A United Kingdom cast remember crafting a chalk welcome to the festival...

A United Kingdom cast remember crafting a chalk welcome to the festival…

The empty rectangle would eventually be filled in with a colourful Union Jack

The empty rectangle would eventually be filled in with a colourful Union Jack

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…

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On Friday, the official opening day of the festival, I started by checking out the Festival Center (which wasn’t open on Thursday).

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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!).

The ubiquitous Pam Smith (left) with Master Sommier Andrea Robinson

The ubiquitous Pam Smith (left) with Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson

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).

Wasabi Pea-Crusted Salmon

Wasabi Pea-Crusted Salmon

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…

Block & Hans

The new purveyor of specialty beers, Block & Hans

the small gazebo-shaped gift shop that had been shuttered had re-opened as Block & Hans, Purveyors of Fine American Ale.

Block & Hans Menu

Block & Hans Menu

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…

Griddled Lobster Tail with Garlic Herb Butter  and a Chardonnay from the Hops & Barley Market

Griddled Lobster Tail with Garlic Herb Butter and a Chardonnay from the Hops & Barley Market

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…

The Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog in the full glory of daylight

The Ocean Spray Cranberry Bog in the full glory of daylight

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?

Craisin Glazed pork Belly with White Cheddar Maple Grits... a-freaking-amazing...

Craisin Glazed pork Belly with White Cheddar Maple Grits… a-freaking-mazing…

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…

Inside the Bog having our photo taken by a real-live cranberry farmer (photo courtesy Papa Harry)

Inside the Bog having our photo taken by a real-live cranberry farmer (photo courtesy Papa Harry)

Once inside the Bog we were served cranberry cocktails and snacked upon several cranberry-laced edibles.

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Seared Free-Range Chicken with Craisin Moonshine Pearls

Seared Free-Range Chicken with Craisin Moonshine Pearls

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All in all it was a very magical end to a magical day….

Cheers!  Photo courtesy Papa Harry

Cheers!
Photo courtesy Papa Harry

For a couple of other looks at the Bog Experience check out these posts by a couple of Orlando-based buddies of mine: Ricky at Tasty Chomps and Julius at Droolius.

Saturday we returned to Epcot (big shock) and continued to sample some of the goodies…

Pineapple Fritters from the Refreshment Port

Pineapple Fritters from the Refreshment Port

and we eventually headed to the Festival Center so that Miss Bonnie could check out this years merchandise…

One of the new tee-shirts this year

One of the new tee-shirts this year

and also so we could take part in one of our favorite activities: stalking Celebrity Chefs.

Chef Carla Hall

Chef Carla Hall

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.

The backside of Carla...

The backside of Carla…

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.

Somebody said something funny...

Somebody said something funny…

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!

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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…

Menu from the new Scotland kiosk... how was the faux Haggus? You'll just have to wait for that...

Menu from the new Scotland kiosk… how was the faux Haggis? You’ll just have to wait for that…

Spiked Dole Whip from the Refreshment Port

Spiked Dole Whip from the Refreshment Port

Potato and Leek Waffle topped with Beef Stew from Belgium... and a Stella of course!

Potato and Leek Waffle topped with Beef Stew from Belgium… and a Stella of course!

There's nothing wrong about a booth being sponsored by hot sauce!

There’s nothing wrong about a booth being sponsored by hot sauce!

Especially when you have Tabasco on tap!

Especially when you have Tabasco on tap!

Mahi with Singa Sauce... a favorite from the Singapore booth returns...

Mahi with Singa Sauce… a favorite from the Singapore booth returns…

Merch...

Merch…

merch...

merch…

and more merch... including Mamma Ginny's favorite bear!

and more merch… including Mamma Ginny’s favorite bear!

Kimchi Dog and the rocket-fuel known as Soju from South Korea - despite he unfortunate name, the dog is going to be a huge hit this year!

Kimchi Dog and the rocket-fuel known as Soju from South Korea – despite the unfortunate name the dog is going to be a huge hit this year!

Cheese, Gromit, cheese!

Cheese, Gromit, cheese!

Spicy Hand Roll and Sake from Japan

Spicy Hand Roll and Sake from Japan

Best face-paint ever!

Best face-paint ever!

Did someone say Cranberry Bog???

Did someone say Cranberry Bog???

You can't eat this... Cranberry Glazed Pork Belly with Cheese Grits  at the Ocean Spray media event

You can’t eat this… Cranberry Glazed Pork Belly with Cheese Grits at the Ocean Spray media event… holy crap…

Spiked Jamaican Coffee... available hot or frozen... ja mon!

Spiked Jamaican Coffee… available hot or frozen… ja mon!

And of course there's celebrity chefs...

And of course there’s celebrity chefs…

this weekend we got to meet the a-freaking-adorable Carla Hall!

this weekend we got to meet the a-freaking-adorable Carla Hall!

Hungry yet? If not…

Venison Sausage with Pickled Mushrooms and Arugula from New Zealand

Venison Sausage with Pickled Mushrooms and Arugula from New Zealand

Almond Crusted Blue Cheese Souffle from Cheese kiosk

Almond Crusted Blue Cheese Souffle from Cheese kiosk

The freaking-amazing Lamb and Garlic Shrimp from Australia

The flippin’-amazing Lamb and Garlic Shrimp from Australia

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!

Overheard at Disney…

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…

Korea Booth at Epcot Food & Wine Festival

South Korea Booth at Epcot Food & Wine Festival

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!

WDW Weekend Eats

September 25, 2013

With the opening of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival just days away, let’s whet your appetite with a very quick look at some other eats from around the World…

If you’ve checked out the last three “Odds & Ends” posts (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Epcot), you know Miss Bonnie & I made a trip to the World recently, and yes, we also had some things to eat…

"Spider Roll" from the Cabana Bar and Beach Club

“Spider Roll” from the Cabana Bar and Beach Club

We started off the weekend, along with Mama Ginny and Papa Harry, by having a casual dinner at the Cabana Bar and Beach Club.  This location is actually the pool bar/restaurant at the Swan and Dolphin Resort.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Bonnie and I shared the “Spider Roll” to start – unlike a traditional sushi roll, this was actually a cylinder of rice that was then topped with the usual suspects: fried soft shell crab, avocado, etc., and served with a ginger sauce. Maybe not as easy to eat as a regular roll, but  the flavor was good, and it was a unique and attractive presentation.

Chilled Roasted Pepper Soup

Chilled Roasted Pepper Soup

Bonnie had the salad of ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella while I chose the combo of a Pork Banh Mi Sandwich with Chilled Roasted Pepper Soup.

Braised Pork Banh Mi

Braised Pork Banh Mi

Bonnie cleaned her plate, and I liked both the sandwich and soup (especially the latter), and at $10 for the combo I thought it was quite a good deal.

Buttermilk Battered Chicken Crisps

Buttermilk Battered Chicken Crisps

Mama Ginny went for the fried chicken crisps, which came with some decent waffle fries, while Papa Harry had the Crab Salad…

Crab Salad

Crab Salad

with compressed watermelon topped with big pieces of lump crab with a lemon vinaigrette.

We all enjoyed our meals, and agreed we’d gladly return. This is a place that definitely falls under the radar of most Disney guests, and I probably never would have found it except for the fact that they have always had some interesting dishes served at the Swan/Dolphin Food & Wine Classic.

This is a casual yet upscale place, with many unique dishes and cocktails, but you can certainly get a standard burger and a Bud if that’s your want… if you’re in the Boardwalk area it’s certainly worth a try… you can check out the Cabana Menu here.

Now let’s venture inside a park…

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over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this kiosk sits along the path between Africa and Asia, it once served sauced fried chicken pieces, but for now at least, it’s the default location for quick service veggie food.

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We tried the samosas…

Samosas with Mango Chutney

Samosas with Mango Salsa

a traditional Indian fried snack filled with potatoes and peas.

Inside the samosa...

Inside the samosa…

The filling could have been a bit more aggressively seasoned, but the sweet and just-so-slightly spicy salsa added some extra flavor.

We also tried the cold Asian Noodle Salad.

Asian Noodle Salad

Asian Noodle Salad

We both really liked this combo of toothsome noodles with lots of broccoli and snow peas with a sesame dressing.

After some semi-healthy eats at AK, let’s go to the semi-unhealthy in Epcot…

Sommerfest

Sommerfest

The Sommerfest quick-service locale in Germany recently underwent a menu renovation and we went to check out a couple of the new items.

Sommerfest Menu

Sommerfest Menu

Formerly just a brat & weenie joint, now there is much more variety, and lots of fine adult beverages including the grapefruit beer that was uber popular at the Food & Wine Festival last year!

Nudel Kugel (left) and Currywurst

Nudel Gratin (left) and Currywurst

We sampled the Nudel Gratin (basically a German Mac & Cheese), which Bonnie loved, and at $3.49 it’s a good deal.

Currywurst with Chips

Currywurst with Paprika Chips

I really liked the sausage doused in the mild curry-flavored sauce. The freshly-made potato chips were really good – we’ve seen lots of these on property over the past couple of years, and that’s a Good Thing… (channeling my Inner Martha there…).

While at Epcot we grabbed a couple of things to take back to out Beach Club room for later…

Cheese Plate from Boulangerie Patisserie


Cheese Plate from Boulangerie Patisserie

Bonnie is a cheese-fiend and loves to grab the Fromages, along with a baguette or two, from Boulangerie Patisserie in France. Of course you need something sweet to follow…

Peanut Butter Brownie

Peanut Butter Brownie

so we picked up the highly-recommend Peanut Butter Brownie from the new Starbucks location… and the recommendations were right… Bonnie even tried to convince me I didn’t want to finish my share, but I had none of that!

All-in-all some tasty, new and fun eats! Hope you enjoyed!

We’ll be at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival in just a  few short days… will we see you there???

Epcot Odds & Ends

September 23, 2013

Bonnie and I made a trip to the World recently (big shock, huh?), and since then I’ve given you a couple of odds & ends posts from the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, and now let’s look at some random stuff from my favorite park, Epcot.

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In Future World the Fountainview near, well, the fountain, has re-opened as the new Starbucks location in Epcot.

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Inside you can order your usual Starbucks beverages…

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purchase some packaged caffeine…

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or try some tasty baked goods…

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a few of which are unique to the parks.

Now moving on to World Showcase…

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we find one of my favorite fictional Brits, Mary Poppins, now appears in topiary form outside the loo in the Untied Kingdom section of the World Showcase.

And in Morocco work continues on the Spice Road Table restaurant.

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While across the sidewalk is the recently completed stage for the band Mo Rockin’.

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In Germany we have a few new items to sup upon…

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more on these in another post…

Inside the pyramid in Mexico I found a new shirt…

Is this what happens after too much tequila???

Is this what happens after too much tequila???

while in the American Adventure construction continued on the much-needed new facilities…

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a couple of days after we were there the walls came down and the new restrooms were open… just in time for Food & Wine, especially considering that the Sam Adams booth usually is right in front of this space!

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And speaking of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival…

Mmmm... beer will be here soon...

Mmmm… beer will be here soon…

the kiosks are going up….

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and signs are telling us it’s “Coming Soon”….

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and just a few days from now there will be lines waiting to sample the tasty goods… and yes, dear Dedicated Readers, we’ll be there to taste, sample, and share the eats & drinks with you!

Okay, we’ll wrap up this session of Odds & Ends with this quick look at Epcot… we’ll return here soon (Food & Wine does start in just a few days!), but for now it’s back to the kitchen!

See you soon!

Animal Kingdom Odds & Ends

September 22, 2013

We looked at some odds & ends from the Magic Kingdom a few days ago, so to continue on with a look at our recent visit to WDW, let’s now take a quick look at some odds & ends from Miss Bonnie’s favorite park, Animal Kingdom.

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We checked out the fairly new meet-and-greet for Mickey and Minnie, and while in line you get to see several cute pictures of the rodent couple while on their adventures around the world…

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the room where you get to see M & M and have your photo taken with the renowned couple is chock-full of details…

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including a Mickey-shaped butterfly net.

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We also stopped by the fairly new allergy-free/healthy-eating kiosk (officially known as the Gardens Kiosk)…

Gardens Kiosk on Discovery Island

Gardens Kiosk on Discovery Island

Here guests can get info about dining locations in the park for those with special dietary needs and also purchase some gluten-free snacks (some packaged and several freshly baked items from babycakes in Downtown Disney) and beverages (including gluten-free beer) along with fresh fruit. I chatted a while with the cast members there, and they said that the response to the kiosk had been quite good and this was a test and similar kiosks could eventually be rolled out in the other parks.

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The official Disney website has this to say about the Gardens Kiosk: “Happen upon this oasis of vitality to find healthy offerings as well as other helpful information regarding Guests with specific food allergies. Discover a snack suitable to your dietary restrictions while you learn about other nutritious options available throughout the park!”

What it doesn’t mention is that, yes dear Dedicated Readers, you can get a beer here at nine in the morning… good thing to know…

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And speaking of beverages, we also made a visit to my favorite spot in the village of Harambe: the Dawa Bar.

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Due to the continued construction of the new theater for the Festival of the Lion King show, the bar was reported to be moved the day after we were there, but the cast member working behind the bar that day said she didn’t know exactly when or where it would be relocated to. Below you can see the construction wall right behind the bar with the walls of the new theater peaking above the construction wall.

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While in Africa, we took a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safaris with the hopes of seeing a couple of the newest additions to the animal population of the savannah.

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We were rewarded with some great views of two baby giraffes who had just recently made their first forays onto the savannah. There is one youngster of each species (Masai and Reticulated), and they are about as cute as any six-foot-tall animal can be!

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So there you have it, a few odds & ends from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot is up next so we’ll see you soon!

Magic Kingdom Odds & Ends

September 20, 2013

Miss Bonnie and I made a trip to the World last weekend, and since it had been a few weeks since our last visit (and it seemed like it had been forever since we’d been there last!) we came across a few new/semi-notable things that I thought I’d share with you, dear Dedicated Readers… so let’s start off with a brief look at the Magic Kingdom…

You all know how much i love pictures of construction walls...

You all know how much I love pictures of construction walls…

There are construction walls around the left-hand side turnstile area at the entrance to the park – make that the former turnstile area – there are no longer any actual working turnstiles for entrance at any of the parks… they have all been replaced with the new “Mickey-Head” devices for use with Magic Bands or the plastic cards.

Seems like Miss Bonnie and I can hardly go anywhere without running into a clown...

Seems like Miss Bonnie and I can hardly go anywhere without running into a clown…

Although the Storybook Circus Giggle Gang have been appearing in (of course) the Storybook Circus area of the park, this was the first time we’d had the opportunity to catch their act.

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Three clowns performed a humorous golf routine in one area…

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while not far away Wowzer (with the help of a park guest) put on a fun plate-spinning act.

It’s a nice little diversion and we quite enjoyed watching both performances, especially Wowzer – hopefully they’ll stay around the park for a while.

Prince Eric's Village Market

Prince Eric’s Village Market

Nearby in Fantasyland (do we still have to call it New Fantasyland?), Prince Eric’s Village Market recently opened up across from the Little Mermaid ride.

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This small space features an assortment of healthy snacks…

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and a selection of (as the daily Times Guide notes) “exciting” beverages.

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The market butts up to the back of the still-under-construction mine train ride and a construction wall is just to the side around a building that I assume will be a gift shop for the Little Mermaid area.

New entrance signage to the Haunted Mansion

New entrance signage to the Haunted Mansion

Fastpass+ entrances are up all around the park, and the new entrance and signage is up at the Haunted Mansion. If you use Fastpass+ you have to bypass the cool cemetery area that had been added to the queue area a bit back, while the standby queue goes through it… if the wait isn’t too long I’d say go standby (even if you have a Fastpass) just to go through the cemetery – it’s worth the extra time…

Peter Pan ride queue area near the old restrooms

Peter Pan ride queue area near the old restrooms

While on the subject of queues, at Peter Pan’s Flight the old restrooms are gone and part of the queue is now closed off while the line is being updated.

New map of Never Land painted on the wall in queue area of the Peter Pan ride

New map of Never Land painted on the wall in queue area of Peter Pan

The construction walls had come down from around the Princess Fairytale Hall behind the castle…

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and we were hoping there might be some soft openings for the new meet-and-greet on the day we were there so we could get a peek inside, but no such luck…

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I guess the Princesses will have to wait for our next visit to have the pleasure of my company…  you’ve been warned Rapunzel…

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As you exit the park, if you head to the left (towards the buses or the ferry) you’ll see a new sign overhead…

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which gives the wait time for the next ferryboat – a very nice feature in my opinion!

There you have it, a quick look at some odds & ends from the Magic Kingdom, we’ll look at some other stuff from around the World soon, but for now it’s back to the kitchen!

See you soon!

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