WDW Odds & Ends…

November 21, 2011

I’ve spent most of the last week in seclusion, contemplating the end of the Best Time of the Year… sobbing quietly… crying myself to sleep curled up in the fetal position…

Last weekend was, yes dear Dedicated Readers, the last weekend of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival…

Now that I’ve had a bit of time to recover, I figured I’ve give you a (relatively) quick overview of last weekend, as it was not just the final weekend of the Food & Wine Festival, but much more was going on at the World (Disneyworld, that is) that weekend, so let’s take a look back…

Let’s start at Downtown Disney, where the 36th annual Festival of the Masters was going on.

This three-day event (Friday through Sunday) usually coincides with the last weekend of the Food & Wine Festival (or sometimes the weekend after), and features lots of exhibitors/sellers of artwork,

a display of sidewalk chalk artists at work,

various kids activities, a mini food & beverage festival,

live entertainment, and more…

Outside the Lego store, hobbyists show off their Lego creations, many of which are quite impressive.

The artist’s booths (over 150 this year) usually feature high-quality work in many categories such as photography, digital art, glass, painting and sculpture.

Down by the House of Blues is a section of booths featuring folk art.

And yes, there is food… and beverages…

Several of the Downtown Disney restaurants set up booths to show off their offerings….

The offerings aren’t extensive (only seven restaurants this year, and sadly Raglan Road didn’t participate this year – they have had some nice items the past couple of years), and the quality varies (usually good items from Fulton’s, Portabello, Bongo’s and House of Blues… Pucks has pretty much phoned it in the past few years, and T-Rex is well, T-Rex…), but it’s worth saving some stomach space if you’re heading down there.

Meatball Sliders

One of the offerings from Portabello was three Meatball Sliders from  for five bucks – tasty and a great deal!

Fulton’s Crab House had a couple of good deals – two big Stone Crab Claws for $6.00,

Stone Crab Claws

Lobster Bisque in a Sourdough Bread Bowl

and a big Sourdough Bread Bowl filled with a good Lobster Bisque for only $4.00.

The Festival of the Masters doesn’t seem to get a mass amount of publicity, and from the usual good crowds it probably doesn’t need too much. If you’re in the area while it’s going on, it’s well worth the visit.

Around Downtown Disney (as elsewhere on property) it’s obvious that the Christmas season was already in full swing, with decorations everywhere.

A sign at the House of Blue was touting an upcoming menu change, courtesy of Aaron Sanchez…

I’m actually quite looking forward to trying this new menu out, as Chef Sanchez is one of my favorite Food Network celebs.

Inside the World of Disney store, the Turkey Leg shirt still seems to be a big seller, and yes, it’s available in kid’s sizes.

If you haven’t been to Downtown Disney in a while, it’s worth a trip to check out the new Lego displays that were put in after the store was redone a few months ago, several are quite spectacular!

So now, let’s move on to the Studios…

Not surprisingly, the upcoming Muppet flick is being promoted at the Muppet store (technically known as the Stage 1 Company Store if you want to be picky…).

Sadly there’s not a ton of new Muppets merch to be had – let’s hope the movie is as great as we here hope it will be, and we’ll be given more opportunities to be parted with our hard-earned cash…

Earlier we were speaking of the holiday decorations around the World, and the big Christmas event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has now opened…

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights has opened, and it’s perhaps more spectacular than ever.

Even though the lights weren’t “dancing” all the time we were there (the dreaded “technical difficulties”), it was still an amazing display.

Hidden Mickeys abound – fifty of them according to the announcer.

Do you see Mickey?

And the Hidden Purple Cat, whose location changes each year, of course is back… after much frustration and gnashing of teeth, Miss Bonnie & I spotted it almost at the same exact moment… scroll down a bit if you don’t want to see the next picture of it…

Hello kitty...

This is the first year of the lights since the passing of Jennings Osborne, who started the Christmas display at his home in Little Rock, Arkansas.

One thing I noticed this year is a “Hidden Arkansas Razorback”…

I’m sure someone will let me know if this has been there in prior years, but it’s new to me, and I’m assuming it’s an homage to the memory of Mr. Jennings.

And yes, there is food and beverage news at the Lights…

As usual, a Toy Soldier mans a grill.

Booths offered up a menu of (mostly) holiday-themed eats.

"Pour on some sprinkles, stick a glo-cube on me, and call me a "Holiday Cupcake"... hell yeah they'll pay $6.50 for me!"

Walking through the crowd was a ballpark-style beer vendor…

What? No Stella?

I would have actually been a bit excited if there had been more interesting choices beyond Bud & Bud Light.

All told, this display is pretty darn amazing, and a not-to-be-missed at Disney during the holiday season.

Okay, so now we move on to the weekend at Epcot…

Epcot Christmas Tree

I won’t go into a great amount of detail on the last weekend of the Food & Wine Festival right now as it for one, may make me cry that it’s over, and for another, the biggest parts of the weekend (for me at least), deserve much more attention (and will receive same in later posts…).

Needless to say, we did eat some food – we tried a few items that at least one of us (Miss Bonnie and/or myself) had yet to have – but mostly had some favorites for one last time at the festival.

The offerings from Germany

Jerk Chicken and Dragon Berry Colada

Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie

The Ocean Spray sponsored cranberry bog was a big hit at the festival this year, and the nearby booth was giving away packets of Crasins all through the festival, but at the final couple of days with many packages left, the offerings of the remaining Crasins were greatly expanded… Miss Bonnie’s backpack was filled to the brim with the tasty berries…

"Give me all your Crasins and no one will get hurt..."

And one night after dark, we saw something we’ve never seen…

the lights were on in the VIP lounge at Spaceship Earth…

wonder who was in there????

So now, the big part of the weekend… for me at least…

Pam Smith and Chef Suvir Saran

getting to see one of my true Culinary Icons, Suvir Saran (he has asked me not to refer to him as “Chef”, and I will try to resist…).

Dedicated Readers will know of my admiration for Suvir and his food (if you are new here, please go and read Let’s Cook! Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread and Let’s Cook! Fried Chicken Masala before continuing…). And I’ve found that he his as great a person as he is a chef (I’ll used “chef” with a small “c”… maybe I can get away with that…).

For months I’ve looked forward to Suvir’s return to the Food and Wine Festival – his two events were the ones I signed up for on the first day they were available, and literally counted the days until I was able to attend them…

On Friday, his “Kitchen Memories” was was presented – a three-course, two-hour cooking demo highlighted by Suvir’s stories and culinary history. Hosted (as usual) by Pam Smith, the two had a great rapport.

David Munksgard of iron Horse Vineyards provided the accompanying beverages – Fairy Tale Cuvee at 10 AM – yeah baby!

David Munksgard

The food was great, but it was mostly the stories and personalty of Suvir that made the day.

I was fortunate to have some wonderful and engaging table-mates to share the experience. The two hours sped by, and I would have gladly spent all day listening to Suvir’s stories.

Miss Bonnie was able to observe the end of the program, and later joined me for the cookbook signing/meet-and-greet with Suvir.

He was very generous with his time with all attendees and gladly posed for photos. Afterwards I was as giddy as a little schoolgirl…

On Saturday Suvir gave another demonstration, this time one of the one-dish 45 minute demos.

Miss Bonnie attended as well, and we were joined at our table by Sarah, and her significant other Matt, from the Eating WDW blog.

Once again, Suvir was engaging, informative, and very, very funny… I horribly regret not having an audio of the presentation.

Afterwards was another book signing, and we gladly spent some more time with him.

There will be many more details, and of course recipes, from Chef Saran’s events (oops, sorry, I mean Suvir), and yes we’ll eventually have a recap of the Food & Wine Festival in general (just don’t hold your breath, we’ll get to it eventually… at least before next year’s festival for sure).

We hope you’ve enjoyed these ramblings from a weekend at the World, time to get back to the kitchen… see you soon!

One Response to “WDW Odds & Ends…”

  1. […] huge crowds to Downtown Disney each year. You can see some pics from one year in one of my “WDW Odds & Ends” posts that highlighted the Festival of the […]


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