From the Disney Parks Blog comes news of a new 2016 Epcot Cookbook that “Celebrates the Best of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival”

Cover of new Epcot Festival Cookbook - photo from the Disney Parks Blog

Cover of new Epcot Festival Cookbook – photo from the Disney Parks Blog

 

Pam Brandon wrote the following on the Disney Parks Blog:

“Debuting just in time for this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, the newest Epcot cookbook shares the best-of-the-best recipes, but also includes favorites from the 2016 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, which started adding its Outdoor Kitchens in 2013, now an integral part of the spring fest.

Sharing food and drink is such a communal experience, and the circle around World Showcase Lagoon is the perfect place. The cookbook lets you take the memories home and recreate favorites with family and friends. Here are two of our favorites, one from each festival. The kale salad is a simple meal in a bowl, and the warm quesitos are super-easy and melt-in-your-mouth delectable.

The cookbook will be for sale at the Festival Center, Festival Emporium, Festival Boutique, Mouse Gear, World Traveler, Gift Stop and other Epcot shops during and after the festival. And look for Epcot Culinary Director Gregg Hannon and myself at the Festival Center for a recipe demo and cookbook signing.”

You can see the original post, which also includes a couple of recipes (one old and one new) by clicking here.

 

For those of us that have several of the past Food & Wine Festival cookbooks, we’re hoping that there will be lots of new recipes in this volume, as opposed to reprinting mostly older ones with just a few new ones thrown in… and we’re also hoping they do a better job of proofing this volume than they have done in a couple of the most recent cookbooks from Disney (but that’s a subject for another day…).

Back to the kitchen…

I realized it’s been a while since we’ve done a “Weekend Eats” post, and it’s not because we haven’t been to the World, it’s just my usual slack posting schedule… so here, Dear Dedicated Readers, is a combo edition of several relatively recent visits to WDW, and a very recent trek to another off-property-property…

Brisket, Turkey "Ribs" and the amazing Maple Bacon Cupcake at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Brisket, Turkey “Ribs” and the amazing Maple Bacon Cupcake at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Even though I’d made a couple of trips to the Flower & Garden Festival (which you can review in the posts “A First Taste of Spring: Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Opening Day 2014” and “Second Helpings at the 2014 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival“), Bonnie hadn’t been yet by mid-April, so we made a day trip so that she could exercise her camera-muscles on the festival foliage, and of course sample some of the savory offerings…

And beverages had to be sampled as well...

And beverages had to be sampled as well…

There was an interesting “visitor” at Epcot on that day…

World Showcase food truck in, of all places, the World Showcase...

World Showcase food truck in, of all places, the World Showcase…

the Epcot-centric food truck that normally resides at Downtown Disney made a test appearance at the entrance to World Showcase. I was told by a management-type that it was a test run for that weekend to see how guests responded – if it did well we might actually see the truck (or trucks) show up again during the Food & Wine Festival (which sounds kinda crazy, but if they parked one or two closer to the entrance of the park it might just work).

Eggplant "Scallop" from Urban Farm EATS booth

Eggplant “Scallop” from Urban Farm EATS booth

We wandered, ate some good stuff, and after an all-to-brief visit, we made our way back home, but it wouldn’t be long before we were back…

The ever-youthful Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits

The ever-youthful Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits

the next weekend, to be specific, as Miss Bonnie graciously indulged my desire to see one of my childhood faves, Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits (and shockingly, after five concerts, Bonnie still doesn’t know the words to “Henry the Eighth”).

Three Cheese Manicotti from Primavera Kitchen

Three Cheese Manicotti from Primavera Kitchen

And during the weekend we did have some more of the goodies served at the kitchens of the Flower & Garden Festival.

Shrimp and Grits from Florida Fresh booth

Shrimp and Grits from Florida Fresh booth

The manicotti from Italy was a dish I hadn’t sampled yet this year – cheese-filled as advertised – good but not life-changing. The shrimp & grits was a favorite from Florida Fresh last year, and Bonnie deemed it just as good this go round.

Mmmm... margaritas....

Mmmm… margaritas….

Oh yeah, there was a visit to La Cava…

 

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2014 Walt Disney World Orlando Kouzinna Cat Cora

Kouzzina on Disney’s Boardwalk

Saturday morning of that weekend we had a “good-bye” breakfast at Cat Cora’s Kouzzina.

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash - with Two Eggs and Arugula Salad

Turkey-Sweet Potato Hash with Two Eggs and Arugula Salad

The restaurant is scheduled to close the end of September after a five-year run in the former Spoodles location on the Boardwalk. I’ve always enjoyed the place, and had a really great experience and meal there during Food & Wine a few years ago, which you can see a bit of in the post “Who’s that strange man trying to fondle an Iron Chef?” (and no, I never followed up with a full post on that night…). I’ll be sad to see it go, and so to say farewell we decided to have at least one more meal there.

Classic Golden Waffle with Whipped Mascarpone Cheese, Honey, Chopped Pecans and Bacon

Classic Golden Waffle with Whipped Mascarpone Cheese, Honey, Chopped Pecans and Bacon

As we were seated and our server arrived with the menus I though she looked quite familiar – turned out it was the ever effervescent spikey-hair-blonde Holly who seems to always be on hand at the River Roost in Port Orleans when YeHaa Bob Jackson is on stage! She was a bit more subdued at a more sober breakfast service (although there were a couple of “eye-openers” on our table…) than during the raucous YeHaa Bob shows…

Mama Ginny and Papa Harry, who had never been there before, joined Bonnie and I for breakfast and liked it so much that they returned just a couple of weeks later.

Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast: Two Poached Eggs, Kalamata Olive Toast, Artichoke Spread, and Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon

Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast: Two Poached Eggs, Kalamata Olive Toast, Artichoke Spread, and Sweet Potato Hash with Bacon

The Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast, which Bonnie & Harry both had, was the real winner here – it’s a nice combo of somewhat unusual flavors for a breakfast meal and they both were happy members of the Clean Plate Club at the end of the meal.

Afterwards we made another trip to Epcot for some more Flower & Garden food and fun…

Lamb Brewat Roll with Prunces and Sesame from Taste of Marrakesh

Lamb Brewat Roll with Prunes and Sesame from Taste of Marrakesh

I really liked the lamb roll from Morocco – a crispy egg-roll-like-thing filled to the brim with shredded meat!

Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso from Jardin de Fiestas

Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso from Jardin de Fiestas

We also tried the mushroom and cheese quesadilla from Mexico with less than spectacular results… it was fairly bland, and we both agreed it wasn’t very “Mexican” to our tastes…

"Second verse, same as the first..."

“Second verse, same as the first…”

And yes, there were some more songs to enjoy that evening…

Home of the Don't-Call-It-A-Cronut

Home of the Don’t-Call-It-A-Cronut

On Sunday we found ourselves once again around the World Showcase and I finally tried the Croissant Doughnut from the Refreshment Port…

Outside the Cronut

Outside the Croissant Doughnut

this hybrid between a croissant and (you guessed it) a doughnut is better known as a Cronut, but that moniker has been trademarked, so hence the “Croissant Doughnut”.

Inside the Cronut

Inside the Croissant Doughnut

There are flaky layers inside the cinnamon-sugar coated outside, and yes, it’s pretty dang tasty, but at $4.49 I think it won’t be an everyday treat…

Lemon Scones, Pork & Apple Sausage Roll and Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Stilton from the Buttercup Cottage

Lemon Scones, Pork & Apple Sausage Roll and Salad with Strawberries, Almonds and Stilton from the Buttercup Cottage

We ended our eating at Epcot for this weekend by having a trifecta of dishes from the Buttercup Cottage in the UK. We enjoyed all the items, and I liked the sausage roll a bit more the second time than I had when I first tried it.

The next weekend we found ourselves back in the World for Expedition Everest weekend – we weren’t participating in the race, but several friends were in WDW for the event, so we came to just hang out a bit… and eat some more…

The backside of Ankole Cattle

The backside of Ankole Cattle

We were staying at our favorite resort, Kidani Village, and made a quick trip over to Animal Kingdom late on Friday afternoon.

As it was close to closing time for the park by the time we got there, many of the quick-service eating locations were closing down, so we stepped into Yak and Yeti and quickly were granted a table.

We ordered a couple of adult beverages while we perused the menu and eventually settled on just having a couple of appetizers.

Seared Ahi Tuna (top) and Thai Chili Chicken Wings

Seared Ahi Tuna (top) and Thai Chili Chicken Wings

Neither were particularly memorable – they looked better than they tasted. The food wasn’t bad, just sorta there – we’ve certainly had better-tasting items there before. The marinated cucumbers alongside the wings were probably the best thing on the table (other than the beverages…). Our server was great though!

It still irks me a bit that they don’t take Tables in Wonderland – they do give a 10% annual passholder discount, but it’s only on entrees… gee, thanks…

Not quite sated, we headed to the bar at Sanaa when we made it back to Kidani.

Indian Style Bread Service

Indian Style Bread Service – Jalapeno-lime Pickle, Coriander Chutney & Tamarind Chutney with Garlic Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan and Onion Kulcha

You can order appetizers from the restaurant while at the bar (and I have seen them serve from the full menu in the bar as well in the past, even though they say they aren’t supposed to do so), so Bonnie had a glass of wine while I tried an IPA as we looked over the bar menu.

We settled on one of our absolutely favorite things, the bread service. You get to choose three of five great Indian breads, and three accompaniments for $9.99 (or you can have all nine of the saucy sides for two more bucks). Unless you’re carb-phobic, this is a great choice to start a meal for two or more, or like we did here share between two for a nice, filling later night snack. The naans are our number one, and are freshly made to order, they are pretty hard to beat with any of the accompanying sauces.

And yes, they do take Tables in Wonderland at the bar there!

We wound up going all over the place on Saturday to find sustenance…

DVC construction at the Poly

DVC construction at the Poly

After a quick trip to the Wide World of Sports to check out the race expo, we went over to the Polynesian Resort to see about the goings on there.

The addition of a Disney Vacation Club area to the resort had been announced quite a while back (and very obvious construction has been taking place for several weeks), but there had been many other rumors going around about some other changes to the resort, and as it happened, many of those changes had been officially announced the day before we got there (most notably to the adult-beverage-indulgers among us, the addition of a east coast version of Trader Sam’s!). We did our best to get info from several cast members there as to the exact location of where the new bar will be, but all, including a couple of managers, claimed ignorance as to where in the resort Trader Sam’s will eventually reside.

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Looking to fill our grumbling bellies, we made our way to the temporary location of the resort’s quick-service eatery, Captain Cook’s. The normal location for the restaurant (lower lobby level facing the pool) has been shuttered for a while undergoing a refurb – with the announcement of the upcoming changes (and the recent closing of the Wyland Gallery) we now wonder if Cook’s will actually return to it’s former location or wind up somewhere else in the resort. It’s old site sure seems like it would be prime territory for a new bar…

Capt' Cook's current lunch/dinner menu

Capt. Cook’s current lunch/dinner menu

We’ve enjoyed several items from Capt. Cook’s before (notably the Pork Nachos and Pork Sandwich). This day we tried a new item, the Thai Coconut Meatballs.

Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

We also ordered a side of the chips – a seasoned combo of potato chips, tortilla chips and fried wonton skins. This isn’t on the menu, but if you ask they’ll gladly serve you up a nice plate of them.

Capt. Cook's Chips and Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

Capt. Cook’s Chips and Thai Coconut Meatball on Rice

The meatballs themselves were fine, but I found the sauce to be way too sweet. Bonnie liked them a bit better, but after she added a bit of soy sauce we both found them more palatable. Also a few steamed/stir-fried veggies on the plate would have been nice. The chips were the hit of the table – I’d go back just for some more of those!

While in the neighborhood we met up with our friend Corndog Laura and took a quick monorail trip over to check out the DVC rooms at the Grand Floridian (they are pretty gorgeous!). From there we went back to Kidani, and as Laura hadn’t done it before, we took the cultural tour of Sanaa.

Bread service sampler at Sanaa cultural tour

Bread service sampler at Sanaa cultural tour

We were taken around the restaurant by a lovely young woman from South Africa and she gave us background on the details of the dining area. It’s a very interesting tour, and at the end they feed you! We (once again) got a sampling of the bread service, this time on the house!

In case you’re not aware, they give this tour for free every day at 4 PM. You don’t have to sign up, just arrive at the restaurants podium a few minutes before four. You don’t even have to be a guest staying at the resort, just show up!

Likewise they do a restaurant tour (also at 4 PM) over at Jambo House. Just make your way to the entrance of Boma and you’ll get a tour there (along usually with a sample of one of their great soups and a Zebra Dome or other dessert). From there they take you to Jiko for a tour of that dining establishment, and they usually wind that up with a sample of their signature Taste of Africa appetizer (which is also a bread and dips sampler). Definitely worth a trip over there (if you’re not already staying there), and a rare freebie at Disney!

As if we’d not had enough to eat for the day, we wound up heading over to the Coronado Springs Resort to check out the options at the Pepper Market. Laura went for the roasted chicken, while Bonnie & I shared a huge serving of nachos.

Market Nachos at the Pepper Market

Market Nachos at the Pepper Market

The big plate of chips was topped with chicken and beef (you can choose either or both), salsa, gooey-cheese-like-product and sour cream (jalapenos were one the side in deference to Miss Bonnie’s still mild palate). If you want a big plate of messy, bad-for-you goodness, that’s more than plenty for two people to split, this is a diet-busting deal for ten bucks. If only the beers alongside were a better deal…

On our Sunday getaway day, we went over to the Magic Kingdom to check out the final bits of construction on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (and hope for a soft-opening ride, but that wish was to go ungranted…).

We did however get shown a pretty amazing Hidden Steamboat Willie in the exit queue of the Little Mermaid ride…

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

it’s almost impossible to see from a picture, and you’d likely never notice it without it being pointed out to you, but when you see it, it’s down-right spectacular! We’ll be glad to show it to you sometime in the park!

For our final feasting of this weekend in the parks, we wandered into Pinocchio’s Village Haus.

Caprese Flatbread

Caprese Flatbread

Bonnie snagged us a seat overlooking Small World while I got us a Caprese Flatbread to share. Tomatoes, mozzarella and a Balsamic drizzle atop a flatbread crust, this was a very passable lunch (along with a side of fries to sate Miss Bonnie’s spud-addiction). It’s worth a try if you’re looking for something just a bit different in the Magic Kingdom.

Friar's Nook Menu

Friar’s Nook Menu

While there I took a peek at the Friar’s Nook menu and noted that the Blue Cheese & Balsamic version of Mac & Cheese (that we had quite liked on a prior visit) had been replaced with a Pot Roast one… we’ll try next visit…

So to continue (and conclude) this extended edition of Weekend Eats, we head off property proper to visit the east coast of Florida.

We’d long been talking about wanting to visit Disney’s Vero Beach resort, and when the Iowa O’Briens had planned a trip there and asked us to come along, we jumped at the opportunity.

Early morning on the Treasure Coast - view from our room at Disney's Vero Beach Resort

Early morning on the Treasure Coast – view from our room at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

The resort is fairly small, but nice and full of Disney-touches. Like most of the DVC resorts, you’re not hit over the head with characters and such (in fact, the only walk-around characters appear at one lone character breakfast on Saturdays), but there are enough details, Hidden Mickeys and the like to keep even the most rabid Disney-phile happy. And without the lure of the hectic parks nearby, this is a perfect place for a relaxing stay with a Disney touch.

As we spent most of our time either at the beach, the pool or just exploring the resort, (and since we’d also brought along some foodstuffs to have in our room) we actually spent relatively little time at the on-site dining establishments.

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That being said, we did visit the Green Cabin Room bar a couple of times, and really enjoyed our time spent there. Located on the second floor of the resort facing the ocean, the interior is dark and cool and chock-full of details and memorabilia of the ships that had sunk offshore of the Treasure Coast (so called because of the abundance of riches that is on the sea bed from the many shipwrecks).

Green Cabin Room Afternoon/Evening Menu

Green Cabin Room Afternoon/Evening Menu

Overlooking the Atlantic is a small outside deck with just four prime tables and a long bar by the window with hightop chairs. On our first visit we sat at the latter, the few tables all being filled.

Chicken Wings and Kettle Chips with Blue Cheese and Herb Dipping Sauce

Chicken Wings and Kettle Chips with Blue Cheese and Herb Dipping Sauce

We ordered the chips with blue cheese and dip along with an order of wings. The chips were good, but the cheese, while nice and strong flavored, was a bit skimpy. The fluffy fresh-herb dip was just right when you could find a nice bit of the blue cheese to pair with one of the crispy chips. The breaded wings were just average and came with a choice of three sauces (Thai Chili, Buffalo or Barbeque) – we asked for both the Thai and Buffalo and they gladly brought us ramekins of each for dipping. Despite the less-than-stellar eats, the beer was cold (and the wine expensive), the service was top-notch and it was a beautiful day with a great view of the ocean… life was good that day at the Green Room Cabin…

Artisan Cheese and Cured Meats Platter with Herb Flatbread

Artisan Cheese and Cured Meats Platter with Herb Flatbread

The next day we met the O’Brien Brood inside the bar for some more consumables. This time we chose the cheese and meat platter. Served on a long cutting board (which could have served well as a paddle in case one of or party decided to get a bit out of line) this was a nice selection of cheeses (a couple nicely stinky) and cured meats with warm flatbread and cool grapes on the side. Cheese plates are now offered at pretty much all the restaurants and resort bars in Property proper, but this one was a bit different, and a bit more hearty, with the inclusion of the meats. Bonnie and I scarfed it down with much glee and enthusiasm.

The drink menu here is the standard one used at all the bars on WDW property, with just the beers and wines varying slightly. The food menu is a bit more varied and complete compared to the ones at most of the bars on Lake Buena Vista property, there is even a separate bill of fare for lunch. All the food here comes from one floor down out of the kitchen of Shutters (the more casual of the two sit-down restaurants at Vero, the other being the more upscale Sonya’s).

We’re looking forward to getting back to the Vero Beach resort – we vowed to return sooner rather than later for another chill-out weekend – and maybe we’ll actually try the two sit-down restaurants the next time!

There you have it Dear Dedicated Readers, another (much longer than I expected) edition of Weekend Eats – hope you enjoyed the vicarious vittles!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!

We’re back to the World, and of course, the kitchen! See you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After my first visit to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (which you can see in the post “A First Taste of Spring: Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2014“) I was itching to try some of the food items I’d missed on my first go-round, so the next week I trekked back to the World for another spin around the World Showcase.

Urban Farm EATS

Urban Farm EATS

My first food stop was at the Urban Farm EATS kiosk (and yes, they put “Eats” in all caps in all the literature).

Pickled Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Cream, Mizuna and Pistschios

Pickled Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Cream, Mizuna and Pistachios

First I tried the Pickled Beet Salad…

There's that goat cheese!

There’s that goat cheese!

the tart goat cheese cream was tucked under the mizuna (an Asian green of the mustard family) and surrounded by pickled beets and topped with crushed pistachios for texture. This was a great start to the days dining… if you don’t think you like beets, give this one a try.

Next up was the tilapia from the same booth…

Tilapia with crisp Winter Melon Slaw and Mint Oil featuring The Original Sauce Man's Kick it Up Rub (phew...)

Ghost Pepper dusted Tilapia with crisp Winter Melon Slaw and Mint Oil featuring The Original Sauce Man’s Kick it Up Rub (phew…)

the generous portion of mild (some would say tasteless…) fish was coated in a lightly (for me at least) spicy, and very flavorful, seasoning mix and sauteed until done. It sat atop a crunchy slaw that was a nice compliment to the fish.

When this dish was first announced I was very curious as to what the heat level would be (as Ghost Pepper is considered one of the hottest peppers in the world), especially since they had fired things up considerably during the Food & Wine Festival last year, but this wasn’t quite as fiery as I’d hoped, yet it was chock-full of nice flavors. The Ghost Pepper is an ingredient (the last by weight) of the rub used, so I assume that there wasn’t any extra added to that.

And here we saw yet another Florida producer, The Original Sauce Man, being featured at one of the booths… I may just have to order some of that rub….

The next stop was in China…

Vegetable Spring Roll

Vegetable Spring Roll

to go to the Lotus House for a Vegetable Spring Roll – basically an egg roll using the thinner spring roll skin… not bad but nothing really memorable…

Kumquat info in the Florida Fresh area

Kumquat info in the Florida Fresh area

Florida Fresh was next on the agenda to try the Kumquat Pie.

Florida Kumquat Pie

Florida Kumquat Pie

The filling was tasty and wasn’t overly tart (as kumquats can be sometimes) and the toasted meringue topping was nice, but I found the crust to be a bit chewy. Other than the crust I liked this much more than I had anticipated.

IMG_4048

And since nothing goes better with pie than beer, I had to try the “Festival Exclusive” Feast of Flowers Farmhouse Ale. I’d have to say this is my favorite “new” beer I’ve tried at Flower & Garden so far!

Primavera Kitchen Menu

Primavera Kitchen Menu

Pretty much next door in Italy is the Primavera Kitchen…

Caprese

Caprese

and opting for something a bit to the lighter side here I had the Caprese – fresh mozzarella and roasted sweet peppers topped with good olive oil. Mild in flavor, but nice… I would have liked just a touch more basil and oil, and maybe a small piece of bread, but still a good dish.

I steeled my resolve to try and pass by The Smokehouse in the American Adventure pavilion so that I wouldn’t stuff myself with yet another “Piggylicious” Bacon Cupcake

 

Condiment area of The Smokehouse on opening day of the festival...

Condiment area of The Smokehouse on opening day of the festival…

but I did actually swing by the condiment area, where just a few day ago a large basket of cute little Tabasco bottles was sitting there for the taking by guests, I wondered at that time how long that would last…

same area the next week sans hot sauce...

same area the next week sans hot sauce…

well, not longer than six days it seemed…

One of the many bonsai trees on display in the Japan pavilion during the Flower & Garden Festival

One of the many bonsai trees on display in the Japan pavilion during the Flower & Garden Festival

A trip to Japan, and some sushi from the Hanami booth was next.

Hanami Sushi

Hanami Sushi

Similar to the “ball sushi” now served at the Kabuki Cafe, the Hanami Sushi is described as “A flavorful combination of Salmon, Scallop and Beef topped Rice Balls served atop a Shiso Violet Sauce”. They forgot to mention the single edamame in the middle…

The scallop was mild, the beef tender, and the salmon, well, tasted like salmon… and the color of the sauce was a bit disturbing… all tasted fine, but nothing amazing for the $5.50 price tag. If you want to get a sushi-averse friend to give it a try, these wouldn’t be a bad choice, but if you’re an experienced sushi-consumer, you won’t kick yourself for passing on this…

Taste of Marrakesh Menu

Taste of Marrakesh Menu

I decided to take a trip on the Marrakesh Express next (and I’m dating myself with that reference for sure!)…

Harissa Chicken Kebob with Couscous Salad

Harissa Chicken Kebob with Couscous Salad

I was trying to decide between the Lamb Brewat and the Chicken Kebab and asked the cast member at the register which one he liked better – he was non-committal as to his favorite, but asked if I preferred sweeter dishes or spicy, and to chose that way – so the spicier Harissa Chicken was the selection for this day.

The white meat was a little dry (as is not unusual for chicken breast) but had a nice flavor from the harissa marinade – it was (for me at least) far from really spicy (it does seem like the nicely hot dishes we saw this last year at Food & Wine are not showing up at Flower & Garden…). The kebab would have been a bit juicer if they had used thigh meat instead of the bland breast meat. The accompanying couscous was delicious and the best part of this dish – I’d have gladly eaten a big bowl of just that!

Confit de Canard, Pomme de Terre Sarladaise Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes

Confit de Canard, Pomme de Terre Sarladaise aka Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes

After trying the two other food items in France on the opening day, it was now time to dig into the duck dish: Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes. The topping of duck meat was as rich and flavorful as pretty much any duck confit I’ve had elsewhere, the crispy edges of the potato base were good, but the center was a bit overly greasy tasting from the butter. All-in-all not a bad dish, but if the potatoes had matched up to the quality of the meat it would have been an outstanding dish.

Buttercup Cottage

Buttercup Cottage

The Buttercup Cottage in the United Kingdom would wind up being the last dining stop for this day in the World Showcase…

Pork and Apple Sausage Roll with house-made Piccalilli

Pork and Apple Sausage Roll with house-made Piccalilli

The sausage roll featured a pork and apple filling encased in a pastry crust. The apple lightens up the pork a bit, and the crust was flaky – I wasn’t too crazy about the piccalilli, it seemed a bit to one-note for me, mostly tasting of acid with little of the vegetable tastes coming through. Again, not a bad dish at all, but nothing I’m compelled to have again.

Sand waiting to be sculpted on the opening day...

Sand waiting to be sculpted on the opening day…

Around the way I came upon the Disneynature sand sculpture promoting the upcoming “Bears” film. We’d seen the tabula rasa of sand the week before (as seen above), and I was looking forward to the finished product.

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and the results just a few days later…

As always, I’m amazed by the talents of the sculptors in what I’m assuming is not the easiest medium to work with.

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There are several cute details, and it’s worth walking all around it to be sure you don’t miss anything.

The backside of sand sculpture...

The backside of sand sculpture…

I made a quick stop in one of the gift shops at the entrance to the World Showcase and came across a piece of merchandise I hadn’t noticed on my first visit.

Calendar

Cover of the Flower & Garden Calendar

New for this year is a Flower & Garden Festival calendar featuring pictures of topiaries and other plantings from prior years festivals.

Calender

Back of the calender showing the inside pages

Now I’m hoping for a Food & Wine Festival calendar!

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I took one last look as some gorgeous flowers on the way out of the park, and made a mental list of the few new food items I still had to try… and when those get sampled, I’ll be sure to share them with you…

And now Dear Dedicated Readers, it’s back to the kitchen! See you again soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s that time of year again in Epcot… magical topiaries are popping up… the flowers are extra pretty… and best of all, there are food booths with new goodies to try… yes it’s once again time for the Flower & Garden Festival!

Topiary display at entrance area of Epcot for the 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festiva

Topiary display at entrance area of the park for the 2014 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

On opening day I made my way over and met up with several members of the Harem for a quick swing around Epcot to check out the flora, fauna and food! So let’s take a look at some of the highlights of that day, shall we?

Goofy has his butterfly net out yet his quarry eludes him...

Goofy has his butterfly net out yet his quarry eludes him…

The topiary display at the front of the part features Goofy, Daisy and her paramour Donald.

While a butterfly alights on Daisy's hand...

While a butterfly alights on Daisy’s hand…

As was first pointed out to me by Papa Harry, butterflies are a major thematic element of this year’s festival. We seem to see more representations of these beautiful and delicate insects all over the park than in prior years.

While poor Donald however has an insect visitor of a different kind...

While poor Donald has an insect visitor of a different kind…

More butterflies...

More butterflies are with Mickey, Minnie and Pluto on the backside of Spaceship Earth

A visit to the Festival Center in the old Wonders of Life building was first on the agenda.

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Intermissions Cafe has an interesting selection of wines and beers – many of which come from Florida producers, another theme we’ll see at many of the food/bev locations.

Intermissions Cafe Menu

Intermissions Cafe Menu

Hot stuff...

A basket of Hot Stuff…

Among the food items was, like last year, a fun version of a “Push Pop”. This year’s offering was a Caprese Push Pop with chopped tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar.

Caprese Push Pop

Caprese Push Pop

I don’t think this was quite as successful as the roasted beet and goat cheese version from last year… the tomatoes were nondescript (not surprising for this time of year), the cheese sparse, and the balsamic overwhelmed any flavor the tomatoes may have had.

Merch...

Merch…

And of course there’s tons of merchandise to be had here (as well as at other locations throughout the park)…

merch...

merch…

and more merch....

and more merch….

including a cuter-than-usual Duffy.

Big Bowl-o-Duffys

Big Bowl-o-Duffys

No Piggy???

No Piggy???

All around Epcot are several gardening-related spots, such as the “Gardener’s Palette” outside Innoventions.

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Soccer Goofy and Donald take center stage on the walkway between Future World and the World Showcase.

Goalies eye view...

Goalies eye view…

Colored balls circle the topiary and represent the countries in the upcoming World Cup. Guests are allowed in to have their own photo-op inside the field area.

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A Fantasia-inspired display welcomes us to the World Showcase.

Sorcerer Mickey

Sorcerer Mickey

Taking a left hand turn leads us around the lagoon and the first food booth is the Urban Farm Eats (using the Terra booth structure from Food & Wine).

Urban Farm Eats Menu

Urban Farm Eats Menu

Just past this is a small-scale display on aquaponics (combining aquaculture with hydroponics) that shows how the tilapia and veggies served at the Urban Farm Eats booth could be produced in one system.

Aquaponics Display

Aquaponics Display

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Up next is Mexico…

Jardin de Fiestas Menu

Jardin de Fiestas Menu

The food items here are new from last year, as well as the specialty margarita. We sampled the Taco al Pastor (achiote marinated pork with grilled pineapple, onions and cilantro) and the Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso (flour tortilla filled with mushrooms and cheese and then grilled). Both were met with enthusiastic thumbs up, despite the fairly small portion size on both.

Taco al Pastor, Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso and Franbuesa Margaritas

Taco al Pastor, Quesadilla de Hongos con Queso and Franbuesa Margaritas

The Franbuesa (Raspberry) Margarita was also deemed a winner, but (as least in my opinion) wasn’t quite as wonderful as the rose-scented version from 2013.

Lotus House Menu

Lotus House Menu

The booth in China held fast with a few popular items from last year (the Spring Pancake was one of the best items of the 2013 festival).

Florida Fresh area

Florida Fresh area

The Florida Fresh area takes up the large space between the Outpost and the Germany pavilion.

Florida Fresh Menu

Florida Fresh Menu

The two savory food items are returnees from last year (and both quite good), with the Kumquat Pie being a new addition.

Why yes, I'll have a beer...

Why yes, I’ll try a Floria Avenue Blueberry beer…

The beer and wine choices are (obviously) emphasizing products from Florida, where the craft beer scene is just exploding.

Watermelon Salad

Watermelon Salad

Several of the topiaries are featuring a new look to the faces – more like a “real persons” face and skin rather than the traditional topiary-look.

Snow

Snow White, et al

The Fairest One of All and her little buddies are one example (or should that be eight examples?).

Play that funky music green boy!

Play that funky music green boy!

Kermit and Miss Piggy are promoting their new flick in a display between Germany and Italy… and apparently there is a tour in the works!

Tour

Darn it, they don’t seem to be coming anywhere near…

Italy has some typical menu items… and booze-a-plenty…

Primavera Kitchen Menu

Primavera Kitchen Menu

In the American Adventure is the return of one of the big hit food venues from last year, the Smokehouse.

The Smokehouse Menu

The Smokehouse Menu

Despite being a bit of an admitted “BBQ-snob”, I found the brisket and pulled pork to be very good last year, and this year there are a couple of notable additions to the bill of fare…

Brisket, greens and cornbread waiting to be served

Brisket, greens and cornbread waiting to be served

More cute little bottles...

More cute little bottles… we’ll see how long these last…

An interesting item was the Smoked Turkey “Ribs” – basically the turkey “forearm” separated into the two bones and then smoked – these were well flavored and are certainly worth a try.

Smoked Turkey "Rib"

"Piggylicious" Bacon Cupcake, Pulled Pig Slider and (of course) a beer
“Piggylicious” Bacon Cupcake, Pulled Pig Slider and (of course) a beer

The most talked-about item leading up to Flower & Garden (and now in the few days since opening) was no doubt the “Piggylicious” Bacon Cupcake.

The "Oh-My-Goodness-You-Have-To-Eat-This-Right-Now-Even-If-You're-A-Diabetic-Vegan

The “Oh-My-Goodness-You-Have-To-Eat-This-Right-Now-Even-If-You’re-A-Diabetic-Vegan” Bacon Cupcake!

This cupcake has applewood smoked bacon pieces baked into it and was covered with a sweet maple frosting and topped with pretzel pieces for crunch and a little hit of salt… from a nutritional standpoint no human should even look at this concoction, but from a happy, happy, joy, joy in your mouth standpoint this is just a freaking bit of bakery genius! I’m sure thousands of park guests are, like myself, dreaming about the next time they get to scarf down another of these evil goodies… excuse me… I think I need some alone time…

Bonsai!

Bonsai!

On to, as Dedicated Readers will know, my favorite pavilion…

Hanami Menu

Hanami Menu

The kiosk in Japan returned the popular and unique fruit sushi roll, Frushi, to the menu this year, but the other food items are new.

Pineapple Paradise with Yuzu Slushie

Pineapple Paradise with Yuzu Slushie

We sampled the adult pineapple slushie, which was a definite thumbs-up all around…

Temaki Chicken Hand Roll

Temaki Chicken Hand Roll

and one of the new food items, the Temaki Chicken Hand Roll – a sheet of nori with rice, panko-fried chicken, pickled carrots and a Japanese-style curry sauce. Lil’ Sis Lindsay didn’t care for it, but I’m fond of that type of curry, so the flavors were a hit with me.

Taste of Marrakesh Menu

Taste of Marrakesh Menu

Morocco has some interesting items, but they will have to wait until the next visit…

Gnocchi Parisien a la Provencal

Gnocchi Parisien a la Provencal

France was our next stop, and I tried the gnocchi… this is a Parisian-style gnocchi made from a pâte à choux dough and quite different from it’s probably better-known Italian cousin. Served with a veggie and mushroom sauce and a hit of tangy goat cheese, this was another winner-winner-pasta-dinner dish!

Fleur de Lys Menu

Fleur de Lys Menu

We also all shared one of the sweet and rich orange blossom macaroons filled with a white chocolate ganache – this was a rich and decadent treat!

Macaron a la Fleur d'Oranger

Macaron a la Fleur d’Oranger

On to the United Kingdom…

Peter Pan high in the sky in the UK

Peter Pan high in the sky in the UK

where we find the boy who won’t grow up high atop one of the buildings…

Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartar - a returning item in the UK from last year

Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartar – a returning item in the UK from last year

and appears to be looking over the Buttercup Cottage kiosk…

Buttercup Cottage Menu

Buttercup Cottage Menu

Another bit of Florida produce, strawberries from Plant City, are featured in a salad of greens, toasted almonds and Stilton cheese.

Field Greens with Plant City Strawberries, Toasted Almonds and Farmstead Stilton

Field Greens with Plant City Strawberries, Toasted Almonds and Farmstead Stilton

I tried the freshly-baked Lemon Scones and a non-alcoholic lemonade (try not to fall off your seats after reading that one…). With a nice crunch of big sugar crystals on the top, the scones had a definite lemon flavor and both sauces were great with them – this proclaimed not-a-big-sweet-eater would definitely have these again… but I guess this is now the third sweet item I’ve gushed over isn’t it? Well, so much for not liking sweets I suppose…

Oh yeah, the lemonade was pretty good too… maybe a bit of vodka would have made it better tho…

Rose Blush Lemonade and Lemon Scones with Berry Preserves and Creme Fraiche

Rose Blush Lemonade and Lemon Scones with Berry Preserves and Creme Fraiche

As we continue our clockwise progression, just past the DVC kiosk in Canada (known as the “Merry Meadows Outpost” during Flower & Garden) we came to, well, a big pile of sand…

Mister Sandman...

Mister Sandman…

I can Bearly wait!

I can Bearly wait!

which will (by the time you read this) have been transformed into what I’m sure will be a fantastic sand sculpture promoting the next Disneynature film.

We'll see the results soon...

We’ll see the results soon…

Our last stop on this day for oral consumables was the ever popular Pineapple Promenade…

Pineapple Promenade

Pineapple Promenade

Pineapple Promenade Menu

Pineapple Promenade Menu

and the main reason for this popularity is…

Pineapple Soft Serve with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum

Pineapple Soft Serve with Parrot Bay Coconut Rum

spiked Dole Whips!

It’s interesting to note that this year these are simply being referred to as “Pineapple Soft Serve” as opposed to “Dole Whip”… can you guess who isn’t sponsoring the booth this year???

Tropical Mango Pale Ale

Tropical Mango Pale Ale – another interesting beer selection

We made our way back towards the front of the park and took in some of the other Flower & Garden displays we didn’t see on our way in…

Part of the Water Wise Herbs and Vegetables display area

Part of the Water Wise Herbs and Vegetables display area

The kid’s play area is themed to Monsters University this year.

Mike & Sulley's Monstrous Garden

Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden

Other than the Mike and Sulley topiaries and a bit of paint on the playground equipment, themeing here is a bit on the sparse side – not nearly as creative as the Oz-themed play are last year.

Mike & Sulley's Monstrous Garden

Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden

More floral butterflies are evident around the water areas…

More floral butterflies while on the way to see the butterfly house...

More floral butterflies while on the way to see the butterfly house…

and soon we got to the home of butterfly nirvana – TinkerBell’s Butterfly Garden.

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Always one of the most popular parts of the Flower & Garden Festival, the butterfly garden didn’t disappoint this year…

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unlike the past few years, there are no topiaries installed inside, the main decorations (other than the plants and butterflies of course) was the inclusion of the miniature homes of the fairies.

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Home of the Pirate Fairy featured in the next-to-come TinkerBell dvd release.

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Beautiful butterflies abounded on this day…

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flitting about and occasionally sitting on the flowers and more of the pixies abodes.

Glass flowers inside the butterfly house

Glass flowers inside the butterfly house

There were gorgeous glass flowers inside the butterfly house, and discerning guests will notice other inclusion of glass flowers elsewhere in the park.

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It seemed that there were many more butterflies in the house on this day than I’d ever seen before, both in sheer numbers and variety of species. This is a not-to-be-missed display!

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We crossed over to check out Mater’s Parts, Plants & Play Garden…

Lightening McQueen

Lightening McQueen

there was no real change in the area from last year, but still it is a cute section where fans can see some of their favorites from the Cars movie series.

More glass flowers on the way out of Epcot

More glass flowers on the way out of Epcot

We made our way out of the park, and took one last look at the entrance display from another angle…

Watch your tail Donald!

Watch your tail Donald!

All in all it was a very nice day, and a good start to this year’s Epcot Flower & Garden Festival…

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and now I’m really looking forward to my next visit and sampling some more of the new food (and drink!) items, and taking in even more of the gorgeous plantings and displays! And of course Dear Dedicated Readers, I’ll be telling you all about it!

Right now we’re, as always, we’re heading back to the kitchen… see you soon!

It must be spring!

March 5, 2014

Even though much of the country is chilly and still covered in ice and snow, spring is upon us here in central Florida… and the true harbinger of spring is not a songbird, but…

And coming soon now means this week!

And coming soon means this week!

the start of the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival!

A fresh-faced Snow White...

A fresh-faced Snow White…

and her adoring Dopey...

and her adoring Dopey…

And like last year, the festival will not just feature cool topiaries…

"Where's that Peter Pan?"

“Where’s that Peter Pan?”

and gorgeous flowers…

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but, yes Dear Dedicated Readers, food booths!

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While we were in the World recently for the Princess Half-Marathon weekend we got to see a little tease of what’s to come.

There will be sushi here...

There will be sushi here…

There will be several favorite dishes from last year returning…

Beer flight and BBQ...

Beer flight and BBQ…

Frushi

Frushi

and plenty of new goodies to try (can you say “Pigglylicious Bacon Cupcake with Maple Frosting and Pretzel Crunch”???).

Behind the hedges and scrim is the upcoming home of the Florida Fresh Garden

Behind the hedges and scrim is the upcoming home of the Florida Fresh Garden

A very nerdy peek thru the scrim...

A very nerdy peek thru the scrim…

We plan on being in Epcot for the start of the festival…

Miss Bonnie impatiently waiting for this year's new Raspberry Margarita

Miss Bonnie impatiently waiting for this year’s new Raspberry Margarita in Mexico

and will soon bring you a report on the flora, fauna and eats of this year’s festival! Stay tuned!

Well Dear Dedicated Readers, it’s that time again: time for a look back at a recent weekend of eats around the World (and a bit away from the World as well this time). Miss Bonnie and I, accompanied much of the time by Mama Ginny and Papa Harry, made our second trip to try the booth items we hadn’t hit our first go-round at this year’s Flower & Garden Festival (you can see our first visit in the post “Flower & Garden… and Food & Wine“), as well as some dining away from Epcot… so let’s dig in, shall we?

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I was able to make it to property that Friday a bit before Miss Bonnie, so I went over to Animal Kingdom for a while to check out the new construction going on there (see “WDW Odds & Ends: More Construction Wall Fun!” for the results of that research). Needing a bit of something on my (seemingly-ever-expanding) belly to get me to dinner-time, I bypassed some more healthy options (yes, I did consider the Asian Noodle Salad at the veggie-only kiosk on the path between Asia and Africa)…

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but something drew me to Flame Tree Barbeque (one of the better quick-service eateries on property in my humble opinion), but even there, I was able to keep it to a vegetarian afternoon snack…

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of Fried Onion Rings and a Safari Amber draft beer… got to be a healthy start to the weekend, right???

I took a seat in the lower dining area, which has a great view of Expedition Everest, and leisurely downed the quite good rings. As one guest passed by my table he commented that “I want to hang out with this guy, onion rings and beer, he’s got it all figured out!”.

Now sans a grumbling tummy,  I returned to our resort and after Miss Bonnie arrived we made our way to Epcot and met up with Mama Ginny and Papa Harry.

Mexico Booth Menu

Mexico Booth Menu

We headed over to Mexico in the World Showcase and started our trek for the evening with another of the delicious margaritas there.

Rosirita Margarita

Rosita Margarita

Someone may have had something to eat there… but I was paying to much attention to my drink to notice…

Where that tasty tequila comes from... planter near the Mexico booth...

Where that tasty tequila comes from… planter near the Mexico booth…

Bonnie stopped in Italy to try the veggie lasagna…

Lasagna Primvera at Primavera Litchen

Lasagna Primvera at Primavera Litchen

it was pretty good, but nothing spectacular…

Frushi, Hana Awake Sake, and Chirashi Hanazushi from Hanamai

Frushi, Hana Awake Sake, and Chirashi Hanazushi from Hanamai

We next picked up some items from the Japan Flower & Garden booth to dine on while we sat in the American Garden Theater for one of the evenings concerts.

Flo & Eddie

Flo & Eddie

We watched a very entertaining and hit-filled (even if Bonnie didn’t recognize most of the songs…) set by Flo & Eddie of the Turtles. Before the show began we ate our Japanese vittles as we waited for the band to take the stage.

Chirashi Hanazuchi (Grilled Salmon, cooked Shrimp and Crab Stick over Ginger Rice with Volcano and Dynamite Sauces)

Chirashi Hanazuchi (Grilled Salmon, cooked Shrimp and Crab Stick over Ginger Rice with Volcano and Dynamite Sauces)

The Chirashi Hanazuchi is like a “scattered sushi” and in addition to the cooked seafood (yes kids, sushi doesn’t mean “raw fish”, it means “with rice”…) there was edamame and bits of cooked egg/omelet – the pair of spicy sauces set off the sweeter taste of the shrimp and fake crab and each bite was just a bit different – we loved this and it’s for sure on our “have-again-next-trip” list!

Frushi (Fresh Strawberries, Pineapple and Cantaloupe wrapped in Coconut Rice with Raspberry Sauce, Coconut and Whipped Cream)

Frushi (Fresh Strawberries, Pineapple and Cantaloupe wrapped in Coconut Rice with Raspberry Sauce, Coconut and Whipped Cream)

We also had the Frushi which is perhaps the most fun item of the festival – fresh fruit wrapped up in seasoned rice and presented like a traditional sushi roll. Accented by sweet whipped cream and a berry sauce, this was an unusual and surprising item, and a great way to get some young finicky eaters to maybe try some fresh fruit (or even an adult that may be reluctant to consume the “F” word)… on both of our visits I overheard many guests talking about this item – I think this will wind up being one of the big hits here!

Tarte a la ratatouille et fromage de cheve (Ratatouille of Zuchinni, Eggplant, Bell Peppers, Onions and Tomato on a pastry crust with Goat Cheese)

Tarte a la ratatouille et fromage de cheve (Ratatouille of Zuchinni, Eggplant, Bell Peppers, Onions and Tomato on a pastry crust with Goat Cheese)

From there we wound our way around to France and the L’Orangerie booth to sample the version of Ratatouille there. Served on a pastry crust, this was essentially a Ratatouille pizza, and was rich with veggie-goodness… it got me thinking about making something similar myself soon…

And of course we had to try the Sparkling Muscat as well...

And of course we had to try the Sparkling Muscat as well…

Bonnie and I had been coveting the tomato dish being served at The Cottage in the UK since our first visit (and for some reason we never got around to trying it that time)…

Tomato fixins...

Tomato fixins…

so we made sure to try it this time around.

Waterkist Farms Heirloom Tomatoes with House-made Mozzarella, Minus 8 Vinegar and Basil

Waterkist Farms Heirloom Tomatoes with House-made Mozzarella, Minus 8 Vinegar and Basil

Perhaps we were expecting too much from this, but it left us both a bit underwhelmed… the tomatoes weren’t bad, but also weren’t great, and considering the tomato flavor itself is critical to a dish like this, well… and the mozzarella I thought had a bit of an odd, tougher-than-I-expected texture – I was expecting a more creamy, fresh texture from the cheese, but it turned out a bit more firm and rubbery… this was a great idea to go along with the “garden” theme, but I felt the execution was a bit lacking.

So after that, we headed for one final stop to wind up our evening, and to a place we knew we wouldn’t be disappointed: La Cava del Tequila in the Mexico pavilion.

We ordered drinks all around, and I had the tequila shot selection to start… then I needed a bit of heat to round out the day and ordered a Jalapeno Margarita… “extra hot please”… so what I got was…

Jalapeno/Habanero Margarita (with remnants of shots in the background)

Jalapeno/Habanero Margarita (with remnants of shots in the background)

a Jalapeno Margarita turned up to 11 with the addition of a fresh habanero! A great lip-numbing,  tonsil-tingling end to a great day of eating & drinking around the World! And we were just starting the weekend…

Saturday AM Miss Bonnie and I made our way over to the east coast to do a recon mission… we’ll save the purpose of that trip for another time, but we did find a great place to have lunch in Cocoa Beach!

We had stopped into the DIS Welcome Center near Port Canaveral to pick their brains about a cruise later in the year and as we were leaving we asked about a good place for lunch – Rob and Walter both chimed out “Simply Delicious”.

We’d heard our friends at the DIS Unplugged talk about the Simply Delicious Bakery in Cocoa Beach, so the choice was easy…

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This breakfast and lunch place is in a uniquely decorated old house, with tables crammed everywhere and odd nicknacks all over the place.

What was hard was deciding what to have – sandwiches on house-baked bread, soups, it all sounded so good… and they serve breakfast at lunch, so that even added to the dilemma…

Blackened Mahi Sandwich

Blackened Mahi Sandwich

we both independently chose fish sandwiches and sipped on tea as we waited for our lunch… they bring a tiny little pitcher of simple syrup to sweeten your tea if you don’t want any of the granular sweeteners (which happened to be on the table in a margarita glass!).

Bonnie had a blackened mahi sandwich, while I chose the Mahi Reuben – their take on a traditional Reuben sandwich with the fresh grilled fish standing in for corned beef.

Mahi Reuben

Mahi Reuben

Both sandwiches were fresh, large and well, simply delicious! My “side” Grecian Salad took up half of the not-so-small plate… portions here are not skimpy, and the prices are right, with most items running about $10 or less. Our young server was attentive and well, just darn sweet!

We also drooled over some of the breakfast dishes we saw coming out to other guests, and I briefly contemplated coming back the next day all the way from Disney just to eat there again!

If you’re in the area I’d say this is a don’t miss place – perfect for a pre or post-cruise bite. You can read a breakfast review on Foodies Tales (which also has a link to the DIS podcast review).

We made our way back to the World (as Miss Bonnie shed a little tear as we passed by the Disney cruise ship moored at the Port) and contemplated where we should sup that evening…

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and as we’ve done on more than one occasion, we decided to head over to the Wilderness Lodge resort and have a table full of appetizers-for-dinner at the Territory Lounge.

We once again met up with Mama Ginny and Papa Harry and settled into some comfy chairs at a corner table in the lounge. We (shockingly!) ordered a round of adult beverages whilst we decided on the evenings edibles.

House-made Northwest Chips with a trio of dips: Smokey Blue, Truffle Aioli, and Huckleberry Honey

House-made Northwest Chips with a trio of dips: Smokey Blue, Truffle Aioli, and Huckleberry Honey

We made our choices and shared all around the table… the crispy potato chips came with three sauces, the truffle aioli being the best of the bunch.

Sharp Cheddar-Beer Fondue - pretzel sticks, house-made sourdough, Washington State apples, and dried fruit

Cheddar Cheese and Beer Fondue served with two types of bread, Washington State apples, and dried fruit

We dunked the varied cubes of goodies into the tangy beer and cheddar fondue… the fresh apples and dried fruits going particularly well with the molten fromage.

Wild Mushroom Flatbread with caramelized Balsamic onions, Smokey Bleu cheese, figs, and arugula

Wild Mushroom Flatbread with caramelized Balsamic onions, Smokey Bleu cheese, figs, and arugula

We also had the flatbread topped with mushrooms, sauteed onions, blue cheese, figs and arugula. The meaty/fruity figs and the peppery arugula greens were a nice foil for the ‘shrooms and onions – an unusual combo that worked well.

Bag-O-Doughnuts

Bag-O-Doughnuts

At dessert time we were joined by a Famous-Disney-Food-Blogger and we got an order of the Drunkin Doughnuts (so apropos for our group!).

The cake-like circles and holes come in a paper bag with a cinnamon-sugar mixture – you shake it up and pour them out onto the plate…

Drunken Doughnuts - Maple liquor glaze

Drunken Doughnuts with Maple-Liquor Glaze

and then best of all, you dunk them into the Drunkin part, a ramekin filled with a melange of melted butter, maple syrup and Grand Marnier… hell yes… what could be bad about that combo? Carbs, sugar and booze! That’s the way to end your night, and we called it one then…

Sunday was going to be a short day in the World before we headed out, but we did make our way to Epcot again for some lunch in World Showcase before wrapping up the weekend.

Taste of Marrakesh Menu

Taste of Marrakesh Menu

Miss Bonnie wanted to go for a Lamb Wrap at the Tangerine Cafe in Morocco, so I opted to start my feeding with an item from the Taste of Marrakesh kiosk. We had eaten there on our first visit, but got a bit distracted right after we ordered, so I wanted to give the lamb there another try.

Spiced Lamb Kabob with Vegetable Couscous Salad and Iced Mint Tea

Spiced Lamb Kabob with Vegetable Couscous Salad and Iced Mint Tea

And it was worth trying again – the lamb was full of earthy, herby flavor. The side of couscous seemed to be the same (good) version from the Cafe, and the mint tea was a nice change of pace.

While Bonnie was sated after her wrap, I still needed something to top off my tummy, so we headed towards Germany.

Epcot Germany Stein

Epcot Germany Stein

We stopped in the gift shop and came across a few new steins there, one with scenes from the Germany pavilion all around it…

Epcot Germany Stein

Epcot Germany Stein

and another with characters added to the scene…

Epcot Germany Stein with characters

Epcot Germany Stein with characters

with Goofy, Donald, and of course Mickey, showing off their Oompah skills.

Epcot Germany Stein with characters

Epcot Germany Stein with characters

Each stein comes with the ever-popular “Certificate of Authenticity” and a brief history of the stein in Germany.

Certificate that comes inside the steins

Certificate that comes inside the steins

Both of these steins were about $125 (or thereabouts to the best of my feeble recollection), and were hefty and seems to be of good quality if you were in the market for such an item. But if you wanted something with say, a bit more character, or at least one specific character, you could opt for the Grumpy stein…

Grumpy Stein

Grumpy Stein

I guess Grumpy has been known to lose his head now and then...

I guess Grumpy has been known to lose his head now and then…

but be prepared to drop an extra C note if you want this one!

Grumpy's bottom

Grumpy’s bottom

We decided to save our money for food and made our way to Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market for one last bite of the weekend.

We’d tried the savory bread pudding and the potato pancakes here on our first go-round and had enjoyed them both (especially the bread pudding), so I was eager to see what a German meatloaf would be like.

German Meatloaf Sandwich with Sweet Mustard and Fried Shallots along with a Krombacher Hefeweizen

German Meatloaf Sandwich with Sweet Mustard and Fried Shallots along with a Krombacher Hefeweizen

The meatloaf itself was a lighter color than I expected, so I assume it was at least part pork (or maybe veal?). The meat(s) were obviously very finely ground and the texture was smooth and dense.

German Meatloaf Cross-section

German Meatloaf Cross-section

The meatloaf flavor was fairly mild, but the sweet mustard added nicely to it and the crunchy fried bits of shallot gave it some texture. The bread could have been a bit softer for my taste, but overall not a bad dish, if still it wound up being my least favorite from this location.

After that we sadly had to bid farewell to WDW for this trip – it was a fun weekend with some good food and drink, and even better friends!

So there you have it boys and girls, another weekend of eats from around the World – hope you enjoyed another gustatory tour!

As always, it’s back to the kitchen – see you again soon!

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The 20th version of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival began a couple of weeks ago in the waning days of winter with the usual collection of topiaries…

Watch that finger Phineas!

Watch that finger Phineas!

a big butterfly house…

Floral Butterfly outside the Butterfly House

Floral Butterfly outside the Butterfly House

which this year houses Tinkerbell and her Pixie friends…

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gardening displays…

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and gorgeous flowers everywhere!

These buds are for you!

These buds are for you!

But there is a big difference this year…

DSCF3200food and drink!

The Smokehouse in the American Adventure

The Smokehouse in the American Adventure

Several of the Food & Wine Festival booths have been re-purposed to provide guests with new dining (and drinking) experiences while wandering around World Showcase during Flower & Garden! This is a first for this festival, and the Harem and I were there to take in the first full weekend of Flower & Garden. We sampled many of the items offered, so I thought I’d give you a look, and my thoughts, on some of the edibles (and drinkables) at this year’s event, so let’s start by taking a counter-clockwise trip around the lagoon and dig in…

Fruits by the Glass

Fruits by the Glass

To start your visit off right, as you enter World Showcase from Future World you’re greeted with Fruits by the Glass (the Food & Wine Craft Beer location) featuring several interesting wines, brews, a watermelon cocktail and a non-alcoholic slushie (if you must).

Fruits by the Glass bill of fare

Fruits by the Glass bill of fare

The specialty here is a Watermelon Passion Fruit Cocktail.

Watermelon Passion Fruit Cocktail

Watermelon Passion Fruit Cocktail

This frozen drink features a Florida made cane vodka, the drink is pretty sweet, but nice during the heat of the day – certainly worth a try.

Just keep pouring...

Just keep pouring…

There are also a couple of nice Florida fruit wines available here.

Mango Mama and Blueberry Blue Wines

Mango Mama and Blueberry Blue Wines

Now properly fortified we can make our way to the right and find the Pineapple Promenade…

Pineapple Promenade

Pineapple Promenade

The Promenade Refreshments stand (usually the location where I get my first Stella of the day) has been converted into a Dole Pineapplepalooza….

Pineapple Promenade Menu

Pineapple Promenade Menu

The big hit here is the iconic Dole Whip, but with a twist….

Dole Whip with Spiced Rum

Dole Whip with Spiced Rum

the addition of spiced rum! Yes boys and girls, you don’t have to sneak your own booze into the Magic Kingdom to get a spiked Dole Whip! And yes, this was really good… the frozen pineapple flavor mixes real well with the rum, just remember to mix it up from the get-go, or else it will get really strong at the bottom of the glass.

The Cottage Menu

The Cottage Menu

Next in the United Kingdom is the Cottage, and one of the best things we tried…

Poato, Chive and Cheddar Cheese Bisquit with Smoked Salmon Tartare with Sour Cream (left), and Baked Goat's Brie with Kumquat Chutney

Potato, Chive and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare with Sour Cream (left), and Baked Goat’s Brie with Kumquat Chutney

a savory biscuit filled with a chopped concoction of smoked salmon – this might have been Miss Bonnie’s favorite dish of the festival, and even though I’m not a huge salmon fan I’d gladly stuff another one of these down my craw…

L'Orangerie Menu

L’Orangerie Menu

L’Orangerie in France seemed to get mixed reviews from the Harem (the peach dessert was not particularly liked), but all I had was a bite of the Pate, so I’ll reserve judgement for now…

Verrine Charlotte au Peches (Caramelized Peaches with Rosemary and Light Vanilla Cream) in France

Verrine Charlotte au Peches (Caramelized Peaches with Rosemary and Light Vanilla Cream) in France

Yet another alcoholic slushie in France... Grey Goose Orange Vodka with St. Germain Liquor and White and Red Cranberry Juice

Yet another alcoholic slushie in France… Grey Goose Orange Vodka with St. Germain Liquor and White and Red Cranberry Juice

In Morocco we find the Taste of Marrakesh…

Morocco - the Land of Young Ladies with Amazing Hair...

Morocco – the Land of Young Ladies with Amazing Hair…

we tried a couple of items here, but got distracted with a Random Encounter with a Disney Blogger, so there are no pics from here… maybe we’ll revisit at a later date…

Hanami ("Flower Viewing") kiosk in Japan

Hanami (“Flower Viewing”) kiosk in Japan

The familiar Japan booth has some interesting dishes, but I only got to sample one this trip…

YakiSoba Pan and Yuzu Rita

YakiSoba Pan and Yuzu Rita

and sadly the one food item I had here was the only real culinary mis-step I found that weekend…. the YakiSoba Pan is a teriyaki flavored soba and veggie dish (which would have been perfectly fine on it’s own in a bowl) that is served, for some reason, in a hot dog bun… it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either… I’m looking forward to trying the other items here on our next visit, but I won’t be ordering this one again. The version of a frozen margarita here, the Yuzu Rita, was however a winner – I’m not a huge frozen-drink-kinda-guy, but for the ilk this was pretty good – the bit of yuzu flavor seemed to keep the drink from being overly sweet (as many frozen concoctions seem to be) – this will be real nice as the weather warms…

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In the courtyard of the American Adventure we have a tribute to that All-American favorite combo of Barbecue and Beer.

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse was one of the busier booths the first weekend, and with good reason…

The Smokehouse Menu

The Smokehouse Menu

Dedicated Readers probably know I can be a bit of a Barbeque Snob, but I do cut a bit of slack to someplace that’s going to have to serve mass numbers of patrons, and certainly don’t expect high-end competition-style cue, or even the best thing I can produce off of my Egg from a theme park… in any case, the food here was among the best things we had all weekend.

Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeno Corn Bread (left) and Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw

Smoked Beef Brisket with Collard Greens and Jalapeno Corn Bread (left) and Pulled Pig Slider with Cole Slaw

The brisket was tender and not too fatty, and the greens and cornbread were the perfect foil to the meat. Sweet and (not very) hot tomato-based sauces were served at the condiment area, but really the brisket didn’t need much help. The slider (and don’t get me started on that whole slider-thing) was a take on the usual pulled-pork sandwich, and came out well – it could have used a bit more slaw, and it did need a bit of sauce, but overall was a nice portion and quite good.

Beer Flight at the Smokehouse

Beer Flight at the Smokehouse

The genius idea of offering beer flights surfaced the last couple of years at Food & Wine, and continues here at the Flower & Garden Festival. The flight here features fours American brews of very different styles, and I enjoyed them all (including the Porter, which I’m usually not crazy about – it had an smoky, almost caramel, taste that went well with the meat-heavy entrees here).

Rocky Road Brownie Mousse

Rocky Road Brownie Mousse

Dessert here was a fluffier take on the typical brownie (and the only thing that the currently-vegetarian Surly Teenager tried at this location) and was another nice item – all-in-all this was one of our favorite booths and I expect will be one of the biggest hits at the festival.

Primavera Kitchen Menu

Primavera Kitchen Menu

Waterside in Italy we have the Primavera Kitchen, where Miss Bonnie tried the most expensive food item of the festival….

Asparagi con Aragosta all'Ortolana

Asparagi con Aragosta all’Ortolana

the Asparagi con Aragosta all’Ortolana, which is a combo of asparagus and lobster enrobed in “Garden Cocktail Sauce”. She begrudgingly allowed me to share a bite, and we both agreed this was totally delicious, and it was the sauce that really made it. Miss Bonnie thought there was a bit too much of the sauce, but it was damn delicious and I gladly lapped up the remaining drops after the seafood and veggies were gone…

Bauernmarkt Food Booth

Bauernmarkt Food Booth

Bauernmarkt, the “Farmers Market” in Germany comes up next…

Bauernmarkt Food Menu

Bauernmarkt Food Menu

This area is laid out just as it is during Food & Wine, with one kiosk serving food and some beverage…

Bauernmarkt Beer Booth

Bauernmarkt Beer Booth

and another set up to service the needs of the beer drinkers among the guests…

Bauernmarkt Beer Menu

Bauernmarkt Beer, etc. Menu

sadly the brew selection is not nearly as extensive as the one offered during the fall event, and for some reason this kiosk in Germany, with a German name, only has one German beer…

I tried two of the savory food items here, the Bread Pudding and the Potato Pancakes.

Savory Bread Pudding with Spring Peas and Wild Mushroom Ragout (top) and Potato Pancakes with House-made Apple Sauce

Savory Bread Pudding with Spring Peas and Wild Mushroom Ragout (top) and Potato Pancakes with House-made Apple Sauce

Both were quite good – the bread pudding was like a great Thanksgiving dressing with a mushroom gravy – I’ll have this again on the next trip…. the potato pancakes were very popular, and the requests for them kept them coming off the grill hot and fresh – the applesauce was a bit too much and could overwhelm the pancake itself, but if you kept it to a minimum was a nice compliment…

Pan-Fried Vegetable Bun and Lychee Aerated Water from the Lotus House

Pan-Fried Vegetable Bun and Lychee Aerated Water from the Lotus House

We also tried both of the savory items offered in the China pavilion at the Lotus House.

The insides of the Vegetable Bun

The insides of the Vegetable Bun

The Pan-Fried Vegetable Bun had a nice filling inside the soft, spongy breading and is served with a sweet dipping sauce.

Spring Pancake with Grilled Chicken and Green Apple

Spring Pancake with Grilled Chicken and Green Apple

The Spring Pancake is filled with tender chicken and topped with essentially a slaw with julienned green apple. The sweet/tart flavor of the apple really sets this dish off while the fried noodles also give a bit of crunchy texture component. Bonnie and I both thought this was another big winner.

Jardin de Fiestas

Jardin de Fiestas

Near the end of the trip around World Showcase is Jardin de Fiestas in Mexico.

Tostada de Jaiba (left) and Tacos de Carnitas

Tostada de Jaiba (left) and Tacos de Carnitas

The two savory choices here were both good and worth a try: the Crab Tostada was served with a creamy Chipotle-flavored Mayo and Valentina Sauce (a squeeze of citrus did help to liven it up a bit) while the Pork Carnitas Taco had a Tamarindo Salsa (could have used a bit more of this) and fine Chicharron topping in a flour tortilla. But the best thing here was…

Rosita Margarita

Rosita Margarita

the margarita!

Served on the rocks (thank you for not freezing yet another drink) the Rosita Margarita had a light, unique flavor enhanced by the smell of a fresh rose petal floating on the top. Try this one… trust me…

Florida Fresh Kiosk

Florida Fresh Kiosk

The last stop in our tour around the lagoon was (spoiler alert) one of our favorites. Florida Fresh had a couple of very good food choices (one that might be a bit out-the-ordinary to some guests) and a couple of very unique Florida wine selections.

Hot Sun Tomato Wine and 40 Karat Carrot Wine from Florida Orange Groves Winery

Hot Sun Tomato Wine and 40 Karat Carrot Wine from Florida Orange Groves Winery

Florida Fresh Menu

Florida Fresh Menu

The Watermelon Salad is a wonderful contrast of the sweet fresh fruit with the combo of pickled red onion, spicy arugula and feta cheese all glazed with a reduced balsamic dressing, just so, so good! Although this combo may sound a bit odd to some, it really works.

Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sauage, Zellwood Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro (left, paired with the Tomato Wine) and Watermelon Salad with pickled Red Onions, BW Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese and Balsamic Reduction (along with the Carrot Wine)

Shrimp and Stone Ground Grits with Andouille Sauage, Zellwood Corn, Tomatoes and Cilantro (left, paired with the Tomato Wine) and Watermelon Salad with pickled Red Onions, BW Baby Arugula, Feta Cheese and Balsamic Reduction (along with the Carrot Wine)

Miss Bonnie devoured the shrimp and grits, barely allowing me a tiny taste… the spicy sausage gave it just the right amount of zing – the recommended pairing of the unusual tomato wine (which also had just a bit of spice to it) was right on the money! The carrot wine is much drier than you’d expect, and went well with both dishes.

One of the interesting things they are doing at the food locations is to highlight some of the products being used with signs that have some facts about the produce in the dishes.

Some corny stuff here...

Some corny stuff here…

Who knew???

Who knew???

There are also living examples of the produce going into the dishes…

Planter near Florida Fresh

Planter near Florida Fresh

they do something similar during the Food & Wine Festival, but mostly in smaller pots, these large planters really emphasize the fresh fruits and veggies.

Garden Passport

Garden Passport

Another great idea lifted from the Food & Wine Festival is the Passport Booklet.

Garden Passport

Garden Passport

Inside are all the food locations where you can check off what you’ve tried, and at each place the castmembers have a cute ink stamp to denote your visit there, and in some places the castmember might even write a personal note!

Garden Passport

Garden Passport

Unlike the Food & Wine version which only lists food & drink stations, this Passport also lists garden locations such as the Butterfly House and the Land of Oz where you can get your passport stamped. Kids (and more than a few adults) love collecting the stamps and getting their booklet completed – this has been one of the big hits at the Food & Wine Festival the past few years and I love it’s inclusion in Flower & Garden!

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival Festival Center

Festival Center

And the new food and drink offerings aren’t just limited to the World Showcase booths – you can find some different offerings, including one very fun one, at the Intermissions Cafe inside the Festival Center.

Intermissions Cafe

Intermissions Cafe

There is a nice selection of food items, and beverages here…

Intermissions Cafe Menu

Intermissions Cafe Menu

but the fun, and different, item here is the Beet Lollipop… a couple of pieces of roasted beet (one red, one golden) and a wad of cream chesse – you push the whole mess into you mouth and let the flavors mix as you chew!

Beet Lollipop

Beet Lollipop

Even if you’re not fond of beets, this fun little item is worth a shot (who knows, you may change you opinion of the much-maligned root…), and at 99 cents there’s not a lot to lose… hell, even if you don’t eat it it’s worth buying it just to say you got something at Disney for less than a buck! Just how often does that happen???

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The Festival Center of course has lots of merchandise, including several specialty adult beverages by the bottle…

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and it’s interesting to note that the Florida Orange Groves wines are actually cost less at Disney than at the winery (by several dollars)!

While you’re at the Festival Center, be sure to check out the interesting tribute to Disney Legend Bill Evans.

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Soon after we entered the World Showcase on that Friday of the opening weekend, we ran into Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann. Gracious as always, Chef Jens spent a few minutes telling us his about the festival eats and sharing his favorites with us. He noted they made an effort to have all the food items as different as possible from the Food & Wine favorites to give this event a distinct feeling, and I’d have to say he and his staff succeeded. Overall we found the food to be of high quality and flavor, and with a nice variety (especially considering the smaller number of booths compared to the fall festival).

One thing we noticed on the opening weekend was the distinct lack of lines at the booths…

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despite it being a beautiful weekend during spring break, we rarely had to wait long to be served… from a selfish guest perspective, it was great not having to wait long, but from a fans perspective, who wants this concept to be successful and continue, it was a bit disconcerting…

This was the last weekend of the very popular Strawberry Festival in not-too-far-away Plant City, and certainly the nearly 200,000 people who attended that event the same weekend siphoned many potential guests from the opening weekend of Flower & Garden, so it will be interesting (and maybe frustrating) to see if lines and crowds grow during the coming weeks… I’m hoping (and fully expecting) that Epcot will have a huge hit on it’s hands and the new Food & Wine version of Flower & Garden will continue for many years to come, but as always, time will tell.

If you’ve made it to Flower & Garden already please chime in with your thoughts, or if not, let everyone know what you’re looking forward to trying (or wish you could try if you can’t make it)!

Back to the kitchen, see you soon!

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