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July 16, 2015

2015 Food and Wine Festival Sneak Preview, Part 2

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Food and Wine Festival Logo

I'm back with more news from the Tables in Wonderland preview of this year's Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

I only just mentioned in passing the special ticketed dining experiences the other day. I already talked about the new Rockin' Burger Block Party, but forgot to share with you a few photos of the types of sliders that will be on offer at this experience.

There's the Oklahoma BBQ Beef Slider with Mmmhops Pale Ale Onion Fries and Smoked Bologna Baked Beans -- paired of course with Mmmhops Pale Ale, from the brothers of pop group Hanson.

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And we also had a chance to sample the South African Vegetarian Bunny Chow Slider with The Dreaming Tree Chardonnay Watermelon Salad -- in case you didn't know, The Dreaming Tree wines are affiliated with singer Dave Matthews (a personal fave!).

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As I look over the list of other programs for this year, I don't see many additions (and note quite a few subtractions). Still, I didn't mean to give the others such short shrift. There are a few things in this 20th anniversary year that are a bit intriguing.

New for 2015 are a Japanese Craft Beer Tasting and an Italian Food, Wine and Beer Pairing. The latter seems a combination of last year's Food and Beer Pairing with a more traditional Wine Pairing, I'm guessing to appeal to more participants. I'm not much of a beer drinker, but if I get the chance, either of these might be a good way to try to learn an appreciation for the beverage. I'll be seeing if I can make the times for those programs fit into my schedule.

Also, the programs "Sunday Mornings with..." and "Food for Thought" seem to be have been combined into the new "What's Cookin' with..." -- a series of twice-weekly programs featuring a light brunch, and a cooking demo and conversation with a celebrity chef, such as Andrew Zimmern, Robert Irvine or Carla Hall (from The Chew). Most of these chefs have been to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival before, however, as a devotee of the TV shows Chopped! and Iron Chef, I'm interested to see the names Amanda Freitag and Alex Guarnaschelli this year -- hope I'm in town to see one of them, at least.

What I am really interested in, however, is what's happening in the France pavilion.

You may have noticed as you read over the list the France pavilion is no longer offering the Grand Marnier tasting that they've had for the past several years. Instead a new experience is on the schedule: The Parisian Afternoon, Sandwiches, Macarons and Bubbles! To be held in the restaurant Monsieur Paul, this event promises an assortment of finger sandwiches, petit fours and unlimited mimosas -- all for $55 per person. Based on how enjoyable the Parisian Breakfast program they've offered the past few years has been, I can't wait to try the afternoon outing myself.

The team at France is also mixing up its tried-and-true French Regional Lunch program. This year they are abandoning the "regional" theme altogether, and Monsieur Paul will instead host French Family Meal Traditions. This new experience will allow guests to enjoy the chefs' favorite meals from their childhoods, in a long, lingering meal served family style and paired with "perfect" wines. As Eric Weistroffer, general manager of operations in the pavilion notes, "In France we eat like this -- a big family meal that lasts all afternoon, and as we are eating dessert we start to plan what we will have for dinner." It sounds like my kind of gathering!

Some of the other new things for the festival this year:

-- For the first time, the festival has its own private label wines! Called "Festival" the chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon come from California and were just bottled the other day, but we had a chance to sample them -- the red was surprisingly good. And I say surprisingly because it is such a young wine -- but there were notes of vanilla and berries that made my tastebuds very happy.

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-- In addition to the two new "Chew"-related booths that will be in Future World, there are two other new Future World booths making up an exhibit called The Art of Wine and Cheese. Designed to resemble an artist's studio, these two kiosks will be stocked with a selection of wines and cheeses arranged by color, allowing you to have fun will you pick your pairings. According to Chef Mike Deardorff, the cheeses will include an Oregon blue cheese and a chevre, or goat cheese, while the wines will be vintages from California, Oregon and Washington State.

-- The Food and Wine Festival Discovery Sampler Package which includes the following:

* 8 entitlements for food or beverage of your choice at 30 Food and Wine Festival International Marketplaces.

* Priority seating at the 6:45 p.m. Eat to the Beat concert at America Gardens Theatre on the day the package is purchased.

* Limited release 20th Food and Wine pin that comes in three color options.

PRICE: $59 per person, plus tax. Epcot admission is required.

Note that a limited number of packages are available each day.

-- Remy's Ratatouille Hide and Squeak, a scavenger hunt around World Showcase for young and old alike. To join the hunt, you'll have to purchase a map and stickers from a special location, then search for little statuettes of the "little chef" Remy, star of the film "Ratatouille", that have been hidden. Once you've found all the little statues and matched the ingredient stickers to your map, you can take the finished product for a special surprise, compliments of Remy.

I've had a number of questions from readers about the Festival Premium Package that was offered last year, but there has been no word yet whether it will return this year. The Eat to the Beat Dinner Package IS coming back, however. This package, available for lunch or dinner at a number of Epcot restaurants, includes your choice of appetizer, entree, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage (or one full buffet), as well as guaranteed seating at an Eat to the Beat concert on that day. For a list of participating restaurants and pricing, as well as a scheduled entertainment, check our Eat to the Beat page HERE.

Remember:

-- Details about festival programs are available online now (http://disneyworld.com/foodandwinefestival), giving those interested two full weeks to plan before booking starts at 7 a.m. on July 30 at 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378).

-- As in years past, Tables in Wonderland members, Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, and Golden Oak Residents will be able to book culinary demos and beverage and mixology seminars early. This year early booking for these programs starts July 24 at 9 a.m. at 407-WDW-FEST (939-3378). A $2 discount is available to the above-mentioned guests for seminars and demos held Monday through Thursday.

-- The cast of The Chew will be filming a week's worth of shows October 7, 8 and 9. They will also be filming segments around Walt Disney World to be broadcast on upcoming shows. The co-hosts will also attend the Rockin' Burger Block Party on October 8.

I think that brings you up to speed on most of what's happening at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival this year. We'll certainly do our best to bring you any more details as they are announced.

Quick Ref Guide:

International Markeplace Menus with Photos

Special Ticketed Dining Events
Eat to the Beat Concerts/Dinner Package

Culinary Demos/Beverage Seminars

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at the Tables in Wonderland event. This did not affect my review; my opinions are my own.

July 12, 2015

2015 Food and Wine Festival Sneak Preview, Part 1

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Food and Wine Logo

It's that time of year again... as summer reaches its peak and we look toward the cooler temps of autumn, it's time to start thinking about the annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival!

In anticipation of that event, the Tables in Wonderland team hosted its yearly "sneak preview" of the festival for its members. Held in the spacious World ShowPlace in Epcot's World Showcase, I had the chance to sample some of the newest offerings and learn about what treats are in store for us for this, the festival's 20th anniversary.

Marianne Hunnel, area manager festival content development, hosted the preview, aided by Chef de Cuisine Michael Deardorff.

I don't know about you, but one of my favorite parts of the festival is visiting the Marketplaces that ring World Showcase. So I thought first I'd give you a run-down of the new and returning marketplace offerings:

The big news is that for the first time the festival is crossing into Epcot's Future World. A new area called "Next Eats" will feature two new marketplaces that are drawing inspiration from the television show, The Chew. (The Chew is playing a big part in this year's festival, in fact -- read the press release HERE.)

The first, Sustainable Chew, will feature recipes adapted from The Chew co-hosts. The plates and utensils used in this area will be recyclable, adds Chef Mike, further reinforcing the sustainability message of using techniques that protect the environment.

From this booth we had the chance to sample the pork spareribs with red wine and fennel and cheesy mascarpone grits, which was paired with a frozen "Chew-tini" -- a slushy-like drink made of organic Meyer lemon vodka, carrot-mango juice and a citrus sour mix.

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The ribs were tender and the cheesy grits were pure comfort food. I was especially pleased to learn that the the fennel that will be used in this dish will be among the herbs and vegetables actually be grown in Epcot's Land pavilion. As for the Chew-tini -- it was very refreshing, the kind of drink it's easy to have too many of without realizing it!

The other offerings this marketplace will have were not available to sample -- ricotta and zucchini ravioli with tomato sauce and vanilla panna cotta with fresh figs and pistachio brittle -- but Chef Mike said that his team will be ready by September to make the couple thousand ravioli that they'll have to produce every day.

A second new Future World marketplace at Next Eats will feature the Chew Lab, what Chef Mike referred to jokingly as a sort of "Muppet Labs." In this marketplace, Disney chefs are collaborating with “The Chew” to create tastes that use some of the hottest culinary tech trends.

The food offering we had the chance to try was a strip steak with parsnip "silk," balsamic glaze and arugula foam. Not a fan of the foam, but the steak itself was tasty.

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This dish was matched with a unique Smoking Hibiscus drink that featured Mezcal and a hisbiscus flower that was quickly frozen in liquid nitrogen on the spot.

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While I didn't care for the smoky concoction, I have to admit it was fun to watch them dunk the flower in the liquid nitro and watch it transform into a crisp garnish.

Another item from the Chew Lab also employs the liquid nitro technique -- a chocolate almond truffle with warm whiskey caramel. Mmmm. That's all you need to know.

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Other brand-new items that will be available during the festival (but weren't part of the preview) include a venison loin with a mushroom marsala sauce that will be found in the New Zealand marketplace, and buttered chicken and naan at the Africa marketplace. I can't wait for that!

Some of the returning and/or "reimagined" items that we sampled were the Pescado con Coco (seared grouper, rice and coconut sauce) from the Dominican Republic...

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Loaded Mac 'n' Cheese (with Nueske's Pepper Bacon) from the Farm Fresh marketplace...

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Fresh Potato Pancake with Scottish Salmon and Herb Sour Cream...

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the Citrus Thistle made with Hendricks Gin...

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and Haggis with Neeps and Tatties...

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And good news for purists -- this year's haggis is not a vegetarian version as offered in years past. According to Chef Mike, they have found an American company that makes a meat-based haggis that is NEARLY the same as that made in Scotland.

While there are 20 new or reimagined food offerings and 20 new beverage offerings, the special dining experiences also have a few fresh entries.

One item that jumps out at me is the new Rockin' Burger Block Party, which will be offered September 25, October 8 (when the co-hosts of The Chew will attend) and November 6. This promises to be night of eating, drinking and making merry, as you'll be able to dine on a variety of sliders inspired by recording artists who are somehow affiliated with the beverage industry (such Hanson, which has its own beer, marketed at the festival). The beverages at the event will be related to these musicians and guests will be able to enjoy it all while listening and dancing to tracks spun by a DJ.

For more details on this new event, and the other special dining experiences that require a ticket, check out the listing HERE.

That's all I have now to whet your appetite. I'll be back soon with details about the returning Eat to the Beat dining package, another special tasting package, and other Food and Wine Festival activities that you'll want to know about!

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at the Tables in Wonderland event. This did not affect my review; my opinions are my own.

April 4, 2015

All Ears to Celebrate 20 Years...... Teaser

Deb's Digest Blog

In January, 2016, AllEars.net will celebrate its 20th Anniversary! We are proud to be the longest running unofficial Disney World site on the internet.

We ARE planning something for our anniversary in conjunction with our partner Mouse Fan Travel. We wanted to announce by now, but creating Magic and surprises takes time.

However, you may want to save the date of the first weekend of December 2015... you just never know what may be offered...

P.S. This will not be the magnitude of our 15th Anniversary Celebration. We are hoping for 1-3 events... but those events will be really special!

March 15, 2015

Lunch Demonstration at Raglan Road

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By AllEars Team Member: Linda Eckwerth

Recently, I was invited as a media guest to attend a lunch demonstration at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant in Downtown Disney. The demonstration was hosted by Irish Master Chef Kevin Dundon and Amy Recicar from Coastal Wine & Spirits who assisted in pairing the wines with the dishes and gave us insights to each of the wines served.

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The luncheon kicked off Raglan Road's Mighty St. Patrick's Festival (March 13th - March 17th) and their 10 year anniversary celebration.

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The lunch consisted of four courses. Before each course was served, Chef Dundon showed us how to prepare the dish.

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The first course was Coquille St. Jacques - Scallops with Pomme puree and Mornay Gratin
This was paired with a Sterling Napa Sauvignon Blanc

The scallops were seared to perfection and had a simple seasoning of salt, pepper and butter. The Mornay Gratin and small dollops of potato were a wonderful compliment.

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The second course was Duet of Tomato Soup and Champagne Splashed Oyster
Paired with a Chandon Brut Champagne

The soup did not disappoint. It was a cream of tomato soup with one of the ingredients being gin. The oyster was fresh and light. Combining the two was almost like having oyster with a cocktail sauce. Chef Dundon told us their seafood is from Boston and the restaurant gets the last catch of the day to ensure freshness.

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The third course was Roast Rack of Spring Lamb - Served with Irish vegetable Consommé
This was paired with a B.V. Rutherford Cabernet

I am not a big fan of lamb. However, when it is prepared properly it can be delicious. This dish was outstanding! The lamb was very tender and the simple ingredients of potato, carrots, leeks and consommé were wonderful. The lamb Raglan Road serves is from Colorado. Chef Dundon said this is the closest flavor to Irish lamb.

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Last but not least was dessert. Pimms Knickerbocker Glory Topped with Vanilla Mousse and Cucumber and Melon foam.

There was so much going on with this dessert. It had a few different textures and several flavors that just melded together. The base was a gelatin with small melon balls. The mousse and foam were light and the small cookie added a nice crunch.

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If paying, this lunch would have been $55 per person plus tax and gratuity. In my opinion you would have definitely gotten your monies worth!

Not only did we get to dine on delicious food, listen to Chef Dundon's stories but a big announcement was made regarding Raglan Road's 10th Anniversary. A "Master Chef" Cooking Contest was announced.

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Five finalists will fly to Ireland, all expenses paid, where they will stay at Chef Dundon's popular resort and cooking school, Dunbrody Country House Hotel and work with Dundon to perfect their cooking technique. Come October, each of the finalists will cook a dish chosen by Chef Dundon at a private 10th anniversary celebratory dinner at Raglan Road. For complete competition details visit Raglan Road's Facebook page, or their web site www.raglanroad.com. The complete press release can be seen HERE.

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Special lunches and dinners are offered sporadically during the year. Raglan Road has their own website where you can obtain the latest news and information. There is also a newsletter to keep you in the know!

March 12, 2015

Review: Goofy's Cape May Breakfast Buffet - AllEarsNet TV Show #34

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Join Deb Wills and Deb Koma as they review Goofy's Character Breakfast at the Cape May Cafe in the Beach Club. They also do a general comparison to other Disney Resort Character Breakfasts!


"And we'll see YOU, real soon!"

February 28, 2015

Running with Mickey - AllEarsNet TV Show #33

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DIsneyland Correspondent Laura Gilbreath joins host Deb Wills to talk about runDisney races at Disney parks! Laura has run in races at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. She discusses the different races and offers tip to folks wanting to start running with Mickey!


"And we'll see YOU, real soon!"

February 26, 2015

A Taste of Raglan Road - NEW Offerings!

By AllEars Team Member: Linda Eckwerth

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant located in Downtown Disney, has recently updated its menu for lunch, dinner and the Rollicking Raglan Weekend Brunch.

On Thursday 2/19/2015 I had the opportunity to taste the new dishes and adult beverages. Chef Heberto Segura presented each of the new dishes and explained this is their menu update for Spring. He was also very proud to announce that Raglan Road will be celebrating their 10 year anniversary this October. Look for announcements on upcoming events.

Keep in mind these photos represent our tastings and not what the regular portion will look like.

Our first course of the day was an appetizer that appears on both the lunch and dinner menu.

Harry's Beef Carpaccio - seared tenderloin of beef with watercress and romaine hearts, grape tomatoes, shaved parmesan and creamy anchovy vinaigrette. The beef is thinly sliced and while the vinaigrette went well with the beef, I did not care for the anchovy.

Harry's Beef Carpaccio Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

Next came a tasting of the three new items for brunch.

Ellis Isle Steak n Eggs - Grilled NY strip steak, breakfast roasties and battered poached eggs

Ellis Isle Steak n Eggs Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

Pork Hashed Tagged - Braised pork belly, scallions and potato hash top with fried eggs

Pork Hashed Tagged Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

Smoked Salmon Potato Cakes - Sliced smoked Salmon, served with potato pancakes, crème fraiche and caper dill vinaigrette

Smoked Salmon Potato Cakes Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant


All three dishes were delicious and had something unique to offer. The battering on the poached egg gave it a nice light crunch. How can you go wrong with the unbelievable flavor of pork belly and potato hash. The Smoked Salmon was my favorite. The potato cakes were light and the crème fraiche and vinaigrette added just the right accent of flavor to the salmon.

There are three new items for the dinner menu.

Cod Cornucopia - Pan Roasted Cod served with a warm mustard potato salad and a chorizo vinaigrette This was my favorite! The cod was light and flaky and melted in my mouth. Combine the light mustard and vinaigrette flavors and the dish became a cornucopia of flavors.

Cod Cornucopia Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant


Proud Pork - Grilled Pork Chop, colcannon potatoes, Cider port jus and applesauce
The pork was tender and juicy. While it had lots of flavor on its own, the cider port jus and applesauce added additional layers of flavor.

Proud Pork Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

Proud Pork Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant


Double Joint - (served tableside) - Cowboy cut bone in rib-eye steak, fat chips, roasted veggies and salad greens, sauce bearnaise. At 28 ounces, this is a lot of steak goodness!

Double Joint Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant


Sauve Smoothie - Seasonal fruit smoothie with honey yogurt and vanilla. This is a little something to open the palate and will be served during brunch.

Sauve Smoothie Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

Champion Cheese - Chef's featured farmhouse cheese with seasonal accoutrements.
The cheese platter will vary depending on the availability of cheeses.

Champion Cheese Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant


There are also ten new specialty libations to choose from.

My two favorites were the Irish Honey Cup and Our Whiskey Sour.

The Irish Honey Cup contained Bushmills Irish honey, Pimms, fresh lemon sour, sprite, cucumber and fresh lemon.

Irish Honey Cup Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant


Our Whiskey Sour included Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, fresh lemon sour & egg whites. Served with classic trimmings.

Our Whiskey Sour Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

I enjoyed both drinks for the whiskey flavor.

The new items certainly compliment the already popular menu. Don't worry, your "favorites" are probably still on the menu. I know mine are!

Complete Raglan Road Information including menus and photos!

Rate and Review Raglan Road (see what others have to say too!)

January 23, 2015

Epcot for 8 Year Olds? See Why!

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Deb Wills talks with 8 year old Carson Hamilton about his favorite park at Walt Disney World, Epcot! Hear what his favorite attractions in Epcot are and why any 8 year old will love the park!

Did you miss Carson's first video on AllEarsNet TV?

Deb Wills talks with 8 year old Carson Hamilton all about Walt Disney World. Carson talks about his first ride ever on the Tower of Terror, family fun at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and more!


"And we'll see YOU, real soon!"


January 3, 2015

AllEarsNet TV Shows in 2014

In 2014 we began production of our very own video show on YouTube called AllEarsNet TV. Your response has been great and we are so glad you are enjoying the show! (Be sure to read the entire blog for YOUR chance to win an AllEars prize pack!)

CONGRATS TO Carmen! You are the lucky winner of an AllEars.net Prize package! Your comment was selected by random number generator! Please go to the Contact Us page (http://allears.net/forms/feedback.htm) and send your shipping address! Thank you!!

Our 27 shows ran the gamut in topics from

** Reviews of special events like Harambe Nights, Epcot After Hours, Frozen Summer Fun, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

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** Stepping Back in Time looking at the 40 Years of Hoop-Dee-Do, the history of the Wedway People Mover and looking back at the Year 2000.

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** Answering Viewer Questions - Deb Koma and I respond to our mail bag of questions!

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** Show about our Favorites - Magic Kingdom and Epcot Counter Service, and the coasters of Disney World

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and much much more............

Here's Your Chance to Check Out Our Top 5 Most Watched Episodes

#5 Epcot After Hours Wind Down

#4 Ft. Wilderness Little Known Facts

#3 Magic Kingdom Counter Service Dining

#2 Epcot Counter Service Dining

#1 THE Most Watched Episode of AllEarsNet TV in 2014:
Frozen Summer Fun


What Episode Was YOUR Favorite??

What would YOU like to see in 2015?! We welcome your ideas as we develop our show schedule for the upcoming year. Leave your comments below. On January 8, 2015 we will select on person at random who left a comment to receive an AllEars Prize Package! We must hear from you no later than January 15, 2015, to claim your prize.


"And we'll see YOU, real soon!"


January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!
Big Al Country Bears
Photo ©Disney

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