Since we're still on west coast time, morning didn't come very early for us - it was 9:00 when we got up - though that's still 6:00 at home! Whew...already warm today, though. Is it really supposed to still be in the high 80s in late October???
We walked to Epcot, where we had a much more leisurely opportunity of enjoying the signs and decorations for this year's Food and Wine Festival than we did in our 1 hour whirlwind tour last night. This year's theme is Celebrating Culinary Adventures, though it still keeps the international cities theme that it had last year.
At the Land pavilion we had breakfast at the Sunshine Seasons food court. It actually wasn't nearly as busy in there as it usually is - not the huge crowds of people going to Soarin' this morning. I had the breakfast "panini" - though it was really more like a slice of foccacia pizza. There was a crust on the bottom, then slices of roast pork, then bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese, and foccacia on top. It was pretty good.
Lee had the standard American Breakfast.
We took the Living with the Land boat ride afterwards. They had some different crops growing this time, including dragonfruit and something called "Monstera", which seems very appropriate for this time of year. :-) Also Cinderella pumpkins and huge sweet potatoes.
Epcot's entrance is always decorated for the Food and Wine Festival, but since we stay at the Boardwalk we don't go to the main entrance unless we make a special trip there. I think it's very colorful.
Innoventions West was our next stop - there were several things in here that were new since our last visit. We started at Where's the Fire, which is not new, but we hadn't played before. It's played in teams, and the teams go to different rooms of the most dangerous fire-trap house in the world and try to identify fire hazards and deal with them before they actually start a fire. It was kind of fun - some of them were not so easy to find!
Next we played The Great Piggy Bank Adventure. This was very cute - you actually get a plastic piggy bank, and then go to different stations and play games to add money to your piggy bank. It teaches you about saving, inflation, and diversifying (not surprisingly, it's sponsored by T. Rowe Price. :-) ). Our goal was Retirement...we didn't quite make it, but we came close. We really had a lot of fun with this!
Then there was another new game, sponsored by IBM, where we were actually the stars of our own video game! It started out by recording us as we ran in place, jumped, and danced a victory dance. Then we moved to a different console and actually played the game that had us as the characters that were navigating through a virtual world. I say "we", but it was actually Lee that played the game for us. That was a lot of fun, too.
Over at Innoventions East is where the new Sum of All Thrills station is, where you can build your own roller coaster and then actually experience it in a motion simulator. The line was too long for us to do that, but we sat in the simulatore seats.
Over at the Festival Center (the old Wonders of Life Pavilion) we wandered around a little bit. I know people have complained that this area is not central enough (too far from World Showcase) to be the headquarters of the Festival, but it's really a nice area - so light and airy and roomy inside. They had more of the Festival banners in here, too.
There are also a decent-sized wine shop and a gift shop. I really got a kick out of one of the Festival souvenirs available this year - the Swedish Chef from the Muppets!
Which of these things is not like the others?
In the theater they were showing the Seasons of the Vine movie that used to be at Disney's California Adventure. It was nice to see that again.
What we'd really gone there for, though, was the Wine Seminar presented by Castello Banfi. This year, for the first time, these seminars are not free, though we were able to reserve them in advance (that opportunity was given to DVC members, Tables in Wonderland members, and Annual Passholders). I think it was actually a good thing because it meant we didn't have to get there 45-60 minutes early to get a spot - we only needed to be there 10-15 minutes before it started.
Castello Banfi makes one of our favorite wines - the lightly sweet, lightly sparkling Rosa Regale. In addition to the Rosa Regale we also sampled their San Angelo Pinot Grigio and the Belnero Sangeiovese. Sharron McCarthy, the VP of Wine Education, was a very good and enthusiastic speaker, and we really enjoyed the presentation.
And after that it was time for Eating Around the World - Round 2.
We started at Argentina where Lee had Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree. He said the beef was excellent. The boniato was good - it tasted similar to potato.
Mexico has always had some of our Festival favorites, though this year most of the selections were new. We shared the Taco de Cochinita Pibil - a corn tortilla filled with shredded pork and purple onions. This was good but quite spicy.
Lee had the Quesadilla con Chorizo - I think this was on the menu last year, or at least something very similar. He enjoyed it.
I had the Tostada de Pollo - this was a crisp tortilla covered with black beans and shredded chicken with some chopped tomatoes and sour cream on top. It was good, but not as good as the Chilaquiles that they have served at previous Festivals.
We also had the Mexican Sunrise drink - this was a foofy frozen non-alcoholic drink. Not sure what was in it - mango and guava, maybe? - but it was refreshing and not too sweet.
Next was Spain where I ordered the Red Snapper Escabeche. That was quite good - the fish was crisp and tasty and the tomato-pepper relish served with it was also good.
The Koma family found us there - they just arrived this morning for their Food and Wine weekend. We visited for a while and then they went off to eat around the world while we headed back to the Festival Center - we knew we'd be meeting them later for dinner!
We attended another wine seminar, Boisset Family Estates. Yummy.
Oh, and the wines were good, too. ;-) Jean-Charles Boisset was very easy on the eyes, though. In addition to telling us about the wines, he told us about some of the things they are doing to be more environmentally responsible, such as packaging their wines in lightweight, recyclable containers such as plastic and boxes. The pinot noir we tried comes in a box, and the Louis Bernard Bonus Passus is in the plastic bottle. Their Bouchard Chardonnay is packaged in a bottle, and it was really good.
Time to finish Eating Around the World - Round 2! We started at The Mouse Catch with three kinds of cheese - Dorothea, a Dutch cheese, Plave, from Italy, and Mahon, from Spain. I couldn't tell you which one was which, but they had a nice flavor. We also shared a glass of Prosecco.
At Thailand I ordered the Green Papaya Salad with Shrimp. I think this is my favorite so far. The salad was shredded papaya and carrots in a very light gingery dressing. The shrimp was really good - it was grilled and topped with an excellent sauce - I have no idea what was in it, but it was very tasty.
When we walked by Germany we noticed that the little railway town has been decorated for the Food and Wine Festival - the logo is on the wine barrels that the train is pulling.
But oh, no - these poor unsuspecting people are about to be attacked by a giant lizard!!!
At the Hops & Barley Market Lee got the Boston-style Crab Cake with Cabbage Slaw and Remoulade and a cup of the Honey Porter. The crab cake is something he's enjoyed for the last several years. It has too much crab in it for me, though. :-)
The last thing we tried was the Warm Pretzel Bread Stick with Cheese Dip from the Brewer's Collection. The pretzel stick was really good - warm and slightly chewy just like it should be. The cheese sauce didn't do much for me, though.
Back at the Boardwalk the staff had held a pumpkin decorating contest. The pumpkins had been set up in the lobby and guests were allowed to vote - they had just announced the results when we got back. The winner was a pumpkin painted by Adam from Housekeeping - he painted Disney characters costumed as other Disney characters - like Alice as the Mad Hatter, Kronk as Dopey, and Minnie as the Fairy Godmother.
It was clever - in this one you can see Stitch as Darkwing Duck, Peter Pan as Mr. Incredible, Mr. Toad as Maleficent, and Pinocchio as Woody.
We went back to our room for a while before walking down to Kouzzina, where we met the Komas for dinner. It was a big night at Kouzzina - Cat Cora was there with a big family group. She walked through the restaurant greeting guests a couple of times, including stopping by our table to talk to us briefly.
We really had a wonderful dinner - the food was good and we always enjoy spending time with the Koma family. About our only complaint is that the restaurant is very loud - but that's always been a problem with that location, back when it was Spoodles.
Deb and I are planning to do a more in-depth review, so I'm not going to go into any detail here. But I'll share a pictures of out dessert - these are Greek doughnuts called Loukoumades. They were very good - but as Lee said, it's hard to go wrong with fried dough in any culture. :-)
It was a really nice day!