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Epcot's Food and Wine Festival Archives

October 23, 2011

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

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Friday, October 21 - another beautiful but chilly morning in Orlando! We decided to take a trip to Animal Kingdom - our second favorite WDW park (after Epcot). We had just missed a bus, but caught one less than 20 minutes later, and there were only 5 of us on it! Too early for the Blizzard Beach stop, so we went straight to Animal Kingdom.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

It was still Extra Magic Hour, so we needed to show our room key to get into the park. There were a fair number of resort guests there! We did our usual drill - get Fastpass for the Safari, and then have breakfast. We miss getting breakfast at Tusker House now that they have turned it into a character meal (grumble, grumble). Pizzafari is the only counter service breakfast option, and I was very happy to see that they have expanded the breakfast menu since I was last here.

Lee got the Bounty Platter, which included scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuit, potatoes and two sticks of French toast. He said it was very good, but it was on the expensive side - $8.29.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

I had what I think is one of the best bargains at Disney - the oatmeal with apples, raisins and brown sugar, for $2.79. At that price I was expecting a pretty small cup, but it was a large cup, and covered with chunks of fresh apple, golden raisins, and Craisins. They didn't overdo the brown sugar, either. It was really yummy, and very filling - I'd ordered a fruit cup along with it, but I really didn't need that.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We stopped to have a look at the otters before going back to our safari - there were two of them chirping and running around and playing in the water. Otters are SO cute - if they don't put a smile on your face there's something wrong with you! They were moving too fast for me to get a good photo, though.

It was still a cool morning, so we didn't see as many animals on our safari as we sometimes do, but some of the views that we did get were outstanding. Our driver actually stopped the vehicle several times which allowed us to get much better photos. We saw more giraffes than I have ever seen before - there were six, of two different species.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

And we saw an entire family of mandrills, including mama carrying a baby. (On the bottom on the far left - there was another young one, too, that you see in the center.)

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

Another baby that we saw was a baby elephant and his mother - our driver said he is about a year old.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

There were three cheetahs - one of them was up and moving, but the other two were sitting in the center of their enclosure with their heads raised so that we could see them! That was the best view I think I've ever had of them.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

At the Flights of Wonder show we saw a different "Guano Joe" than we have seen before - he was very good. We have to laugh at how they talk about "exotic birds" and then have chickens running around on stage. :-) But they do have a lot of interesting birds, though we didn't see my favorite, Sluggo the lizard-smashing sureiama, this time. Poe the raven came out twice - first he stole Joe's flag, and then he returned and took the stick, too! ;-)

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

The Maharajah Jungle Trek was disappointing - despite the promise of the sign we didn't see the "dragon" (too cold) or the bats (too cold), and only two of the tigers (probably not too cold for them - they were just lazy that morning).

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We just missed a bus back to the Epcot Resorts (literally - we watched it pull away) and then had to wait 15-20 minutes for another one. I'm still not sure why they have only one bus stop for all five Epcot resorts, but whatever. This was one time that I missed not having a car - we almost always drive to Animal Kingdom.

We'd hoped to meet up with some of our friends from the RADP (rec.arts.disney.parks) newsgroup at Epcot, but only a couple of them were able to make it - but we had fun wandering around with them and trying some more foods.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

I don't think I mentioned this before - something new that they are doing this year is a Food and Wine "passport" (since this year's theme is "Passport to a World of Flavor") - it's a small pamphlet and inside is the menu for each food booth and a space for the custom stamp from each booth. And it's FREE! No purchase necessary at the booths, either - they were happy to stamp them at the registers, and I saw a fair number of kids who were just collecting the stamps. They had them available at most of the food booths, so you could start anywhere. I was having fun getting them - by the end of the day on Friday we had visited (and purchased from) 24 of the 29 food booths. (We won't talk about how much money we put onto the F&W gift card to do that...)

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We took a short late afternoon break back at our room to get off our feet and change clothes before the 3D Dessert Discovery event that night. Back in Epcot we met a couple of friends for "The Orchestra" concert - featuring "former members of the Electric Light Orchestra". Really, that's how they introduced them! We found that very funny. It was an ok concert, but I was surprised at how short it was - it started right at 5:15 and ended promptly at 5:45.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

It was Friday night and the crowds had really picked up at Epcot - lots of locals coming in for the evening, I guess. It was a very nice evening - not as chilly as the previous night. Before eating a bunch of dessert we wanted some food, so we revisited a couple of our favorites - the lamb slider from New Zealand and the chipotle chicken sausage with polenta from Canada.

The 3D Dessert Discovery event was held in the World Showplace (which will always be Mil Vil, aka the Millennium Village, to us), and ran from 7:00 until 8:30, though it also included a reserved viewing area for Illuminations afterward. It was $55/person. I'll have a full review on the AllEars web site later, but in brief, it featured a number of stations with different desserts, as well as cheese, fruit, bread, and even some "savory" items like a ham and prosciutto platter, cranberry polenta, and a chocolate chile muffin. There was quite a selection of dessert beverages like port, late harvest wines, sweet sparkling wines, and liqueurs available as well.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

It wasn't overly crowded, and we found several empty "standing" tables, and there were unused places at some of the regular tables, too.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

At 8:30 they started walking us over to our viewing location for Illuminations, which was World Showcase Plaza between the two gift shops. We think that's the best viewing location for the show, since you can see all of the country pavilions from there and you're fairly close to the flame barge and the globe.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

They had given us cardboard 3D type glasses when we walked into the dessert event - but they were really "Mickey" glasses, which turn a light source into Mickey heads. People were wearing them for the fireworks and really giggling and cheering about it - it really did look pretty cool. I took a photo through the glasses, so you get some idea of what it looked like.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

It was a very nice evening and we had a good time. I was disappointed that there wasn't more chocolate, but we enjoyed the desserts and the wines.


Saturday, October 22

It figures, just as we've adjusted to this time zone, it's time to go home. Another beautiful day in Orlando, but still only 53 at 8:00 in the morning! It wasn't as windy today, though, and it warmed up a lot faster.

We got everything packed, left our bags with Bell Services, and went over to the Dolphin, where we met Deb Koma and her husband and Jack Marshall and his daughter for breakfast at Fresh. They don't seem to have quite the food selection that they did the last time I ate here several years ago, but it was still good - the roasted potatoes were especially tasty. The line for made-to-order omelets was rather long, but most of us did that anyway. Lee enjoyed the Mickey pancakes, too.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We said goodbye to everyone (though we'll see them again in December at the December to Remember events), and went into Epcot, even though we knew it was going to be very busy. I still had six more stamps to get in my passport! Since we were at the back of the park moving forward the lines were still short/non-existent at the places I needed, China, which was the last one, and closest to the front, had the longest line. Of the last six stamps we only got food/beverage at three of them, but we had just come from breakfast so we weren't that hungry. (Note what the cast member is doing behind Lee. :-) )

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We hadn't been to the Food and Wine Festival in a couple of years, and there were some things we noticed this year that seemed to be helping to improve the flow of people.

A lot of the booths that expected long lines had queues set up to try to keep people a little more organized.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

A few of the very popular booths, like Australia, Canada, and Craft Beers actually had lines on two sides. We found that the line on the end closest to Future World was the most crowded, and if you went to the other side it was a lot shorter.

Today, when it was so busy, they had a cast member at the front of many of the lines that directed guests to the next available register.

Something that I understand is new this year are these utensil kiosks - press a lever and it dispenses a fork, spoon, or knife. I think they hold a lot more utensils, and certainly seem to be a lot more efficient than the bins of utensils they have had in the past.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

We went back to the Festival Welcome Center where I got the final "completion" stamp in my passport. There was nothing extra, though.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

I needed to renew my Premier passport, and the only place that you can do that is at Guest Relations at one of the theme parks (or Downtown Disney in Florida). There was a long line at Guest Relations, but fortunately they had people working the lines and directing people who could go to a regular ticket booth, or to Guest Relations inside the park (which had more people working) and that helped...but still, we were in line for 20 minutes. It took a while, but I finally got a new Premier passport, with an expiration date a year from when my old one was going to expire, instead of a year from today. The Premier passports are a great concept, but even after almost two years they still have some problems - I still don't understand why we can't renew them by mail or on-line like we can with the other annual passes. And I have commented many times on how they don't scan at the registers for their discounts. It will be interesting to see if mine works at Disneyland the next time I visit - and whether or not they still have a photo on file for me, or if I will have to get a new one taken.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

When we went back into the park Epcot was still very busy. We wandered through Innoventions east and west, and saw the Fountain of Nations shooting water high into the air.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - October 2011, Part 2

It was getting to be time to head back to the Boardwalk for our pickup by Magical Express, so we left. World Showcase was VERY crowded, and lines at the food booths were very long. Lee said that for a change it was actually a relief to be leaving Epcot! We had time to stop along the Boardwalk for chocolate milkshakes and a slice of pizza.

The bus, or MOTORCOACH, as the driver informed us, picked us up promptly - actually a little bit early. We were the last stop, so went straight to the airport. We had a very entertaining motorcoach driver, so that made the trip go quickly. Once we arrived at the airport it wasn't very crowded, and getting through Security didn't take long at all.

We had a really good trip - it would have been nice to have another day at Walt Disney World, but we had time to do just about everything we wanted at the Food and Wine Festival.

Thanks for following along - I'll have a couple of food blogs coming - one on the Dream, and one on the Food and Wine Festival.


October 22, 2011

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

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Our last moments aboard the Disney Dream this morning...the final morning of a cruise I always find to be a let-down - everyone is in such a rush to get us off the ship by 9:00.

It was a beautiful morning in Port Canaveral - but chilly!!! Only 57, and it was only supposed to get up to 71-72 today...that was NOT the forecast when I left home (they were saying low 80s). I'm glad I brought a light jacket!

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

At about 7:30 we were in our cabin finishing our packing when suddenly the voice of the duty officer came on overhead - like right OVER Lee's head. I think he jumped a foot off the ground, and I was very startled, too. I don't think they intended that, because she just got a couple of sentences into the spiel about the Disney Dream being cleared by customs, and then it stopped. But if we weren't awake before, we were awake then. Yikes.

On our other cruises breakfast on the last morning has been pretty quiet, with a LOT of empty tables, but the dining room was pretty busy at 8:00 this morning. Only four of us at our 8-person table, though. Even our servers seemed a little subdued. They were great, and we will miss them.

We're used to just walking right off the ship after breakfast, but this time the Atrium was packed and people were lined up and waiting to get out. We twice heard the "everybody has to get off the ship" announcement before we were finally able to get off. It was not very pleasant, especially compared to our other experiences. But I guess that made it a relief to get off?

It didn't take too long to clear Customs and get out of the terminal and onto a bus headed back to WDW. We were the third stop, and the only passengers to get off at the Boardwalk. It was about 11:30 by then, and our room was actually ready!!! That was a very nice surprise.

I don't remember if we've been in a Studio since they changed the decor - I don't care much for the yellow and pink color scheme it has now.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Our room has one of the malevolent swans glaring down into it...though we are somewhat hidden by a big bush.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

BTW, we have free wireless internet service here, too, just like we did at Saratoga Springs. It's really very nice! I understand that for now this is a trial service - I sure hope they keep it. It works very well and has been very responsive, too.

We love staying at the Boardwalk - it's a pretty short walk to Epcot - the operative term being that you CAN walk - no need to hassle with waiting for a bus (or driving and parking). And since it was Food and Wine Festival time and we were ready for lunch...off to Epcot we went.

Lee's pass didn't work at the turnstile - it's a Premier pass that he renewed at Disneyland in May, and we'd both forgotten that he hadn't been to WDW since then, so they needed to activate it at Guest Relations. Fortunately that didn't take too long - though we wondered why he even had to do that. (The answer, apparently, is that they are two different ticketing systems. The Premier card stock comes from Disneyland, so it is pre-activated for Disneyland if you buy it at WDW, but if you buy it at Disneyland you have to have it activated at WDW before you can enter a park for the first time here. Though I don't remember having that problem with my Disneyland-purchased Premier pass last year.) So the Premier Pass thing continues to be somewhat frustrating - it's a great concept, but in practice it doesn't all work nearly as well as I think it should.

But we finally got into Epcot. It was really a beautiful day - totally clear skies. But a little bit cool (not even 70 at noon) and breezy - if I got into the shade I was chilly, even with a jacket. Not what I expect at this time of year - but it beats 95 degrees and 95% humidity!

The park was a little more crowded than I expected for a Thursday afternoon in late October, and there were short lines at most of the food booths, but not bad - and they got shorter as the afternoon went on. I'm going to have to do a separate blog on everything we tried, otherwise I won't get this one done in time to post tomorrow.

A shout-out to AllEars readers Katie and Dan from Seattle, who recognized us and came over to say hello and tell us how much they enjoy the web site and the newsletter. Thank you!

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Today's standouts: Shrimp Cake from Singapore (Laura), and Beef with Smashed Sweet Potatoes from South Africa (Lee). Biggest surprise - Poland, where both the pork stuffed cabbage roll and the kielbasa and potato pierogi were very good. Best dessert: the Pastel from Portugal (a flaky pastry cup filled with egg custard). We would never have tried it but the ladies at the New Zealand booth told us how wonderful it was. (The Shrimp Cake is pictured below.)

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

After one circle around World Showcase lagoon we took a break and went back to our room for a nap. We ARE on vacation, after all! And went back to the park around 5:30.

At the Desserts and Champagne booth I had a glass of the Moet and Chandon Nectar Imperial. It wasn't quite like having Steven serve me a champagne cocktail in Pink, but it was very good.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

We saw the cranberry bog they have set up in the area between Future World and World Showcase (what is that area called, anyway?). Talked to the guy in the bog about cranberries and how they are harvested. We didn't realize that Craisins were actually developed to make use of what remained of the cranberry after the juice was extracted. And that cranberries are grown from seed - it takes 3-5 years after a bog is planted until it can be harvested...but after that, they keep producing - there are some cranberry bogs that are 130 years old!

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

We wandered down to the Festival Center (former Wonders of Life pavilion), but there wasn't anything going on that late (it was almost 7:00). Continuing our tour of Epcot (have to work off all of those calories somehow!) we went to the front of the park - pretty at night.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Since we had dined with Crush the night before, it seemed only fitting that we visit the Nemo and Friends pavilion.

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

We saw one of the tanks that had a number of seahorses in it. (Seahorse means starboard! ;-) )

Disney Dream - October, 2011, Part 5 and Epcot Food and Wine Festival

It was around 8:00 by the time we went back to World Showcase, and there were hardly any lines at the food booths. The park was fairly empty since the evening was a little bit chilly. We tried a few more food items, and then watched Illuminations before heading back to our room for the night. We started the day on the Disney Dream, and finished the day at Epcot - not too bad!



November 5, 2009

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Sunday Culinary Demos

Getting back to Sunday's events, which I didn't have time to finish writing about while we were in Florida...

The end of Daylight Saving time meant an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning - yay!!! We finally left the room to walk to Epcot at about 9:15, and as we walked out to the boardwalk, who should we see strolling by but the Koma family! They were also going to Epcot, so we all walked together, and heard about their fabulous dinner at Victoria and Albert's the night before.

They went to Test Track while we went to the Festival Center and checked in for our Sweet Sundays session. Deb attended Sweet Sundays about a month ago, and posted her review HERE. She found it a little difficult to face three desserts so early in the day - but I don't have that problem. :-) Sweet Sundays is one of my favorite Food and Wine Events - this is the third year that we've done it. (And I was very happy when they also brought the event to Disney's California Food and Wine Festival earlier this year!)

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This event is held in the Chef's Showplace, the same place the Culinary demonstrations take place. In previous years it has been at the former Odyssey restaurant, which I think was a little nicer, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the event worked here. I was concerned there might be a lot of noise from other things going on in the Festival Center but that was not an issue. At the Odyssey they had used round tables, which actually wasted quite a bit of space - the 18 rectangular tables, each seating six, were a much more efficient use of space.

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Pam Smith, the official host of the various Food and Wine events, welcomed us and we toasted with a glass of Martini and Rossi Prosecco. We had water and juice at our place settings, and our servers brought us coffee or tea. Table by table they sent us out to the two breakfast buffet stations that were set up just outside - both stations were identical.

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It was called a "light breakfast buffet", but it was quite a bit of food. There was a very nice fruit plate, and then several kinds of breakfast pastries - danishes, chocolate chip muffins and banana nut bread. The best thing, though was the baked sweet potato doughnuts, though they were really more like mini-muffins. Moist and really good.

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There were also breakfast potatoes with leeks.

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There were two fritattas: four cheese and sun-dried tomato and spinach, and also chicken and apple sausages.

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Also French Toast sticks:

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They gave us about 30 minutes to eat and then introduced our guest pastry chef: Geraldine Randalsome from Geraldine's Creative Cutters in Ontario, Canada. She was an interesting speaker - rather a wry sense of humor, and apparently she's infamous with her employees for doing things more by intuition than by following a recipe. Which is actually very interesting for a pastry chef - baking is much more chemistry than anything else, and modifying ingredients even slightly can sometimes lead to a baking disaster.

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The first thing she made was the Creme Brulee Macaroon. Disney, as they usually do, they had provided the recipes to us so that we could follow along and make notes. First she made the macaroon cookie base. When you think "macaroon" you think "coconut", right??? Wrong...this was made with ground hazelnuts - not a flake of coconut to be found! She and Pam Smith demonstrated how to pipe the batter into circles on a silicon baking sheet. She said that refrigerating the cookies for about 30 minutes before baking produces a lighter cookie.

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I should mention - we were seated toward the back of the room, but they had several large flat panel screens on both sides of the room so we could get a closer look at what was going on.

The creme brulee was a typical creme brulee, except that she uses vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract, which gives a much more intense vanilla flavor. The creme brulee was also unmolded on top of the cookie instead of being served in a ramekin - that's quite different. But she assured us that if you use plenty of butter to coat whatever you bake the brulee in that it will come out fine.

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The plates were garnished with a chocolate hazelnut syrup, which was yummy. This was Lee's favorite of the three desserts. I liked the macaroon cookie part the best, and those are something I will probably make myself in the future.

The Mango Ginger Cheesecake was next. I have to admit I looked at the title of this one and thought: "Eh", but it ended up being my favorite. It's an unbaked cheesecake made with cream cheese, cream, and mango puree, and thickened with gelatin. Then you split that in half and add melted white chocolate to one half and melted dark chocolate to the other.

The "wow" factor of this dessert is that it was cone shaped, with three layers: the white chocolate mango mousse, the chocolate mango mousse, and a layer of ginger cookie crumbs on the bottom. She did this using a plastic mold, but showed us how it could be done by making cones out of parchment paper.

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Oh, they served us a glass of Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante with this one.

By this time she was running very short on time (only 15 minutes left), so the actual demonstration of the third dessert, Cranberry Pecan Tart, was pretty short. This is her improvement on pecan pie, which she doesn't really care for because it's too sweet and gooey. This is still plenty sweet, but adding fresh cranberries does cut the sweetness.

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I did not think she was quite as good a teacher as some of the other chefs I've seen at this event - she tended to jump around a lot and was not very methodical, so I found it somewhat hard to follow what she was doing. But I learned a couple of things, and I'm sure I'll be making the macaroons and maybe the cheesecake in the future.

We got out of there a little after noon - the staff quickly got to work as soon as people left the tables because they had to get them ready for the first Culinary/Wine Demonstration of the day, which was at 1:00! And we had tickets for that, also. We needed to get outside and walk around a little bit, though. Lots more people in the park, but still not too bad. It had warmed up a lot, though.

Back at the Festival Center we were seated for the cooking demo by Walter Staib. He's a German chef, but he oversees the City Tavern in Philadelphia, which is owned by the U.S. Government because of its historical significance - apparently Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the like used to hang out there while they were fomenting rebellion. :-) His specialty is using recipes and cooking techniques from the 18th century - though of course the cooking techniques have to be somewhat modernized! He actually has a new PBS series titled A Taste of History which is just starting its run. In it he goes to historic kitchens and cooks with authentic techniques over open hearth fires. He actually prepared a meal in the kitchen at Monticello - the first time that kitchen has been used in about 40 years.

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For this demo he made salmon cakes with remoulade - which he had made (and we had sampled) at the Party for the Senses the night before. It was one of our favorites. In the 18th century this was a very economical dish, since it was made with scraps of salmon and stale bread. It was served on a bed of herbed barley - they didn't have ready access to rice in the 18th century, so barley was the starchy grain of choice.

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These demos also have a wine pairing with them, though the wine serving is very small - maybe an ounce? With the salmon we had the Louis Jadot Rose. It was really good, but a larger serving would have been even better!

We actually had a couple of hours back in our room before going back to the Festival Center for the next demo. This one started with The Mystery of the Missing Chef. Apparently they were looking for him backstage so that they could get the demo started, and then they discovered that he was sitting out in the audience visiting with guests and didn't realize that they were looking for him! After they found him he came and sat at our table, which was in the front of the room. His name is Christopher Prosperi, and he's the chef at Metro Bis in Simsbury, CT. Really a delightful presenter - kind of silly and irreverent and really a lot of fun.

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He was telling us about his addiction to crock pots (he has 9!), and how he was annoyed at how the cord kept getting in the way - so he cut a hole in the table for the cord!!! The men in the audience (Lee included) thought that was a fine idea, while the women agreed with his wife that he had ruined the table.

He also demonstrated the same dish he had made for the Party for the Senses - a shrimp and gazpacho shooter. There's a lot of chopping involved, but he told us that if you don't have sous chefs like he does, then the chopper that you see on infomercials actually works! He used one of his new favorite ingredients in this - tomato vodka. He passed around a small bowl of it so we could smell it - it really does smell like fresh tomatoes!

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The small wine sample for this demo was the Biltmore Century White. It was really good and cut the spiciness of the gazpacho.. The bottle is etched and quite lovely in and of itself - I took this picture of the bottle of red wine that they had in the wine shop, which shows the detail a little better.

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The next demo was ratatouille - he grilled the vegetables before chopping them. On our table we had noticed a small container of something black that smelled kind of like ash from a fire. This was actually smoked sea salt, and he told us to add just a little bit to the ratatouille. It was really good!

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So after Sweet Sundays, the salmon cake, and then the gazpacho and ratatouille you'd think we wouldn't really need to do much Eating Around the World that night, would you? But we did - though we took almost two full laps around World Showcase in the process. But I talked about all of that in Day 4.

November 2, 2009

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Day 4

I'd planned this to be a blog about Sweet Sundays, and the Culinary and Wine demonstrations we attended today but it's late and I'm too tired to finish writing about all of that, so for now I'm just going to do Eating Around the World - Round 4 instead. That's what we did tonight with Catherine after we met her along with several other RADP friends (Chad, Kerry, Kim, and Rob) when we were leaving the Festival Center after the last demo we attended.

It had been another very warm day, but it had cooled off nicely by 6:00 and was pretty comfortable. And the park wasn't very busy at all - most of the food booths had either no lines or very short lines, except for Germany - not sure why Germany's line was so long!

Anyway...since we were coming from Future World we started at Argentina, where Lee got the Beef Empanada. He enjoyed the empanada, but he said their beef skewer, which he sampled the other day, was "great".

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At the Cape Town booth Lee tried the Seared Beef Tenderloin with sweet potato puree and mango barbecue sauce. He said that was really good - very reminiscent of something you'd get at Boma. I tried the sweet potato and the sauce, and they were both very tasty.

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At Australia we tried the Seared Barramundi (that's a fish) with blistered cherry tomatoes, arugula and lemon oil. A little bland...the fish didn't have much flavor. Though it was nice to have something that wasn't beef, pork, or chicken!

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We also had the lamb chop with red wine sauce and Murray River sea salt. That was pretty good, though it's rather a small serving for $5.50.

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From the Hops and Barley booth both Catherine and Lee had beers - they were pretty happy about that. :-)

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I tried the Cosmo Slush from France - there was a line there, but it moved quickly. I enjoyed that - it's VERY red, though!

Both Lee and Catherine had something from Canada, but it was things we'd tried before so I didn't take any pictures. I had the chicken souvlaki from Greece - this was served on pita bread with tzatziki sauce. Pretty good, though the chicken was a bit dry.

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At Chile, we had the corn and cheese arepa - basically a corn meal cake with cheese. It was ok, but it needed some salsa or something. Lee used to make these at home - and his were better.

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While I was picking up the arepa, I saw the rock shrimp ceviche and decided I had to try that - it had popcorn on top! I asked about that, and was told that the popcorn somehow brought out the flavor. It was not bad, and had a little bit of a kick to it. Still, not something I would probably get again.

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We turned around and headed back around the way we had come, stopping at Canada to catch the last two songs of Off Kilter's set - we hadn't seen them at all on this trip. At Morocco I had a glass of sangria and a piece of baklava. The sangria was very good, and the baklava was also pretty good - not so syrupy and sticky as many are. I think it was made with pistachios.

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Our final stop for the evening was Louisiana where both Catherine and Lee got beers, and they split the praline bread pudding.

We finished our evening by meeting up with Rob and DebK, and watching Illuminations - we've seen it all four nights of this trip! That's a first.

We'll have time for one last abbreviated round of Eating Around the World tomorrow before we leave for the airport.

November 1, 2009

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Day 3

We got started a little bit earlier today - we were out of the room by about 9:15. We had a private bus to Animal Kingdom! We had to run to catch it, but there was no one else on it, and we didn't pick anyone else up at Swan or Dolphin, either! The bus driver took us straight to AK instead of stopping at Blizzard Beach like they usually do.

It was another sunny day, but not as warm as it had been at the same time yesterday morning - though that didn't last. Animal Kingdom was relatively uncrowded when we arrived at 9:35 - there weren't even very many people back in Harambe when we went to get Safari Fastpasses.

Not too many options for breakfast at AK, so we went to Pizzafari. I had just yogurt and and a fruit cup, but Lee tried the breakfast pizza, which was topped with scrambled eggs, cheese, red and green peppers, and a white sauce. He said it was pretty good.

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We had some time before our Fastpass so we wandered around some of the animal exhibits. But there were no otters, no lemurs or cotton-top tamarins - we did see some kangaroos bouncing around, though.

When we went into the Fastpass line Lee was actually selected to carry the "time pass". There were a LOT more people back in Harambe than there had been 40 minutes earlier - the crowds were really picking up at Animal Kingdom.

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We had a pretty good safari - there were lots of elephants, and we even saw two of the cheetahs.

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The best part, though, was the male lion - he was awake and vocalizing - these little short roars that we think are called "chuffing". Our driver said it's a territorial thing where he's announcing his presence - and she said it had no doubt driven the neighboring warthogs deep into their burrows!

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There were lots of people on the Pangani Forest Trail - more than I've seen there in a long time. This meerkat was really taking its sentinel duties seriously - up on the highest point in the enclosure, and looking all around for threats.

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One of the male silverback gorillas on the bachelor side was carrying around a palm frond, then settled down with it - and the big silverback male on the other side was doing the same kind of thing.

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We took the train to Rafiki's Planet Watch, which we haven't done in a long time. We saw a big manure truck, and also one of the white rhinos in a backstage enclosure.

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Inside, one of the bird keepers had a Harris hawk named Storm. They think she is about 18 years old, and she's been blind for years - they think she was about 4 when she was rescued, suffering from a gunshot wound. :-( But she does just great even without her sight, and apparently is very calm and easy to handle, and does very well out in public. Beautiful bird.

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For Halloween, Planet Watch was doing a Special, Not Spooky promotion where they were extolling the virtues of spiders, bats, snakes, and other creepy crawlies.

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They've already put Prince Naveen to work - and his movie isn't even out yet!!! :-)

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They had decorated one of their lab areas for Halloween with lots of stuffed animals who were wearing Halloween hats and costumes - it was really cute.

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They were also holding a pumpkin-carving contest where guests were invited to vote for their favorite pumpkins done by various teams at Animal Kingdom.

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My favorite was this owl, done by the Bird Team, but another one that I thought was really clever was the face of a goat with part of an Animal Kingdom map hanging out of its mouth - the Mammal Team did that one. (That one is second from the right in the photo above.)

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They also had small pumpkins that kids could decorate with colored pens.

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And they had this critter out for guests to greet - he is an agouti, and comes from South America. He was perfectly happy to let people pet him as long as he had his celery sticks (which had peanut butter in them) to chew on!

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We enjoyed our time there - not something I'd want to do every time, but it was interesting, especially since they had special things going on for Halloween. Though we noticed that their goats didn't get to wear Halloween bandanas like the goats as Disneyland do! As we pulled back into the train station at Harambe this sign made me laugh.

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We went over to the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia. The Cast Member at the tapir exhibit cracked us up - he was doing his best Dr. Frankenstein imitation and talking about his greatest creation - the Frankentapir. :-) (Which, when you think about it, really does look like an animal designed by a committee.) The tigers were of course sleeping - the day had warmed up considerably. The white-cheeked gibbons (the ones that live in the "ruined temple" near Kali Rapids) were putting on a show, though - there are four of them - mom, dad, and their two daughters. The daughters were doing aerial acrobatics in the trees, and it was a lot of fun to watch. From the cast member we learned that the babies are blond when they are born, then they all turn black when they are about 7 months old, and then the females turn blond again a year or so later. The younger daughter is black now, while the older daughter is blond again.

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We watched the Flights of Wonder show and then took the bus back to the Epcot Resort area - we got off at the Beach Club since we were going to Epcot.

And then, guess what - it was time for Eating Around the World - Round 3! :-) We started at Morocco, where I had the Falafel Pita Pocket and Lee had the Kefta (Ground seasoned beef in a pita pocket). As far as serving size went, these were one of the better values of the Festival, but they were both a little dry.

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It was really a warm afternoon, which I guess kept the crowds down, because we never had too much of a wait at the food booths. At Louisiana I had the Crawfish Etouffe, which was quite tasty - though I would have enjoyed it more on a cooler day. And Lee had the Chicken and Andouille Gumbo, ditto. Actually the two also looked similar - can you tell which is which in the photos below? :-)

Crawfish Etoufee

Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

(The etoufee is the top photo, the gumbo is the bottom photo.)

We also had the Praline Bread Pudding which was quite good - though not as good as my friend Jan's! Lee also had an Abita Amber, which I had several sips of as well, and it was drinkable (coming from me that is high praise for a beer).

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Let's see...we watched the World Showcase Players in Italy perform an abbreviated version of Romeo and Edna because their "stage area" was in full sun. I don't blame them at all for cutting it short!

From the New Delhi booth I ordered what is called the Rice and Lentil Crepe with Potato and Onion Filling on the menu, but is called Rava Masala Dosa on the receipt. The crepe part is made to order so I had to wait a few minutes. Lee didn't really care for some spice that was in this, though I thought it was ok - not as good as the samosas and curried butternut squash that they have had in the past, though.

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Lee went to the China booth and came back with the Rice Pancake with Beef and two pork pot stickers. He said the rice pancake was good, but unusual - thicker with a heavier more solid texture than he expected. He covered it red pepper sauce, which impressed the cast member. :-)

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The pot stickers were, well, pot stickers. They were fine, but nothing exceptional.

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At that point we both wanted something cold and slushy - alcoholic was a bonus. :-) Lee got the frozen pina colada from the bar next to San Angel Cantina (we hadn't realized that they sold pina coladas in addition to margaritas!), and I had the frozen Dragon Berry Colada from Puerto Rico. Mine was a lot smaller than his, but it had more rum, too - he was wondering whether his had any alcohol at all! I enjoyed mine - it was mostly strawberry-flavored, and really it was just about the right size.

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We walked back to our room after that to take a break from the heat - and a nap. Tonight we went to the Party for the Senses at Epcot, but I'll have a whole separate report on that.

Other thoughts on today...it was Halloween, and there were a lot of people, both kids and adults, wandering around both Epcot and Animal Kingdom in costume - we were surprised to see that, since I didn't think adults were allowed in costume except at the Halloween parties at the Magic Kingdom. But maybe they bend the rules a little on Halloween itself.

We were also surprised at the big Halloween event going on at the Boardwalk - they had a stage set up on the back lawn with various craft stations set up, and there were also trick-or-treat stations set up along the Boardwalk. Mickey Mouse was there posing with kids and families - there was a huge line to see him. Like I said, we were surprised - we did not receive any literature on this at check-in, nor did I see anything posted in the lobby over the past couple of days. It was really nice for the resort to do this for the kids and families, though, since it was free!

It was another good day - though I wish it would cool off, but according to weather.com we're stuck with this for the remainder of our visit. Oh well...we'll be spending a lot of time inside at the Festival Center tomorrow since we are doing Sweet Sundays and two wine and cooking demonstrations.

October 31, 2009

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Day 2

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.

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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.

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Lee had the standard American Breakfast.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lee had the Quesadilla con Chorizo - I think this was on the menu last year, or at least something very similar. He enjoyed it.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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But oh, no - these poor unsuspecting people are about to be attacked by a giant lizard!!!

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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. :-)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. :-)

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It was a really nice day!

October 30, 2009

2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Day 1

Lee and I are back at Walt Disney World. It's a short trip for us - arrive Thursday night and leave Monday afternoon - so we'll be concentrating on the Food and Wine Festival. We are staying at Boardwalk Villas, so that makes it easier since we can walk to Epcot! In fact we didn't even rent a car this time - we are using Disney's Magical Express instead.

We'd planned to spend several hours at Epcot this evening enjoying Round 1 of "Eating Around the World", but a two-and-a-half hour delay in our connecting flight kinda ruined that plan when we didn't even arrive at the Orlando airport until almost 7:00. But we have to give Disney's Magical Express credit - we were on a bus just a few minutes after checking in with them, and the bus was on the road within 10 minutes after that. We were the first stop, and arrived at the Boardwalk about 8:05. By 8:15 we were in our room, where we dropped our bags and headed off to Epcot. I had to renew my annual pass, but there was no line, and that only took a few minutes, so we were actually in the park by 8:25!

It was a warm night, and we hadn't changed out of the long pants we'd worn on the plane so we were a little warm...but we were hungry!

Our first stop was the Ireland booth, where Lee had the Fisherman's Pie that had come so highly recommended. And it did not disappoint - he really enjoyed it - especially with a Guiness to go with it!

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I had the Cheese Plate, which included three kinds of cheese: Aged Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Ivernia, some brown bread and apple chutney. The cheeses were very good - one especially had a really nice bite to it - I assume that was the Aged Irish Cheddar.

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Next it was off to New Zealand where we each got the Lamb Slider with Tomato Relish. This was different than it had been in past years - it was a ground lamb patty (more like a large meatball) instead of slices of lamb. It was good, but I prefer the slices of lamb.

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We still had a little time before the food booths closed, so our last stop was Canada. Where we ordered one of everything. :-) First was the Cheddar Cheese Soup - Lee really likes this but it's a little too rich for me.

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We also had the Maple Glazed Salmon with Lentils. The lentils were cold, which I found surprising, but I liked them.

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The Spicy Chicken Sausage and Polenta was another selection from Canada. I thought the sausage was a little too spicy, but I enjoyed the polenta.

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The Maple Candy was two pieces of maple-leaf-shaped maple sugar candy. I've always like this, but it's very sweet. This didn't have a particularly strong maple flavor, though.

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I also had glass of the Riesling, which was fine, but not my favorite.

Illuminations was just starting as we finished eating. We watched it from Canada, since that's where we were, and we remembered why we don't usually watch it from there, because the smoke mostly blows that direction.

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By 9:20 we were walking out of Epcot. So in an hour we'd renewed an annual pass, eaten at three food booths and watched Illuminations - not bad, huh?

We still wanted something else to eat so we stopped at Seashore Sweets and got a couple of chocolate milkshakes.

I think this had to be our shortest park day ever, but we still managed to do quite a bit in a short time!

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November 22, 2008

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Food Booth Review

Ok, so for yet another Festival we didn't make it to *all* the food booths...but since there were four of us we tried a lot of different things.

Favorites:
Laura: Lamb slider (New Zealand), Chilaquiles (Mexico)

Lee: Chorizo Quesadilla and Chilaquiles (Mexico), Kielbasa with Potato Pierogi (Poland)

Sherry: Wild Mushroom Soup (Poland), Boston Crab Cake (Sam Adams), Pot Stickers (China)

Jim: Beer, Leek and Goat Cheese Quiche (France), beer, Seafood Gumbo (Louisiana) (and did he mention the beer?)

What we tried:

Cheddar Cheese Soup - This is one of Lee's favorites every year, and Sherry enjoyed it, too. A little too rich for me, and a small serving for the price ($3.25).

Maple Glazed Salmon with Roasted Corn and Arugula - Another offering that Lee has every year. I find the smell of the salmon cooking as you walk by to be unpleasant. The roasted corn and arugula salad served with it was good.

Boston Crab Cake with corn and barley salad - Lee and Sherry enjoyed these - lots of crab and not so much cake (which is why I *don't* like them!).

New England Lobster Roll - Expensive at $7, but it's pretty good-sized. Sherry and Jim enjoyed it.

Cajun Crawfish Etoufee - Jim said this was quite good, and a bit spicy. (He got and ate this while Sherry and I were watching Serveur Amusant, so I didn't get a picture.)

Seafood Gumbo (shrimp, crab and catfish stew) - ditto.

Praline Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce - Lee loves bread pudding, and he enjoyed this. (Ditto on the no picture explanation.)

Grilled Beef with Chimichurri sauce - Lee also enjoyed this last year. I can't eat the beef, but the potatoes that come with it are good.

Spicy Beef Empanada - I think Lee had these two different times.

Chilaquiles (baked tortillas with chicken and cheese) - A perennial favorite! Very tasty (I like the mildly spicy green sauce) and a generous serving for $4.00. We all enjoyed this one.

Quesadilla con Chorizo (spicy sausage and cheese tortilla) - Lee enjoyed this one, too.

Quiche au Fromage de Chevre et poireaux (goat cheese and leek quiche) - I liked this one - it had the nice goat cheese tang. I couldn't taste the leeks, though.

Creme Brulee Chocolat au Lait (milk chocolate creme brulee) - Chocolate? WHAT chocolate??? I couldn't taste any - this was very disappointing.

Apple Strudel - You'd think for $2.75 they could give you something a little bigger.

Spanakopita - Sherry and I tried these - she liked it, but it was a little too "spinachy" for me. Too much spana, not enough kopita. ;-) (And no picture because it was the first thing Sherry and I had that first evening, and we were starving!)

Boxty with bacon chips and Kerrygold garlic and fresh herb butter - Basically a potato pancake with onions cooked in butter. LOTS of butter. I think this has no redeeming qualities whatsoever - but it was really good.

Irish Cheese Selection (Reserve Irish Cheddar, Dubliner and Ivernia Cheese) with Apple Chutney and Brown Bread - These were excellent - I couldn't tell you which cheese was which, but Sherry seemed to know - she and Jim especially enjoyed the Dubliner. I thought they were all good!

Cream Puff with Mascarpone and Gianduja Chocolate - Sherry tried this and said it was very good - so good that I don't think she even offered to share... :-)

Chilled Tomato and Garlic Soup - Pretty much like the description. Not bad, but there are other things I enjoyed a lot more.

Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup - Sherry tried this and said it was good, even though it doesn't look very appetizing!

Kielbasa with Potato Pierogies with caramelized onions and sour creme - I think we all tried and enjoyed these - we had them at least twice. I ate the pierogi and onions and gave the kielbasa to Lee.

Pastelon de Amarillo (beef and yellow plantain casserole) - Jim and Lee enjoyed this, and at $2.75 for a very generous serving it was a bargain!

Cheese: Asiago Pressato, Italy, Manchego, Spain - Not as good as the Irish cheeses, but still tasty.

Durban Spiced Chicken on a Skewer with coconut milk-infused root vegetables - They were a little skimpy on the chicken, but it came with a nice serving of the root vegetables. I didn't taste any coconut milk, though.

Samosa with Tamarind Sauce (spicy pea and potato pastry) - A little bit of a kick, but very tasty!

Shrimp in a red curry sauce over rice - Jim and Sherry tried this - good, but nothing they raved about.

Mango Mousse - Lee ate most of this one...mostly what I remember about it is that it was very sweet.

Spicy Tuna Roll - Sherry enjoyed this.

Chicken Sha Cha - It seemed like a larger serving than I remembered in past years, and was flavorful and not dry.

Pork Pot Stickers - Sherry especially liked these.

Bay Scallops with baby greens and cranberry vinaigrette - This was not quite what Lee and Sherry were expecting from the description - it was a salad with pieces of scallops. The salad part was good, and it's always nice to see something green for a change!

Lamb Slider in a brioche roll - One of my favorites every year. They were fairly generous with the lamb this time.

Pepperberry Prawns on the barbie with sweet potato hash - Lee and I enjoyed this - the prawns had a nice flavor and the hash was good, but there wasn't very much of it.

Overall Impressions:

It was nice to see the food booths spruced up and painted a little bit differently this year, to go with the Cities in Wonderland theme. (And if you click on that link you'll hear our friend Paul do his "Tables in Wonderland" line. :-) )

I thought the prices were fairly unchanged from last year, and there were definitely several items that provided large servings at a low price. (Of course there were also a few I felt were overpriced.)

The food quality seemed quite good to me - in previous years we've gotten chicken and other items that were dry from sitting around too long, but we didn't have that issue this year.

I was disappointed in the dessert offerings - there was nothing that wowed me. Most of the desserts I didn't even try because they weren't appealing. And the milk chocolate creme brulee was especially disappointing.

That's about it - we're already looking forward to eating our way around the world next year!

(Note to self: For future reference do NOT write about food before lunchtime...I'm starving!!!)

November 16, 2008

Epcot Food and Wine Festival - Days 7-8

(This is what happens after you get home from vacation - it takes a long time to get back and finish that trip report!)

So Tuesday we started our day at Animal Kingdom. A cold front had moved in and the weather had turned chilly, even though it was sunny - the high was 63 that day, and it was breezy, so it felt very cool.

We sent Lee to get Fastpasses for the Safari while Jim, Sherry and I had breakfast at Pizzafari. It's not Tusker House but it's not bad - and they still have the giganto cinnamon rolls that Tusker House used to have. It was nice and warm in there, too. :-)

After breakfast, once again we headed off from Harambe on our two week safari. And once again those blasted poachers messed it up for us. Sigh.

We had a really excellent safari, though - Jim and Sherry were really good luck on this trip! A great variety of animals and many of them available for photographs. We saw this mama and baby elephant...awwww.

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Lots of animals on the savanna, too, and several rhinos, and we could even see three cheetahs! I've never seen them sitting up the way they were - unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the jeep and didn't get a photo. But we also saw the lion posing majestically - he was actually awake!

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Our friend Kenny collected our Fastpasses when we went through the line for Expedition Everest - it was fun to see him. Sherry and Jim were sitting behind Lee and me, and Sherry saw us with our arms up and yelled "You're crazy!!!" :-) She managed to keep her eyes open on the second ride, though.

We said goodbye to Animal Kingdom and went back to the Boardwalk and on to Epcot for a last day of eating around the world. I think it's really best to visit the Food and Wine Festival during the day on weekdays - it's not nearly as crowded, as you can see from this photo.

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Sherry had requested another meeting with Crush, so we headed off to the Seas pavilion. Went in through the gift shop so we didn't have to do the clamshell ride again. We had to wait a few minutes for the show - Sherry amused herself by playing one of Mr. Ray's quizzes. The show was fun - I think this Crush didn't have the accent down quite as well, but was a little better at the improvisation. He went over to a little girl and asked her name, which apparently freaked her out and she started crying and went to find her parents. He looked up and said "I totally did not mean for that to happen". Duuuuuuuude. :-)

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I wanted to visit the Festival Center (over in the old Wonders of Life pavilion) so we went over there. It's sad to see everything shutdown in there.

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We wandered around looking at the gift shop items, and I had a glass of the Prosecco (a mildly fizzy wine - not as bubbly as champagne). It was a little dry for me - I prefer the Martini and Rossi version.

There were no food or wine demonstrations going on while we were there - in fact there were no food demos at all that day. They had some nice areas set up for them, but with everything so close together I can see where it would get noisy, as Deb Koma and others have commented.

Outside one of the demo areas they had this paper display set up - I thought it looked neat.

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Oh, one thing that struck us...before we left we went to the restrooms...notice anything different about this sink?

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If you said "You have to turn it on yourself!", DING, DING, DING - give yourself 10 points! It was very odd to see that - I hadn't had to turn on a sink in a public restroom all week - even the airport restrooms are automatic now. Speaking of which...Disney should find out who supplies the automatic faucets for the Atlanta airport and change over to those - they put out a really nice stream that doesn't splash all over the place like too many of the Disney ones do.

Let's see...we took Jim and Sherry into Club Cool, but we couldn't get them to try Beverly. Lee even tried saying how good it was, but they read the description, and got to "bitter" and said "No thanks!" :-)

So then it was time to do some more eating around the world again. Lee tried the Spicy Beef Empanada from Chile, and he enjoyed that.

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Then we popped into the Mexico pavilion to take a ride on "it's a small mexico"...I mean the Gran Fiesta Tour. We'd warned Jim and Sherry that it was pretty lame - they vaguely remembered the old version from their trip 18 years ago. Apparently it was a much rougher voyage than usual, because someone in the boat in front of us got seasick - we got stuck and had to wait within sight of the dock for about 5 minutes while they cleaned that up. That boat was taken out of service! Ewwww.

We kind of wandered around World Showcase trying various things - some that we'd had before, and some that were new. I tried the Durban Spiced Chicken on a Skewer with coconut milk-infused root vegetables, which was pretty good - though I can't say I tasted the coconut milk!

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I wanted to try the three-cheese plate at The Mouse Catch, but they were out of the Dorothea cheese from Holland, so I had the Asiago from Italy and the Manchego from Spain instead. (They had these same cheese selections in the Festival Center - but they were more expensive there!)

Since it was still a chilly day, Jim thought the idea of something warm, like the Seafood Gumbo sounded good. Warm *and* spicy. :-)

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I got another lamb slider from New Zealand - that was one of my favorites. Lee and Jim had some more beer from the Sam Adams booth. We saw Miyuki, the candy artist in Japan. She wasn't nearly as animated as usual - it looked like she wasn't feeling well. :-( Her creations were still beautiful, though.

It was still chilly, and the sun was going down so we headed inside to see The American Adventure. Always a good show. For dinner we went to the fish and chips place at the UK, though I had to go to the beer place next to Rose and Crown to get my favorite Woodpecker Hard Cider. British Invasion was performing and lots of people were watching so there was no place to sit - we walked down to Off Kilter's stage and used the benches there, since they weren't performing that day.

Jim and Sherry decided to head back to the room after that to get out of the chill, while Lee and I made another trip around World Showcase. I wanted to try the Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee in France. They had a chocolate creme brulee several years ago that was awesome. Unfortunately this one didn't measure up - I couldn't taste any chocolate in it at all. Very disappointing.

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On our way around World Showcase I also bought a cheese plate from Ireland - it comes covered with plastic wrap, and I thought that would make good airplane food the next day (and it did, though I took out the chutney before I traveled with it!).

It was getting too cold for me, too, so we also headed back to the Boardwalk. Since I'd been so disappointed with the chocolate creme brulee, I consoled myself with a piece of chocolate mousse cake from the Boardwalk Bakery. That was MUCH better! :-)

Wednesday morning we had to get up and get to the airport early enough that going to a park was out of the question. We thought we'd have a nice breakfast at Spoodles instead, since we'd enjoyed the one earlier in the week. We had a pretty awful server, though. First we didn't see him for almost 10 minutes, and then once he showed up at our table he put his pad down on the edge and basically said "Whaddaya want?" (He didn't actually say that, but that's pretty close.) No "good morning, sorry for the wait" or any kind of pleasantry. We had to point out to him that we only had two coffee cups on the table and he sort of stomped off to get two more. Now, he *did* have several tables at once and he seemed a bit overwhelmed, but still.

Fortunately the kitchen was efficient (and fortunately it was not our server in charge of delivering our food to the table!), so that part went ok. And once the people at two of his other tables left he was a little more attentive and pleasant. Still not Mr. Personality, though. I had the waffle and Lee had the French toast, and I think Sherry also had the waffle and Jim had "The Italian" - two poached eggs on top of toasted focaccia with Italian sausage, tomatoes, peppers, onions, parmesan cheese, diced potatoes and fresh tomato sauce.

One our way back to the Boardwalk we stopped at the lobby to get our boarding passes - unfortunately they weren't able to give Jim and Sherry the passes for the third leg of their flight, but we got ours ok. It would have been very easy to check our bags, too, but we weren't quite finished packing by then, but we'll keep that in mind for the future - it would be very nice to go to the airport and just head straight for security. Especially since I've seen the bag check lines be *really* long. Fortunately we didn't have that problem this time.

Our flight was about an hour earlier than Jim and Sherry's, so we said goodbye to them at the Delta counter where they were still trying to get their boarding passes straightened out, and went to our gate. We had a good flight home - we had a newer 757 on the Atlanta->San Diego flight, and I was able to play trivia again. I didn't have much competition this time, though, so after posting several high scores I retired. :-)

It was a great trip - we survived the Tower of Terror 13K, got to do Toy Story Mania 4 times, ate our way around the world, had a great time at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, had two animal-filled safaris, had great dinners at Jiko and Marrakesh, enjoyed at lot of good wines at City Tastes - Spain, Soared over California, talked with a turtle, and had a blast sharing a place we enjoy so much with good friends.

Oh, by the way, I found my watch - it turned out that it was in my trick-or-treat bag! When stuff started flying out of the basket and the bag towards the end of Space Mountain I was grabbing in the dark and throwing what I thought was candy into the bag. Well, obviously I grabbed my watch and an AA battery and threw them in the bag, but didn't find them until I opened up the candy bag a couple days after we got home. :-)

October 29, 2008

WDW Food and Wine Festival Week - Day 6

Considering our late night Sunday night we got up fairly early on Monday, since we wanted to be at the Studios when it opened to try to get a couple of rides on Toy Story Mania.

It was another absolutely gorgeous day - clear and sunny, but a little bit cool - most of us were wearing jackets in the morning, but didn't need them the rest of the day.

We arrived on Hollywood Blvd just as the park was opening. As expected, most everyone headed for Toy Story Mania. We went straight to the Fastpass machines, which had pretty long lines...in the time we waited, the return time went from 9:45 to 10:15! Unfortunately Toy Story Mania was not yet up and running, so we couldn't ride it then. :-(

We wandered into One Man's Dream instead. The video on some of the exhibits wasn't working, and some of the sound in the movie was really awful - and the worst of it was Julie Andrews' narration - which was not something recorded over 40 years ago like the various excerpts of Walt's voice.

Over at the ABC Commissary we had breakfast. The last time we did that they were still serving stuff like eggs, bacon, french toast, etc., but they have really cut down on the menu - there was a bagel sandwich, hot or cold cereal, fruit, yogurt, and pastries available. Which was actually ok for us, but anyone wanting a more substantial breakfast would have been very disappointed!

The next Voyages of the Little Mermaid show was seating when we went by so we went into that - Lee and I hadn't seen that in a couple of years - not because we don't enjoy it, but mostly because the queueing and pre-show areas are so unpleasant - they pack you in like sardines. Which I guess is appropriate giving the theme of the show, but still. Anyway...this show was not full, and we walked straight into the pre-show area, and didn't have too long a wait before the doors opened. I really enjoy the puppetry, especially in the "Under the Sea" song. I think whoever plays Eric must have one of the easiest jobs in the parks, though - he's on stage for what, 3 minutes maybe?

By then it was time to use our Toy Story Mania Fastpasses - fortunately it was up and running by then. We had a longer wait in the Fastpass line than we did the other day, but it still beat the 60 minute standby line.

Lee had read some tips on the web the night before on how to score higher on the ride by cooperating, so we tried those - we were successful with one but not with the other. Overall it hurt our scores, though, and we didn't score as high as we did the other night.

Prince Caspian was hanging out in his meet and greet spot when we walked by - he wasn't too busy, so he was spending a lot of time with the kids (including the not-so-little girls!) that came to see him.

We went over to Epcot after that to eat around the world again and do a little sightseeing. We saw Serveur Amusant in France - or Sherry and I saw it, at least - Lee doesn't like it - he says it makes him nervous - and Jim was off getting some Crawfish Etoufee from the Louisiana booth. They have changed the chair-stacking routine a bit since we last saw it. The guy who actually does the balancing used to appear to be a tourist who was pulled out of the audience, and now he is one of the "waiters", and obviously a part of the show.

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Ran into an AllEars.net reader at the Tokyo booth - she saw my AllEars hat and asked about it. I'm sorry I didn't get your name, but if you're reading this, it was nice talking to you!

I was very disappointed to look at the entertainment schedule and find that Voices of Liberty was not performing at all. :-( That's one of my very favorite things at Epcot. Lee and Jim and Sherry consoled themselves with food (and beer) from the Hops and Barley booth, and then they went to the Beer School, which they enjoyed. While they did that I saw a cooking demonstration down at Italy - the chefs were making petate - the Italian version of fried dough balls. They looked pretty good, but unfortunately we didn't get to taste them. :-(

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As we ate our way around the world we explored a couple of the other entertainment options, like the two Circle-Vision films in China and Canada. I've only seen the Canada film a couple of times since it started showing - Martin Short's narration is fairly amusing.

Things we tried on our eating adventure around the World:

Goat Cheese and Leek Quiche - France

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Crawfish Etoufee and Pecan Praline Bread Pudding - Louisiana
Lamb Slider and Bay Scallops -New Zealand

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Spicy Tuna Roll - Japan

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Lobster Roll and Crabcake - Hops and Barley

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Boxty and Cheese Plate - Ireland

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It was a bit after 4:00 by then, and we had a 5:30 reservation at Jiko so we made our way back to the room to get a chance for a short nap before dinner. Lee set his alarm for 5:00 - good thing, because otherwise we would have all slept too long!

We still arrived at Animal Kingdom Lodge in plenty of time. Something that was new to us - when we went through the guard shack the guard gave us a parking pass on which he had written "Jiko". So I guess they are cracking down on parking a bit more now? Since we had some time we wandered around the lobby a little, and down to the Arusha Savanna - saw some birds and a zebra, but that was all.

At Jiko we were quickly seated at a nice table next to the window. And we had a wonderful dinner. Jiko has changed their menu quite a bit since we were last here a year ago, and I think it's even better. We shared two appetizers - the BBQ chicken flatbread and the vegetable samosas. Both were great - the samosas were especially good. We'd had samosas at the Food and Wine Festival and at Tusker House the day before, but these were SO much better!

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Our waiter had recommended a wine made from South Africa's pinotage grape and we shared that bottle. It was also really good.

For entrees, Jim and I had the maize crusted halibut, served with vegetables of the moment, and that was wonderful. Lee had our server's favorite - the beef short ribs with crushed potatoes and garlic. He'd told Lee it was so tender it would fall off the bone, and that's exactly what happened. Sherry had the Swahili Curry Shrimp with coconut rice - we all got to try some of her shrimp. Lee, Jim, and I cleaned our plates - our server told us he was going to show the chef how clean how plates were. :-)

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We were pretty full, so we decided to split two of the desserts - again, we went with our server's recommendations and had the Pistachio Creme Brulee and the Tanzanian Chocolate Cheesecake. They were both quite good. The cheesecake had a great chocolatey flavor but was not too rich. It was served with lavender ice cream, though we really couldn't taste any lavender.

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It was really a great meal - definitely the best of our trip. Jiko made a good impression on Jim and Sherry - whew. :-) (Yeah, because they have been SO hard to please this week...NOT!)

After dinner we went outside to see if there were any animals visible on the Uzima Savanna (the one next to the pool) but we didn't see any.

We headed back to the room after that - it was after 8:00 by the time we got back. We were all pretty tired after a couple of late nights, so no one was interested in trying to go to Illuminations or Downtown Disney.

October 25, 2008

WDW Food and Wine Festival Week - Day 3

Day 3 - this is going to be a lot shorter, since it's after midnight already...

It rained most of the night and was still raining this morning, so we put off going to the Studios until about 10:00 when it mostly stopped - we had a few occasional showers after that.

Got Fastpasses for Toy Story Midway Mania at 10:30 - the return time was already 3:55! And then got in line for Narnia - where they were handing out lanyards for a Dream Extra Hour Event in the Studios tonight. We knew we wouldn't be able to make it because we were going to City Tastes at Epcot, but figured we'd give them to a nice family before we left. I was the only one who had seen the movie, but they show enough of it in the exhibit that you get a pretty good idea!

Terrorized Sherry on the Tower of Terror - she screamed most of the ride. But I think she still enjoyed it. Hard to tell from this photo. :-)

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Lee had to leave for the Apple store, to replace his iPhone which apparently got drowned in last night's downpour, even though it was in his pocket. :-(

Jim, Sherry and I went to watch High School Musical 3, which premiered today. Found my friend Kenny, who helped us get a terrific spot to see the 12:00 show center stage. (The 10:00 had been rained out, and it had been showering a bit so we were concerned about the 12:00 show, but it came off ok. I liked it - I can't say I'm a huge fan, but of the three shows I think I like this one the best. Here's a link to lots more photos of High School Musical 3!

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We got Fastpasses for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and had lunch at Rosie's - the Studios is probably my least favorite park to eat in. Then went to see the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular - good timing, since it was raining a bit by then. We tried to get Sherry volunteered for the show, but that didn't work. :-( Some of the stunt sequences got left out because of the wet stage/sets.

Saw the Jedi Training Academy, which was cute (though this Jedi Master was not as good as the rest I've seen), and then went to see MuppetVision. It was fun - that show has held up pretty well for something almost 20 years old!

Planned to go to One Man's Dream after that, but it was 3:15 and it closed at 3:00. :-( We had 15 minutes to slowly walk back to Rock'n'Roller Coaster to use our Fastpasses. I called Lee, who had gotten his new phone and was on his way back.

Sherry screamed throughout most of Rock'n'Roller Coaster, but she and Jim both enjoyed it.

Went back to Toy Story Midway Mania, where Lee had arrived just a few minutes before, and we used our Fastpasses. The Standby line was 100 minutes!!! Sorry, but there's NO ride I'm going to wait 100 minutes to ride!!! It was great fun, even though Lee beat me this time (first time that has happened!) Still more fun than a barrel of monkeys! :-)

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On our way out of the park we gave our Dream Event passes to a nice family with two teen aged sons. They were very happy to get them. So I hope they had a good time!

Had a short break back in the room to get ready for City Tastes - Spain over at Epcot. We really weren't sure WHAT this was going to be - very little in Disney's description. Sounded sort of like Party for the Senses on a smaller scale. We were about half right. It was mostly a wine-tasting event - the guide they gave us called it "Great Match Wine & Tapas 08". It was sponsored by Wines from Spain. They must have had over 200 wines from over 30 Spanish wineries. Some very good wines, too! Not much in the way of food choices, though, and NO desserts, which I found VERY disappointing. Nice entertainment, though - a Spanish guitar group and a pair of flamenco dancers and their guitarist.

One of the best parts (for us) is that the event was quite *under* attended and not at all crowded - there were actually some empty tables. That meant the people pouring the wines could give us a lot of extra attention. One of them, from Grupo Faustino, became Lee's New Best Friend - I think Lee sampled just about everything he had (and most of it was pretty good!)

I'll be writing a lot more detail in a report that will be published on AllEars.Net - once I have time to write it!

We all really enjoyed it, though I wish we'd known a bit more about it before hand.

It was Extra Magic Hours at Epcot, so we decided to stick around for that and do some attractions that Jim and Sherry hadn't yet experienced. Test Track first, though the line ended up being a lot longer than we expected. Tried to do Soarin' but Standby was 40 minutes, so we went back and did Ellen's Energy Adventure instead, then headed back to the room. I was surprised how many people were still in the park at 11:30.

Not sure about tomorrow...we need to go pick up our Tower of Terror race packets, and then we'll see what else we want to do - Lee and I should try to stay off our feet a bit tomorrow! The rain is supposed to subside by the afternoon...I hope so. I wouldn't have wanted to run in the weather we had tonight (it rained, though we were only out in it once).

October 24, 2008

WDW Food and Wine Festival Week - Day 2

Day 2 of our Food and Wine Festival trip.

We got a late start this morning - still on west coast time. I'm actually trying to STAY on west coast time until after the Tower of Terror 13K race Saturday night - my body will be much happier (ok, so "happier" isn't really the right word) running if it thinks it's 7:00 at night than if it thinks it's 10:00 at night.

We made the loooong walk (NOT!) from our room at the Boardwalk Villas to Spoodles at 9:00, where we met our friends Paul and Ilene for breakfast. I hadn't eaten breakfast at Spoodles in years, and then it was a buffet. I think it has a very nice breakfast menu now - frittatas, breakfast flat breads, french toast, etc. You can find the menu on AllEars HERE.

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We had a very nice breakfast, and sat around chatting for a long time, until we realized that it was after 11:00! Our server came around a couple of times to check on us and make sure we didn't want anything else. :-)

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Eventually we said goodbye to Paul and Ilene and got ourselves together and into Epcot. The forecast for the day was heavy rain, though it was still looking ok at that point, and was actually very pleasant outside! But we brought our rain jackets and umbrellas with us. Jim was the group pack mule today - Lee did it yesterday. :-)

A performance of the World Showcase Players was just starting in the UK as we walked by, so we stopped to watch that. They've changed it a bit since I last saw it - they've included a third tourist in the cast - a woman to play the Evil Wizard Pelham. It was great fun, and the guy who played Galahad did a really good job. They even had a few new, but still bad, jokes. (Lee would have made a MUCH better King Arthur than the one they selected, though!)

Sherry had been asking to go on a ride, so we finally did one - Journey into Imagination. (They only get better from there, right?) After that, we steered them toward The Land pavilion and Spaceship Earth, and Lee and I went back to the UK, where we were meeting one of my long-time RADP IRC friends (and fellow AllEars staffer) Jack and his wife Judy.

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We got a few cold beverages and went back into the garden in front of British Invasion's stage to have a nice long chat. It was good to see them, and I'm glad our trips overlapped a little bit!

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Back in Future World we met up with Jim and Sherry again - they had just ridden Spaceship Earth and played a few games in Project Tomorrow. Sherry wanted to do the "Power" game, so we had a short wait for that, and Lee did it with her. They had a good time and did pretty well!

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We got Fastpasses for Soarin' (not good until 7:51 that night!) and went over to the Seas pavilion. Fortunately the ride through the aquarium, featuring Nemo and friends, was a walk-on, but wow, that is a looong queue!

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Our timing was perfect, and when we got off the ride they were just getting ready to let people in to the Turtle Talk with Crush show. Dude! It's so totally awesome!!! (Sherry wants to know how they do that. I wish we could tell her!)

We went upstairs to see the manatees, and talked to one of the Cast Members for a while about them. The two they have now they are still hoping to reintroduce to the wild. They eat romaine lettuce as the main part of their diet, since that mostly closely resembles the nutrients they would be eating in the wild. For treats they get things like apples, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

We wandered around the rest of the aquariums - I noticed this Mickey head on the bottom of one of them.

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From there we went over to Mission Space, where we did the "Green" side. (As I did not wish to *turn* green I chose that instead of the orange side!) Since there were 4 of us we were one complete team, and that was fun. (Sherry was our commander, though, so we thought we would be doomed!!!)

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As we walked into the Mission Control area they were just starting a Space Race game. We were the crew of the Orion - our four challengers on Team Triton were 4 pre-teen boys, so we figured we were doomed. And we were right - though we only lost by 2% - they had 97% and we had 95%. Which wasn't too bad. I'd never done the crew thing, though I have been one of the Mission Control players a lot of times. It took a little while to get the hang of it, but once we did the crew part was fun, too.

We had a 6:30 reservation for Marrakesh, and it was about 6:00 by then. Lee and Jim wanted beers from the Barley and Hops Market at the American Adventure pavilion, so we took the long way to Morocco. It was still a very nice evening - cloudy, but not raining, and still a comfortable temperature. Crowds were still not bad - none of the food booths seemed to have much of a line at all.

Marrakesh wasn't too busy at that time, and we got a table close to the middle of the restaurant. We all decided to order the Royal Feast, which included Harira Soup and Beef Brewat roll as appetizers, and then Lemon Chicken, Roasted Lamb Meshoui, and Couscous with Seven Vegetables for an entree, with assorted Moroccan pastries (which ended up being three kinds of baklava) for dessert. It was all good. The baklava was quite good - not syrupy sweet like some are. Sherry and I both had a white wine named Ksar with dinner - it was a very nice crisp, clean wine that I really enjoyed. Jim had a Casablanca beer, and Lee had a Marrakesh Express.

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The restaurant offers entertainment while you're dining - belly dancer accompanied by two musicians. We were there for about 2 hours, so we saw them twice. I think the guys enjoyed her act more than Sherry and I did. :-) Don't get me wrong, she was very talented and graceful, but just didn't have quite the same appeal to me. :-)

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We saw people coming into the restaurant who were wearing ponchos, so it looked as though the rain had arrived while we were eating. But it had stopped before we left the restaurant, so we started making our way to Future World to use our Soarin' Fastpasses. We got to the UK, and it started raining, so we broke out the umbrella (mine) and rain jackets (everyone else). And then it started to REALLY rain...we all ended up with squishy shoes and wet shorts/jeans, though it stopped raining just before we got to the Land.

At that point I'm not even sure we needed Fastpasses - looked like Soarin' was almost a walk-on. Jim and Sherry had never ridden this before, so I requested top row, center section - might as well maximize their first experience, right? :-) I think it was a little bit more exciting than Sherry expected - I heard a lot of gasps and screams out of her, and I think she had a death grip on the handles beside her seat. :-) She still enjoyed it and wants to do it again, though!

The rain had not restarted while we were inside and Illuminations was over, so people were streaming out of the park. Since we were headed back towards the International Gateway we were going opposite most everyone else, and felt like salmon swimming upstream until we got past Canada.

Jim and Lee went to Big River Grill to have a beer, while Sherry and I came back to the room to finish drying out. It started raining again about 20 minutes later...and rained for over an hour, though it sounds like it has stopped now. I hope it gets it out of its system tonight!

It was a great day, though, if you can believe it, Sherry doesn't seem to have gotten this whole "ride" thing out of her system, and wants to go on MORE rides tomorrow!!! :-) I think we're going to the Studios tomorrow, and tomorrow night we'll be attending a Food and Wine Festival event, City Tastes - Spain over in the World Showplace.

October 23, 2008

WDW Food and Wine Festival Week - Day 1

Hi everyone!

We have left the west coast for a week, and are here at WDW in Florida - mostly doing the Food and Wine Festival, but we'll be visiting all the parks, too, and running the Tower of Terror 13K on Saturday night.

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We're here with our friends Jim and Sherry, who haven't been to WDW in 18 years! So we're looking forward to showing them all the things that are new since their last visit - like Animal Kingdom - a whole new theme park!

We have a two bedroom villa at Boardwalk Villas - it's SO nice to be at the Boardwalk during the Food and Wine Festival given its proximity to Epcot.

Today was our travel day, and the travel part actually went quite smoothly! We were on two Boeing 767s for our flights - I'd never been on one of those before. It was really nice - it seemed to have quite a bit more leg room than a lot of the smaller planes. But my favorite part was the personal entertainment units - one of the things passengers can do is play an in-flight trivia game against other passengers. I had a lot of fun with that...and I won a few games. :-)

Jim and Sherry's flight landed not long before ours, and they actually had their bags by the time we met them in Baggage Claim. We landed at 3:50 and were in the rental car headed out of the airport by 4:30.

We checked in and went to our room, and Lee said that they'd given us the wrong room, because for a change it is NOT all the way at the end of the hallway! :-) And fortunately, even though it overlooks the main pool area, we can't see the scary clown that vomits children. The room DOES have the dreaded swans glaring into it, though.

After we unpacked we (what else?) walked to Epcot for our first round of Eating Around the World. The weather was just great - warm enough for shorts, but comfortable if you were wearing jeans, too. I really hope it'll stay like this at least through the race on Saturday. (But there's a high probablilty of thunderstorms the next two days.)

We made it all around World Showcase in a couple of hours, and between the four of us, we tried items from 13 different food/wine/beer booths.

As you can see, sometimes careful study of the menu was required... :-)

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Things we tried:

Cheddar Cheese Soup and Maple Glazed Salmon from Canada
Spanakopita from Greece
Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies from Poland
Plantain and Beef Casserole from San Juan, Puerto Rico
Chilaquiles and Chorizo Quesadilla from Mexico
Chilled Tomato and Garlic Soup from Barcelona
Pork Pot Stickers from China
Samosa, Red Curry Shrimp and Mango Mousse from New Delhi
Prawns with Sweet Potato Hash from Melbourne
Spaetzle with Mushroom Ragout and Apple Streudel from Munich
Cream Puff from Bologna, Italy

And the guys had beer from Belgium, Ireland, Mexico, and Australia, and I had wines from Barcelona and Munich.

A couple of the standouts: the guys really enjoyed the Plantain and Beef Casserole from Puerto Rico - which was also a VERY generous serving for only $2.75!

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And one of my perennial favorites, the Chicken Chilaquiles from Mexico, was back again this year. That's also a pretty good-sized serving, for $4.00.

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The Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie was another hit, and I really liked the Pepperberry Prawns with Sweet Potato Hash.

We didn't try too many desserts, and nothing was really outstanding, though the Mango Mousse from India was good, and Sherry said the Cream Puff with Mascarpone and Gianduja Chocolate was very good.

Though we made a pretty good start, there's still a lot of booths that we didn't hit at all - good thing we're here for another 6 days! :-)

We ended our evening by watching Illuminations - the park wasn't crowded at all, and we got a great spot in front of Italy only 5 minutes before the show started - there were people in front of us, but they were short enough they didn't block our view.

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It was a great day - we're looking forward to tomorrow! Lots more Epcot - not just the Food and Wine Festival - we want to hit Future World, too - there's a number of attractions there that will be new to Jim and Sherry.

November 3, 2007

Eating Around the World - Days 2 and 3

We didn't get to Epcot at all on Saturday because of the 13K race, but we more than made up for it on Sunday and Monday - on Monday we started about 12:30 and didn't finish until 8:30 - though we did take some time for some attractions!

Our first stop on Sunday was France, where we had the Quiche au Fromage de Chevre (goat cheese quiche) and I had the Sparkling Pomegranate Kir. Both were excellent - we both really enjoy the tang of goat cheese.

At Australia I tried the Grilled Lamb Chop with Caramelized Onions. Of everything I tried at the Festival I think I was the most disappointed in this - I thought it was a very small serving for the price, which at $4.75 made it the second most expensive food item in the entire Festival. I think the lamb tasted fine - there just wasn't a whole lot there to taste!

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Next up was Italy, where I had the Insalata Caprese - three small balls of fresh mozzarella chese, some chopped basil and grape tomatoes in a light dressing. It was tasty, but I've had better - the mozzarella wasn't as fresh and tender as it can be. They weren't overly generous with the basil, either! Lee tried the Lasagna al Forno - baked spinach pasta with meat ragu. At $3.00 this may be the bargain of the Festival - it was a very generous serving! Lee enjoyed it, and I had a taste of the spinach pasta, which was good, though quite different!

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At Germany we tried the Debriziner Sausage with Sauerkraut in a Pretzel Roll, and I had the S.A. Prum Blue Slate Riesling Kabinett, while Lee had a Beck's Oktoberfest. The sausage contained beef as well as pork so I didn't try that, but I had half the pretzel roll and some of the sauerkraut and I really enjoyed that - I love the pretzel sticks they serve at Le Cellier. This was not quite that good. The wine was nice, though I prefer the Spatlese that I had on Friday night. Lee said the sausage was ok, but he also liked the pretzel bread.

The Durban Spiced Chicken on a Skewer from South Africa was another winner in my book - in fact I liked it so much that I went back and got a second one that I ate all by myself, rather than splitting it with Lee. :-) The chicken was moist with a little crust on the outside from being grilled, but a really good flavor. It was served on a square of corn meal cake.

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On this particular night India was NOT out of Samosas, so we finally got to try one. It's a fried vegetable dumpling filled with spicy peas and potatoes, and served with tamarind sauce. We also got another cup of the Curried Butternut Squash Soup that we liked so much the first night. The Samosa had a little bit more of a kick than the soup, but it wasn't too hot even for my tender palate.

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At Turkey I tried the Pistachio Baklava and a glass of the Kavaklidere Selection Beyaz White Wine. I admit it, I'm a baklava snob - my mom, though as far as I know she has not a drop of Greek blood in her, makes excellent baklava, and just about every one I've ever tried can't compare to hers. (Though the pistachio baklava that the Morocco booth had two years ago was really good - quite different from Mom's, but still excellent. I forgot to mention before that I tried this year's Walnut Baklava from Morocco on Friday, and it was just ok.) This one had sort of an odd flavor - not really unpleasant, but not something I was interested in trying again. The phyllo was also quite substantial and not light and crunchy. The wine was good, though - it wasn't sweet, but it was a bit fruity and crisp. Overtones of pears and apples - that kind of thing. :-) Lee had the Manti with Yogurt Sauce which was the Turkish version of beef ravioli. He said the beef was quite good, and the yogurt sauce was different.

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Our final tasting of the night, which we purchased 5 minutes before Illuminations started, was the Pecan Pie from the Oklahoma Rose Rock Diner. We thought the top and crust were a bit overdone on this particular one, but it was really very good, and not overly sweet like pecan pie can sometimes be!

On Monday we met our friend Kenny about 12:30 and started eating. First up was Oklahoma's Three Sisters' Cafe where we split the Three Sisters' Soup - Spicy Zucchini, Bean and Corn Chowder and Lee tried the highly rated Seared Buffalo with Scalloped Wild Onions. The soup was quite good - in addition to the veggies it had some crisp croutons in it. Lee liked the buffalo, though he didn't give it a rave review. I thought the wild onions served with it were good. Lee also got a cup of the Sweet Tea. He doesn't usually like things that are really sweet, and I have no idea how he could drink this since it was way too sweet for me, but he liked it.

At Morocco we all tried the Chicken Bastilla. This is something I've had at the Marrakesh restaurant and really like - it's mildly spiced chicken wrapped in phyllo dough and baked, then dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Sounds like an odd combination but it really works!

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The guys split the Crispy Sukiyaki Beef Roll at Japan. Lee enjoyed this - the roll was made to order with warm beef rolled up in warm rice, and then the slices were lightly grilled to brown/toast the rice.

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Lee had the New England Crab Cake with Barley-Lentil Salad at the Hops & Barley Market. It was a pretty generously-sized crab cake, and it had a whole lot of crab and not much filler. Which meant I didn't really like it - I like the filler better than the crab. :-) Lee enjoyed it, though. I think he had a beer, too - I'm not sure you can buy something at the Hops & Barley Market without buying a beer to go with it!

At Ireland Kenny got a Boxty and Lee and I split one - but we'd had that before. Lee had the Grilled Beef with Chimichurri Sauce at Argentina, and said that was excellent. It was another generous serving, and the beef was served on top of some really good mashed potatoes - I got to enjoy that part. :-)

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Neither of the guys was interested in anything from Chile, but I tried the Tomatican with Manchego Cheese. This was a tomato stew with corn, onions, and garbanzo beans. I couldn't really detect the Manchego cheese, though. The serving was large and filling - but I wasn't really that impressed with it and couldn't eat it all, and Lee didn't want more than a few bites.

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Kenny and I both had the Greek Salad at (where else?) Greece. I tried the Boutari Moschofilero that was the recommended pairing, another not sweet but nice crisp white wine. The salad was topped with sliced Kalamata olives and goat cheese, with a light vinaigrette dressing and a wedge of pita bread. A nice change from all the meat that we'd been eating!

After that we stopped eating for a while and enjoyed The Voices of Liberty, The American Adventure, visited the Festival Center in the Wonders of Life pavilion, played games in the Siemens exhibit under Spaceship Earth (Kenny and I apparently have a future as surgeons and Lee as a fast-driving secret agent), and visited The Land where we saw the Circle of Life movie and did the Living with the Land boat ride.

It was time to eat again after that. :-) Lee got the Maple Custard topped with Almond Crumble from Canada. Not nearly as good as the Maple Creme Brulee that Le Cellier serves, though, and it was a tiny serving.

We stopped at New Zealand and had Lamb Sliders - roasted lamb with mustard sauce on a soft roll. These were another of my favorites - and the CM serving them up was very generous with the lamb (when I had one again the next day the CM was pretty stingy and just gave me two pieces of lamb, as opposed to the 5-6 I had this first time). We also received an impromptu "Magical Moment" - the CM pouring the wine had somehow ended up with two extra glasses of Villa Maria Pinot Noir and gave them to Lee and Kenny, though Kenny passed and the woman behind him was happy to take it. I don't usually like red wines much, but this was not bad (hey, when it comes to red wines, from me that's high praise!) - it didn't have that oaky, smokey, tannic bite that I dislike.

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The guys had the buffalo at Oklahoma again, and we stopped in front of Japan to listen to the Matsuriza drum group. While we were standing there Kim and Marta saw us as they were passing by on their way around the world. We chatted for quite a while before we all moved on. At Poland Lee tried the Cabbage Roll with Spiced Beef. He wasn't too impressed by the first bite that was all cabbage, but once he got to the beef part he liked it.

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By this time we were running out of new things that we wanted to try, and were having some of our favorites instead. So I had another Samosa and Lee had some Rice Pudding at India, and I had the Chilaquiles again and Lee had the Beef Quesadilla at Mexico. In fact we ALL had something from Mexico - here's Marta, Kim, and Kenny with their Chilaquiles.

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Marta and Kim wanted to get out of the park before Illuminations started so they left, and Kenny, Lee and I watched it from World Showcase Plaza. It really wasn't crowded at all and we enjoyed the show, even though it was three out of four nights that we'd seen it (and who knows how many hundreds of times Kenny has seen it!)

We had a good day, and it was nice of Kenny to come out and play (and eat!) with us.

October 31, 2007

Eating Around the World - Day 1

This blog entry is a bit late, since up until now I've been concentrating on writing about the Tower of Terror 13K - but I think I've said all that I have to say about that now. :-)

This is only the second time we've been to Epcot's Food and Wine Festival - the first time was two years ago, and we had a great time. But we love early December and all of the Christmas festivities, too, and we can't really justify two trips to Florida within 4-6 weeks, so we've decided to alternate the two.

We arrived at Walt Disney World on Friday evening and checked into the Boardwalk - always a great choice when you're planning to spend a lot of time at the Festival! Hard to get during F&W, though - I made our reservations almost 11 months in advance.

We'd planned to meet Deb Wills at the Festival, but she wasn't feeling well and had to cancel. :-( It was an Extra Magic Hours (EMH) night at Epcot, and it turns out the F&W booths were open during Extra Magic Hours, too!

Since it was Friday night the park was quite crowded, between the locals that had come in for the evening and the resort guests who had come for EMH. We stood in some fairly long lines (10 minutes or so) for food at a few places.

Our first stop was the Canada booth, where we tried the Maple Glazed Salmon with Roasted Corn and Arugula and the Cheddar Cheese Soup. Both very tasty, but not really new to us. That had a long wait because there had been a salmon run (pun intended) and they were grilling more. While we were waiting, one of the Cast Members asked us questions about Canada, and gave a glass of wine to the adult who answered first. I knew the Canadian dollar was called the "Loonie", so I won a glass of the Mission Hill SLC Chardonnay. This must have been aged in steel barrels instead of oak because it didn't have that dry buttery flavor so many chardonnays have which I dislike so much and I thought it was pretty good - especially for the price! :-) I made the mistake of giving it to Lee so he could take a couple of sips, and he finished it!

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The Dominican Republic booth was new this year, and we'd heard good reviews on the Pastelon de Platanos Amarillos, and we also tried the Mofungo. I couldn't really detect any banana flavor in the Pastelon - it was a veggie-type casserole topped with cheese and guacamole - and was quite tasty, though I couldn't really tell you what flavors were in it! The Mofungo was mashed yucca with pork cracklings, served with two shrimp. It had a very interesting flavor and I liked it - it was also quite filling. The shrimp were only so-so - a bit overcooked, I think.

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Lee tried the Beef Empanada at Argentina - this is another item that hadgotten really good reviews. He said it was quite good. (Quite a few of the highly rated F&W selections this year are some kind of beef, which unfortunately I can't eat, so Lee sacrifices himself and tries them for me. :-) )

Mexico again has Chilaquiles this year - something we both really enjoyed two years ago, and it's just as good this year. It's basically a chicken enchilada casserole with green (tomatillo) sauce. Really yummy, and still ranks as one of my favorites, and it's also a fairly generous serving. We also had the Conga Juice, and Lee had a Dos Equis.

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At Ireland we pretty much said "give us one of everything!". And it was all good. The Boxty is a potato pancake topped with bacon bits, caramelized onions and garlic butter. Very tasty. The Potato Leek Soup was served with a cheese breadstick - it had a nice flavor but we both thought it would have been better warm than chilled. The Irish Cheese Plate came with three slices of Irish cheese, some apple chutney and brown bread. The cheese was good, but we didn't think it worked with the chutney. The brown bread was more like pound cake than bread - LOTS of butter. We tried the Meade Honey Wine - and that was delicious - sweet but not syrupy.

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We tried the "one of everything" tactic again at India - but they were out of Samosas, so we had to content ourselves with the Curried Butternut Squash soup and the Coconut Indian Rice Pudding. The soup had a little bit of a kick to it but was quite tasty, and Lee really liked the rice pudding. I'm not much of a rice pudding fan but I enjoyed it also - it had some little bits of pineapple in it, too.

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It was getting close to time for Illuminations, but we wanted some dessert, so we tried the Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce at (where else?) Germany. I also had a glass of the wine recommended as a pairing with the strudel - the S.A. Prum Riesling Spatlese It was a bit sweet (but I like sweet!) and I enjoyed it.

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Stay tuned - there's lots more Food & Wine Festival eating to come! Though we have been doing some other things, too...

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About Epcot's Food and Wine Festival

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Epcot's Food and Wine Festival category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival is the previous category.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.