For me, the continent of Africa and Walt Disney World are somehow entwined in my brain. I’ve never had a driving wish to visit Africa ( as I do to visit many parts of Asia and Europe), yet some of my favorite food and experiences at Disney are focused around African culture. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is by far my favorite place to stay, I adore eating at Jiko, love Harambe in Animal Kingdom, and would rather eat boboti and pap for breakfast than Tonga Toast any day.
So all of that just to say that I really, really like the food at the Africa booth at Food & Wine Festival.
First, the Berbere Style Beef with Onions, Jalapenos, Tomato, Okra, & Pap.
This is pure comfort food. (If you were raised on okra and tomatoes – otherwise you may not be so comfortable.) I do think it was a bit under spiced, and was a little oily. It honestly tasted more like food I grew up with in Louisiana than something African, which I suppose is not too surprising given the origin of many Louisiana Creole dishes. The pap was smooth and creamy, and overall I truly enjoyed this dish.
The other offering at the Africa booth is the Spinach & Paneer Cheese Pocket. It’s one of the few vegetarian dishes at the festival, and for me is usually one of the highlights. The filling is quite spicy and really delish. But this year’s pocket was a bit disappointing vs. last year’s. It’s shrunk, and the crust was not quite as flakey. Here are the comparison pics:
This year’s pocket:
And last year’s:
But as I think I’ve mentioned before (I’ve definitely thunk it – not sure if I wrote it) there seem to be wide variations in consistency at Food & Wine, so maybe it was just that day.
There are no desserts at the Africa booth, but there are three wine options. MAN Vintners Chenin Blanc (a very light white), Porcupine Ridge Syrah, and The Wolftrap Red. My choice would be the Syrah, but I really don’t enjoy drinking red wine at Food & Wine. Something about 85 degree heat, dehydration, and red wine just don’t mix for me – go figure.
So while the offerings at the Africa booth may not be for everyone, they make me really happy. And if you’ve never tried okra, this would be a solid introduction.
What did you think? Was your paneer pocket smaller this year, too?