What we ate and drank at Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2014

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I’ve been lucky enough to attend the Epcot Food and Wine Fest for the past three years. 2012 was a crazy few days of drinking and debauchery with my BFF. 2013 was slightly less debauched as I was with Mr. MouseChow and the kid, but we still ate everything in sight. 2014 was different. Our purpose for visiting wasn’t actually to go to Food and Wine…it was to say goodbye to our favorite attraction, Maelstrom. And this time, it was just the kid and me, not staying in a Disney resort, and I had a rental car. So as you can imagine, there was far less drinking, and less focus on eating everything just in order to post pics on the blog. We spent a magical two days together, just Mom and Kid, attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, enjoying each other’s company and riding more attractions than usual.

MNSSHP Selfie

Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club and a Maelstrom Viking on their way to MNSSHP

So we had a short list of items that we really wanted to eat, of new items or those that we hadn’t had the chance to try in years past. Here’s our take on a few of this year’s Food and Wine fest new additions (or at least new to us), as well as a few old favorites that we couldn’t pass by. We’ll go in clockwise order around World Showcase, which of course is the only way to go.

Terra

Terra Booth Epcot Food and Wine Fest 2014

Terra Booth

The vegetarian Terra booth was new in 2012, and for the past couple of years they have served two of my favorite dishes. You can see them here. This year they changed it up, still using Gardein products (the booth’s sponsor), but in different ways. I was excited to try the Blackened Chick’n Breast with Farro Wheat and Spicy Gumbo (though as a Louisiana native I was skeptical) and the CraB less CraB Cake with Pepper Slaw and Cajun Remoulade. (Weird capitalization is all theirs.) I am not a fan of tofu-based desserts, so decided to skip this one.

Terra Booth Menu Epcot Food and Wine 2014

Terra Booth Menu

Sadly, I was really disappointed in both dishes. The Chick’n and Gumbo lacked the deep rich flavors of actual gumbo, which is really unforgivable as it doesn’t require any animal products to make a good roux.

Chick'n and Gumbo at Terra Booth

Chick’n and Gumbo at Terra Booth

But the most disappointing was the CraB less CraB cake. The artificial seafood flavor was really off-putting. Texture was pretty bread-y. We each had one bite, and in the trash it went. What a shame.

CraB less CraB cake at Terra Booth

CraB less CraB cake at Terra Booth

I miss my Chile Colorado! The one bright spot was the Watermelon Juice. I think I will start making this at home. Perfectly refreshing and not too sweet. I bet it would be great with some vodka…

Watermelon juice at the Terra booth

Watermelon juice at the Terra booth

Moving on…to

New Zealand

New Zealand booth at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

New Zealand

We stopped for one of our past favorites here, the Lamb Meatball with Spicy Tomato Chutney. Nothing new, but it was delicious. The meatball was nice and moist, chutney was tart and sweet, brioche was nicely toasted. A satisfying little bite.

Lamb Meatball at New Zealand Booth

Lamb Meatball at New Zealand Booth

Mexico

Mexico Booth Epcot Food and Wine Fest

Mexico Booth Epcot Food and Wine Fest

We always enjoy the tacos at the Mexico booth, but this year we skipped them in favor of trying the new item – the Sweet Corn Cheese Cake. If you like rich, slightly savory desserts, you’ll like this. The corn flavor is pretty pronounced, so that it tastes more like corn pudding than cheese cake. And it’s rich – this is not a light little dessert. Good thing it’s fairly small. It would probably benefit from some fruit or other acid rather than caramel, as it gets a little one-note after a few bites, but it’s worth trying.

Sweet Corn Cheesecake at Mexico Booth

Sweet Corn Cheesecake at Mexico Booth

Farm Fresh

Farm Fresh Booth at Epcot Food and Wine Fest

Farm Fresh Menu

Farm Fresh was new this year, and is a great addition. It turned out to be my favorite booth at this year’s festival, in part because of its location outside of the Norway pavilion. (It’s pretty great to grab your food and take it over to the Kringla patio…even with the chair scrapings…) But mostly, because of the scrumptious food.

Probably the most popular item at this booth is the Nueske’s Pepper Bacon Hash. And with good reason. It’s a big pile of comfort food…like breakfast potatoes with really good bacon and hollandaise. The pickled jalapenos were a nice addition. And bonus, the dish is gluten free!

Pepper Bacon Hash at Farm Fresh Booth

Pepper Bacon Hash at Farm Fresh Booth

My absolute favorite dish I ate at this year’s Food and Wine Festival was the Griddled Yard Bird with Braised Greens and House-made Habanero Sauce. Nothing exotic about this, just really comforting, flavorful crispy chicken skin, moist roast chicken, bitter greens (mustard? turnip? I can never quite tell) and a nice kick of heat and vinegar from the sauce. I could eat this happily for dinner forever. It’s the kind of dish that places me squarely in my grandmother’s kitchen and makes me want to cook more often. Just heavenly.

Griddled Yard Bird at the Farm Fresh booth

Griddled Yard Bird at the Farm Fresh booth

Both went down nicely with the Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale from Cigar City Brewery. It was my favorite from the sampler. (As you can see, I almost forgot to take a picture before I drank it all.)

Beer sampler Farm Fresh booth

Beer sampler from the Farm Fresh booth

South Korea

This booth falls into the category “new to me”, because I missed it last year. Be forewarned – basically if you’re not a fan of kimchee, there won’t be much for you here. Luckily, I like kimchee, so was very happy.

Let’s go from least favorite to most favorite:

The Roasted Pork Lettuce Wrap with Kimchi Slaw was yummy. We didn’t bother to pick it up with the lettuce – that’s what forks are for. Hard to mess up roasted pork, and the slaw wasn’t too strong. Very nice.

Roasted Pork with Kimchee at South Korea booth

Roasted Pork with Kimchi at the South Korea booth

I heard several people rave last year about the Kimchi Dog with Spicy Mustard Sauce, and thought, “It’s half of a hot dog with kimchee. So what?” I was very pleasantly surprised by just how tasty this was. The only downside was that half of my bun was super soggy from the sauce. But still…really yummy. I could have eaten a few of these.

Kimchi Dog from the South Korea booth

Kimchi Dog from the South Korea booth

But my absolute favorite item from this booth (and my favorite drink of the festival) was the iCing Grapefruit Sparkling Rice Brew. Oh wow, this is so refreshing and grapefruit-y, and wow. For those of you who like the Schofferhofer Grapefruit beer, do yourself a favor and try this. I need to find someplace where I can buy it locally. Mmmmmmmm.

iCing Grapefruit Sparkling Rice Brew

iCing Grapefruit Sparkling Rice Brew

Singapore

I didn’t love the food options at the Singapore booth. The kid really liked the Seared Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice and “Singa” Sauce. The fish was nice and moist, but the sauce was too sweet for my taste. The Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut and Jasmine Rice was just fine, but not too exciting. If I had this as a frozen entree I’d think it was great, but in a restaurant I wouldn’t be thrilled. Just meh.

Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice and "Singa" Sauce

Mahi Mahi with Jasmine Rice and “Singa” Sauce

Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut and Jasmine Rice

Lemongrass Chicken Curry with Coconut and Jasmine Rice

But THIS. I need to get the recipe for the Singapore Sling featuring Hendrick’s Gin and Cherry Heering. At least I think it was Cherry Heering. The Festival Passport says it’s Cherry Herring, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as good. If you want to get drunk fast, have one of these. Whoa.

Singapore Sling from the Singapore booth

Singapore Sling featuring Hendrick’s Gin and Cherry Heering

France

Past years I’ve adored the Escargots in Brioche and was really disappointed to see that it had changed this year. But life marches on, and if I can handle Maelstrom changing, I can handle this. So I took a deep breath, and instead ordered the Tartlette aux Escargots – Escargot Tart with Garlic, Spinach, Bacon and Parmesan.

Tartlette aux Escargots

Tartlette aux Escargots

I am sad to say that I just didn’t enjoy this as much as the brioche. The crust was somehow both dry and oily at the same time. And the escargot was very hard to find. If you had told me that this was a spinach, cheese, and bacon souffle, I would have thought it was fine. The escargot were just a bit of chewy texture hidden in the middle. It’s as though they did everything they could to hide an offensive ingredient. Quel dommage.

The Sparkling Pomegranate Kir was fine. Inexpensive sparkling wine with grenadine. Yawn.

Sparkling Pomegranate Kir from the France booth

Sparkling Pomegranate Kir from the France booth

Puerto Rico

Finally, the Puerto Rico booth was a sight to behold. It’s set apart from the other booths slightly outside of World Showcase proper. Featuring a lovely garden, large patio area, two story building, and pretty evening lights, it’s easily one of the most appealing booths of the festival. When we were visiting there was entertainment in the form of salsa music, a live drummer, and a really beautiful and talented salsa dancer. Guests were even dancing with her. There was a party atmosphere to the place, and it was easy to get swept up in the excitement.

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Historical signage

Puerto Rico at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

More signage

Salsa dancer and drummer at Puerto Rico booth

Salsa dancer and drummer at Puerto Rico booth

Sadly, I think we may have chosen poorly when it came to ordering food. We had the Carne Guisada con Arroz Blanco (braised beef with rice) and Tostones with Mayo Ketchup. I thought the beef was fine, but nothing super special. And the tostones were just not very good – too large, starchy, dry and heavy. They really needed that sauce. (As an aside – what’s up with everyone online raving about Mayo Ketchup? Have they never had a Big Mac? Russian dressing? It’s not exactly revolutionary.)

Braised Beef at the Puerto Rico booth

Carne Guisada con Arroz Blanco (Slow Braised Beef with Puerto Rican Grown Rice)

Tostones with Mayo Ketchup

Tostones, Fried Green Plantains with Mayo Ketchup

We heard great things about the Conch Salad and Flan with Chocolate Coffee Cake, but we were just too full and couldn’t eat any more. Judging from the reaction to the booth I’m confident that we’ll get a chance to try them next year.

So that’s it. Two short days in Epcot, mostly spent riding attractions and saying goodbye to Maelstrom. Best of all, it was two days spent with my favorite person, actually talking with each other and creating memories. My teen actually linked arms with me and gave me spontaneous hugs. That’s some Disney Magic for you.

Bye Maelstrom

Bye Maelstrom

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Kill, Refurb, Marry: Epcot Food and Wine Festival

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Time for another fun KRM blog hop hosted by Estelle from This Happy Place Blog, and Melissa from Mouse On The Mind. Great topic – thanks, ladies!
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Kill:
The new Puerto Rico booth is really fun. When I was there a couple of weeks ago, there was a drummer and very sexy salsa dancer entertaining the crowd. The booth can hardly be called a booth – it’s two stories with a lovely patio and garden, set apart from the rest of World Showcase. It’s really something special and a great new addition.

Unfortunately, it is also selling the worst bite I had at Food and Wine this year – the tostones with mayo ketchup. I had been so looking forward to this dish. I adore tostones, and was happy to see them offered. Sadly, they were big, dry hockey pucks. It was pretty sad. My kid and I each had one then the rest went in the trash. So the rest of the Puerto Rio booth is great, but those tostones have got to go.

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Refurb:
One of the most delicious items I had was the bacon hash with pickled jalepenos and cheese sauce at the Farm Fresh booth. It was like eating really great breakfast potatoes mashed with potato skins and nachos. I would love to see them turn this into a vegetarian dish. I think it would still work without the bacon, and would be a welcome addition to the sparse vegetarian options.

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Marry:
This one was sooo easy. Of all of the items we tried at Food and Wine this year, this is the one that I would want to eat every day. It tasted like my childhood growing up in Louisiana. I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I would marry the Yard Bird with bitter greens and habanero sauce from the Farm Fresh booth. The chicken skin was crispy and salty, the meat juicy and tender. The bitterness of the greens played beautifully with the saltiness of the chicken skin. I think they were turnip greens – my favorite. And the habanero sauce added just the right amount of vinegar and heat. I wish I had this for dinner right now. Fingers crossed that it returns!

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Dinner in Magellan’s Secret Room at Tokyo DisneySea

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Things have been quiet around the MouseChow blog, mostly because I’ve been busy at work. But ALSO because I was on vacation, in JAPAN! This was easily the most incredible trip I’ve ever taken with my family, and I’m happy to be able to share a few snippets of it with you.

I thought I’d start with a very cool experience that we had at Magellan’s at Tokyo DisneySea. We spent a day and a half in the Japanese Disney parks, and could have stayed a few more. First thing you should know about eating at Tokyo Disney – every table service meal seems to be a huge fixed price, expensive, multi-course affair. Unless you’re an obsessed Disney food blogger, only plan to do one table service if you visit.

A great choice for that one meal is Magellan’s, right next to Mount Prometheus at Tokyo DisneySea. It’s classic European cuisine in a building that looks sort of like a chateau at the base of the mountain.

So let me set the scene for you. We had been walking around cold and drizzly Tokyo for three days and were completely exhausted. We had an 8:15pm reservation at Magellan’s, and if we hadn’t been completely starved would not have left our room at the MiraCosta. But we rallied (read: I forced my family to move) and we ventured out of our hotel into the park just as Fantasmic was beginning. It was getting dark and raining, and about 50 degrees and we were exhausted. We climbed the wide stairs that led up the mountain, and turned to watch the Maleficent dragon breathe fire over the lagoon, then made our way to the restaurant.

After a few seconds of language barrier confusion about our reservation, we were ushered inside, down the elevator, past the main dining room, to a bookcase in the wall. Our hostess instructed our daughter to find the hidden button (it’s not hard to find), and the bookcase swung open to reveal a hidden room designed as a wine cellar in the mountain.

There could not be a cozier spot for three bedraggled, exhausted, cold and wet people to settle into a fantastic meal.

Magellan's Secret Room

In the “secret” wine cellar at Magellan’s

We chose one of the set menus and I ordered a Glenmorangie to warm up. We were so tired, and it was so dark and warm, it’s a miracle we stayed awake for the entire meal. There was much discussion about a new invention, the “table bed”.  Sorry for the dark photos. I didn’t have the energy to pull out the real camera, so we’ve got iPhone photos in the dark. And I neglected to take a pic of the best course – a silky and umami-laden cream of cauliflower soup. Even my child who never ever eats cauliflower loved it.

Barrels at Magellan's

Casks on the wall

 

scallops at Magellan's

Scallop dish. I seem to remember it was good. Oh yeah, with a tomato jam.

 

foie mousse at Magellan's

The glass contains a foie gras mousse that was delish. Also prosciutto on a stick, salmon, cress.

 

Beef short rib Magellan's

Melt in your mouth tender beef short rib with lots of tasty accompaniments

 

Creme brulee at Magellan's

Perfectly executed creme brulee

 

tangerine sorbet Magellan's

Fresh and tart tangerine sorbet

Fully satisfied, we stumbled out of our cozy cocoon of a restaurant into the twinkling lights of Tokyo DisneySea at night. It had stopped raining, and everything was glossy and beautiful. We slept pretty well.

Tokyo DisneySea at night

Tokyo DisneySea is gorgeous at night

 

Magellan’s at Tokyo DisneySea: 5 Mice

 

Sunday Reflection: Disney Decorations of Christmas Past

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La Befana Epcot Italy Holiday

La Befana, the Christmas witch

Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas Tree

Animal Kingdom Lodge Christmas Tree

Holidays in Mearn in German Pavilion Epcot

Sledding in Mearn

Twinings holiday display

Shopping at Twinings

 

Mary Blair Gingerbread at Contemporary Resort

Mary Blair Gingerbread at Contemporary Resort

Neil Patrick Harris at Candlelight Processional

Neil Patrick Harris at Candlelight Processional

Julenissen at Norway in Epcot

Julenissen at Norway in Epcot

Gingerbread House at Grand Floridian

Gingerbread House at Grand Floridian

Holidays at Epcot Japan - Duruma Doll

Holidays at Epcot Japan – Duruma Doll

Wilderness Lodge Christmas Tree

Wilderness Lodge Christmas Tree

Father Christmas, UK Epcot

Father Christmas, UK Epcot

Grand Floridian Christmas Tree

Grand Floridian Christmas Tree

Sunday Reflection: Gaston’s Tavern

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Front of Gaston's Tavern

Just a couple of magical British care givers

Gaston statue

Impressive

Gaston's Hearth

Cozy

Gaston's Tavern Walls

Tiny fake heads

Le Fou's Brew

Le Fou’s Brew

Gaston's Chair

The comfy chair

Roasted Pork Shank and LeFou's Brew at Gaston's Tavern

Roasted Pork Shank and LeFou’s Brew (with extra foam)

Look at my pork shank!

Look at my pork shank!