Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Cheese!

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“I’m just crackers about cheese!” – Wallace

Cheese, cheese, cheese. The most delicious, varied, and amazing food product ever invented. Oh how I love cheese.

So it stands to reason that I am consistently disappointed by the Cheese booth at the Epcot Food and Wine festival.

Cheese booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

The sign is so promising

First for the good news. The cheese plate is not offensive. It includes:

  • La Bonne Vie Triple Creme Brie served with Apricot Jam
  • Beecher’s Flagship Reserve served with Honey
  • Wyngaard Goats Gouda with Craisin(r) Bread
Cheese plate at Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013

In order, from mild to slightly less mild

Sorry, it looks like my goat gouda was hiding behind the Craisin(r) bread.

It’s a very simple cheese plate. Just fine, but nothing truly exciting or challenging here.

Contrast that with the VERY “challenging” Almond Crusted Blue Cheese Souffle with Fig Jam.

Blue Cheese Souffle Cheese booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013

Skip it.

And by challenging, I mean icky. Seriously not good. I LOVE blue cheese, so that’s not the issue. But think of this – a hot Florida day. A fairly full stomach. Very strong blue cheese, mixed into a grainy-textured “souffle” with sticky and thick fig preserves. We ate ours near the booth, and watched at least 5 people take a first bite and…well…have you ever seen someone take their first taste of Beverly soda? it was like that. One after another went from happily enjoying their day at Epcot to wishing they’d never put this awful thing in their mouths.

One bite each and it went into the trash. So sad, but somewhat expected. Seriously, how well could they be expected to execute a cheese souffle in that booth? I think it could have benefitted from being a smaller portion served with some crostini.

If you must try it, be sure to get some wine to wash it down quickly. The Cheese booth is featuring wines from Once Upon a Vine, with adorable names. I didn’t try any of them, and am interested to hear from anyone who did. Were they any good? Your options are:

  • The Last Slipper Sauvignon Blanc
  • The Fairest Chardonnay
  • A Charming Pinot
  • The Big Bad Red Blend

Or maybe just get a Beverly to wash down that souffle.

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Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Africa

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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.

Africa booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Right across from the Outpost

First, the Berbere Style Beef with Onions, Jalapenos, Tomato, Okra, & Pap.

Berbere Beef at Africa booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Okra and tomatoes – one of the best combos in the world

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:

Spinach and Paneer Pocket 2013 African booth

2013

And last year’s:

 

Spinach and Paneer Pocket at Africa booth

Spicy veggie goodness – 2012

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?

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Mexico

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So after eating what already feels like an entire meal, we finally land in Mexico, the BEGINNING of World Showcase. (Check these older posts for the recap.)

Mexico Booth at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Welcome to World Showcase

We always enjoy the Mexico booth at Food and Wine. It’s never my favorite, but always solid. But given how much we’d already eaten, there was no way that we could try everything, so we went for the one item that everyone in my family would eat, the Taco de Rib-Eye with Salsa de Chipotle. (You’ll notice that we skipped the shrimp dishes along the way – my husband doesn’t eat shrimp. Crazy, right?)

Taco de Rib-Eye Mexico Booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Spicy, smokey steak taco. Not bad at all.

The beef was tender with a nice crunchy char, and the sauce was smokey and rich. A nice squeeze of lime, and you get a really nicely balanced bite.

We skipped the Shrimp Taco with Purple Cabbage and the Rice Pudding. We’re huge fans of rice pudding, but in the past it’s been a bit gluey and we were just too full to bother.

Beverages at the Mexico booth are Dos Equis Beer (ick), Sangria, a Tequila Flight (which tequila?? who knows?) and a Mango-Habanero Margarita. In the interest of the blog, we forced ourselves to try the margarita.

Mango Habanero Margarita Mexico Booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

oddly salty

The margarita was super sweet, only a little hot, and weirdly salty. Not just a little salty, but really pretty salty. No salt on the rim – maybe they figured they’d just throw it in? It was weird and we drank about half of the little cup between two of us.

So ended the first part of our first day at Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013. Next up, Africa. (Yes, we skipped Singapore, China, and South Korea. I’m really sad about it, too.)

 

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Australia

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Walking along from Argentina, we hop across the Pacific and land in Australia. And it’s definitely worth the trip!

Australia booth Epcot Food and Wine

Down Under

The Australia booth has a lovely variety of dishes to try. First, there’s Garlic Shrimp with Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon Myrtle and Rapini. Sadly we missed this dish. So little time, so much to eat…

Besides, we had to leave room for one of our favorites from last year’s Food & Wine fest, the Grilled Lamb Chop with Mint Pesto and Potato Crunchies. (That’s potato chips in case you were wondering.) Just as scrummy as last year.

Grilled Lamb Chop Australia Booth Epcot Food and Wine

Everything’s better with potato chips

I know many people were bemoaning the disappearance of a festival favorite – the Lamington. If you’re one of these folks, take heart – the new Pavlova (Crispy Meringue Shell with Fresh Berries and Vanilla Custard) is a real winner.

Pavlova Australia Booth Epcot Food and Wine

Hard to eat, but worth the trouble

I’m a fan of custard-based desserts, and the custard here is really spot-on. The meringue is very crunchy and melts in your mouth, like astronaut ice cream. It’s a little difficult to eat with plastic utensils while perched on a bench, but it’s totally worth the hassle. Probably could have done without the slightly less than perfect berries. Not sure that Driscoll’s is doing themselves any favors by sponsoring Food & Wine fest.

Beverages are a Pinot Grigio and Merlot from Rosemount Estate, Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay, and a Penfolds Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz. I’d probably go with the Penfolds.

Tomorrow we’ll hop back across the pond for our next stop, Mexico!

 

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Argentina

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Continuing our trip around the World (Showcase), we arrive in Argentina, land of beef and malbec. Two great tastes that taste great together.

Argentina booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Would you like beef or beef?

Beef, please! First, let’s try the Beef Empanada.

Beef Empanada Argentina Epcot Food and Wine

Baked pocket of yum

I was pleasantly surprised with the beef empanada. I skipped this last year, frankly because we have an Argentinian restaurant right down the street from our house that makes THE BEST beef empanadas on the planet. Next time you’re in Arlington, MA, go to Tango. But if you won’t be hanging out in Arlington any time soon, these are pretty good. The crust was nice and flaky, and the filling well-spiced with some nice currants for sweetness and pine nuts for crunch. Overall a pretty tasty snack.

The better option however is the Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree.

Grilled Beef Skewer at Argentina Epcot Food and Wine

Like a yummy little meal.

If you like herbs, and garlic, you’ll like this. The meat is not really the star since it’s covered with so much chimichurri, but that sauce is awesome. And I really like the boniato puree. If you haven’t had it, boniato is also known as white sweet potato. Its flavor is not nearly as sweet as a typical orange sweet potato – more of a subtle sweetness that makes it taste really homey and satisfying.

Drinks at the Argentina booth are limited to wines: Terrazas Reserva Torrontas or Malbec, Pascual Toso Sparkling Brut, and Kaiken Cabernet Sauvignon. I like the Malbec just fine, but can’t really understand the appeal of walking around on a hot Florida day drinking red wine.

My verdict? Argentina continues to be a solid (if a little staid) offering at Food & Wine. Would love to see them branch out to something new next year!