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?

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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!

Epcot Food and Wine Festival 2013: Brazil

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Booth #2 on our trip around the World Showcase at Epcot Food & Wine fest 2013 is Brazil! The Brazil booth has one of the more limited menus of the festival with only two menu items and three beverages. But make no mistake – it is not to be missed.

Brazil Booth Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Brazil!

The star of this booth was definitely the Crispy Pork Belly with Black Beans, Onions, Avocado, and Cilantro. It’s one of those dishes that make you melt with happiness after the first bite. I would have been really happy to make a full meal of this dish. The beans were beautifully cooked, the avocado salsa was fresh, and that pork…oh, yeah.

Crispy Pork Belly Brazil Booth Epcot Food and Wine

You had me at Crispy Pork

The other dish on the menu at the Brazil booth is Seared Scallops with Ragout of Tomatoes, Peppers, and Hearts of Palm. I found the scallops to be slightly over cooked, and the hearts of palm were sort of bland. Overall it was a fine dish, but not all that memorable and nothing I would seek out.

 

Seared Scallops at Brazil Booth Epcot Food and Wine

Meh.

Beverage offerings at the Brazil booth are Xingu Black Beer from Kaiser Brewery, Carnaval Moscato Sparkling White Wine, and a Frozen Caipirinha featuring LeBlon Cachaca. I’m a big fan of caipirinhas, so I couldn’t pass it up.

Frozen Caipirinha Brazil booth Epcot Food and Wine

Not for the faint of heart.

 

It’s pretty much what you might expect. Frozen, slushy cachaca with lime and a little sugar. Not too sweet (which is great) and very refreshing. Also very strong. If you’re starting at Terra and making your way around World Showcase like I did, you may want to pace yourself and share this one with a friend. Or maybe not…

Did you try that crispy pork belly? What did you think? Next up, making our way from Brazil to Argentina.