One thing you can’t miss (well assuming you come in the main gates, not the back way the Boardwalk resorts get to use) is that Ocean Spray sponsors this year’s Festival. And what better way to showcase it than with a huge cranberry bog. Located righter after the Fountain of Nations, and before you get to the World show case booths, is a huge display. Typically you’ll find someone standing in there, knee deep in water, happy to explain why they flood the cranberry lands to harvest, how they float… basically anything you can think of asking about Cranberries. And no you’re not allowed inside the bog. On the flip side they do have handy little samples of crasins that they were giving out, so bonus!
And of course a weather update: The last weekend I was there, after a week of gorgeous weather, a little tropical storm came in and decided to try to play Marry Poppins with everyone’s umbrellas. But that didn’t stop tons of people to come to EPCOT and try out all the delicious food. The booths were have covered up and everything covered in plastic to keep dry, but the festival went on.
Today I’m going to share with you what I tried at the Brazil, Australia, Canada, Hops & Barley, New Zealand, Argentina, and Portugal Booths. As always… for full menu items (as well as many more pictures) check out the Disney Food Blog’s 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Marketplace Booths and Menus page. Inside the Magic also has their coverage over at their blog if you want more Food and Wine goodness.
- Brazil’s National Dish — Feijoada (a Black Bean and Pork Stew)–$2.75
- Seared Mahi Mahi with steamed Rice, Hearts of Palm, and Coconut-Lime Sauce–$4.50
- LeBlon Frozen Caipirinha–$7.50
For something claiming to be a “national dish”… this left me going eh. I love black beans, but the flavors here were just kinda bland. Perhaps I have gotten used to a lot more spices in my own concoctions to be wow’d by this simple dish. The Mahi Mahi by contrast was quite flavorful and delicious. I’m not a big cooked fish guy (like my fish sashimi style) but this year has done pretty well for it. The mixture of flavors all balanced well off each other, the fish still light and flaky. If I could describe it, I’d almost say it’s whatever medium rare for fish would be. The sauce it had could be poured over anything and I’d eat it. As for the drink, it was bit pricy but very nice. The Caipirinha apparently is Brazil’s national cocktail, and tastes like a lemon/lime version of a mojito and even made the same way (just without the mint). Fairly good, and looking forward to trying to make this non-slushy version at home.
- Grilled Lamb Chop with Potato-Goat Cheese Salad and Shiraz Reduction–$5.75
- Greg Norman Estates Shiraz, Limestone Coast–$3.25
I’m not sure if it’s because it has it’s own built in handle, or if was just that good. The lamb was juicy and peppery and the reduction was everything you’d want from wine in food form. The potato goat cheese thing was… it was good, but didn’t seem to go quite right with the lamb. The shiraz wasn’t too dry for my tastes (heavy tannin wines tend to put me off some what), had a dark fruit flavor and did well with the lamb.
- Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup–$3.75
- Chicken Chipotle Sausage with Sweet Corn Polenta–$4.00
- Neige Sparkling–$5.25
So, yes, I know… neither of these items look very tasty. But as an arabic peddler once said “Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance”. The Cheddar Cheese Soup is one of my favorite items. The smoky cheesy taste is ever so light and even on the hottest day this is worth of being consumed. Technically it’s not unique to the festival, as it can be purchased at Le Cellier Steakhouse, but good luck getting in there. The sausage appears even more… unappealing. But it’s quite, spicy isn’t the right word, but it does have a kick. The polenta is creamy without being mushy like many mash potatoes and delivers a nice balance to the spicy sausage. I also had the Neige Sparkling (although forgot to get a picture). It’s an apple ice wine. Very crisp and sweet, with a good acid bite to it. Very refreshing.
- Pumpkin Mousse with Ocean Spray Craisins and Orange Sauce–$1.50
Although the cheapest item that you can get this year, the Sponsored item “Pumpkin Mousse” packs in a lot of flavor. Although named a mouse, the main ingredient I tasted was the pumpkin spice cake that was inside. The mouse was very light and not overly pumpkiny (that’s a word right?) and the craisins on top added some much needed texture to the desert. Overall a very good desert, especially when you consider the price. (Oh and as a side note… the shooters they come in are oh so interesting… but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what to do with them afterwords, so I threw it out).
- Seared Sea Scallop with Kumara-Red Curry Puree and Apple Radish Salad–$4.25
- Mohua Central Otago Riesling–$3.50
Overall I thought this was a fairly average dish, although unique. The scallops were done simply, nothing extra really done to it. The curry puree was interesting take on a “bed” for the meat, and the Apple salad left me honestly feelign confused as to this dish. I wasn’t sure if I was eating a seafood dish, or an apple salad with some seafood on it. The riesling was pretty standard for what you’d expect a riesling to be. Clean, crisp, faint taste of apple. Good.
- Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée–$5.00
Just like the Belgium and Hawaii booths, this was a repeat destination. The grilled beef was always cooked to a nice moist level, and chimichurri sauce was a very fresh blend of all wonderful herbs to offset the meatiness of the, well… meat. I didn’t care all that much for the pureé, but then not normally a fan of mashed potatoes. And how can you resist something on a stick!
- Linguica Sausage with Onions, Peppers, and Olives–$4.00
This was something I grabbed along the way, and such forgot to take a picture (photo from DisneyFoodBlog). It wasn’t anything unique but while passing I got the smell of sausage and peppers and had to give it a taste. The olives I thought was an odd addition. Tasty, but odd. The sausage was a bit more flavorful and spicy than an Italian sausage, but also tougher. About what I’d expect from a linguica sausage (you can get the in the grocery by me). I kept trying to make a sandwich with the bread, but ended up eating it separate. It was a standard fare french loaf piece of bread. Overall… I’d say skip it.
Also of note, although I didn’t get anything, Portugal has 2 booths. One is for the food, one is just for wine. In addition to the three wines they serve along with food, this booth is next to the main one and just serves wine. As this is a new booth, we may see more of them in the future. Ever since the seminars went to paid, it’s seemed much more a food festival than equal footing Food & Wine. Perhaps this is the first step back to a balance.
Did I miss a favorite of yours at EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival? Think the bunny chow was simply the best item on the menu? Thought I skipped over your favorite item? Leave a message below in the comments.