Updated with a picture and review of the Schinken Nudel in Germany. Thanks Tanya!
Continuing from Part 1.
Pressing forward to South Africa, which is an oddly long image. It’s located in the same location across from the Africa Outpost, before arriving in Germany on the right side.
A Spinach and Paneer Cheese Pocket replaces last year’s Bunny Chow (pronounced boooney chow – very fun to say). Fairview also takes over as sponsors from La Capra.
A terrible picture of last year’s Filet. Seriously, if you think the pictures are bad now, just rewind a year! Also from last year:
The Seared Filet of Beef with Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Braai Sauce ($5.00). This is a lot better than it looks. While just two or three bites, the beef is impeccable quality and extremely tender. I cut it with my fork. The sauce is unique and adds a little bit of flair to what is otherwise “just a piece of meat.” Even without the sauce, the beef would stand well on its own. The sweet potatoes were probably my favorite accompaniment – smooth and creamy.
The Beef was reviewed well overall last year. It’s important to note that these food items are YMMV. It’s mostly culinary students preparing the dishes and you don’t know who you’re going to get from one day to the next. It’s interesting that they replaced last year’s unpopular dish with another that doesn’t sound particularly appealing. There’s just something about the word “paneer” that sounds disgusting. Anyway, if no one supplies a picture (please!) I’ll try it.
Fairview wines are direct from South Africa and I would imagine are relatively rare. Total Wine here sells bottles of the Pinotage for $13.99, but doesn’t stock the Sauvignon Blanc. Same with Wine.com. The wines look like a good choice if you’re trying to find something that isn’t available everywhere, though ratings aren’t available.
Lines in the afternoon are rarely long, but expect backups in the evening because the beef takes time to cook and the booth is small. Plan to visit before 5pm if you can.
The Brewer’s Collection, located on the Germany side before you arrive at the Germany booth or Pavilion, is your ticket to rare, German beers.
Unlike the “Craft Beer” booth, where virtually every one is available in a 12-pack for $14 at grocery stores nation wide, these are actually difficult to find beers. I’ve never seen a bottle of Altenmunster with my own eyes. The Berliner Kindl Dark replaces the BraufactuM Idra and the Schofferhofer Grapefruit replaces the BraufactuM Roog. Let’s take a look at this year’s offering:
Radeberger Pilsner is the most common. The local Publix actually sells 6-Packs for $9, though I’m not sure how prevalent it is. I don’t remember seeing it in Seattle. This is a 4.8% German Pilsner. Of the beers offered here, this is the most accessible. If you like your run-of-the-mill Budweiser, you’ll like this too. Light bodied, it’s well carbonated and refreshing.
I’m not sure if I had mentioned this on the blog, but I “tweeted” about Disney’s ingenious cup holders. Last year if you bought a flight of three or more 6-ounce beers, they would just try to hand you all of them. Most humans only have two hands, making it difficult for one person (forever alone) to transport their flight. I ordered the Schofferhofer Grapefruit, Sion Kolsch, Altenmunster Oktoberfest, and Altenmunster Dunkel.
The Schofferhofer Grapefruit caught me by surprise, as I was expecting more of a beer flavor than a grapefruit flavor, but this one smells strongly and tastes strongly of grapefruit. It purportedly also comes in at 2.5% ABV. I didn’t care much for it and the 6-ounce portion was more than enough. But that’s why these samples are so nice. You can take a sip, stick your nose up at it, and hand it off to some other poor soul who may have lower tastes than you.
The Sion Kolsch is virtually impossible to find. I’m not sure if you’ll see one outside of the brewery in Germany and here at Epcot, but you never know. Kolsch is a nice light, flavorful, refreshing beer and the Sion is one of the best examples of the variety. It comes in at 4.8% and is highly drinkable. If I was going to get a 22 ounce of one of these in Florida in October, this would be it. Highly recommended. If you ever take a cruise or see Alaskan beer, their summer ale is another good example.
The Altenmunster Oktoberfest is a nice example of the marzen variety of beers. It should remind you of the more widely available Sam Adams Octoberfest that we’ll run into in the United States Pavilion. This one is also highly drinkable, if not a bit watery. It’s also highly recommended, especially in the Florida heat. Quite refreshing.
Finally, the Altenmunster Dunkel is the dark beer in the back left of the tray. This one is going to remind you of caramel, chocolate, and malt. Of the four I tried, it’s the least accessible for the Bud drinking community, but it’s worth trying in this situation. Expect the bitterness to linger a bit. If you pick this one up as part of the Flight, I’d save it for last as it will overpower the others.
I managed to find a 5% ABV Schofferhofer (fun to say!) Hefeweizen in Seattle, which is why the picture quality is poor and the background is different. This one tasted strongly of bananas, which is a trait of hefeweizens. I don’t usually find it off-putting, but it was a little overwhelming from this particular bottle. It’s certainly worth trying as it’s hard to find. And if you like banana bread, you’re in luck because that’s what it tastes like, plus alcohol and oranges.
Another Seattle review. You can trust it’s me because the glasses are the same! Hovels is a 5.5% altbier. Other examples are Alaskan Amber and Wider Okto Festival Ale from the Pacific Northwest. This is another one that’s going to remind you of caramel, malt, and bread. The aftertaste is, dare I say, earthy and metallic. Along with the Dunkel, this isn’t one of the more accessible options. If you like beer or are “trying to get into it,” the Hovels would be a good option. You’re not going to see this around many places that don’t have a huge selection of beer.
I have not tried the Berliner Kindl Dark yet. The Hovels, Oktoberfest, Schofferhofer Weizen, and Radeberger Pilsner are also available at Biergarten at lower prices (but that requires purchasing the full buffet).
So if you’re here for rare, quality beers, the Brewer’s Collection is where you’ll want to set up shop. They’re all worth trying and it’s going to be difficult to find many of them anywhere outside of Epcot and Germany. I have to applaud Disney and Radeberger for bringing them in as this is far from the cop out that is the “Craft Beer” kiosk. But we will get to that momentarily.
Lines for the Brewer’s Collection were among the longest of any booth last year, but they seem to have figured out how to pick up the pace, because the wait was only a couple of minutes on a busy Friday night with a lot of people in line.
I have to imagine the name of this booth came from upper echelon of Disney imagineering. One spark of light can light your fancy…
The Cheese Fondue returns and the Trio of Cheeses are all different.
Lesly was nice enough to send in a better image than what I had, with the accompanying review: “Bad. The flavor seemed off and the bread was hard. Maybe I expected something different. Or maybe it was too hot for me to truly enjoy a scalding cup of cheese at 1 in the afternoon, not sure. In retrospect, I probably should have tried it again after a cool bout of rain. I may have enjoyed it then.”
I’m not a big cheese guy, though I can tell you Beecher’s is amazing because their headquarters is in Seattle and Costco carries the flagship at a reasonable price.
Sterling Vitner’s would run you about $9/bottle in store, $12 for the Pinot Noir. Interestingly, my grocery store carries three or four Sterling Vintner’s varietals, but none offered here. I’m sure they’re fine, but they’re certainly not award winning wines.
Lines are short due to the easy plating of the items.
Fan favorite Germany returns in its same location, to the right of the Brewer’s Collection and across from “Cheese,” before you arrive at the Germany Pavilion.
The Schinken Nudel replaces last year’s unpopular goulash. Last year’s Nurenberger Sausage is now a Roast Bratwurst. The offering from Selbach are slightly different and the Dornfilder is new.
The 2011 Sausage. It looked like this year’s Pretzel Roll fit the Bratwurst a little better. This is always a crowd favorite and comes highly recommended.
The Strudel is also excellent and a great value. The apples maintain their texture without being mushy and the crust is soft, but not at all soggy. The vanilla and caramel sauce is decadent and provides additional sweetness. A real treat.
Tanya was nice enough to send in this picture with the accompanying review: “It was like thick macaroni and cheese with chunks of ham in it. I’m thinking they make it with egg to hold it together like it was. The top of it was the best part, with the more crunchy cheese section. The middle was just kind of… eh. Strudel also pictured, as always, very yummy!!”
Selbach wines look to be on the difficult-to-find list, though I could have sworn I’ve seen a bottle at the local Publix. Total Wine and Wine.com don’t seem to have any inventory though.
The Rieslings would obviously be sweet whine wines. The Dornfelder is a German red wine that sounds intriguing. Having never sampled that varietal, it would be on my short list as something I wouldn’t always have the opportunity to try.
Poland returns in the same location across from the Italy Pavilion.
They’re usually good for at least one item that seems completely out there. This time it’s the Zapiekanki that sounds entirely icky, which replaced last year’s golabki (pork stuffed cabbage), which sounded entirely icky. All of the beverages are new.
Last year’s Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie, which I thought was a bit insulting for the $5 price point. We’re talking about two bites of sausage and a frozen potato dumpling.
Often, there’s an inverse relationship between booziness and size, meaning the smaller the cup they hand you, the more alcohol that’s going to be in it. That’s the Belvedere Frozen Lemon Apple “Tea” on the right (the Italian Margarita on the left). While it may appear to be a small serving, you can actually see the vodka floating on top and underneath. It was quite good, even for $8.50, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order another. Recommended.
I have never heard of Tyskie (beer) before, but it’s a 5.6% Euro Pale Lager that seems to rate pretty average for its variety. I’ll have to add it to my list.
I’m not showing much availability on the Chandon Carneros Chardonnay, so that might be another to add to the list. A bottle runs $26 straight from Chandon, so it looks to be a good value, even if it’s about as Polish as chicken fingers.
Always staffed well with good looking males and females, Italy can only be described as a complex.
They’re slammed when Epcot is busy, but stay efficient with so many people working. And like Tutto Italia, they’re always watching. Always.
The Ravioli return, only $1 more than last year. Last year’s relatively unpopular Capellini is replaced by a Salsiccia e “Papacelli” Napoletani. The only returning drinks are the Moretti and Dasani Water.
I know I have a picture of the Ravioli I ordered. Or maybe I don’t as this was the only time someone said, “No” to, “Can I join you for a minute?” Tables are at a premium in the World Showcase during Food/Wine and they’re large enough that six or more people can easily share one. Since it only takes a minute or two to eat something, you may find yourself asking if you can join another group from time to time. Anyway, that was awkward. The ravioli are very good and very filling with a generous hunk of cheese baked on top. If you’re looking for something heavy to soak up all those $8 beers, then this would be a good choice. The Cannoli is also recommended.
Lesly was also nice enough to send over this year’s offering with this review: “Good. Melted cheese over ravioli filled with seasoned ground beef. Note: no Marinara. People expecting Chef Boyardee should look elsewhere.” Maybe they forgot the Bolognese?
Birra Moretti has long been offered in the Italy Pavilion, now at Via Napoli, Tutto Gusto, and Tutto Italia along with the Italy booth. The brewery is owned by Heineken and Birra Moretti specifically is a 4.6% Euro Pale Lager, similar to Heineken, Stella Artois, Harp Lager, and others. On the plus side, it’s light bodied, crisp, and refreshing. Expect a sweet and grainy taste that goes down smooth. They’re available in stores here in a six-pack for $8.99, so I’d probably avoid it since Italy is so close (in proximity) to the superior, rarer, and less expensive German beers. $8 for 12 ounces is pretty redonk.
This picture again, only we’ll focus on the larger drink on the left, which is the $10 Italian Margarita. This is made with tequila, which doesn’t seem to be particularly Italian. It’s going to taste less like alcohol than the Belvedere Tea we sampled earlier. If you’re looking for a cold drink that doesn’t taste strongly of booze, this isn’t a bad choice. I personally prefer the Jim Beam Lemonades up at the United States Pavilion, but this would hold you over until then.
I think this is a heavier pour than you can expect from the booth. Mazzacorona runs $10.99 for 1.75L at Total Wine, which makes it the cheapest wine available at the Festival as far as I know. I’m not sure how much you get for $6, but it can’t be a whole bottle!
The Zardetto Prosecco runs $11.99 a bottle, but is rated an “88″ by Wine Advocate, potentially making it a better choice. The chianti is also available from Total Wine at $15.99/bottle. Since volume isn’t listed, it’s hard to gauge value, but the Prosecco sparkling wine is rated the best.
Bathrooms, Places to Sit, Better Alternatives, Notes in This Area
Really, your only bathroom option around the Germany/Italy area is just past Germany on the left. They can get crowded with so many beer drinkers nearby, but remain a much better choice than the United States Pavilion, where you’ll find the longest lines. Prior to the arrival of Tutto Gusto, the clever amongst us could pop into Tutto Italia’s lobby and take a quick right into the bathrooms, but that’s now Tutto Gusto and it would probably be frowned upon if you dropped your pants in there.
As far as seating, these tables in the Italy Pavilion are on the right as you walk toward Via Napoli in the back. They’re usually available in the afternoon, but evenings are busier. Disney has also set up a number of high top tables where you can set your food/drink down and stand on the lagoon side. They’re in limited supply in the evening, but they should be easily available before 6pm.
Also in between the Brewer’s Collection and Germany booths, you’ll find a number of picnic tables suitable for sharing. These are among the most popular, but it’s worth checking to see if one is available if you’re planning to hang around this area for a while. Otherwise, the stairs on the Lagoon side of Italy are a good choice and there are benches (and garbage cans!) throughout.
In Germany, the Bier outlet on the right side of the Pavilion is operational again. Their Hand-Twisted Pretzels are better than the usual Disney Soft Pretzels when they’re fresh. Otherwise, this is mostly the same items that are available from the booths. I wouldn’t drop $8/shot for Jager, but it’s an option. You’ll find similar options at Sommerfest, though it’s worth noting the $6.59 Bratwursts and Frankfurters with Sauerkraut are quite a bit more food than most of the samples.
For an extensive look at the Italy Wine Bar, check out the middle of this post.
Tutto Gusto in Italy is a great choice if you’re looking to settle down with a glass of wine, beer, cocktail, or appetizer for a while. I have a full look about half way through this post. Note that prices are $1 to $2 more expensive now than in the menu pictures.
If you’re looking for an Italian beer and don’t want to settle on the Birra Moretti, Tutto Gusto has Moretti La Rossa on draft. This is, surprisingly, a 7.2% ABV dopplebock, so you’re getting over 50% more alcohol for your money. It’s darker, with coffee and caramel notes, much like the darker German beers. It isn’t necessarily as drinkable or refreshing as the light lagers, but it packs a bigger punch. Consider popping in to Tutto Gusto as the wine, beer, and food are superior to what’s available out on the promenade.
With no indoor attractions and cramped stores, Tutto Gusto or a dining reservation at Tutto Italia or Via Napoli is the best way to cool down. At Via Napoli, several (like 6+ people) can share a family size pizza, especially if you’re planning more noshing out on the promenade.
Next up is a long look at the United States Pavilion, including a review of every single Sam Adams beer offered!