We’ll take a moment to check out the Flower and Garden Festival’s “outdoor kitchens.”
Last year’s decidedly unpopular Food and Wine Festival clones return to Flour and Gardein this year, serving up largely similar items.
We’ll start with Pineapple Promenade on the Canada side and work our way around.
Dole no longer sponsors the booth to the point where it no longer even identifies the fact that this is “Dole Whip.” Myer’s Dark and Parrot Bay Rums replace last year’s poorly chosen Siesta Key Spiced Rum. Tropical Mango Pale replaces Sam Adams Cream Stout, the wine is new, and the waffle replaces last year’s Pineapple Upside Down Cake featuring Dole Pineapple. These are the sorts of changes we’re going to see throughout our tour.
Watching people’s unhappy reactions as they’re served their miniature $6.50 Dole Whip is worth the price of admission alone. I wish I could show you this guy’s face in good conscience. Imagine utter disgust.
The portion is smaller than Magic Kingdom for more money.
The $3.50 Sweet Potato Cinnamon Waffle with Pineapple soft-serve is an interesting dish. The waffle underneath is freshly pressed and served piping hot, causing the soft serve on top to quickly melt, which in turn causes the waffle underneath to become even soggier than it is originally. The cinnamon-y spice works better than you might expect paired with the artificially sweet Dole Whip, but I’m not sure it’s a slam dunk. Worth trying at the price point.
The $2.75 Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade is an excellent non-alcoholic slushie. It is perhaps too sweet for its own good, but it’s a good choice for the kids.
For better or worse, Disney seems to be moving toward vegetable and fruit beers at this year’s Festival. It makes sense from a #story perspective, but these mango/blueberry/etc. beers tend to be artificially flavored and syrupy. This is the Tropical Mango Pale Ale from St. John Brewers in the Virgin Islands and it suffers from the artificial mango flavor and thin mouth feel that plague most beers of this style. It would taste better with the increasing temperatures of late April and May.
The website would be remiss if it didn’t point out the Canada Cart still offers Unibroue at surprisingly reasonable prices. $10.25 for a 20-ounce Trois Pistoles is a significantly better value than seven bucks for a 12-ounce Mango Beer. The newly added St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout is also excellent.
Buttercup Cottage replaces last year’s rather curt “The Cottage.”
The majority of the items are new this year.
This $4.50 Freshly Baked Potato and Cheddar Cheese Biscuit with Smoked Salmon Tartare tasted much more lemon-y than last year’s. It remains a hearty, freshly baked roll with a generous scoop of smoky salmon tartare. We could have done without the unadvertised capers and the lemon flavor overwhelmed things.
The $3.50 Field Greens with Plant City Strawberries, Toasted Almonds, and Farmstead Stilton was one of our favorite dishes. Most or all of the salads we’ll run into are excellent. The Stilton adds a creamy, tangy dimension that contrasts nicely with the sweet, ripe strawberries.
Almonds provide subtle flavor and a bit of crunch. Highly recommended.
You’ll have to excuse a couple of these pictures as it took 1.3 revolutions around World Showcase to complete our circuit and it was dark by the end of the night as is usually the case. This is the $4 Pork and Apple Sausage Roll with House-Made Piccalilli. The sausage was very good, though it lacked much apple flavor. The pastry shell was a little underdone and the sauce was a bizarrely sweet and ice cold.
The $3.25 Freshly Baked Lemon Scones with Berry Preserves and Crème Fraiche were chewier than they were crumbly, but also stood out as excellent. We would have liked some more sauce, but these are a well-above-average value.
The $2 Chilled Rose Blush Lemonade in the back was a good value for the money, but tasted artificially sweet and syrupy. The $2 Twinings Cold Brewed English Classic with Lemongrass Syrup in front was much more natural tasting and more refreshing because of it.
The Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvee is a whopping $3 less expensive than at the Hops & Barley booth during Food and Wine, if you can believe that. Don’t tell anyone. This is one of the only straight sparkling wines we’ll run into and the most expensive bottle in stores. Load up.
The pictures are so good I don’t know why they don’t ask me to do this for a living.
DeLoach Pinot Noir is out of California. This is their lower end pinot, but a bottle runs $14 at the store, making this a decent value in the grand scheme of things. It was the best wine we tried, which isn’t saying a whole lot since most of the other wines are either vegan or from Florida, but it’s worth noting if you’re in the market.
The $7.50 Berry Tea Cocktail — Twinings Cold Brewed Mixed Berry Tea with Florida Cane Vodka and Plant City Strawberry, Flavored with Raspberry and Açaí Syrup was a waste of time and money. There was virtually no alcohol in it and it’s a teensy weensy cup. SKIP.
France is typically one of the strongest Food and Wine Festival kiosks, so it was strange when last year’s “L’Orangerie” at Flower/Garden was terrible almost across the board.
Fortunately, this year’s Fleur de Lys brings all-new food items, in addition to a new “cocktail” and the Kir Imperial. Last year’s selection of wines is gone.
The $4.75 Gnocchis Parisenne à la Provençal – Parisian-style Dumplings with Vegetables, Mushrooms, and Goat Cheese was an excellent vegetarian option. It’s a large helping of tender gnocchi in a light sauce, topped with the savory goat cheese. Recommended if you’re in the market for something sans-meat.
France tends to serve some of the most flavorful items at Food/Wine in some of the most unattractive packages and I think they continue that trend with the $5.50 Confit de Canard, Pommes de Terre Sarladaise – Pulled Duck Confit with Garlic and Parsley Potatoes. The potatoes remain nicely firm with a nice big helping of rich duck leg in the middle. It’s one of the best items at the Festival and one I don’t think most people would attempt to prepare at home.
The $5 Macaron à la Fleur d’ Oranger – Orange Blossom Macaron with White Chocolate Ganache comes in at a pretty rough price point for a small cookie. There is a creamy white chocolate ganache holding the two crunchy cookie halves together, resulting in something that tastes almost like a crunchy orange creamsicle dipped in chocolate. But these are very similar/the same as what’s served inside the Boulangerie bakery year-round and they are $2 overpriced, even by Disney standards.
The 2014 edition of the $9.75 La Vie en Rose Frozen Slush – Vodka, Grey Goose Orange, St. Germain Liquor, and White and Red Cranberry Juice is the best of the slushie-style mixed drinks at this year’s Festival. It’s not too sweet and the vodka flavor is present, but almost completely masked by the juices and liqueurs. Very good.
A Kir Royale at $7.50 using lousy sparkling champagne is another expensive proposition, but at least you know it’s mostly alcohol. Unless Disney has somehow figured out how to water down wine before they open the bottle. And they said a two billion dollar investment didn’t buy us anything!
There are always a few items at these Festivals that are offensively overpriced/low quality. One of those is this year’s $5.50 Rosé Pamplemousse Cocktail – Rosé Wine Mixed with Natural Grapefruit Syrup. The title insinuates that it’s some sort of freshly prepared drink. But it’s actually three ounces of pre-bottled Meadowsweet wine that runs $5.99 at your local grocery store. Worse, the wine is bland with only a hint of carbonation and comes in at a low 10% ABV. Waste of money.
A $7 Kronenbourg Blanc as served at Be Our Guest Restaurant (the horror). Unfortunately, Blanc is one of the better beers we’re going to encounter here at Flower and Garden. For Food and Wine, when it’s also available, there are several better options around World Showcase. This is a decent 5% ABV witbier that’s refreshingly light bodied with subtle citrus notes. I wouldn’t ordinarily drop seven bucks on one, but you could do a lot worse.
Taste of Marrakesh is up next with Japan visible on the left in the distance.
The recommended Baghrir is the only food item returning, along with the Desert Rose, White Sangria, Guerrouane Red, and Mint Iced Tea.
The $5 Lamb Brewat Roll with Prunes and Sesame is one of the more substantial items you’ll run into at the Festival.
It’s sort of a Moroccan spring roll stuffed with lamb if there is such a thing.
Unfortunately, it was on the bland side with just a touch of sweetness from the prunes. You may well enjoy it more and it was a nice serving size for the money. It’s stuffed with tender lamb.
The $5 Harissa Chicken Kebab with Couscous Salad was less to write home about. The chicken was dry having been cooked some time ago and there was no discernible spice from the harissa. It’s just three bites of meat.
The couscous was a bit soggy, but otherwise prepared well. I’m not sure it’s enough to beckon a purchase.
Last year’s $3 Baghrir – Moroccan pancake with honey, almonds and Argan Oil may not look like much, but it was everyone’s favorite item at the booth. The pancake is spongy, allowing it to soak up the flavors from the honey and oil.
The tall cup is the $6 Desert Rose, which is nearly identical to the Kir Royale in France.
Pictured is last year’s $3 Mint Iced Tea. We picked up this year’s, but I apparently forgot to shoot a pic. This year’s is greener in color with a strong mint flavor. It’s okay, but I’m not sure it’s worth the three bucks.
Morocco’s sangrias are best skipped, served out of bottles sourced far from Africa.
Efes is a decent 5% German pilsner hailing from Anadolu Efes Brewery in Turkey. The usual Casa is supposed to be on the menu and it may replace Efes in the future. Either way, both are available at the “Juice Bar” attached to Spice Road Table across the street. Your $6 buys you a 12-ounce bottle of this clean, crisp pilsner with hints of caramel sweetness and floral hops. It would pair nicely with the lamb, particularly on a hot day. While not a tremendous beer by any stretch of the imagination, it is quite good for the style.
To recap, favorites included:
- Field Greens at The Cottage along with the Cold Brewed Tea and Fairy Tale Cuvee
- Duck Confit and Frozen Slush in France
- Baghir in Morocco
We’ll soldier on in Part 2.