We continue from Refreshment Outpost.
Editor’s Note: This is complete nonsense until you get to “Pork Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce, Spätzle, and Braised Red Cabbage – $6.25”
Bavaria returns to the left of Germany with the same food menu as last year. “Prost!” I exclaimed at the news. I don’t know what the word means, but it has always sounded German and celebratory, which seemed like it fit squarely within the slim requirements of the situation. It’s also possible that I cursed out a room full of fifth graders. But it’s not my fault we were all at Firehouse Subs at the same time. I don’t get the submarine sandwich line’s printed schedule of events mailed to me weekly. Had I known about the crowding before going in, I would have spent that time hitting my head against concrete. Wait, I’m not supposed to do that anymore. I guess I would have gone somewhere else to get a sandwich. Like a crazy person.
No new food meant I probably wouldn’t have to come up with another adjective to describe how hideously lumpy the sauerbraten feels in your mouth after its bone-dry canopy of dry roast beef, juniper berries that don’t naturally grow to the greenish hue being served, and spätzle that would be less gummy if it was Double Bubble grated into spiral chunks. Then, the bone-dry meat utilizes its plentiful gristle to slowly inch its way down your throat, seemingly making a pit stop at every destination from the pharynx on down. But if risking choking to death on holiday meat meant delaying a visit to the Italy booth, it could take six weeks to force the sauerbraten down as far as I was concerned.
That’s why my Christmas wish every year is for the elimination of the Italy booth. Or actually, that everything offered at the kiosk is free one year to apologize for ten or more years of pain, suffering, and having to open up new lines of credit just to order asparagus water and polenta that was so hard it probably should have been confiscated by security as a potential weapon of deadly force. That wish comes in place of something silly, like world peace or an end to hunger. Those things aren’t happening, so it’s better to follow Walt’s advice, “If you can dream it, make it a small one, and maybe it will happen before you lose interest and move on to another half-finished project. You lazy bozo.” I’m paraphrasing a little bit there. And the names have been changed to protect the innocent. And all that.
How Germany basically became synonymous with Christmas, I am not real sure. Florida probably isn’t the territory I would have chosen to represent a cold weather holiday. We get IMPORTANT BREAKING NEWS warnings scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen in bright red like the Soviets just launched their entire nuclear arsenal and we have 14 minutes to live every time the temperature threatens falling below 70 degrees. Scrolling. Over. And over. And over. It doesn’t even hit actually hit 70 most of the time, but it might drop to 71 degrees for two seconds at 4:42am.
Do you know where your third turtleneck is? And your second blanket so you don’t freeze to death putting it on? And your space heater to keep you adequately warm during any lapses in removing blankets to add layers? Even though you are probably just setting the heat on the thermostat in your house to about the same number anyway. And won’t notice anything. Blogging isn’t exactly lucrative, but I think, with the help of a small loan, I can afford to heat my closet apartment for one night.
But it’s possible Floridians are some kind of ghoul and transform if the temperature drops to something unfathomably subarctic, like 68 degrees. I don’t want to seem unfair to Florida here, but I am failing to think of a person or creature who improves their appearance, chivalry, kindness, etc. during a full moon or as night descends. Like vampires come out at night. Werewolves do the murder during a full moon thing. Let’s just hope we can keep it at 70 degrees.
Anyway, Germany got Christmas. Did they win it playing dice? Fair and square? Promising revenue sharing among member countries? Threatening total war? We’ll never know. Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, or a host of other European countries that I may or may not be making up could have easily carried the banner.
At least it’s not the soft pronunciation and kind sounds of the German language that won the country one of the world’s most sought-after holidays. Want to spend Christmas Eve in Germany? You’re at a Heiligabend Feierlichkeit. It sounds like somebody is trying to buy a Helly Hansen jacket over the phone while having a seizure. In San Marino? We call it a party.
Heck, like most of Western Europe, Germany celebrates Christmas on December 24th, for the most part. On the plus side, they are probably a day closer to marking the actual birth of Jesus, a date no group of scholars can agree on, with the exception that it’s definitely not December 25th. If God has a sense of humor *fingers crossed* it would be pretty funny to watch a few billion people celebrate a birthday that’s months off. On the sad side, the real day would be back to people yelling about wilted lettuce on their Whopper and Typhoon Lagoon still being closed. I would laugh, at least. But the scholars can’t agree on anything, so it’s not really a surprise that they have trouble narrowing down the birth of the savior of the world…to you know….a particular decade.
King Herod the Great, a name which I’m guessing he Christened himself, tried to kill Jesus by massacring all the infants in the vicinity of Bethlehem under the age of two. The story reads a little bit like the Jewish holiday of Passover, but since nobody has ever accused Christianity of borrowing anything from other religions before, we better not start now. And the scholars don’t believe Herod made such an order anyway, so who knows where we are anymore. Other than too far down a food review without ample discussion of sauerbraten.
Back to King Herod the Attempted Murderer of Babies Who Could Have Grown Up to Be Perfectly Successful Vloggers, who met his own demise shortly thereafter. And the scholars can’t even agree when that happened. And it’s not like some people think it’s Tuesday at 1:30pm and others think it was the next day, closer to 3pm. We’re talking about an inability to narrow the death down to one of four or five years. And the guy ruled for almost forty. That seems relatively important. But they do now have the cause of his death. And that you do not want to know.
Most Germans don’t even put up their Christmas trees until the morning of December 24th. Everyone here in the states knows that the real tradition is to put the tree up in the corner of the doublewide shortly after Target decides that stocking them in April seems like it’s what the people want. Then getting one for 75% off about a half hour later. Then you leave the tree up for at least ten years, or until it catches on fire more than three times, before replacing it. Begrudgingly. And ideally not on December 24th.
Imagine being German, hungover, stumbling down the stairs, missing every other one, and slumped over with half an eye open, wondering if it’s extra to put children up for adoption on a national holiday. (It isn’t.) Then after the German equivalent of complete chaos, you have to put up the Christmas Tree. With three spoiled hellions who always sound like they’re mad about something. And a wife trying to decide which of the family’s traditionally inedible stollen bread recipes is going in the oven to suffer through with a smile later. At least they’ve got Heiligabend Feierlichkeit to look forward to.
Furthermore, did Christmas markets get their start in Germany, as they would have you so desperately believe? Probably not, but Germany isn’t exactly known as being a country lacking propaganda. They could probably convince you that they invented toothpaste if they tried hard enough. And they actually do try to convince you of that with Clorodont, complete with a whole backstory. Never mind the Egyptians had been brushing their teeth for hundreds of years, but in the Germans defense, the pyramids aren’t exactly known for letting in natural sunlight.
When riding Soarin’, I’ve given up on enjoying what should be beautiful landscapes, a tranquil soundtrack, and the sweet scent of a Glade Plug-In that was meant for the previous scene. I’ve come to terms that someone else’s feet will be dangling in front of my face while passing by CGI object after CGI object that seem to bend in ways that I don’t remember during my own visits. But I was also drinking heavily at the time. Well, both times. Instead, I know a cacophony of adult tourists are about to excitedly scream out, “THAT’S THE EIFFEL TOWER.” Congratulations, you’re at least operating at a kindergarten capacity.
Instead, I bark out far more obscure facts, like, “FRANCE IS THE 14TH LARGEST EXPORTER OF ANIMAL BLOOD.” Or, “DOES ANYONE WANT TO DISCUSS THE NUANCES OF THE ’78 CAMP DAVID ACCORDS AND HOW THE MIDDLE EAST WOULD BE FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT IF SADAT HADN’T BEEN ASSASSINATED?”
I’m not particularly popular on the attraction.
- Pork Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce, Spätzle, and Braised Red Cabbage – $6.25
- Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl with Steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes – $8.25
- Linzer Cookie – $2.50
- Regional Riesling – $6
- Glühwein: House-made Hot Spiced Wine – $9
- Possmann Pure Hard Apple Cider (5.0% ABV) – $5 for 6 oz., $9 for 12 oz.
- The Tank Brewing Co. Prost! Fest Bier (5.9% ABV) – $5 for 6 oz., $9 for 12 oz.
- Ayinger Brewery Celebrator Doppelbock (6.7% ABV) – $5 for 6 oz., $9 for 12 oz.
- Pork Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce, Spätzle and Braised Red Cabbage – $6.25
- Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl with Fresh Steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes – $8.25
- Linzer Cookie – $2.50
- Glühwein: House-made Hot Spiced Wine – $9
- Regional Riesling – $6
- Possmann Pure Hard Apple Cider, Frankfurt, Germany (5.0% ABV) – $5 for 6 oz., $9 for 12 oz.
- The Tank Brewing Co. Prost! Fest Bier, Miami, FL (5.9% ABV) – $5 for 6 oz., $9 for 12 oz.
- Ayinger Brewery Celebrator Doppelbock, Bavaria, Germany (6.7% ABV) – $5 for 6 oz., $9 for 12 oz.
- Beer Flight – $9.75
Pork Schnitzel with Mushroom Sauce, Spätzle, and Braised Red Cabbage – $6.25
The Pork Schnitzel is actually poorly cropped over a tamale in this picture, but you don’t want to see the bodily functions occurring in the background of the original image – I’ll just leave it at the fact that Deutschland is located about half-way through Drinking Around the World.
Really a small meal, the pork schnitzel is a hefty dish with the pile of delicate, chewy, soft dumpling egg pasta providing a surprisingly-strong base for the crispy fried pork loin that’s prepared with a simple array of ingredients so the rich, earthy, comforting flavors of the mushroom gravy and slightly sweet acidity from the red cabbage can soak their way in. We enjoyed it a lot and it’s particularly satisfying if you’re lucky enough to visit on a cooler evening in the ~2ish days before the Festival ends, when it tastes even better. The portion, Photoshopped or not, is also sizable for the $6.25 ask.
Cheese Fondue in a Bread Bowl with Steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes – $8.25
I like the fondue itself – it’s incredibly rich, creamy, and complex with a real luscious cheesy quality to it. But I’m a big dipper and there isn’t a lot of opportunity to do that – the slimy zucchini stick is gross and you’re otherwise left with exactly three little potatoes.
The smart money is picking up one of the huge, usually-past-their-prime hardened pretzels from one of the normal quick service eateries and using it to dunk into the fondue. Once you clean most of the bread bowl out, you can really enjoy the bottom, where the cheese has had a better opportunity to soak in. I know produce has gotten 3.7% more expensive due to inflation, and the crippling world economy that is going to collapse within two years or something, but this is same amount of vegetables Disney has been serving for years.
It would rate higher on the “Clickety Clackity Your Credit Card is About to be Decline-y” (value) front if there was more to dip. We’re not talking about rubies, sapphires, or Walt Disney Company stock buybacks here. It’s carrots. And potatoes. But Chapek may well think carrots cost $10 each.
Linzer Cookie – $2.50
You’ll want to hold this one away from your body a bit, because one ill-fated cough, sneeze, or heavy breath out will have the sweet powdered sugar flying everywhere, and it’s a little hard to explain away a coating of white powder over your nose and face during the holidays in Florida. Not that I have experience. But I can tell you, “I just went through a tray of Linzer Cookies like you would not believe” isn’t going to stop them from taking you down to the station. With that said, the cookie is large and soft with subtle hints of almond and cinnamon (surprise, surprise) with a sweet, but not overly so, fruity jam center. The quality and portion are large enough that I’d add one to most orders.
Regional Riesling – $6
Ah yes, the ever-in-demand Regional Riesling, which always tastes a smidge better than the Great Ocean Road Coastline Riesling, Veryovkina Cave Riesling Reserve, or Hypogean varieties of the sweet white wine. What region is it from then? Watch all three seasons of Dark on Netflix and I’ll tell you. Since we both know you won’t: It’s a delicate white wine with flavors of light orchard fruits, followed by a mild acidity, and finishing with a little bit of a mineral aftertaste. I’d double check to make sure it’s a bottle of Selbach-Oster or Google the brand they have on hand. If it’s any good, you might consider adding it to the Schnitzel. It doesn’t necessarily lend itself well here to anything other than that and perhaps the Cheese Dip if you want to sweeten things up there. But it’s wine in Epcot. Get it if you want it.
Glühwein: House-made Hot Spiced Wine – $9
I enjoyed this German mulled wine, which was served at a comforting, warm temperature and served in this precious little plastic mug. There was a real spiciness to it, along with plenty of sugar, citrus, cinnamon, and booze. It’s a lot to pay for a couple of ounces, but it tasted legitimately homemade and isn’t something that you can easily pour from a bottle and stick in a microwave, which is what Disney had served here for years prior to 2020. Very good. It’s possible that all the microwaves had to go to Italy, so this was the compromise.
Possmann Pure Hard Apple Cider (5.0% ABV) – $5 for 6 oz., $9 for 12 oz.
That’s it on the left as part of last year’s Cider Flight, when all of the Regions, but mostly just the Rhine, were in play. I like the Possmann Ciders for their relative lack of sugary exuberance and what at least tastes like a natural apple flavor. An Angry Orchard this is not. You can always walk around with a pocketful of Splenda or something and toss it in.
The Tank Brewing Co. Prost! Fest Bier (5.9% ABV) – $5 for 6 oz., $9 for 12 oz.
If seeing “prost,” “bier,” and “Miami, Florida” in the title of your Tank Brewing Co. beer doesn’t transport you right back to Hans Gruber’s homeland, then I don’t know what will. Heavier on German malts and noble hops than you might expect, the beer is a slightly different take on their fall Marzen – full-bodied and robust with a warm and toasty quality for such a light beer. I’d recommend trying it, especially since it’s going to be difficult to find too far outside of our great state. Prost! (I hope you enjoyed your sandwiches, 5th grade science fair kids)
Ayinger Brewery Celebrator Doppelbock (6.7% ABV) – $5 for 6 oz., $9 for 12 oz.
I’ll admit, I didn’t have Ayinger Beer on my bingo card this year. I thought it was even less likely to get crossed off than the box that includes “enjoyed a satisfying meal at Morimoto Asia.” It just doesn’t happen anymore. Back to the Ayinger, this is a world-class beer and an outstanding example of the roasty, toasty dopplebock with caramel, dark fruit, and yes…cinnamon notes backed up by coffee that you’ll probably appreciate during the evening hours, which is pretty much the only time Epcot is open these days, anyway. It’s worth stopping to try on its own.
But there’s a lot of good stuff here. And Italy looms large.