Yeah! This is a good one.
The Traditional Haggis, Tipsy Laird, BrewDog Punk Ale, and Citrus Thistle are all new.
I don’t really get out much, which makes this my first real experience with haggis, which is…well I guess I don’t really want to say. Here it’s served as Traditional Haggis with rutabaga and mashed potatoes for $4.75. It ends up tasting mostly like a peppery beef crumble, I think. It might be worth trying on the novelty factor, but the flavors weren’t as unique as I was hoping. Which might be a good thing.
I’m not sure how much haggis should cost. Five bucks shouldn’t break the bank. but it seems likely this is frozen and thawed.
The $4.25 Fresh potato pancake with Scottish smoked salmon and herb sour cream pairs a fluffy, lightly pan-fried potato pancake with a thin layer of quality cold smoked salmon and a dollop of sour cream with chives. It’s like if Hanukkah and Akershus had a child. This is one of the simpler dishes we’ll run into and a nice “safe” bet, so long as you like smoked salmon. Recommended.
Seared Sea Scallops are a Festival mainstay, this time served on top of spinach-cheddar gratin and crispy bacon for $4.50. This is my favorite presentation thus far, with several bites of creamy, cheesy greens and a pile of bacon aiding the subtle flavors of the scallop. It’s a solid seven or eight bites and recommended.
$3.25 buys you The Tipsy Laird: Whiskey-soaked cake with lemon cream and toasted oats. It was one of the fresher tasting desserts with a nice sweet raspberry flavor with cake and a lot of cream. It’s not a particularly unique dish overall, but it is executed well and the portion size is on the large side for the money.
Store price: 25 cents/ounce.
Festival price: 63 cents/ounce.
Value: Very good.
Innis & Gunn Original is one of the more unique beers at the Festival, though the United Kingdom just added it on draft year around. This 6.6% Scottish Ale has stronger vanilla and toffee notes than the bottle indicates with a serious oak-y finish and is particularly good on draft. Anyone that enjoys beer wants to pick one up.
Store price: 30 cents/ounce.
Festival price: 63 cents/ounce.
It’s pretty cool that Disney picked this up – BrewDug is “famous” for some very high ABV beers, like their 55% “The End of History,” which they only made 12 bottles of and distributed them inside stuffed squirrels; Ghost Deer, the world’s strongest naturally-fermented beer at 28% and served from a mounted deer head at the BrewDog bar in Edinburgh; and the 18.2% ABV Tokio, which they actually sell at the local Total Wine at $13 for an 11-ounce bottle. Anyway, the ABV on the Punk IPA is on the low side for the style and there’s not nearly as much hoppy bitterness as you might be expecting, leading to a more accessible flavor profile. There’s your typical citrus and floral aroma here. If you like beer and don’t get one of these I really don’t know what to tell you. We aren’t friends.
The $9 Citrus Thistle featuring Hendrick’s Gin is one of the better cocktails served at the Festival, which really isn’t saying much. But there’s some gin in it and it’s a lot easier and more refreshing than the sugar bombs that are most of the frozen drinks.
A 750ml bottle of 12-year Glenfiddich is $30, compared to $100 for the 18-year. And if you’re going to go, you might as well go big, so I recommend the 18 year. You may want a 12-year (and okay, get the 15-year too) to compare and contrast the flavors. In my experience, if you distract the person pouring the scotch with a funny joke or throw something at them (preferable), you typically receive more scotch.
Now that you mention it, I’m not sure why anybody leaves Scotland.
The Mai Tai featuring Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum is a slightly different take on a mixed drink.
The Kalua pork slider with sweet and sour Dole Pineapple chutney and spicy mayonnaise – $4 is one of the most popular items at the Festival, thanks to its relative simplicity. I like this one a lot. The spicy mayo helps cut the sweetness from the pork and pineapple chutney, making the flavor profile more complex than you might expect. The rolls are fresh and there’s a decent spoonful of pork on each slider. Recommended, though the preparation isn’t particularly unique.
The $4.75 Tuna poke with seaweed salad and lotus root chips may be the healthiest option at the Festival. Your money buys you just three bites of tuna on top of seaweed with toasted sesame seeds spooned on top. The tuna seemed to be high quality fish with an attractive pink color and the seaweed retained a nice crunch. It’s not a filling dish for the money, but it is nice, light, and unlike most items, nicely chilled. Sort of recommended, but it’s not going to fill you up and it’s probably $1 overpriced, even for the Festival.
Oh the good ol’ days of 12-ounce beers. How I hardly knew thee.
Store price: 13 cents/ounce.
Festival price: 58 cents/ounce.
Value: Above average.
I’m not usually a porter person, but I like Kona’s Pipeline a lot. It’s made with 100% Kona coffee, so you get a nice, deep, roasted malt flavor profile with a bit of a chocolate-y aftertaste. It’s not a world-class beer, but I think most people will enjoy it.
Big Wave Golden Ale
Store price: 13 cents/ounce.
Festival price: 58 cents/ounce.
Kona’s year-round blonde ale is the Big Wave, which doesn’t have a lot of flavor, which potentially makes it easy-drinking here in the Floridian fall. It’s better than the Kirin/Kronenbourg/Casa nonsense that’s upcoming, which potentially makes it a smart purchase. My money is still at Canada Cart or Scotland though.
The Maui Splash Pineapple Wine is a very fruity, passion-fruit-laced dessert wine kind of drink. It’s not really my thing, but if you like a fruity, juicy, “fun” wine that’s the sort of thing mom puts ice cubes in, then this might be a good choice.
The Mai Tai or whatever equivalent drink Hawaii is serving is always a waste of time – this year’s $8 travesty with a drop of rum is no different.
The Cheese Studio is a new Marketplace located on the walkway that connects Future World with World Showcase near the Imagination Pavilion, which you can see in the background.
Each of the food items are more or less new, though we’ve certainly seen our fair share of cheese trios in the past.
$11 buys you this pretty adorable setup with each wine paired with a specific cheese. The palette is just cardboard, but it does make carrying the cheese in style a lot easier. The first cheese, a Karst Cave-aged Original, is firm with a sweet, nutty flavor to it. The honey helps bring those flavors out even more. Interestingly perhaps, someone sticks the cheese in a cave in Vermont for at least seven months. Hence, cave-aged. I wonder what would happen if you put the website in a cave in Vermont for seven months? The middle La Bonne Vie Goat Cheese is the most forgettable of the bunch, served here with Craisin Bread and offering little in the way of unique flavor. The Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue Cheese was our favorite, served here with Berry-Porte Compote. Very robust, particularly when paired with the jam.
The wine pours here are actually pretty decent considering it’s part of a flight. You get less ice wine in Canada for six bucks, for example.
$2.50 buys you about five bites of Sweet Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Guava Gelle. The texture from the goat cheese may be off-putting. It’s not unlike a rice pudding, kind of creamy but still thick with bits in it – I guess sort of like whipped goat cheese. I liked the flavor of the cool, sweet guava contrasting with the flavors from the cheese. At this price point, it might be worthwhile to try it if it sounds good. None of us were too keen on a second bite. But that’s okay. It’s part of what this kind of thing is about.
Taste: 1/10 (for me, you may enjoy it more)
The $3.50 Cheese Fondue with Sourdough Bread is kind of fun – there isn’t a ton to it – it’s bread and a sort of chunky, cheesy dip that’s a little thicker than the soup in Canada, but not far off on flavor . You may remember that I condemn the $4/cup Cheddar Cheese Soup every year. If they raised the price a buck and threw in a pretzel roll I’d probably be all over it. Anyway, this “is what it is” so to speak. It does pair very nicely with the red wines next door and we enjoyed it, even if we’re not reinventing the wheel (cheese wheel…get it…nevermind). It’s more food than the Canadian soup for less money, making it a pretty good value.
Next door is the appropriately titled Wine Studio. There’s a ton of tables in the courtyard area around these two Marketplaces, which is nice. You can chill a bit before it’s time to brave the World Showcase crowds.
The cheese trio is available here and each wine comes in a small souvenir wine cup for an extra four bucks.
I’m not sure if it’s an every day, every pour kind of thing, but we got hooked up here. The big reason why I’m not doing the price breakdown on the wine is that you just never know what you’re going to get, pour-wise. With the beer, you know they’re going to try to fill the cup, even if you end up with more foam than you’d like. With the wine, pours vary from day to day and cast member to cast member.
Anyway, I don’t think any of these wines are standouts, but if they’re pouring like this, you want to get in line.
The Dominican Republic arrives in Puerto Rico’s spot from last year. I think this is the Food and Wine Festival’s version of the Madden Curse as each country represented typically can’t pay any of their other bills within 12 months.
The area this year is particularly pleasant with lush greenery and waterfalls.
Shade is extremely scare up in World Showcase. Consider making the covered area across from the Dominican Republic your home base for as long as is feasible.
Anyway, the Dominican is back after a hiatus of a few years:
The menu should be all-new.
The booth itself is quaint.
The Lechon Asado: Roasted Pork with Mangu, Pickled Red Onions and Avocado. It was a decent portion for the money – most everything we run into is going to be on the small side. Mangu is a traditional Dominican side dish made of boiled green plantains. The flavor here is starchy, not entirely unlike a banana crossed with a potato chip with a smooth texture. The pork was on the dry side, though the couple bites of avocado helped. The red onions add a tangy, sharp layer. Hopefully yours won’t be overcooked and I’ve heard better things about subsequent visits.
The second item on the menu is the $4.75 Soufflé de yuca: Yuca soufflé topped with griddled cheese. With the loss of the griddled cheese and honey over at Greece, it’s nice to see something similar return. Here, the yuca is light and fluffy with a nutty, distantly sweet flavor underneath the soft, tender grilled cheese. Very good, though I think it’s on the expensive side considering the portion.
The $4.75 Pescado con coco: Seared grouper, pigeon peas and rice with coconut sauce would be a spicy dish if not for the creamy coconut sauce ladled on top. And some of that spice still shows through. I only snagged a small bite, so a full review will have to wait. It does look good though and grouper is typically on the expensive side.
The $3.25 Caramel flan with rum-roasted pineapple. I am not really a flan person – I find the kind of gooey pudding texture off-putting and the dominant flavor always seems to be burnt caramel. With that said, this is the best I’ve tasted from the Festival offerings over the years. You still do get that caramel flavor, but it doesn’t taste like it’s been cooked too long and the pineapple helps sweeten the overall flavor profile. It’s a good value for the money and plenty large to share. You may want to order just one as it’s very sweet.
I’ve misplaced my picture of the Presidente Pilsner. Presidente is otherwise the official beer of the Miami Marlins baseball team, which should be the first indication that it’s not very good. Or should I say, it’s just fine as it’s the least expensive beer we’ll run into based on the grocery store price of $9.99 for a 12-pack, which makes it a poor value here at $3.50 for a 6-ounce draft. Anyway, I’m actually not sure what they’re serving here as there are two different kinds of Presidente – the one they actually brew in the Dominican and the one they brew in Florida. The one from Florida is garbage, while the Dominican version is actually pretty decent. But it’s still Budweiser at best and is probably best skipped.
Eleven bucks buys you this sad little cup of Frozen Dominican pina colada featuring Ron Barcelo Blanco Rum, which sits here next to a regulation 20-ounce bottle of water and a regulation plastic fork.
The drink is mostly cheap pina colada mix and is best skipped.
The $9 Frozen sugar cane cocktail featuring Ron Barceló Blanco Rum is a little better, but it’s sort of like choosing between whether you’d like your house infested with ants or termites. Neither is particularly desirable. At least the sugar cane is kind of fun to chew on. These drinks otherwise total $20 and probably come with less alcohol than is in that bottle of water. You’ve been warned.
Next up: Sustainable Chew, Chew Lab, Craft Beer, and whatever I forgot.