The “Next Eats” complex, which is located behind Innoventions West, Fountain View Starbucks, and Club Cool. That would be the Land, Imagination, and Seas Pavilions behind the Marketplaces.
“The Chew” is a daytime “cooking-themed talk show” on the ABC Network, which is of course owned by the Walt Disney Company. My mom really likes it.
Everything here is more or less new, though Beso del Sol boxed sangria invaded the Resort a little over a year ago.
The portion on the $5 Pork Spareribs with red wine, fennel, and cheesy mascarpone grits is on the small side, here consisting of one small rib bone with some pork on it and the other boneless. The meat is incredibly tender and stew-like sauce is light and helps bring out the flavor from the pork, in addition to lending some flavor to the grits underneath. It was one of the better tasting new items at the Festival, I think, but the portion is on the chintzy side for the money and the flavors aren’t terribly unique.
The $4.75 Ricotta & zucchini ravioli with tomato sauce was better, with several large, creamy bites of cheese wrapped up in a delicate ravioli wrapper that is easily cut with the side of a fork. It was the best pasta dish we tried – easily fresher with more vibrant flavors than the Italian offerings coming up.
The $4.25 Vanilla panna cotta with fresh figs and pistachio brittle is about $1.50 more expensive than other similarly sized desserts. The panna cotta ends up being kind of jello like underneath the nutty flavors coming from the pistachio and the fruitiness of the candied fig. It’s overpriced by a buck, but one of the better thought out desserts that should be consistently executed well.
The Frozen Chew-tini featuring Crop Organic Meyer Lemon Vodka is reminiscent (read: exactly the same) of the drinks commonly found in France. This one is characteristically light on the alcohol with a nice blended consistency that makes it easy to drink, which is a good thing because they don’t have straws. The apple chip on top is a nice addition. Overall, it’s cold and refreshing, but don’t expect a lot of alcohol for your money.
Is there anything sadder than a 6-ounce beer? A 4-ounce beer, I suppose.
Store price: ? cents/ounce.
Festival price: 63 cents/ounce.
Value: Very good.
Proceeds from the sale of Spectra Trifecta benefit ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition that takes place annually in Grand Rapids, Mich with expected attendance north of 400,000. The beer is otherwise available in bottles in just a few states, meaning this is likely a rare opportunity for most people to give it a try. “Trifecta” comes from the three main ingredients – chamomile, lemongrass, and fresh ginger. I’m not personally crazy about the flavor profile – there’s too much ginger for me and the slightly sweet chamomile pushes it over the top. But it’s certainly worth trying for yourself – very flavorful.
Right next door is Chew Lab. There are a lot of high-top tables in the courtyard area between the Marketplaces, making this another good spot to hang out.
Everything here is new, though the Festival Wines are available in a couple other locations.
I liked the $5.75 Olive Oil-Poached Salmon with Fresh Corn, Bacon, and Pepper Jam. The salmon doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but the poaching method isn’t commonly used at Disney restaurants, so it’s at least a little different than your typical grilled or baked fish. Otherwise, poaching gives the salmon a nice soft, flaky texture that’s naturally flavorful. The side of corn adds a salty component with the bacon. Altogether, I think this is more compelling than Patagonia’s Roasted Salmon, though like a lot of the other Chew items, it’s $1 overpriced even for the Festival.
$6.25 buys you this New York Strip with Parsnip Silk, Balsamic Glaze and Arugula Foam. The slices of meat are probably even smaller than they look on the plate with just about four tender bites surrounded by fat. While parsnip silk and arugula foam sound impressive on paper, I’m not sure the flavors are as pronounced as advertised. The balsamic adds a bit of sweetness, which is in turn cut by the foam on top, but it boils down to just a couple bites of decent steak. It’s a decent value as a Dining Plan credit, but I’d probably skip it if you’re paying cash. The filet in Canada is a little more novel I think.
The $4 Liquid Nitro Chocolate Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel is one of the best things they’ve done at the Festival in the last few years. The chocolate is impossibly creamy, enhanced by the caramel with a pronounced and long lasting milk chocolate flavor. If you’re only going to get one dessert at the Festival, I’d make this it.
The Festival Chardonnay is apparently so boring that I didn’t even bother to take a proper picture of it, but there it sits. If you’re looking for a white wine in the area, it’s just fine. Wine Studio has a few more options that probably taste similar.
Amusingly perhaps, I went to the Disney Parks Blog something or other event at World Showplace:
That’s your intrepid author and all-around swell guy featured in thumbnail 15 of 47 of the gallery about the event. I bring this up only because the wine I’m sipping is the Festival Cabernet. It, unsurprisingly, tasted like wine. At least the first of my 17 glasses did. I can’t really comment on the others.
The $8.75 Smoking Hibiscus featuring Montelobos Mezcal Joven is the cocktail here. Lisa commented that it tasted like Halloween Horror Nights over at Universal smells, which is potentially the meanest possible thing you can say about a food or beverage item. I enjoyed the texture on this one, which is really thin and kind of airy, and don’t come down as hard on the flavor, but it definitely isn’t for everybody. You might consider ordering one and passing it around to try.
Craft Beer returns in the same location as last year inside the old Odyssey building. It’s located on the bridge that connects the Test Track area to the Mexico World Showcase Pavilion area.
This picture is from last year – this year there are a lot more tables. There’s also a small pop-up store offering the “Brews Around the World” line of merchandise and additional seating in the far back.
This year, it’s all Florida beer. The Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail is new and the Craft Beer Snack Mix is now available a la carte for a buck, rather than a small cup included with each beer.
I won’t waste your time with a wordy review of all of these. Those that enjoy beer probably want to order both flights. If you’re a little less sure, you might go with the style that you like most. They probably should have printed the ABV along with the name.
The Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail looks kind of gross up close, so we’ll stay a bit further back. That’s it on the left. It’s a pretty basic cup of thin cocktail sauce covering about a half dozen small-ish cocktail shrimp. It’s a decent portion for the money, but it’s exactly what it sounds like and I think the shrimp are probably swimming in the sauce for a little too long. Not necessarily a fresh item.
The Florida Beer Passport 20 should be exclusive and might be a good choice, though it’s certainly not an outstanding tripel.
The snack mix, which I neglected to take a better picture of, is a good value. They serve a similar variety at Crew’s Cup, Martha’s Vineyard, the margarita stand at Disney Springs, etc. It’s a nice portion of salty, sometimes spicy, sometimes sweet, snack mix.
I think that concludes coverage of this year’s Food and Wine Festival with just about every item reviewed.