See Part 1 below, or here.
First, a couple of updates from the previous post. Yes, you can pick up Festival Passports from the DVC booth on the way into the World Showcase. The booth is on the right hand side of the cranberry bog. The passports won’t be out, but the person working the booth will be more than happy to pull them out of a drawer for you. They are also available at the Festival Welcome Center, but the DVC booth is more convenient if you don’t have any business at the Festival Center. The Festival Center houses most of the seminars, the wine shop, a large selection of event merchandise, other Disney related merchandise, and air-conditioning. In both cases, passports are “free.” The passport is a little book that lists the names of all the booths and the food and beverage items that are offered (without prices). A cast member at each booth will stamp your passport and you can check off which items you’ve tried, just like a real passport!! It’s a neat way to keep track and you might want to pick one up if the Food/Wine Festival is a big part of your visit. You could probably skip it if you’ll be joining me at the Sam Adams booth slamming beers. Here’s this year’s passport and an example page:
Also, I checked the portion size on the Rice Pudding from Scandinavia and it is indeed extremely small. The size of the lobster items I showed you yesterday were the exact same size as you’ll receive at the Hops and Barley booth.
Let’s start back up where we left off…with more low quality pictures of desserts:
Tres Leches Verrine (I think) ($1.50)
White Chocolate Macadamia Mousse with Dark Chocolate Pearls ($1.50)
Lemon Chiffon ($1.50)
This is the holy trinity that makes up the Dessert Trio ($3.75) from the Desserts and Champagne Booth. They are $1.50 each or you can purchase all three for $3.75 (recommended). This is another great value and a highlight of the Food/Wine Festival. The White Chocolate Macadamia Mousse was particularly good.
This is the Showcase Stage, where a number of Festival events will be taking place throughout the next six weeks. Babycakes is on at the moment.
Another culinary demonstration, this time featuring Keegan Gerhard, who plays a prominent role throughout the Festival:
Keegan always tells the exact same story, but no one seems to care.
He prepared some sort of chocolate jello thing, but completely messed it up. The jello didn’t have enough time to set (or so I gathered in between their giggling and my wine tasting), so we were left with this disgusting blob of chocolate and goopy milk. Luckily Keegan worked this back into the show, asking the audience what was wrong with it. Someone answerd, “there isn’t more of it!” Our table groaned. “More” wasn’t the right answer.
Bunny Chow time:
This is South Africa’s signature dish, Bunny Chow ($3.25). It’s a vegetable curry served in a bread loaf – a rare vegetarian dish that isn’t cheese or dessert. I enjoyed this more than my tablemate. The bread bowl was soft and chewy and soaks up the sauce from the curry. It’s a very interesting dish and one I think most vegetarians will enjoy. For you carnivores, you may recall I also recommended the Seared Filet of Beef from South Africa. In other words, this is a booth where omnivore and carnivore can coexist. More or less.
And the Shrimp on the Barbie with Pepper Berry Citrus Glaze from Australia ($5.00) and the Seared Sea Scallop with Kumara – Red Curry, Puree and Apple Radish Salad from New Zealand ($4.25).
The shrimp were good, but not particularly memorable. Not a bad value at five shrimp for five dollars, but not a compelling item overall. I feel like most of us have had this dish in one form or another elsewhere. It’s a nice safe choice, especially if you’re looking for a seafood item. The Scallop was also extremely well received, though a bit on the spendy side at $4.25 a pop. Still, excellent and highly recommended. I saw a lot of people enjoying this one out on the promenade today.
This is sort of the Jim Beam Red Stag Lemonade from the Fife and Drum Tavern in the American Adventure ($6.50). It’s supposed to be frozen, but their machine in the Festival Center wasn’t working properly. It seemed to have a hint of Red Stag with a lot of lemonade filler, but that doesn’t really matter since it’s not indicative of what you’ll get at the Tavern. I wouldn’t expect a lot of bourbon in it though.
The Singapore Sling ($7.25) from Singapore is on the right and the Seven Tiki Mai Tai is on the left ($7.25 from Hawaii). So now we know why Hendrick’s Gin is “sponsoring” the Singapore booth. The Singapore Sling is gin, slo gin, and who knows what else. It was absolutely terrible. I hope what they’re serving at Singapore is better than this. The woman working the bar warned me that it wasn’t any good when I initially asked about it, but they wanted to make me one anyway. Yuck.
The Mai Tai was really good though. It’s a frozen drink with a very subtle rum flavor and a very strong citrus flavor. If you like the Gran Marnier Slush from France, you’ll like this. I recommend it, especially if you want a cold item to help cool off. Thank goodness it’s going to be cooler this weekend! I can’t even remember what temperatures under 70 degrees feel like.
Behind the two concoctions sits an Octoberfest beer from Sam Adams. It’s a fine beer, but nothing particularly special. They are widely available from the supermarket. I was schmoozing with the Sam Adams rep and he confided in me that the Brick Red beer that was supposedly only served in Epcot and Boston area bars was actually their Irish Red on draft. You may recall my Walkabout back on July 1st where I tried the “Brick Red” and reported back that, “Unfortunately, it didn’t strike me as being anything particularly special, but I was still happy I had the opportunity to try it.” I guess now I can be less happy that I was tricked into buying it, but happy that I wasn’t gushing about how great it was. I don’t want to be that “wine connoisseur” that can’t tell the difference between a $3 bottle and a $150 bottle.
Let’s see. There are a few items that aren’t pictured that I had the opportunity to try. The Charm Soon Soju ($5.00) from South Korea was interesting. It was described as “vodka like” and that’s exactly what it was. I’ve never had it before and was pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure I would go out of my way to purchase it, since it’s basically liquor in a cup, but if you’re interested it’s a nice choice. I also tried South Korea’s Bek Se Ju ($3.25), which translates to “100-years-old.” The rep told me it helped people who drank it live to be 100 years old. I asked him if that meant most South Koreans lived to be 100 years old and he laughed. I guess not. Like the Soju, it didn’t have a lot of flavor. It’s very similar to a Japanese sake. I also tried their Myung Jak Bokbunjajoo ($3.75), which is a raspberry wine. This was my favorite of the bunch.
I also had the opportunity to try all three Moet champagnes from the Dessert and Champagne booth – the Imperial ($10.75), Rose Imperial ($12.00), and Ice Imperial ($12.75). If you’re dropping $12 on a small flute of champagne, you probably know what you’re doing, so I won’t comment. They are all fine, extremely popular champagnes.
Also not pictured is the immense cheese setup. I was too full to press the camera button by this point. They had a huge cheese showcase in a very odd position. I was walking around constantly and didn’t notice it until the very end of the night.
The evening concluded with a special four-song performance by Taylor Dayne, who is appearing for the Eat to the Beat concert series this weekend. You may not recognize the name, but I guarantee you’d recognize “Tell It To My Heart.”
It was sort of an awkward performance. She is up there by herself singing to a pre-recorded track with a bunch of old people seated a few feet in front of her doing absolutely nothing but sitting with blank stares. All you can really do is walk back and forth, sing, and grind a little bit. Nothing wrong with that. She sang three songs that no one had ever heard before and then her #1 hit, which almost woke the crowd up. It wasn’t a bad way to end the evening. Should you not care about the concert, the chefs continued to prepare food and drinks for anyone that wanted more.
Was It Worth It?
It doesn’t really matter since there isn’t another one until next year. On one hand, at about $165 a ticket, it’s a very expensive event. On the other hand, you have unlimited access to a wealth of food and alcohol, including some very expensive items. Just the three champagnes would have rung up at $40. $14 for the two lobster dishes. $25 for the Mai Tai, Singapore Sling, and Jim Beam Lemonade. Easily another $40 in wine. $10 in beer. $100 in food samples. A moment with Taylor Dayne. A handshake and picture with Vern Yip. Several seminars. Very short lines and air-conditioning for everything. Plenty of seating. A relaxed atmosphere. It also came with a “swag bag” that included a Festival wine glass, a 16.9 ounce bottle of Radeberger Pilsner, a small bag of caramel corn, six chocolate GuyLian Belgian Chocolates, an 8.8oz container of merci chocolates, and some Twining’s Tea. A nice way to end the evening, as if Taylor wasn’t enough. It was definitely a good night. If you’re in town next year on the Eve of the Food and Wine Festival, you’ll definitely want to take a hard look at the First Bites event. Plus, we can hang out.