I keep getting hounded for a picture of the “souvenir beer mug,” so here it is right off the bat!!!
It’s plastic, about as tall as a bottle of beer (too tall to fit on the top shelf of most dishwashers), and has a small Food & Wine Festival logo near the top. You’ll be familiar with it if you have the “souvenir mug” from Germany, the UK, and other Pavilions because it’s the same. Generally speaking, beer is cheaper by the ounce if you purchase the 12-ounce cup as opposed to the 22-ounce souvenir mug. For example, at the “Craft Beers” booth, most of the beers are $2.75 for 6 ounces, $5.00 for 12 ounces, or $11.50 for the 22-ounce with souvenir mug. That works out to 45.8 cents per ounce for the 6-ounce, 41.7 cents per ounce for the 12-ounce, or 52.3 cents per ounce for the 22-ounce with souvenir mug. If you opted for the “beer flight” with three 6-ounce cups for $8.00, the cost comes out to 44 centers per ounce. Simple division, you would think you’re on the wrong website, wouldn’t you? Purchased on its own, the souvenir mug is $5.00. At the Brewmasters Collection, the flights are the better deal.
It’s just before 1pm, which means the line for Spaceship Earth has mostly evaporated.
The Festival Tips from the new Mini-Board that also displays wait times in size-six font.
More people around in Future World than we’ve seen. Epcot is hosting evening Extra Magic Hours this evening. It’s generally a late arriving crowd because most of them will try to stay until around 11pm, even if they end up bowing out early.
Wait times at 12:50pm.
Not too bad. If you’ve been following the wait times on the various days this week, you’ll want to note that the wait time for the Character Spot is one of the longest of any character meet and greet location. The good news is that the wait area is air-conditioned and you’ll have an opportunity to meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Pluto (and possibly Goofy and/or Chip ‘n’ Dale in place of or in addition to those) one after the other with only the initial wait. If you are interested in the Character Spot, you’ll want to get over there as early in the morning as possible. If you have kids that aren’t tall enough or don’t plan to ride Soarin’, Test Track, Mission: Space, or Sum of All Thrills then you’ll want to take the kids over to Character Spot while the rest of the group rides some or all of those attractions. If you’re not planning to do Soarin’ or Test Track, you’ll want to head to Character Spot first thing at 9am. Waits are generally 30+ minutes all day from 10am onward.
Popping into Mouse Gear quickly:
These Jack Skellington Bobbleheads are cute I thought – they run $12.95 though and are pretty short.
A Jack Skellington glass and coffee mug. Surprisingly, the cup below is plastic, not glass – $5.95. The coffee mug on top is huge and runs $11.95.
I have Snow-White size hands though. But it’s still big.
Not dishwasher or microwave safe. Sort of a deal-breaker.
These miniature mugs and saucers are much more civilized.
And microwave/dishwasher safe.
The cranberry bog. Yum, right? I can’t believe that people actually stretch out over the barricade, pluck cranberries off the vines surrounding the bog, and eat them. LOL!!!
Headed toward Canada and the Greece booth.
Here’s the menu:
The Griddled Greek Cheese $3.25):
Oh man, add this one to the top of what I’m sure is your ever-expanding list. Grilled cheese, pistachios, and honey. It’s a little hard to cut with a fork, but well worth the extra exertion. A little chewy, a little crunchy, and a little sweet. AMAZING.
The Chicken Souvlaki ($4.25)
This was a little more mundane. It was “good,” but nothing particularly out of the ordinary and not a huge portion – four bites. The chicken was dry, but probably isn’t always dry. The tzatziki didn’t have as much of a pronounced flavor as I was expecting and didn’t necessarily compliment the flavors from the chicken like you might expect. Not a must have, in my opinion.
Continuing through Canada to the United Kingdom.
Looking back at Canada. Still not too bad at 1:15pm. By the time we get out of Tutto Italia at 4pm, it should be much more crowded. The evening Extra Magic Hours crowd arrives a little later.
Morocco – look at the left side of the picture for the line to meet Jasmine and Aladdin. We’ll take a better look next.
Oh man, this is one long line with 50+ people in it. The line to meet Jasmine and Aladdin is usually much shorter in Magic Kingdom at the Agrabah Market behind Aladdin’s Magical Carpets in Adventureland.
Over to Japan.
A small crowd formed to enjoy the Taiko Drummers. They perform at the base of the Pagoda throughout the day and are definitely worth seeing, especially if you’re planning to spend more time than usual to enjoy the Food and Wine Festival.
Over to Italy. Not too crowded over here, either.
The Italy booth menu:
I’ve been intrigued by the Primavera Smoothie since I saw it on the menu, so I ordered it in front of our Food/Wine pairings at Tutto Italia.
But first, a picture of the Ravioli and Cannoili waiting to be served.
And wine samples. My guess is that they both taste like wine, but I’m not the best judge.
I had no idea what to expect from this thing. It’s very poorly named because it’s basically a delicious non-alcoholic-frozen-daiquiri-style-strawberry-smoothie. This would be a great non-alcoholic option for kids or a nice choice if you’re just looking for something cold and refreshing. It’s a large portion size for the cost too. Very good.
It’s time for the Italy Food and Wine Pairings at Tutto Italia in the Italy Pavilion. This takes place every Wednesday and Saturday during the Festival from 2pm – 4pm. Considering much of the menu isn’t normally served and this event is basically sold out for the duration of the Festival, this short review is basically irrelevant. But I will push forward anyway.
Tutto Italia is a large, open, pretty, noisy restaurant. It will actually be closing for refurbishment from January 1st to April 8th 2012, so we’ll see what it looks like when it reopens.
Whenever you arrive at a table with so many wine glasses that there’s no room for the food, you know you chose right. Or should I say, I chose right.
The menu – only the tiramisu dessert is on the usual menu.
The Food and Wine Pairing took place in a “private room” away from the main restaurant. The vice-president of The Patina Group (overlords of the Italy Pavilion and owners of Via Napoli as well) is addressing us and his wine-person is standing behind him.
This is Guilia, the 20-year-old wine talker and a total babe in her spare time. The rest of the Tutto Italia (and Via Napoli) staff is just as beautiful. They can’t help but be charming. Unfortunately(?) we only saw her before the first course was served. There was no discussion about any future wines or food. Considering this was billed as “A wine expert joins a manager from Tutto Italia Ristorante to discuss 4 Italian food courses, each paired with a different wine,” the lack of any actual discussion was disappointing. Other than a two minute introduction, it was as if this was any other lunch or dinner.
A nice basket of bread and olive oil welcomed us.
I should take a moment to mention I had amazing company for this meal. It’s always more fun to dine with friends and I joined Darcie, Deb, George, and Tim from the easyWDW forums for this meal and a number of events over the last few days. George actually switched appetizers with me because there was a speck of sauce at the top of the plate that would have made the picture less appealing. Unfortunately, the first picture of this thing was the most appetizing and luckily, I’m a Microsoft Paint editing professional. This is baked zucchini and a huge gob of cheese. Hard to go wrong with that.
The Lobster Ravioli:
Sorry half-eaten-food fans, but I just cut this ravioli in half to show you what’s inside. Lobster seems to be all the rage of the Food & Wine Festival this year, but this was done tastefully. This was a tender, creamy ravioli with a sauce that brought out the flavor of the key ingredients. I would recommend it highly, except neither of us is ever going to have the opportunity to order it again (since it’s not on the menu, maybe someday).
The Red Wine Braised Short Rib with Mashed Potatoes. I’m not usually a short rib fan because they seem to be increasingly cliche and almost always slimy, but this was fork-tender and extremely well done. I would recommend it highly, but neither of us is ever going to be able to order it again. Maybe after the refurbishment.
Here’s proof that A.) Having eight glasses of wine during lunch makes you think that “Ralph” looks like “Prada” and B.) A huge dessert arrives and you think that you won’t be able to finish it. Tutto Italia’s Mocha Tiramisu is huge, but at the same time surprisingly light and fluffy. I would highly recommend it, but….actually it’s on the regular menu. If you have room after that $30 plate of spaghetti, I recommend it.
Overall, this was an incredibly pleasant meal, but the wine/food pairing was lost. We never heard a word about what wine or food was being served after the initial introduction at the beginning of the meal. While I personally didn’t care, I have to imagine other people did. We were lucky enough to have the sommelier sit at our table and describe the various wines, but the other tables didn’t enjoy that perk. As lovely as she was, I’m not sure how much creed you can give a 20-year-old in charge of wine pairings. But we all had a great time nonetheless (other tables included). At $65, this wasn’t a bad value in the least, considering we were served four glasses of wine that were refilled at least once, for a total of seven or eight glasses. On top of that, the four courses were excellent and paired well with the wines, even if we weren’t told about the choices. Since the Italy Wine Pairings are sold out this year, I can only recommend it for next year.
Out of Tutto Italia around 4pm, looking back at Morocco. A little busier.
Over to France.
The $6.00 Mimosa Royale from the Morocco Booth at the Food & Wine Festival. Fine, but nothing special. Skip it unless you’re looking for a mimosa.
The Parisian Cosmo Slush ($8.50) and Creme Brulee au Chocolat au Lait ($3.95) from the France booth:
The Cosmo Slush was tart, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – just don’t expect the frozen blended Gran Marnier Slush. I’m not saying don’t get one, but it didn’t seem to present a tremendous value. It was cold and didn’t taste like vodka, both of which may be positives. I only have a heresy review of the Creme Brulee, but was advised that it was good with a subtle chocolate flavor. I can’t imagine it was bad, but also can’t imagine it was particularly artisan.
A look at United Kingdom crowds:
Zoomed out and then in. Crowded, but not as bad as this past Sunday.
Off-Kilter looking good.
Looking toward the base of World Showcase around 5:30pm.
Over to Mexico.
And back at Canada.
Wait times at 5:40pm:
Longer waits than we’d like to see. With evening Extra Magic Hours, these wait times will continue to be long through 12am.