The Bavaria Holiday Kitchen arrives in the usual Germany Festival spot.
One thing that we haven’t discussed much is portion-size and pricing compared to the Festival Formerly Known as Holidays Around the World from as recently as 2k16.
Last year, perhaps as a means to differentiate the Holiday Kitchens from those found at the Food and Wine Festival, or perhaps as a means of increasing quick service capacity around Christmas, Disney tried to offer full-size portions of the Holiday food at the kitchen kiosks at full-size quick service prices. This proved unpopular for a number of reasons. Principally, a lot of people familiar with the various Festivals are also familiar with the typical pricing of each item, which is in the vicinity of $4-$7.
With last year’s Holiday Festival, Disney introduced much-higher pricing and much-larger portions. Above is the menu from the Seasonal Southern Kitchen that showed up in 2016 with food and beer prices higher than anything that we’d seen at any of Disney’s Festivals for the last couple of years.
Portions were also much larger, which made it difficult for most people to sample a lot of different items, which is part of the allure of the Festivals. People like to nibble on a little of this and a little of that in each Pavilion without feeling like they’re being weighed down with a 3-pound serving of marinated beef.
I bring this up because some of this year’s items have the same description as last year, but typically cost half as much. I’ll note when that’s true in the review of each individual item, like it is with the sauerbraten above.
Here’s the rest of this year’s spread.
German Artisan Cheese Plate: German ButterKase with Ham, Mushroom Brie with Pretzel Crostini and Tillamook Cheddar – $5.25
This small cheese plate is available all year from the Weinkeller inside the Pavilion, but we picked up the Holiday version anyway.
Here’s last year’s.
And the one I picked up a couple of months ago as part of the Epcot Wine Walk review.
The cheese plate has been uninspiring for years. On top of that, the version that we were served for the Holidays looks to also see a reduction in the serving size along with the usual 25-cent increase in price. Tillamook is a decent cheddar, but an entire pound of it is around $7 at the store. But if you’re in the mood, this may be a fun couple of bites. The mushroom brie is better – creamy and a little more unique.
Sauerbraten, Red Cabbage, and Spätzle – $6
This was the right idea with a lot of vinegar and clove adding complexity to the marinated, juicy roast along with some sugar to sweeten things up. The dried raisins on top add a fruity element and a nice textural contrast to the stringy, tender beef. Even the spatzle, which is a type of egg noodle dumpling, was pretty good this year, doing a nice job of soaking up the juices from the beef and cutting the astringency of the sour cabbage. Food quality still depends largely on freshness, which varies much more than Food and Wine, but at $6, you’re only dedicating half as much money on the gamble as last year’s $12 version.
Cheese Fondue in a bread bowl with Fresh Steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes featuring Melissa’s Produce – $8.25
This dish moves here from last year’s Alpine Haus for 25 cents more money. I like the fondue itself – it’s incredibly rich and creamy 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 two slimy zucchini slices are gross and you’re otherwise left with exactly three little potatoes or two overcooked carrot sticks.
The smart money is picking up one of the huge, otherwise-inedible pretzels from one of the normal quick service eateries and dunking it into the fondue. Once you clean most of the bread bowl out, you can enjoy those pieces with the fondue having ample time to soak into the bottom parts of the bread. Shared four ways, you’ve got a very filling, very tasty snack on your hand for about $4.50 each.
Otherwise, on its own, the fondue bowl is pretty good, but you’re going to be slurping up at least half of it with a Mickey Straw. And that could take two to three weeks. The fondue otherwise spills into the tray as the bread is cut.
Stollen – Holiday Fruit Cake – $4.25
We enjoyed this fruity bread cake that was heavy on golden raisins and orange zest that’s finished with a heavy helping of crunchy icing sugar. I’m not sure that it’s unique enough to demand a purchase, but each of us thoroughly enjoyed breaking off a couple bites, which was plenty for each person given the stollen’s denseness.
Cider Flight $9 with Possmann Pure Hard Apple Cider, Possmann Pure Hard Black Currant Apple Cider, and Schofferhofer Pomegranate.
It might have been all of the sweets we had been consuming, but I enjoyed the Possmann Ciders for their relative lack of sugary exuberance and what at least at the time tasted like a natural apple flavor. The Black Currant version balanced the rich, sweet flavor from the apple with a little tartness from the currant particularly well. The Holiday Kitchen was serving Schofferhofer’s Pomegranate variety instead of the typical Grapefruit, which I appreciated since the Grapefruit is available in much larger servings all year. Very refreshing. Overall, cider tastes best around the holidays and this is a good opportunity to try three different varieties on draft.
Glühwein: House-made Hot Spiced Wine – $8.50
I enjoyed this German mulled wine as well, 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 has served here for years. Very good.