We continue from Tuscany in Italy.
The Bavaria Holiday Kitchen returns in the usual Germany Festival spot.
The Sauerbraten and Cheese Fondue return from last year, while the Black Forest Roulade replaces last year’s Stollen and the new Peppermint Sugar Cookie rings in at a paltry two dollars. All of the beverages return from last year, including the Cider Flight, Regional Riesling, and Gluhwein.
Back at the Tuscany Holiday Kitchen, the four fresh food items rang up at a cool $42. Here, we have five items for $25.25. That’s a big reason why we come down on the Italians so hard.
Potato Dumpling with Mushroom Sauce – $4.50
The Potato Dumpling does a nice job of soaking up the rich, creamy mushroom sauce that’s full of soft, thinly-sliced mushrooms. There’s a little bit of cheese and green onion topping the Dumpling, which adds a little bit of texture to the sponge-y potato. Overall, it’s a lot less food than the Potato Knish from L’Chaim, but the mushroom sauce is quite good and the Dumpling is relatively authentic. I’m not sure it does enough to demand a purchase.
Sauerbraten, Red Cabbage and Spätzle – $6.25
This is what I wrote last year:
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.
This year, our serving was much drier, which was a shame given the fact that it looked nearly identical to what was plated last year, minus a little bit of the juiciness. I hope your experience is closer to ours last year.
Last year, I awarded it:
This year, it was:
Cheese Fondue in a bread bowl with Fresh Steamed Baby Vegetables and Marble Potatoes featuring Melissa’s Produce – $8.25
I like the fondue itself – it’s incredibly rich, creamy, and complex 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 slimy zucchini stick is gross and you’re otherwise left with exactly three little potatoes.
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.
Black Forest Roulade with Cherry Whipped Cream – $4.25
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get your Yule Log on at this year’s Festival of the Holidays with the Maple version we saw at Yukon topping the list, in my estimation. The version here is quite good too – the cake is light and full of milk chocolate flavor with richer dark chocolate shavings on top that add a little bit of a crunch against the spongy cake.
The light, airy whipped cream on the side carries a festive dark cherry flavor that helps cut the rich flavor of the chocolate. I was a little concerned that we would be in that gel-like, medicinal territory that typically accompanies the cherry portion of these sorts of things, but we luckily were not. This doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a large portion that won’t sit heavy in your stomach. Very good.
Peppermint Sugar Cookie – $2
This is another of the five $2 cookies that make up the Cookie Stroll. It tastes just about like it sounds – a basic sugar cookie with some bits of candy cane topped with frosting and thematically-appropriate sprinkles. It’s just fine if you’d like to add one to your order, but it’s far from life-changing.
Cider Flight $9/50 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 – $8.75
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.
Overall, Bavaria is worth a stop. I’m not sure that anything will be your absolute favorite of the Festival, though the Cheese Fondue is very good. But there are several good selections, most of which won’t break the bank.