The Tuscany Holiday Kitchen across from the Italy Pavilion on the Germany side is all-new for the 2017 Festival of the Holidays.
Which is not good news for my bank account.
Fusilli di Gragnano alla Carbonara: Fusilli Pasta in a Creamy Parmesan Sauce with Pancetta and Onions – $7
Gragnano is to pasta as Champagne is to bubbly wine, at least as far as Protected Geographical Indications in the European Union are concerned. And around the hills of Campania, they take their pasta very seriously with buildings that are only allowed to be erected so high as to not block the cool breeze coming in from the Mediterranean. Here at the Tuscany booth, that translates to pasta that is very thick and perhaps a touch under-cooked, even for those that prefer a classic al dente preparation. Before re-reading the description, I thought this was more of a gnocchi situation. That’s not necessarily the worst thing and the sauce was adequately cheesy with just enough coverage to allow the subtle flavors of the pasta to show through. The bacon added a meaty, salty quality to the flavor profile, though I’m not sure what role the onions played. It’s not a tremendous amount of food for the money, but it was above average for Italy. Granted, that’s not saying much.
Cotechino con Lenticchie: Fresh Italian Salami sliced with Lentils – $7
I have a feeling that this may be a little too “authentic” for your average Epcot Festival goer as it’s not a particularly appetizing dish at first blush. And it was among the most divisive dishes that the website has experienced over the last few years. I thought it tasted okay – the lentils retained some character with garlic and thyme keeping things interesting and the sausage was creamy and delicate with a little bit of spice. Corless, who is “Italian,” thought it was among the grossest things he’s eaten in the last ten years. Old Bill thought it was only sort of gross. Three people refused to try any. At best, it’s probably a rip off at seven bucks.
Taste: 5/10 at best
Value: 3/10 at best
Crespelle di Mele: Cinnamon Apple Fritters and a Vanilla Sauce Drizzled with Chocolate Caramel Sauce – $7
These were quite good too – the batter on the crisp apples is lighter than it probably looks in the picture, but the vanilla sauce was too thin and had trouble adhering to the fritters. There was a disappointing amount of chocolate or caramel presence. Seven bucks is also more than I’m willing to pay for this unless you put American Wagyu in the description.
Panettone alla Milanese: Warm Italian Fruit Cake with Vanilla Sauce and Cherry Syrup – $8
This Panettone is as close to a slam dunk as Italy will likely ever get.
I have no idea how authentic this is, but I thought the cake was mostly fluffy with a light crispiness and a real acute sugary sweetness with some fruit mixed right into the batter. The cinnamon and powdered sugar created a virtually irresistible flavor profile when paired with the same vanilla sauce that I panned in the last review. But I thought its delicate character worked better with this dish because each bite of cake was so much lighter in the mouth. It may or may not be a stretch at eight bucks, but we all agreed it was terrific.
Panettone Mignon: Miniature traditional Italian Christmas Fruit Cake – $7
I turned my nose up at this version of the Panettone Mignon after seeing it was served out of a box, but it looks like the retail price is around $5 and perhaps they’re hard to find in stores. But also perhaps not.
Corbinello – Sweet Sparkling Wine: $9
Proof, perhaps, that I’m losing my touch, a glass of wine was still purchased despite my insistence otherwise. But I emerged victorious again as nobody was interested in another sip of this $9 cup of sweet red toilet water. Friends don’t let friends order wine from the Italy Festival Booth.
And don’t get the Moretti.
Overall, the Panettone is a winner and you might consider the pasta if you’ve got seven dollars or a snack credit burning a hole in your A.C. Milan jersey.