We continue from El Artista Hambriento in Mexico.
Pop Eats is the last Food Studio that you’ll run into if you start with the Canada side of World Showcase. It’s also the first Food Studio that you’ll happen upon if you start on the Mexico side.
The only all-new item is the Tomato Soup Can Bloody Mary. The Sous Vide Chicken Roulade arrives with the same name, but we’ll see a different presentation this year.
Sous Vide Chicken Roulade with Apples and Sage served with Warm Brie Fondue, Blueberry and Beet Gel, and garnished with Beet Chip Crumbles – $6.75
Here’s what they served last year under the same name. I said, “A lot goes into this Roulade – just plating the thing consists of what must be 15 steps per individual plate, almost all of which are executed inside the booth.”
Here’s this year’s, where they potentially go a little wilder with the accompanying sauces.
Thanks to the sous vide method, the Chicken is incredibly flavorful and retains a lot of its natural juice. The sweetness of the Apples contrasts really nicely with the herbs for one of the more complex flavor profiles that we’ve seen so far, at least when it combines with the Brie Fondue that’s hiding underneath. The Blueberry and Beet Gel brings a surprising eruption of fruit, though I think I preferred the fluffy little mounds of the original offering. The Beet Chips add a sweet earthy crunch to the chicken, which wasn’t necessarily there before, and helps bring everything together. It’s not an overwhelming amount of food for the money, but I would love to see a larger portion served at a table service restaurant. It’s that good.
Shrimp Ceviche with Lime Mint Foam – $6
I appreciated the burst of color, which also carried over to the flavor profile, with the snappy marinated shrimp combining nicely with what ended up being a spicier-than-I-was-expecting dish. The foam on top, which is perhaps a little passé at this point, didn’t seem to add much to the texture or flavor of the shrimp, but what was likely supposed to be a touch of citrus may have been overwhelmed by the peppers. This was another winner that is easily shared – you’ll get your money’s worth given the eight shrimp loaded into the cup.
Almond Frangipane Cake layered with Raspberry Jam and Belgian Chocolate – $4.50
This is probably a dish that you recognize if you’ve caught any of Disney’s marketing for Festival of the Arts over the last couple of years. Reminiscent of Piet Mondrian’s work as early as 1919, the cake is rich and velvety in between the sweet raspberry jam and decadent chocolate ganache icing. “Literally” everyone that I’ve encountered raves about this thing. It’s not a personal favorite with the strong flavor of almond and the dense texture, but it’s still worth trying one of the least expensive items at the Festival. You might share the first slice.
Pop’t Art: Modern-design Sugar Cookie with Strawberry Filling – $4.50
This is more of a sugar cookie situation than your typical “Pop Tart” toaster strudel. It’s also incredibly sweet given the thin layer of cookie and all of the icing on top. This year’s artificial-tasting strawberry jam ratchets things up even further. There are far more complex desserts at the Festival, but this is a good choice if you’re after the sweetest thing possible at a price point under five dollars.
Blue Sky Black Cherry Boba Freeze – $4.25
I think we should all agree that we’re not going to order any frozen beverages if the Violet Lemonade isn’t found on a Festival menu somewhere. This is an inadequate substitution with a very light, very distant, very artificial-tasting black cherry flavor and not much else. I suppose it would be refreshing if there was more of it, but at this price point, you’re basically paying for water and air. Not recommended.
#RainbowSherbertGlitterDreamAle by Playalinda Brewing Co.– $4.50
This should be free to anyone willing to say the name of it out loud. I ordered it using its proper name and after repeating myself a second time, the cast member said, “Oh, THE BEER?” I said, “Yes, the hash tag rain bow sher bert glit er dream ale by play uh linda brew ing company.”
There is quite a bit of glitter involved here, which I’m guessing is just about as good for the environment as our collective digestive system. Otherwise, it’s a very thin, very watery beer with a slight fruit presence and a lingering, tart aftertaste. I honestly have no idea if drinking it is going to kill me or if a couple fabulous trips to the bathroom are in my future. Either way, the glitter is the gimmick and I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. You might consult your doctor before proceeding.
Popping Bubbles Cocktail – $10.50
Yet again, there’s no information on the menu about what this is, which seems a little strange considering it could probably be just about anything. What you’ll receive is a strong pour of Iron Horse’s Fairy Tale Celebration Cuvée, which runs about $40 and is typically exclusive to the Walt Disney World Resort. The popping bubbles are reminiscent of boba or tapioca pearls, but are actually little balls of cranberry juice that have undergone “spherification,” which is a process that I won’t bore you with unless you really want to get into powdered sodium alginate. But while the bubbles are fun and the sparkly tastes good, it’s awkward to combine the two. Sparkling wine sipped through a straw “just feels wrong,” and the sweet and sour flavor of all the popping cranberry balls overwhelms the subtle complexity of the wine.
Tomato Soup Can Bloody Mary – $14
While we didn’t see a $16 Festival Bloody Mary offered at Refreshment Port with a bevy of ridiculous toppings, we do see this plastic souvenir “can” filled with a Bloody Mary for $14 instead. The drink was actually really good, and tasted like all of the ingredients had been freshly prepared, instead of consisting of some cheap mix shaken with some cheap vodka. Pop Eats had been closed almost the entire first day of the Festival, but eventually opened around 5pm. I’m not sure if the high quality will be sustained throughout the Festival, but what we were served was more than proficient. The drink also “feels” like a good value, since it’s less expensive than either of the margaritas in Mexico, and you can take the cup home.
Overall, this is a smart, convenient stop for most people with some solid food and drink choices.