We continue from Refreshment Port.
The Masterpiece Kitchen returns inside Canada’s log cabin for this year’s Festival of the Arts.
The Smoked Salmon Tartare and Triple Chocolate Mousse have been replaced by the Panna Cotta, while the Chardonnay has been switched out in favor of the Weihenstephaner Original Lager.
Wild Mushroom Risotto, Aged Parmesan, Truffle Shavings and Zinfandel Reduction — $9.25
You know that feeling when you first take a bite of something and instinctively your eyes start bulging out of your head as you wave your fork and point down at the dish with a big smile? The dish is out-of-this-world good. The risotto is cooked to a perfect al dente and the creaminess of the rice and broth will warm even the coldest of hearts. It’s a really nice shaved parmesan on top though the truffle shavings probably add more to the price of the dish than the flavor profile. Unfortunately, the price has risen at the same time that the portion has shrunk.
It also used to be served in a classier, clear cup, rather than the garish black plastic receptacle. But even if the Risotto was placed directly on top of the trash can, it would still be delicious.
Charcuterie Palette with Artisan Cured Meats and Cheeses featuring Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Beef — $14
During the first Festival of the Arts, nearly everything was prepared inside of the Food Studio. These days, things are a little more streamlined, but you can still watch cast members piece together most dishes, more or less from scratch. In the case of the Charcuterie Palette, about half of what you see is cut and plated inside the Studio, while the other half of the prep work takes place backstage. Considering waits for a Palette were 15+ minutes back on the first day of the Festival and closer to three minutes on the first day of the third Festival, I think it’s a fair compromise.
I was impressed by the quality and flavor of nearly everything presented. It’s not life-altering and standing next to a garbage can while plunking pâté into your mouth while standing up outside might not be the best atmosphere to enjoy the nuances of fine cheese, but it’s a fun tray of flavors to mix and match. I’d put the quality above your average Disney table service restaurant and somewhere slightly below a nice signature restaurant charcuterie plate.
Vanilla, Rose Water and Pistachio Panna Cotta — $8
This replaces what may be my favorite dessert from any Epcot Festival over the last ten years in the Triple Chocolate Mousse. It actually crossed my mind that I should just draw a big nasty blob in Microsoft Paint, add a red arrow in Adobe Photoshop CC, and type “Never Order This” in Autodesk 3ds Max in an attempt to immediately sink it and force Disney to bring back my beloved Mousse.
But I’ve been doing that with Horizons for 25 years with little luck, so I thought I might as well give it a shot. And I’m “pleased to report” that the replacement is very good in its own right, light and refreshing with a pleasant fruity vanilla flavor and that perfect panna cotta texture that’s soft and creamy without being thin and mushy. We also enjoy a lot of attention to detail with the colorful, curved piece of chocolate on top protecting the edible flower. Then there’s a green pistachio moat around the Panna Cotta. The Rose Water serves largely to bring out and enhance the flavors of the berries and vanilla, creating a naturally sweet dessert that tastes great, particularly in warmer temperatures.
I’ll always appreciate the decadence of my Chocolate Mousse, but there’s something to say for the lighter Panna Cotta. The portion isn’t overwhelming for the money, but I think the elegant presentation helps balance that out. It’s certainly easy to share as it comes cut in half already.
Weihenstephaner Original Lager — $4.50
Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque Brut Champagne – $29
During the inaugural Festival of the Arts all of three years ago, Disney was serving glasses of this $160/bottle champagne for just $12. The next year, the price went up nearly 150% to $29 – a level where it’s stayed for a second consecutive year. I like the traditional champagne a lot and it’s easily the best wine served at the Festival with a crisp acidity backed up by a nice mineral presence. But you’re paying for that presence.
Classic Sidecar with a Chocolate Twist – $9.25
Unfortunately, these cocktails aren’t prepared and shaken individually by a bartender inside the Studio as they were during year one, but the blend of Courvoisier/Cointreau/Lemon Juice is still a good one. The White Chocolate Twist also remains a fun one and a price considerably lower than just about any other cocktail at Epcot, I think this continues to present some value.
The Meeker Vineyard Winemakers’ Handprint Merlot – $10
The novelty of the Meeker wine is entirely in the painting of the bottle that you will probably only see a small glimpse of, but if you are in the market for a red wine to enjoy with your charcuterie, risotto, or other item, then this would certainly do the job and it’s a better value than the majority of the wines that are usually offered at Epcot by the glass.
Overall, The Masterpiece Kitchen lives up to its name with several of our favorites being found here. You will spend a bit more for the opportunity, but I think it’s worth it. I really want another of those risottos.