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 returns after a brief one-year hiatus. While the Panna Cotta arrives with the same cost and description, what we’ll receive is a major departure from last year. Note that unlike virtually every other food item offered at the Festival of the Arts, none of these dishes are redeemable for a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
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? This is that dish. 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. The price point is rough considering the relatively small portion size, but at least the cost hasn’t gone up since last year.
Smoked Salmon and Cream Gâteau with Egg Yolk Cream, Paddlefish Caviar, and Micro-herbs – $7
We saw a similar dish offered back when The Masterpiece Kitchen debuted.
Back then, it was “Smoked Salmon Tartare, Caviar, Crisp Lavash, and Traditional Accompaniments” at a cost of $12.
This year’s version is quite a bit different with about a half dozen thin layers of smoked salmon in between a similar number of layers of cream cheese and herbs. Opinions on this were mixed. I actually liked the smokey salmon mixed with all of the dill and topped with a pinch of caviar. The fish eggs may have proven too salty and too fishy when combined with what is inevitably going to be a little bit of a mushy salmon situation. If you like salty Smoked Salmon and don’t mind some of the fishiness that comes with it, then you’ll like this dish. If you’re adverse, then this Festival of the Arts version is probably not going to tip the scales. For seven dollars, I thought the price was more than fair given the quality and the portion. It’s not a sure thing, though.
Charcuterie Palette with Artisan Cured Meats and Cheeses featuring Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Beef — $14
During the first year of the Festival of the Arts, nearly everything was prepared inside of the Food Studio to order. These days, things are a lot 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.
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
Here’s last year’s version of the Panna Cotta, which I described as:
“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.”
That brought an 8/10 on Taste and a 7/10 on Value.
Here’s this year’s, which is fashioned to look like a rose – perhaps as a reminder that the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along has taken over for Impressions de France from 11am to 7:30pm daily. Unfortunately, while this is arguably a visual upgrade, the Panna Cotta inside the chocolate shell was horrific – gummy and tasting almost exclusively of Pepto Bismol goo. If you’d like to see what’s inside, you can click here and see. But I really wouldn’t recommend it. Last year’s was such a nice dessert, and it’s a shame that this will assuredly sell better, despite tasting significantly worse. I hope you have better luck if you do spring for it.
Weihenstephaner Original Lager — $4.50
There’s our beautiful golden lager sitting next to what was once our joyous panna cotta. The Original Lager is crisp and refreshing with a mildly sweet, malty character and a little bit of lemon zest and grass on the back end. It’s a really good beer and a nice opportunity to try it on draft.
Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque Brut Champagne – $29
During the inaugural Festival of the Arts four years ago, Disney was serving glasses of this $180/bottle champagne for just $12. The next year, the price went up nearly 150% to $29 – a level where it’s stayed for a third consecutive year. I like the traditional champagne a lot, and it’s easily the best sparkling wine served at the Festival, with a crisp acidity backed up by a nice mineral presence. But you’re paying for that presence.
The Meeker Vineyard Winemakers’ Handprint Merlot – $11
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.
Classic Sidecar with a Chocolate Twist – $10
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 smart choice. The White Chocolate Twist also remains a fun one. At a price considerably lower than just about any other cocktail at Epcot, I think this continues to present some value.
Overall, The Masterpiece Kitchen lives up to its name with the Risotto, Champagne, and Beer leading the way, along with a very good Charcuterie Plate and the potential for the Salmon to wow. You will spend a bit more for the opportunity, but I think it’s worth it. I really want another one of those risottos.