We continue from The Donut Box.
The Chestnuts and Good Cheer Holiday Kitchen takes over for what I generally refer to as Corn Smoke Cough Alley. For whatever reason, Disney has decided that putting giant smokers along the water with no barriers to shield guests walking along the promenade is healthy, so long as the kiosk is sponsored by the vegetarian arms of the likes of Monsanto or DuPont, depending on chemical seasonality. It’s a good opportunity to light up and mask something like your…asthma inhaler… without anyone being the wiser, since the billowing smoke doesn’t only fill your nostrils, but is also so blinding that you might do something silly while trying to navigate the Disney app like book Morimoto Asia for dinner instead of a restaurant offering edible food like Wine Bar George or Golden Corral.
You may have to take my word for it that there has been a smaller, much more inconspicuous dry seed station here in the past, but I’ve already searched through my website for “nuts,” “glazed,” and “salty,” among other things, trying to find a picture of it, and I’m not sure how much further I want to press my luck by adding more specific search terms to the equation. Just imagine a machine that looks like it’s spitting out popcorn, only it’s rotating nuts instead.
But if there’s anything Disney hates doing more than opening new attractions, it’s taking down Festival booths at Epcot, so Flower and Garden’s Trowel and Trellis turns into Food and Wine’s Swanky Swine Something or Other and will then probably become Pop Eats for the Festival of the Arts in January. But for now, it’s all about these nuts:
Growing up, I expected to see chestnuts glistening delightfully as they roasted on just about every street corner. And I fully expected that most of them would be thrown in the general direction of my head.
I’m not sure if this is because I was only allowed to watch television during the holidays, since that’s when the networks broadcasted wholesome movies that weren’t about jumping off bridges to your death (It’s A Wonderful Life), kidnapping (Home Alone), crippling debt (they played It’s A Wonderful Life an awful lot), child abuse (Home Alone, Home Alone 2, probably Home Alone 3, A Christmas Story, greed (Miracle on 34th Street), the train wreck that is Love Actually, etc. And then that one Hallmark Channel movie with the same plot whether it takes place in Phoenix, Vail, Aspen, New York, Modesto, or what have you at 1:30pm, 3pm, 4:30pm, 6pm, 7:30pm, and throughout the night. As it turns out, I saw a lot of open barrel fires during the winter months, but I’m not sure Chestnuts came into play too often.
- Cinnamon-Glazed Almonds, Cashews, or Pecans – $5.25
- Fire-roasted Chestnuts – $5.25
- AMERICAN HERITAGE (their caps) Hot Cocoa – $3.50 or with Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, Whipped Cream, and Candied Nuts for $11.50
- T.G. Lee Eggnog – $3.50 or with Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey for $11
- Ivanhoe Park Brewing Co. Hazel Nutty-Cracker Sweet Stout – $5 for Six Ounces or $9 for Twelve Ounces
Cinnamon-Glazed Almonds, Cashews, or Pecans – $5.25
(Your nuts will be served in the paper cones from the picture above, but this offers a little better view)
Which nut you ultimately choose may come down to personal preference. I’ve always thought the firmness of the Pecans held up a little better than the other offerings, with the earthy richness providing a solid base against the bath of thick cinnamon and sugar glaze of the never-ending, pitter-patter of the rotating machine. Sometimes there’s so much cinnamon and sugar that I’m not sure if there’s a nut to be had in there at all, not that I’m sure anybody necessarily minds. Nobody is buying glazed nuts from a cast member in the dark at a theme park expecting the subtle honey and toasted flavors of the Georgia Pecan. Or if you are, I have bad news. At least we know where all the cinnamon from The Donut Box went.
But if the curvature of the Cashew or the health benefits of the Almond, minus the 90,000 grams of sugar, are more your thing, I’m not going to stop you. It’s safe to say that I absolutely do not care which of the three nuts you go with, but keep in mind that they are available at a number of other locations around property, and I do sell them out of my van in the parking lot for $3.75. Freshness can come into play, so you may slyly ask in between puffs of your inhaler what’s particularly fly that evening.
Fire-roasted Chestnuts – $5.25
Fortunately, my childhood was marked with torment in ways that did not include being pelted with sugary nuts at every street corner. Why worry about a few nuts and a possible concussion when Salisbury Steak is waiting for you in the lunch line, anyway?
We didn’t hear anything but groans over the chestnuts. I’m sure they were prepared well. As far as burned-looking, sugary blasted orbs grown from the earth go, they look pretty good. But there’s probably a reason nature selected them to be enclosed in incredibly sharp, spiny, nearly impenetrable capsules and further encapsulated them in not one, but two husks. The trees that produce the nuts are primarily used to produce flooring and other wood accents if that provides any additional evidence of what you’re getting yourself into with a bag of these things.
While (probably) adequately prepared, none of us cared for the grainy texture or overly-starchy flavor. Typically, when something has to be covered in this much granular sugar and then roasted to near-explosion, it’s covering up something. I sprinkle a little sugar on top of my monitor every morning, but the homeowner’s association has requested that I cut down on the fire-starting.
While the Chestnuts enamored nobody in our group, anyone who does enjoy them should pick up a bag. They’re also not as prevalent as the other nuts on property. One also wonders why “Chestnuts” had to be separated from “Good Cheer” in the title of the Kitchen, other than to highlight their presence. “Bad Cheer and Good Cheer” may not have the same ring. It’s at least cut down on attendance at my own holiday parties. At this price point, they’re worth trying a bag as a group, even if one or two nuts may be plenty. Good luck.
Taste: ?/10…2/10 at best from us.
Value: 7/10…the portion is sizable and a good amount of work goes into their preparation.
AMERICAN HERITAGE (their caps) Hot Cocoa – $3.50 or with Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, Whipped Cream, and Candied Nuts for $11.50
At least it’s not instant, reconstituted Nestle-esque powder as we would have seen in the past. Instead, the Cocoa is rich and creamy with a bit of cinnamon and spice. The few Candied Nuts seem a little out of place, though Oreo Milkshakes and the like certainly exist. But I’m not sure I’ve chewed hot cocoa before outside of marshmallows. The Peanut Butter Whiskey is a nice addition, adding even more warmth if the temperatures ever drop with an additional sweet and savory nutty component. And alcohol. All of the sugar and sweetness is a bit overwhelming, so it may be best passed along to cover up the flavor of the Chestnuts or to enhance the other glazed nuts.
T.G. Lee Eggnog – $3.50 or with Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey for $11
This worked better for us than the Cocoa given the higher afternoon temperatures, and the presentation is attractive with the cinnamon sticks. You may elect to create the concoction at home. It’s basically two ingredients, and a bottle of the whiskey will run you $25, but you could say the same thing on value about just about everything else here. This is actually one of the rare times I’d prefer some ice to cool everything down, so you may want to hunt down a large cup of ice.
Ivanhoe Park Brewing Co. Hazel Nutty-Cracker Sweet Stout – $5 for Six Ounces or $9 for Twelve Ounces
Somehow Disney snuck in a 10% ABV American Stout into the game. That’s twice the alcohol content of your typical Budweiser. The Ivanhoe is deceptively smooth, rich, and easier on the sweetness than the name implies. It’s also a local brew that’s difficult to find outside of the area. Think of it as a beefier Guinness with more than twice the alcohol presence, though I’m not sure you’d notice. It’s a rare find at Epcot and one definitely worth trying if you like darker, nuttier beers. And good cheer.
Overall, there’s unlikely to be much of a line at Chestnuts and Items You May Actually Want, so there’s little downside to a stop if something sounds good. The beer is worth seeking out and you might pair it with the Peanut Butter Whiskey Eggnog….or a second beer. Or hang around for a third beer. By that time, the Chestnuts may be appetizing. But probably not.
On the plus side, the drinks are all better and less expensive than what’s coming up in Mexico.