We continue on from Mac & Cheese.
France returns out in front of the Pavilion on the right side.
That’s it in red.
It’s possible that there is basically nobody working high up in food and beverage in France at the moment with Chefs de France and Monsieur Paul closed. The head chef of the Pavilion, who had been there for 35+ years, retired just a few weeks ago, joking that the restaurants may never reopen. Disney was quick to correct his French sense of humor, promising that the restaurants would reopen when it was safe to do so. I mention this in part because the Pavilion’s Food and Wine menu is virtually identical to the Flower and Garden menu. I guess whatever you purchased in February and were planning on defrosting in April or May can just as easily be defrosted in August or September.
Tarte aux Oignons Caramélisés et Chèvre: Goat Cheese Tart with Caramelized Onions on a flaky Pastry Crust – $5.50
It may not be evident from the picture, but the serving is on the small side. It’s probably just about four inches by three inches, if that. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in butter, though. The crust is nice and flaky, but became kind of limp under the weight of the butter and cheese after sitting in the warmer for so long. There is an incredible amount of flavor here, but the bread is soaked in so much butter that we found the whole thing too rich to eat more than a small bite or two. Be aware of that if you’re considering it and hope for a fresher slice. I think a lot of us will miss the escargots this year, but there’s still time for a menu refresh.
Canard Confit à l’Orange: Braised Duck Confit à l’Orange with Mashed Sweet Potatoes – $6.25
It’s been a while since I’ve recommended a Festival duck dish. Last year’s version was served on polenta cakes that I’m guessing were rolled like bowling balls from the Italy Pavilion and then kept out in the sun until they were served during a Festival that spans what may be six months. This year, the Mashed Sweet Potatoes provide a slightly sweet, creamy base for a significant amount of rich, tender duck meat covered in an aromatic sweet-and-sour orange sauce with a hint of Grand Marnier and ginger.
My favorite part of Duck a l’Orange is the crispy, crackling skin, and you won’t come away with any of that here, but the unadvertised Parmesan crisp adds a little crunch if you want it. It doesn’t really go with the dish, but I’m not one to turn my nose up at unexpected cheese crackers. Altogether, it’s a great value considering the sheer amount of duck that’s included. It’s worth noting that France doesn’t prepare much of anything inside of their Marketplace, and instead wheels the food over from backstage kitchens. Freshness can come into play, but hopefully you’ll have the same luck that we did. I was thoroughly impressed after rating last year’s a two out of ten. That might have even been generous.
Tarte Tropézienne, Coulis Framboise: Brioche Cake filled with Light Pastry Cream and served with Raspberry Coulis – $3
I’m having trouble thinking back to a Festival item that came in at three dollars or less. We order one of everything, so cost isn’t something that I really consider until I go back over and compare the price to the quality and portion size. Don’t tell Disney, but we would have bought one of these whether it was 50 cents or thirty-five dollars. Luckily, you probably enjoy more freedom in your choices.
Anyway, the Tarte Tropézienne was named by Brigitte Bardot of all people, and consists of two pieces of soft, butter-rich bread, topped with a considerable amount of crunchy pearl sugar, and with a thin layer of sweet whipped vanilla pastry cream inside, creating a kind of dessert sandwich. The raspberry sauce adds a fresh, fruity element if you’d like to take it in that direction, but the Trop is delicious on its own. For three bucks, you can’t do any better. Somebody’s finger might have slipped when they were typing up the menu. We’ll go with it.
Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 – $4.75 or $8.75
The 1664 is a decent witbier, crisp and light with citrus notes that are marred (in my opinion) by too much coriander. It’s available at the Pavilion all-year, which doesn’t make for a particularly compelling buy. At least it’s on draft at the booth.
VeRy Raspberry: Rosé Wine with Natural Raspberry Flavor – $5.75
A bottle of this will run you nine bucks at the store, making the $5.75 ask for two ounces a poor investment. According to the winery, the flavors are “subtle,” but this tasted like a sugar bomb to me, with none of the effervescence that you’d probably like to see from a rosé wine. It’s an easy skip from me, but there will probably be someone in your group that really likes very sweet, very fruity pink wines. If the glass was full I might recommend it slightly higher, but this is a lousy pour of a cheap wine.
Bordeaux, Merlot and Cabernet Blend, Château Tarin – $6
This dark red wine enjoys an elegant flavor dominated by black cherry, plum, and cassis with a firm tannin structure. I’d be far more likely to put a $10 bottle on the dinner table than pick up a small plastic cup for $6 here. It would pair better with beef than duck.
La Vie en Rose Frozen Slushy: Vodka, Grey Goose l’Orange, St. Germain Liqueur, White and Red Cranberry Juice – $11.75
This is one of my favorite returning frozen cocktails and it’s far more glamorous to carry around one of these martini glasses than one of the many thimble-sized plastic cups in which the majority of the drinks are served. It’s not too sweet and the vodka flavor is present, but almost completely masked by the juices and liqueurs. The portion is larger and the price is lower than most of the cocktails served by the Disney-operated Marketplaces. The first day of the Festival is usually reserved for new items, but we make an exception for these, as they’re that refreshing and that tasty.
The Duck, Brioche Cake, and La Vie en Rose are my picks here.