The Africa Marketplace returns Lagoon-side on the walkway in between the Refreshment Outpost/China and the Germany Pavilion.
Africa shakes things up this year with three all-new food items. Tusker Lager, which is an Animal Kingdom mainstay, also makes an appearance. The three wines return from 2018.
- Kenyan Coffee Barbecue Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato and Corn Mealie Pap and Kachumbari Slaw – $5.75
- Spicy Kenyan Vegan Githeri with White Beans, Pigeon Peas, Curry Rice Pilaf, and Kachumbari Slaw – $4.50
- Piri Piri Skewered Shrimp with Citrus-scented Couscous – $6.75
- Cederberg Chenin Blanc — $6
- Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz, Western Cape – $5
Kenyan Coffee Barbecue Beef Tenderloin with Sweet Potato and Corn Mealie Pap and Kachumbari Slaw – $5.75
The Kenyan Coffee presence is prominent here, with a surprisingly fragrant, sweet aroma. The Coffee also adds a distinctive, almost wine-like acidity to the beef that may be unexpected. The quality of the meat was just average in our experience, chewy with more of a graininess than you’d like from something masquerading as Tenderloin. Fortunately, the soft, crispy bed of Sweet Potato and Corn Mealie Pap helped cover that up, shifting the focus to a little bit of sugar and a rich corn flavor. Kachumbari is a traditional Kenyan Tomato and Onion Salad, and it adds a lot of color, along with a fresh crunch and a burst of summer flavor. The focus is typically more on the onion, but I think Disney smartly focuses on the carrot, tomatoes, and other vegetables.
There’s a little bit of spice here, but it’s much less overwhelming than the previous version, pictured above, where you could smell the spice from the onions and peppers as you approached the Marketplace from afar.
Overall, this is certainly worth a try. The only downside is the middling beef quality. It’s still a smart recipe, an appealing presentation, and a good amount of food for the money.
Spicy Kenyan Vegan Githeri with White Beans, Pigeon Peas, Curry Rice Pilaf, and Kachumbari Slaw – $4.50
White Beans and Corn are the backbone of what may best be described as a curry stew ladled on top of rice. Ours was surprisingly spicy – easily the spiciest dish at the Festival. Any vegan or vegetarian will want to add this to their short list – it’s flavorful, packed with protein, and texturally-interesting with the astringent Kachumbari Slaw adding a crunchy component. For most, the flavor profile may be a little bit out there with a lot of curry, paprika, and white pepper dominating the palate. Anyone looking for something a little different should give it a try, though it wouldn’t surprise me if the majority of people who try it officially don’t like it. The dish is still executed well and it’s a nice accompaniment to the Beef.
Piri Piri Skewered Shrimp with Citrus-scented Couscous – $6.75
This is another intelligent plate. Each of these dishes is more like a small version of a meal that you’d expect to find at a restaurant like Sanaa. The Africa Marketplace is typically one of the least popular, which may give them more of an opportunity to execute great-tasting, attractive dishes than something like Hawaii, where a long line forms virtually from the time the Marketplaces open at 11am. There, they have to assemble most of those Kahlua Sliders elsewhere and wheel them over. There isn’t enough room in the physical Marketplace to keep up.
Back to Africa, your money buys you five expertly-grilled, deliciously snappy Shrimp, each spiced up nicely with a pepper rub backed up primarily with paprika and garlic. The Couscous is light and tender with a bright citrus scent, adding some heft to the dish, along with a nice acidic contrast to all the spice in the shrimp. The side salad is heavy on the beans with a flavor profile similar to the Vegan Githeri, only a little less curry-forward and without the Slaw. Altogether, it makes for a nice little meal and may be the best-composed dish of the Festival. It’s a lot closer to something that I’d expect to see at Festival of the Arts.
Cederberg Chenin Blanc — $6
In case you were wondering, Cederberg is South Africa’s highest vineyard at more than 3,200 feet above sea level. Their chenin blanc is creamier than most with the typical fruity flavors of grapefruit, pear, and melon with a crisp, acidic finish. It pairs nicely with the spicier dishes in the area, but probably isn’t necessarily worth seeking out individually.
Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz, Western Cape – $5
“jam jar sweet shiraz” is…as you might be able to guess…on the sweet side with dark berry flavors giving way to some chocolate on the back end. It’s more refreshing than your typical wine and would probably make a better sangria than it would a glass to go with your filet mignon. In this environment, I think it works though and it’s a good choice if you’re in the mood for something red, but don’t like the lingering acidity of your typical cabernet or pinot noir. Very fruity and light.
Groot Constantia Pinotage — $7
This is one of the better wines available at the Festival with a deep purple color with dark cherry and ripe plum notes followed by vanilla and cedar. It looks like wine and would pair nicely with any of the dishes offered here.
You might also consider the Wine Flight.
I was impressed with all of the new food offerings and the wine offers some flavors that you won’t find elsewhere. This is a fantastic outing for Africa.