Flavors From Fire returns, situating itself in
Future World World Nature behind what used to be Innoventions West. As the building is eventually demolished, perhaps some of its remnants will rain down on the booth, adding even more flavor. “Flavors from Construction” may have been a missed opportunity this year.
College GameDay is your host this year. You’ll notice the branding on the replica desk out in front of the kiosk.
Covering Walt Disney World “for a living” over the course of ten years now, some amount of corniness is typically expected, but this quote from Mr. Herbstreit may be worse than the Pac-12 seriously considering 9:30am kickoffs this year. Legally, I wonder if he actually had to say this out loud. I wouldn’t even write my name next to it. On the other hand, I could see Kirk talking about The Ohio State’s “high culinary IQ,” over and over, week after week, if he ever moves to the Food Network and they start some sort of college cupcake baking competition.
I’m not sure if anybody has said the word “moxie” out loud since Twist told the Erie Kid to “grab a suit” in 1973’s The Sting, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman.
This is exactly what I was going to say about the Steakhouse Blended Burger. I guess I’ll have to go “back to the drawing board,” just like linebacker Su’a Cravens said after his USC team lost to the Washington Huskies in 2015, 17-12.
The Steakhouse Blended Burger moves over here from Earth Eats and the Smoked Corn Beef loses last year’s BelGioioso sponsorship, instead appearing with Cheese Curds and Beer-cheese Fondue. The Chocolate Picante adds Lime to its Compote and we are instructed that “The Mushroom Council” has provided the mushrooms. September is officially Mushroom Month, just in case you were wondering. We have what should be an improvement in the Bell’s Porter, replacing last year’s Orlando Brewing Blackwater Porter and a new Zinfandel replaces last year’s ominous 7 Deadly Zins. That’s probably because there won’t ever be a deadlier combination than Warren Moon and Robert Gaines, as seen on January 2, 1978, when Washington upset #4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl after starting the year 1-3. Most notably, we lost the Piggy Wings this year, which is slightly surprising given the College GameDay tie-in.
- The Steakhouse Blended Burger: Blended Beef and Mushroom Slider with Brie Cheese Fondue, Arugula, and a Truffle and Blue Cheese Potato Chip on a Brioche Bun — $5.25
- Smoked Corned Beef with Crispy Potatoes, Cheese Curds, Pickled Onions and Beer-Cheese Fondue — $5.25
- Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak on a Smoked Corn Cake with Pickled Vegetable Slaw and Cilantro Aïoli — $7
- Chocolate Picante: Dark Chocolate Mousse with Cayenne Pepper, Paprika and Mango-Lime Compote – $4
- Bell’s Brewery Porter – $4.50
- Edmeades Zinfandel – $5
- Swine Brine featuring Jim Beam Bourbon – $9.50
The Steakhouse Blended Burger: Blended Beef and Mushroom Slider with Brie Cheese Fondue, Arugula, and a Truffle and Blue Cheese Potato Chip on a Brioche Bun — $5.25
This is three or four bites’ worth of food with at least half of that being the soft bun. The beef was juicy and seasoned well, potentially mixed in with some wild mushrooms that don’t lend as much of an earthy quality as they would if they were sauteed in butter and served on top of the meat. The Brie Cheese Fondue added a creamy, buttery element, but not too much flavor, and the potato chips added a little bit of a crispy quality, though the sauce reduced the crunch by quite a bit. You could pick one of these up, but it doesn’t taste any better than your average “artisinal” hamburger that would cost twice as much and be five times more food.
Smoked Corned Beef with Crispy Potatoes, Cheese Curds, Pickled Onions and Beer-Cheese Fondue — $5.25
I gave last year’s version an 8/10 on both Taste and Value and what we’re brought this year is an improvement on that. The Beer Cheese Fondue is delicious – creamy and cheesy with just a hint of hops. The Cheese Curds, soft and chewy, add an interesting texture against the bountiful layer of crispy potato chips underneath. The “Crispy Potatoes” do an admirable job of staying that way under the weight of all of the stuff. The Corned Beef is lean, smoky, and plentiful, while the vibrant Red Onions add a subtle piquant quality along with the Green Onion, which freshens the bite up with a mild, earthy sweetness. We’re in bar food territory here, unlike some of the other dishes that we’re going to see that try to take a more glamorous approach. That’s okay at College GameDay. This is executed perfectly, not unlike Boise State’s use of the Statue of Liberty play in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Chris Petersen would become the coach of the Washington Huskies seven years later.
Charred Chimichurri Skirt Steak on a Smoked Corn Cake with Pickled Vegetable Slaw and Cilantro Aïoli — $7
We’ve got several thick slices of tender beef marinated in a delicious sauce with garlic, cilantro, oregano, and olive oil. That’s placed on top of the corn cake that has a surprisingly crispy exterior that gives way to a really creamy, sweet center. Then there’s quite a bit of crunchy, piquant vegetable slaw on top and then that’s finished with a creamy, herb-heavy aioli. There’s a lot going on here and it all works really nicely in tandem, creating one of the better dishes that would be hard to pull off at home. Seven dollars is probably a dollar overpriced, which doesn’t need to stop you from picking one up.
I do still miss the original dish, which was topped with Sausage.
Chocolate Picante: Dark Chocolate Mousse with Cayenne Pepper, Paprika and Mango-Lime Compote – $4
Here we have a thin layer of cocoa coating a light, pudding-like mousse with an incredibly rich dark chocolate flavor. The Cayenne Pepper is much more present than you would expect given other “spicy” dishes served at the Festival, adding a concentrated, acute spiciness that’s tempered by the sweet tropical flavors of the mango that’s now served on the side. You’re not going to taste that spice up front, but you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about after you finish the first bite. It’s a really interesting dessert and unlike anything else offered at the various Epcot Festivals. It’s also dirt cheap compared to other items and should be attached to any other order here. Just be ready for that spice. This year’s version adds Lime to the Compote, but we didn’t detect any additional citrus. Pair the Picante with the fruit for a really interesting flavor combination.
Bell’s Brewery Porter – $4.50
The coffee, caramel, and roasted malt flavors pair nicely with the tang and spice of the food items offered here. It would have been fantastic if we could have gotten the brewery’s Baltic Porter, but this one is lighter, easier to drink, and more refreshing. Give it a try if you like beer.
Edmeades Zinfandel – $5
There are always some growing pains on the first day of the Festival, some of which are occasionally to our advantage. I almost lucked out here with the kiosk’s first wine pour of the day. Apparently, the bottle stopper, which should provide the requisite, sad little two-ounce pour of wine, was not working, resulting in a pour much closer to 3.5 ounces. Instead of handing me the cup with an extra ounce-and-a-half of wine, I watched as the cast members fiddled with the bottle, only to pour some of the wine out of the original cup into another, and then eyeballing what looked to be about two ounces. Above is the result.
I’m not sure that the Edmeades is necessarily an improvement over last year’s 7 Deadly Zins, but it remains a nice pairing with warm spice, intense fruit, and dark chocolate notes with a little bit of forest wood on the back end. The soft tannins make it easy to drink alongside the barbecue.
Swine Brine featuring Jim Beam Bourbon – $9.50
I was initially unsure why Disney would be so ambiguous with the menu description. Most of us know what to expect if we saw a Manhattan, Martini, Bloody Mary, etc. on the menu. “Swine Brine” is somewhat less obvious, even if it mentions the bourbon that’s supposedly used. But after being served one of the murkiest drinks I’ve ever seen, complete with a rib on top, it was a bit clearer why they wouldn’t tell you straight up that this is mixed with lemon juice, mustard, and apple juice.
Fortunately, whatever’s in here works, tasting largely like apple cider with a hint of brown sugar from the bourbon and a lot of citrus mixing in with the spicy mustard for a surprisingly cool, refreshing drink.
The chicken wing that’s served on top is also sizable and meaty and like the other meats here, served almost right from the grill. It probably doesn’t pack much of a punch ABV wise, but it’s surprisingly satisfying if you enjoy bourbon, apples, and wings.
Overall, Flavors from Fire is a well-rounded stop offering some of the best dishes at this year’s Festival. Vegetarians are probably going to have less luck as even the Chocolate Picante, which you might expect to be vegetarian, doesn’t arrive with that designation.