We continue from Australia.
“The Marketplace Formerly Known as Desserts and Champagne” is “The Almond Orchard Hosted By Blue Diamond Almonds Almond Breeze Almondmilk” this year. A lump sum cash payment is probably the only way that anyone would willingly put almond milk in anything.
The Artichoke Dip replaces last year’s Cauliflower Risotto, which is probably okay as it was one of the only items I’ve ever given a 1/10 on both taste and value. On the other hand, being that terrible probably deserves some sort of prize. This year, the Banana Almond Soft-Serve Sundae is served with Chocolate Almond Streusel instead of Crunchy Chocolate Oats. Exciting, I know. This year, the champagnes do a little bit of a switcheroo too. The Veuve Brut Rosé replaces last year’s Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé Imperial and the Moët & Chandon Imperial replaces last year’s Veuve Brut. So basically, the Veuve is a Rosé this year and the Moët is their standard Brut.
- Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip — $5
- Fire-roasted Tomato Hummus — $5.25
- Banana Almond Soft-serve Sundae with Fresh Berries and Chocolate Almond Streusel – $4.50
- Almond Breeze Strawberry Smoothie – $4.50
- Dom Pérignon Brut – $32
- Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne — $16 and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Rosé Champagne — $21
Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip — $5
With Pulled Chicken, Toasted Blue Diamond Almonds, and Parmesan Cheese served with Nut Thins Crackers
Here’s what I wrote about last year’s “Wild Mushroom Risotto:”
After enjoying the Wild Mushroom Risotto so much at the Festival of the Arts this year, I had high hopes for the Orchard’s version. These hopes were dashed almost immediately as I tried to stick my fork in the dense, glue-like cauliflower mound packed full of unidentifiable hard pieces of what I’m hoping were some variety of foodstuff. If you’d like to recreate this mass at home, try breaking a bunch of crayons up and then stir them in with a couple of glue sticks that you’ve emptied out into a 35th anniversary Epcot bowl. Add heavy cream and you have this risotto. I actually think the lunch lady served me this exact dish as punishment in the 4th grade when I forgot my lunch money. I never forgot my lunch money again. Nor did I ever graduate elementary school. On the plus side, you can throw the almonds in the general direction of anyone that recommended picking up this dish. I imagine Epcot has to borrow a forklift from the Star Wars construction zone at Hollywood Studios to lift the garbage can full of this stuff out of there every night.
Given that, this was a big surprise – creamy, cheesy, and delicious with seriously large hunks of pulled chicken mixed in with the fresh ingredients. The Nut Thins Crackers are exactly that – thin enough that they do a nice job of transporting the dip without burdening the flavor. The fact that it’s not one of the more labor-intensive dishes offered at the Festival might bring the value down a bit for some, but I think the fact that it tastes so good and the portion is rather large commands attention.
For the dip:
Fire-roasted Tomato Hummus — $5.25
Topped with Blue Diamond Lightly Salted Roasted Almonds and served with Blue Diamond Artisan Nut Thins Multi-seeds Crackers
The hummus was refreshing with a pleasant, creamy texture and a mildly spicy, peppery, earthy flavor. The tomato chunks on top brightened the flavor profile and the roasted almonds added a little bit of smoke. The nut crackers have a nice crunch, in addition to being a low sodium snack. Because we’re obviously watching our health here. In most scenarios, I’d go with the Spinach and Artichoke Dip over this as it basically boils down to a layer of Sabra Hummus and some bite-size Tostitos. I was going to say that this would make more sense for the vegetarians, but I’m not seeing that designation on the menu. Anyway, this is a lighter, more vibrant option than the heavier dip, which may or may not be a good thing, particularly considering this one’s more expensive.
Banana Almond Soft-serve Sundae with Fresh Berries and Chocolate Almond Streusel – $4.50
The Banana Soft-serve is a bit unusual, but still refreshing with a surprisingly natural banana flavor. The texture is also smooth without any chunks of banana, which I appreciated. This year’s Chocolate Almond Streusel seemed to be hiding on the bottom, when it probably should have been spooned on top. I would expect that to change moving forward because the crunchy chocolate did combine with the fresh fruit and berry syrup to add a really deep, luscious layer of sweet chocolaty goodness. I’d recommend sharing the first one as the flavor of the banana soft serve is definitely not for everybody, but it’s worth trying.
Taste: 7/10, but as low as a 2/10 or as high as a 10/10, though I suppose you could say that about most items…
Almond Breeze Strawberry Smoothie – $4.50
This is an extremely small portion of a lukewarm smoothie that only enjoyed a very distant, bland berry flavor. I don’t see any upside – get a smoothie from Fountain View Starbucks if you find yourself desperate for drinkable fruit.
Value: Not great, Bob
Dom Pérignon Brut – $32
The website spares no expense when it comes to Food and Wine, this time with a $153 bottle of Dom Perignon champagne, a glass of which I’m sipping right now. The $32 glass at the Festival is actually a really good deal – Victoria & Albert’s charges $420 a bottle, or $16.80 an ounce, and you should come away with about four ounces here at The Almond Orchard. If you’re trying to show off, look no further, because it’s a great opportunity to see what you’ve been missing. (Which is probably not much as it tastes like champagne.)
Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne — $16 and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut Rosé Champagne — $21
The Moet Imperial is a $40 bottle and the Veuve Brut Rosé is $58, making the Moet Imperial a slightly better buy at the Festival. Still the Dom P is a $153 bottle, or almost four times as much as the Moet Imperial, for only twice as much money at the Marketplace. Last year, Disney sold coupon books where you paid a set price for eight tastes that included the two less-expensive champagnes here at the Orchard. That offer isn’t on the table this year, which makes me think that we’ll see fewer people walking around with these expensive flutes. Both remain quality sparkling wines.
Overall, the Spinach and Artichoke Dip is a winner, though it may be a little too Applebee’s to pick up at the Festival considering the amount of effort it takes to make some of the other dishes. The Hummus is a lighter option and the Sundae is light and refreshing. If you’re feeling fancy, consider one of the champagnes.
Hawaii is up next.