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Saturday, October 18, 2014

My visit to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival 2014

     Once again, as it is customary for me, I have attended the Food & Wine Festival at Disney’s Epcot.  It is an event I look forward to every Autumn and I truly enjoy.  The festival has grown every year and includes more and more countries each time with more dishes to try.  As an added bonus, one gets to pair the sample-sized servings with regional wines.  A win-win no doubt.

     This year however, I found the quality of the foods offered quite lame, and at times without any flavor.


     My first stop was France.  It is always my favorite country when it comes to gastronomy.  One of the perennial offerings of this pavilion are the escargots.  This year, they decided to do a nice amuse-bouche and they put them into a crumbly pastry tart, thus a Tartlette aux Escargots.  The result was good, and accompanied by the Kir à la Pomegranate it opened up the appetite nicely.


     Next I headed for nearby Canada, as I wanted to try the Seared Rainbow Trout, topped with bacon, friseé and L8 harvest vinegar.  It is very hard to ruin trout, especially if it’s not overcooked.  Sadly, I have to report that these people have managed to do it.  The fish tasted like nothing at all, the only flavor contributing to it given only by the bacon.  And friseé and L8 harvest??  I definitely missed it.  A lonesome single string of lettuce without any dressing whatsoever.  Very bad indeed.  The Neige Première Apple Ice Wine I have had before.  It should have been chillier.


     As I kept walking I stopped at the Italy pavilion, where I tasted some very good Limoncello, and later a shot of acquavit in Norway.  The former very deliciously sweet and fruity, the latter highly alcoholic and without much flavor.  Italy also had in stock some very unique porcelain to serve espresso, and to which I couldn’t help myself.  The line is called I*Wares, by Seletti, and they’re worth exploring.  The espresso cups are made of fine white porcelain and include a spoon.  The only note of bright colour is on the painted handles, making them ideal to mix and match.

The beautiful porcelain espresso cup, here paired with my Mikasa sugar bowl
and some elegant Dalimayr coffee.  Perfect cremma.
     In Germany, I got my hands on some wonderful apple schnapps, which I’ve tried before and thought would be very good to have on hand to add to some apple desserts now that Fall is upon us.  Schönauer Apfel is a delicious mix of Germany's best apples and grain spirits that tastes truly like pure apple heaven.  In Germany, it’s the way a party starts.  It makes great apple martinis.


    For my main course I wanted something I’d never tried before, kind of exotic.  I stopped at Africa’s outpost.  After making sure there were no ivory animal carvings around, I tried the Bobotie with turkey and mushrooms.  This is the national dish of South Africa, pretty much like a frittata, made with egg, curried meat and grapes.  The portion was small, but it was very filling.  Going back to quality ingredients, it made me think that in South Africa, where produce is much fresher and better than here in the USA, this dish must indeed taste wonderful.  Here it was just okay.  I had it along with M.A.N. Vintners Chenin Blanc, refreshing and very helpful in counteracting the spicy flavours of the dish.


     The Bobotie left me without any more want for savory.  So I headed for the “Desserts & Champagne” booth, where I order the customary Dessert trio.  This was probably the biggest disappointment of all.  Usually this trio of desserts is a pleasure to indulge in, but not this year.  It consisted of Passion Fruit Coconut Creamsicle (an average custard with a jelly top), a Blueberry-Lime Cheesecake Roll (the best one of the three, should just have had this dessert in a bigger piece instead of the trio), and Chocolate Espresso Opera Cake, which was an insult to the excellent dessert created by the Dalloyau patissiers (for an excellent Opera cake that you can find locally, worth every one of your tastebuds, go HERE).  Dry, tasteless chocolate, lacking the requisite coffee flavour in the genoise layers.  A disaster.


     The best part of the dessert experience was the champagne.  I ordered a glass of very expensive Ruinart Blanc de Blancs.  It was refreshingly clean, very smooth, and did not overpower the flavours of the food.  A pity to have had it with such poor sweet pairings.

     But even if dessert disappoints at the Food & Wine Festival, if one is local, one has the privilege to bring some very good ones from the French patisserie on site.  I selected Lemon-Merengue tarte and Framboise at the end of my journey and hurried towards the car, as the day was quite warm.

Italian merengue, slightly caramelized, on this citron tart.  Heavenly creamy.
"Framboise" is a combination of velvety
raspberry mousse and chocolate genoise.
     The France pavilion has also recently opened an ice-cream parlor.  They carry some unique European flavours, and I couldn’t resist trying the Caramel Fleur de Sel.  I bought a cone.  It tasted mostly like caramel, and I couldn’t really detect the “sel”.  Still, who cares when you’re hurrying home with some really good dessert under your belt?

Creamy caramel ice-cream finished off the journey