19 October, 2010

The Food & Wine Festival Recap... aka "OMG I think I might burst!"

FINALLY!  It's taken me forever to get this post completely written.  I didn't realize how much food we actually tried at the festival.  Hopefully after this post I'll have some time to catch up and write a training update post.

Just going through all my food photos from our Food & Wine adventure makes me hungry again.  By the end of the day on Sunday when I was on my way to the airport, I didn't think I'd be able to eat any more food for weeks!

Throughout the weekend, Andy and I attempted to try as many of the food kiosks as possible.  I only had a limited amount of time to accomplish this goal and I was going to try pretty hard to succeed!  We agreed that we would buy one of each food item on the menu, and possibly a drink or two depending on if I had ran in the half or not.  Also agreed to split the cost and rotate who pays at the booths. 

The first day that we met up (Thursday), we were only able to try a few of the kiosks.  Friday was more of the same, where we only sampled a few.  Sunday was the all out, go hog wild, shove as much food down your throat as possible adventure.  I mean...I did just run 13.1 miles the night before!  Oh...and we had to ride Mission:Space Orange afterwards just to prove that we're troopers and can hold down mass quantities of food.  

So here's the list in alphabetical order, like I posted last time.  I'll only include the booths that we went to and don't worry...there's photos for each and every item we ate, minus the two things I ate after the half marathon.  I'll be sure to review them too though!

Argentina - In terms of food, Argentina ranked up there as one of our favorites.  Out of the two offerings, the grilled beef skewer with chimichurri sauce was the hands down clear winner. 
  • Roasted Corn and Cheese Empanada ($2.75) - We both enjoyed the empanada but both agreed that it wasn't anything amazing.  It consisted of corn and cheese, and some spices.  All of my favorite empanadas contain some sort of meat in them, and I think that's what this was missing.  It was definitely on the 'heavier' side so you could definitely fill up on a few of these for a decent price. 

  • Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée ($4.75) - The definite winner in Argentina (and the majority of the other booths in the 'Latin Quarter' as Andy says).  The beef was tender and perfectly marinated and cooked.  Very easy to pull of the skewer.  The Chimichurri sauce was delicious!  I was trying to figure out what else we could have put this on.  I think it would have gone very well with the empanada and maybe given it that something that it was missing.  The sauce wasn't overpowering at all and was, for lack of a better word, refreshing.  It's usually made with finely chopped parsley, garlic, oil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes.  I would have enjoyed it slightly more if it had more of a kick but I know Disney has to cater to the masses.  The boniato (a type of potato used in Latin cooking) puree was also very good.  If I didn't look at the description, I would have thought that we were eating normal mashed potatoes. 

Australia - I had high hopes for Australia and unfortunately, it didn't wow me.  If I HAD to pick a winner?  I'd reluctantly say the lamb chop.
  • Grilled Lamb Chop with Roasted Potato Salad and Red Wine Reduction ($5.75) - I loved this dish the way they prepared it last year.  This year they added the potato salad into the mix.  The lamb was still very good, tender, not too fatty.  However the potato salad just didn't do it for me at all.  First, it was cold.  Not even warm and I felt it should have been.  The potatoes were also slightly undercooked and had little to no flavor at all.  So overall the lamb received a thumbs up, yet the side dishes got a thumbs down, making the whole dish just ok. 

  • Seared Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Lemon Oil ($4.75) - I completely skipped this dish since I don't like seafood but Andy tried it.  From what I remember he said it wasn't anything special.  What I did notice was that all of the other dishes of barramundi had a much larger piece of fish on it.  Ours?  Was tiny!  We were jipped!!

  • Lamington (sponge cake dipped in chocolate) ($3.00) - I didn't think I would enjoy this and I was right.  To me it was just a piece of vanilla cake, dipped in chocolate, and then rolled in coconut flakes.  Nothing spectacular.  I took one bite and gave the rest to the 6'6" human garbage disposal that was with me. :)

Brazil - out of the two food options available, I only really tried one (the pork).  So that's my winner by default, but I wasn't thrilled.
  • Grilled Pork Skewer with Farofa ($4.00) - I had never had farofa (almost like a corn meal or corn flour) and I wasn't sure how they would incorporate the two ingredients.  When I went to go order, the CM grabbed a pork skewer and dipped it in a bowl of farofa, coating it almost like you would put sprinkles on an ice cream cone.  To us, the pork wasn't that flavorful.  The farofa didn't add any flavor either, just an interesting texture.  Andy commented that it would be great if it had some A1 sauce, haha.  I sadly have to agree, or SOME kind of sauce!

  • Shrimp Stew with Coconut and Lime ($4.25) - Andy tried this one for the both of us (again, don't like seafood) and wasn't wowed by it.  From looking at other photos that are online, this looks MUCH different from the past.  Guess they changed it up a bit?  

    Canada - Sadly I didn't get to try the Chipotle Sausage, which is what I really wanted to try during the weekend.  I was able to use one of my food vouchers after the race to get some of the soup and since I was so miserable after the race, forgot to get the sausage!  Can't ever go wrong with the cheddar cheese soup though.
    • Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup ($3.75) - What else can I say that hasn't been said?  Most of us have already had this at Le Cellier, and love it.  I will point out that this was a much smaller portion than I was expecting.  I'd say my little cup was only half full.  Might have been because it was 3am after the race?  Also, I found it pretty salty.  Again, not sure if it's due to the race, but I know the main complaint of Le Cellier in general is that things are over salted. (Sorry no photo)

    Chile - They definitely had one of the standout dishes that we sampled all weekend.  So the winner?  Possibly even top 3 for the whole festival?  The Pastel de Choclo! I could totally go for some more right now. 
    • Pastel de Choclo (Beef and Corn Pie) ($3.75) - I could probably eat this for days and not get sick of it.  I believe in my video interview for Andy's podcast, my exact words were 'fabulousness'.  Yes, I made up my own word.  The combination of ingredients went extremely well together.  There was ground beef, raisins, olives, onions, all topped with a corn casserole.  Sweet and savory all combined to perfection.  

    • Shrimp Ceviche ($4.75) - Another dish that only Andy really tried.  I had some of the pico de gallo and it was plain.  No seasonings at all.  Andy agreed and said that the whole thing didn't have much flavor to it.  

    China - Wasn't a huge fan of this booth either.  Everything was slightly too greasy.  The pork pot stickers were the best of the three choices for me. 
    • Pork Pot Stickers ($3.50) - These were typical pot stickers, like I assumed before getting there.  They were a little greasy for my liking.  Decent flavor but, how can you really mess up a pot sticker?

    • Xinjiang Barbecue Chicken Stick ($3.50) - I really wanted to try this, and I really wanted to enjoy it but I just couldn't.  It had a decent teriyaki flavor, slightly too sweet for me, but the piece of chicken we had was pretty fatty. 

    • Black Pepper Shrimp with Sichuan Noodles ($4.50) - Andy said the shrimp was decent, I only tried the noodles and found them SO oily that one bite is all I could handle.  It tasted like typical mediocre Chinese food, unfortunately.   

      • Caramel Ginger Ice Cream ($3.25) -  Huge serving for the price!  I'm not a big fan of ginger ice cream in general but this was tasty.  It has tiny pieces of ginger in it, and the caramel flavor wasn't too overpowering.  Nice and refreshing after all that greasy food!

        • Happy Lychee ($7.00) - One of the only drinks we tried on our last day.  No photo either.  I love lychee fruit and was excited to try it.  It was lychee puree with vodka.  Not bad, sweet but refreshing.  I definitely enjoyed it but it would have been nice if they put a lychee fruit in there for some garnish!  Instead we got a lime wedge.  

        France - This was the first booth we tried during the preview night and really enjoyed it.  I wish I had gone back on other days to get some more food goodness!  The winner was definitely the short ribs, even though I think they didn't even put the sauce on ours.  It was still delicious.
        • Braised Short Ribs in Cabernet with Mashed Potatoes ($4.75) - By far the favorite of the booth, maybe even the whole festival.  The short ribs were tender and very flavorful and the potatoes weren't too heavy.  We noticed that later on in the weekend, people had some sort of gravy or sauce on top of their mashed potatoes, we didn't.  Didn't really need it but it would have been nice to see what it tasted like.  I could definitely eat this multiple times and not get sick of it.  It was also large enough and filling enough to make a meal out of this and a few other items.  

        • Escargots Persillade en Brioche ($4.75) - I was coerced into trying one of these things.  I had NO intention of ever knowing what snails taste like.  Honestly?  It wasn't horrible.  All I tasted was bread, butter, and garlic.  So at least now I can stay I have tried snails.  No need to try them again.  ;)  Don't base your decision on my review though.  People LOVE these things!

        • Crème Brulée au Chocolate au Lait ($3.75) - I enjoy good creme brulee, who doesn't?  When I saw that this was chocolate, I immediately had to try some.  The sugar crust was perfect and crunchy, the creme was silky with a hint of chocolate.  I would have like a little more chocolate flavor but still enjoyed this.  Also would have enjoyed it if the creme was slightly thicker.  It was a little 'runny' for me. 

        Germany - I wanted a beer SO BAD! But we hit up the Germany booth the night before the half marathon so no beer for me.  The winner for me was definitely the spatzle.  Not what I remember from when I was in Munich, but delicious regardless!
        • Spätzle Gratin with Ham and Cheese ($3.75) - This reminded me of a hearty macaroni and cheese casserole.  Like I said earlier, not what I remember spatzle to be from Germany, but we enjoyed it a lot.  Could have probably used a little more cheese but I can say that about any dish.

        • Nürnberger Sausage in a Pretzel Roll ($4.25) - This was good, but after one bite, I didn't want to waste any more room in my stomach by finishing it.  The pretzel roll tasted just like the one you get at Le Cellier.  The sausage was good, nothing spectacular.  The mustard that accompanied the dish had a nice kick to it and went well with the sausage.  

        • Apfel Strudel featuring Werther’s Original Karamell Sauce ($3.25) - This WOULD have been perfect... if only it were warm!!  Who serves apple strudel cold?  I just didn't enjoy it as much as I should have.  The caramel sauce was delicious, but isn't almost anything that has the name Werther's?

          Greece - Unfortunately I wasn't able to do the official 'Greek Girl Critique' all weekend.  We started on the wrong side of the lake!  Luckily I was feeling better enough after the half marathon to quickly pick up some spanakopita on the way towards the front of the park. 
          • Spanakopita ($4.00) - What a pleasant surprise!  I'm usually really picky about spanakopita.  Either I think there's not enough cheese, too much spinach, no flavor, too much phyllo, etc.  The spanakopita had the right combination of everything, and even had an extra kick at the end which I couldn't put my finger on.  Either way, it was delicious! (Sorry, no photo)
          Italy - The major dudd all weekend.  I wasn't a huge fan of any of the offerings.  I know, I'm biased...I grew up in one of the best Italian food areas in the country, but still!  Good Italian food is still good Italian food.  I enjoy Tutto and Via Napoli so this shouldn't have been any different.  If I had to pick one winner though, I'd say the polpettine. 
          • Polpettine Toscane with a Rosemary Breadstick ($4.50) - Three tiny meatballs in marinara sauce with a stale breadstick.  I found the meatballs were on the tough side, slightly rubbery.  The marinara had a good flavor to it though.  And the breadstick? Leave it out next time!  At least there was extra marinara when we finished so that we could add it to the ravioli....

          • Baked Cheese Ravioli, Creamy Bolognese Sauce, Melted Mozzarella ($4.50) - Um, I've read reviews were people are in LOVE with this dish.  I don't get it. :(  To me it was a heap of cheese ravioli that had no flavor, some ground meat at the bottom, and drowned in flavorless mozzarella cheese?  The only way we all agreed this was edible was after we poured the extra marinara on it from the polpettine. 

          • Cannolo Al Cioccolato ($3.50) - *sigh* 3 for 3 on the thumbs down.  I know I mentioned this before I went down to Disney, but I'm not a fan of chocolate cannolis, so keep that in mind.  To me, the only reason to dip the shell in chocolate is so the shell doesn't get soggy and they can have the cannoli sitting around longer before going bad and getting mushy.  The cannoli filling did have a nice flavor to it.  Tasted just like the one I had at Tutto.  Just couldn't get over the chocolate shell, that was way too hard from sitting in a fridge all day. 

          Mexico - Almost everything we had from Mexico was delicious.  The winner, by far, though was the taco.  I've been craving more since I've been home!
          • Tamal de Pollo ($4.50) - I do love me some tamales and this one didn't disappoint.  It wasn't the best I've had but it passed my test.  I would have rather had a different sauce on it instead of the white sauce/sour cream that they used.  The chicken had a nice flavor to it, and the cornmeal wasn't too heavy.  

          • Taco de Chilorio ($3.75) - Hands down the winner of Mexico!  The chilorio had such a good flavor that I could have easily eaten 5 of these little babies.  After googling how chilorio is prepared, there's no wonder why it tastes so good.  I'll spare you the details, but lets just say that it involves cooking the pork in some fabulous unhealthy for you substance and then spices are added.  :)  The green sauce added some 'refreshing' flavors, again...can't think of a better word.  Anyone want to send me some more of these?

          • Esquites (Pan-Fried Corn and Spices) ($3.75) - Bleh...just looking at the photo reminds me how much we really didn't enjoy this.  I'm not a huge fan of mayonnaise so I guess you should keep that in mind.  It was pan fried corn with a cheese/mayo sauce on top.  I didn't care for the flavors at all, and neither did Andy.  The sweet corn and the 'sweet' mayo combo just did not work for us.  This was one of the only two dishes that he and I did NOT finish and just threw out.  That should tell you something. 

          • Churro ($3.50) - What else can we say about the Disney churro that hasn't already been said?  You can't really mess up deep fried dough topped with sugar and cinnamon.  I've been a fan of these since back in the day when you could buy them at a cart in Frontierland.  Yum!  This one definitely didn't disappoint either and was a nice ending to the taco and tamale.  

          Morocco - Looking back at the photos, it's impossible to decipher between the kefta and the falafel.  I only know the difference after looking at the time stamps on the photos and remembering that I tried the kefta first.  The winner?  Definitely the kefta pocket!
          • Kefta Pocket ($5.00) - The kefta (a Middle Eastern meatball) was pretty tasty!  It wasn't too dry and had the right amount of spices in it.  My only complaint is that the pita was pretty bland and dry.  It would have been nice if they had toasted it a bit, or at least added a tahini sauce into the mix.  If I had it again, I would have left out the pita. 

          • Falafel Pita Pocket ($4.75) - This wasn't as dry as last year, which made me happy.  The falafel did have a nice flavor but again, the pita was too dry and didn't help matters.  Plus it definitely could have used a tahini sauce or something. 

          • Baklava ($3.00) - Shh, Wanna know a secret?  I usually like Moroccan and Turkish baklava better than Greek.  Don't tell my mother that though, k?  But umm...unfortunately?  This one wasn't one of my faves.  The phyllo was very dry and I think there was too much of it on top.  There wasn't enough honey syrup either, which probably would have helped the dry phyllo.  I only had a few bites and left the rest for the gang. 

          New Zealand - Was definitely looking forward to the lamb slider!  And since it's the only thing I could eat at the booth, it was definitely my winner. :)
          • Lamb Slider with Tomato Chutney ($.475) - Another winner of the festival!  I wanted to compare this lamb dish to Australia and I do believe New Zealand wins.  The slider was moist and flavorful and the tomato chutney was a perfect compliment.  Luckily I didn't try the scallop so Andy let me have most of this to myself.   

          • Seared Sea Scallop with Vegetable Slaw and Lemon Oil ($4.25) - Another dish I didn't try but Andy said he enjoyed it.  Umm...I honestly can't remember his full review though.  Sorry!

          Poland - I was looking forward to the pierogies and kielbasa all trip and this didn't disappoint!  Can you say comfort food?  Considering we both hate cabbage, the pierogies were by far the winner. 
          • Kielbasa and Potato Pierogies with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream ($5.00) - Like I said in a previous post, who doesn't like pierogies?  Especially topped with sour cream.  If you're wondering where the caramelized onions are... you're not seeing things.  Unfortunately when we went to the booth, they had just ran out.  Instead they gave us an extra piece of kielbasa.  I would have LOVED to try the onions though!  Regardless of our onion debacle, we both really enjoyed this dish.  The kielbasa had great flavor was perfectly grilled.  Someone want to send me some of these too up to NJ?

          • Golabki (Pork Stuffed Cabbage) ($2.75) - OK, so I'm going to start off this mini review by saying that both Andy and I are NOT a fan of cabbage.  AT ALL.  But we sucked it up for the benefit of this blog and his podcast and decided to try this anyways.  Well?  We still aren't fans of cabbage.  We each took a bite of this and that was enough for us.  I can't tell you if this is how it's supposed to taste but we didn't enjoy it.  

          Puerto Rico - Hmm...this was definitely a toss up between the two dishes here.  If I really had to decide on a winner, I would say the chicken soup, but only by a little. 
          • Asopao de Pollo (Chicken Soup with Rice) ($2.50) - I was skeptical about soup on a hot day but I enjoyed this!  Overall it was a little too salty for both of us but it still had great flavor.  The serving we had had a decent amount of chicken and olives.  The olives are probably what made the dish salty but they went well with everything else.   
          • Medianoche Sandwich ($2.75) - This was a decent sandwich, nothing bad to say about it!  It reminded me exactly of a Cuban sandwich.  It just didn't wow me and wasn't one of my faves.  Wish I could say more about it but, it wasn't that memorable. 

          So there ya have it!  

          Overall I enjoyed the Food & Wine Festival this year.  I usually don't do any of the extra events, so I can't say anything about those.  If I had to pick my Top 5 items?  Hmm... in no particular order...the Pastel de Choclo in Chile, Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Purée in Argentina, Braised Short Ribs in Cabernet with Mashed Potatoes in France, Spanakopita in Greece, and Lamb Slider with Tomato Chutney in New Zealand.  There were SO many other food items that I wish I had been able to try!

          Next time I know to try to spread all the booths over a longer period of time.  I probably spent too much time in the MK on this trip, considering that Epcot is my favorite park and all the yummy goodness was there as well.  If I do the half marathon again next year, I might stay at least until Monday, just to have that extra day.  Plus I doubt I'll need to rush down there for another Jeff Galloway event so I'll have some vacation days!

          Is it sad that I've been pricing out flights to get back down there before closing weekend?  REALLY doesn't look like it's going to happen but... a girl can dream! :)

          Next post I'll link you guys to the video that Andy and I created for his podcast!


          1. I couldn't agree more about Italy, which is disappointing since it was the one I looked forward to the most (same as you, spoiled growing up in the NJ/NY area). The Baked Cheese Ravioli tasted like Chef Boyardee. And the presentation was probably the least appetizing of all of the food kiosks. We had an opportunity to try the gravy on the short-ribs, and it was pretty decent. I wonder why it wasn't being served with yours. Weird. Loooved the beef skewer w/chimichurri sauce, that sauce was awesome!

            Great Recap girl :)

          2. @WeRunForWine... thank ya! First, Why haven't I found your website until now? :) I'll have to go catch up after finishing all my comments.

            The no gravy thing was most likely due to it being the special preview day prior to the official opening. Really not complaining though, it was still fabulous! And seriously, who thought serving that ravioli in a cardboard dish would make it look more appetizing? Bleh!

          3. This is the first year in 4 years we didn't make it to F&W so thanks for the reviews so i could salivate over your pics! :)

          4. @Kat...glad you could enjoy the pics :) Hopefully you'll get down there next year!

          5. I have such a stomach ache now. I feel like I just ate a ton with you! ;)

            The pathetic and annoying thing about me is that I am a vegetarian that hardly likes vegetables. Basically I am really looking forward to the spanikopita again ... and the yummy drinks around the World!

          6. @FruitFly...There were a few vegetarian dishes at the other kiosks we didn't hit that looked really good! Ohhh...and the spanakopita..I could probably live of that alone if I had to. :)