Start with Autumn, sometime near the beginning of September.
Add EPCOT at Walt Disney World.
Combine with one long weekend.
Toss in over 30 countries and top the whole thing with a smorgasbord of culinary delights; and you end up with quite possibly the closest equivalent to heaven on Earth;
We love Disney World, you probably know this by now, but when the annual EPCOT Food and Wine Festival descends upon “The World”, love takes on a completely new meaning.
Perhaps it’s because I love food; not just any food but incredibly delicious food. I don’t try to figure it out, I just tell Mr. Sweet Butter to put me in the car and drive me there, which he does obligingly. If the F&W festival were a hurricane then for one foodie blogger who happens to be a Disney addict it’s a perfect storm.
Feeding that storm is this years menu which I must admit was tantalizing, tempting and just looking at it I felt my waist band pinch in a wee bit.
I have dreamed of feasting on worldly cuisines. I would prefer to indulge in said task while actually traveling the world, the real world. Oh I dream of it. My Pinterest travel boards grow exponentially each day, but alas I have yet to embark on my world tour. Soon I hope. Mr. SB is talking about taking me to Ireland next year. What a wonderful thought.
Until then I have the EPCOT F&W festival. So come on let’s take a tour and see what’s in store for it’s 16th year.
Disney doesn’t slack on anything. When they set out to do something new and wonderful they don’t just raise the bar, they send it flying out somewhere in the atmosphere. The decorations at the front gate entreat you to pack your bags and prepare for the wonderful adventure that awaits.
Recently EPCOTs “news center” board received a spiffy and completely new high tech face lift. The ride times are still listed but now you can see a live rolling Twitter feed showing twits related to Disney in real time from around the globe.
Something completely new this year was a giant cranberry bog complete with, of course, live cranberry plants, and Brenda. She looked like she was having way too much fun wading in the pond of water and fresh cranberries. She was more than happy to flash a smile and WizKid was ready to dive in, wishing to get up close and personal with all those pretty red berries. A strong grip on the back of his neck ensured he stayed dry right where he was. Daddy wasn’t about to get kicked out.
These cranberries are ripe and ready for Thanksgiving, or scones; baked in bread; juiced, caked or baked. Whatever suits your fancy. I didn’t think of growing cranberries in my yard, but I’ve added them to my list. If and when I buy a home I have sworn every plant and flower will be edible. I even thought of planting lemon grass but I think that may be taking it a bit far.
The world is round and our passports, (and human nature) deemed we veer to the right as we headed toward Canada. Normally there are 12 countries represented at EPCOT but during the festival dozens of mini country kiosks settle in expanding 12 to 30. Oh the joy!
One of the first ones we came to was the champagne and desserts party. Douse me with sugar and color me happy! They must have been thinking of me. How nice of them. White chocolate macadamia nut mousse, delightful dessert champagnes and ice cream topped with Grand Marnier were begging to be consumed and in mass quantities.
Greece was showing off it’s amazing flavors of Greek salad with warm pita; Spanakopita, Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki, Baklava & Boutari Moschofilero for starters all while transporting you to a tiny corner of Santorini. You know you so want to go now don’t you? Yeah me too.
We actually didn’t eat at Canada, mostly because we eat at Canada any time we come and honestly, it’s only a drive away. A long drive but a place I could get there none-the-less. They were serving up a soup that is really to die for and one we are sure to get every time we dine at Le Cellier Steakhouse, Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup. I have the recipe and promise to make it for you. Maple and Moosehead Beer glazed Salmon with Barley Salad, Chicken Chipotle Sausage waved at us from the counter taunting us to detour. We resisted and continued on.
Our resistance completely incinerated when we reach Ireland. With it’s rolling emerald green hills, ancient castles that harkened back to days of knights and….ok not really. It was just a cut thatched roof kiosk that was serving us nothing short of perfection.
You may recall from this post in the spring, Mr. Sweet Butter loves “shepherds pie”. I believe it’s a dish that was breathed into existence in Ireland and to be honest is nothing more than the Irish version of goulash topped with baked mashed potatoes. There is no “right” way of making it. Mostly it consists of ground beef and veggies but this year EPCOT changed Mr. Sweet Butters religion on Shepherd’s Pie by issuing forth a version cooked with lobster and scallops.
Queue the angel choir! Yeah…I grabbed the recipe for this…oh and their dessert…can’t forget that. Chocolate Lava Cake with Baileys Irish Cream Ganache; Nabbed that one too.
If Ireland was practically a religious experience then eating in Belgium dropped us firmly at the feet of the Divine (insert deity of choice). It was the ONLY country we revisited…..twice. Come on it’s Belgium. You can’t sit there and tell me images of waffles and chocolate didn’t just circle like visions of sugarplums dancing in your head. You know they did. And yes they served waffles. Not just any big, thick, sweet Belgium waffles but probably the BEST Belgium waffles that have EVER passed over my taste buds.
Oh sweet sugar plum fairies! Perfect waffles topped with whipped cream and berry compte which consisted of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Seriously and alien spaceship the size of Texas could have flow over at the very moment I bit into one of these beauties and I would have been deliciously and blissfully ignorant. Nor would I have cared.
I want one. I want one right now.
Belgium didn’t stop there. As hard as it is to believe, the good people of this incredible country eat more than decadent choclates and waffles. They eat real food and if these mussels are any indication of what’s on their menus, be assured Belgium could quite possibly bump France from it’s throne as the must-see- country before I die.
And oh my gosh!! The iced coffee…save me now. Ready, iced coffee with Godiva chocolate liquer. Yes the first thing I did when I got home was stop at my corner alcohol mart and buy a bottle…no…two; the white chocolate and the dark chocolate. Hey I’m a Yin Yang kinda girl, I have to keep things balanced right?
Steamed mussels in roasted garlic cream sauce.
Here’s a little tidbit about WizKid, he loves mussels. He also loves sushi, calamari, oysters, crab, lobster…Wow this kid has expensive taste. No wonder I go broke when we take him out to eat. He’s been eating sushi since he was two and he discovered his adoration for mussels about six years back. I love them as well and have to say the recipe for these served here was…was…WOW!
Knowing the rest of the world was waiting, begrudgingly we finished the last drops of garlic cream, captured each last crumb of waffle and continued our journey.
Our next stop found us shuffling the busy streets of Morocco, where belly dancers charmed snakes, and street vendors hawked their wares….(just go with me on this)
Dodging tourist and busy locals we found a vendor where the smells of Beef in a Pita Pocket, Falafel Pita Pocket and Baklava wafted under the nose of WizKid and drew him in for a taste.
The beef pita was on his radar and a quiet spell with Dad made the sit in the park just perfect.
A very cool touch added during the F&W Festival that adds a a little something special is, scattered about each kiosk are herbs, vegetables and fruits native to each country. Those may look like red flowers adorning the background of my boys, but it’s huge beds of red peppers, ripe for the picking.
The world was too big and our tummys were too small to sample everything. Near the end of the day Mr. Sweet Butter sampled a Sam Adams lager and a lobster roll back in America.
While I indulged in the pumpkin and cranberry mousse. Perfect for the season.
The only other country we visit twice, once in the afternoon and once in the evening was Italy. This Ravioli Di Formaggia all Emiliana (Baked Cheese Ravioli with Creamy Beef Bolognese Sauce, Parmesean Cheese, and Melted Mozzarella) must have a recipe so top secret you’d need CIA clearance to even touch it because it’s one of the most popular dishes at the festival, is served every year and is always mysteriously omitted from the official Food & Wine Festival annual cook book. One could possibly ascertain how to make it from the description alone but I’m sure would be hard pressed to replicate it.
We weren’t done with the world just yet and rounding out our whirlwind trip we skipped the border and traipsed our happy little selves to Mexico. We had already taken our afternoon siesta, were well rested and had rumbling tummies. Drinks like Passion Fruit Frozen Margarita, Conga Fruit Punch beckoned us, especially in the heat, which was ten degrees hotter than expected for the day.
Somehow the heat seemed appropriate biting into this spicy shrimp taco. I just loved the bite sizes of everything and never filled up overly.
The food isn’t the only thing to see at the festival. There’s the beer and wines and cocktails unique to each country. There’s music every night and the Saturday we were there Carlie Simon was jammin out some of her classics. She sounds fantastic live after all these years, still has the voice and can make stilettos and spandex mini-dresses look respectable. She’s like the white Tina Turner.
Of course traveling around the world takes money and the Food and Wine festival is no exception. But, as with any trip away from home, don’t worry about bringing cash. It gets messy and causes problems. Wallets falling out of your hands, digging for cash every stop along the way; dropping a crisp dollar bill while trying to carry a beer, lava cake and a seafood pie can make for some serious juggling or a very happy passerby who swoops up your precious dollar, mouthing “sucker” through his whistle. No bring just enough cash to load up one of these beauties and you are good to go:
It’s really nothing more than a Disney gift card but it’s the only time of year you can get one made to wear on your wrist and small enough to be unobtrusive. Now you’re set. Walk up, order food, swipe the card, grab your food and you are a World Food and Wine officiando.
Oh my gosh! And I nearly forgot to tell you, there are classes you can take and demonstrations that allow you to get up close and personal with a renowned chef. Learn a few tricks, create a whole meal you name it. It’s the perfect thing for any Foodie blogger. I hope to take some next year. So consider this post…to be continued.
Between food, music, shopping, alcohol and of course all that EPCOT has to tempt you, it’s simply the best time of year to visit Disney, except perhaps Christmas time; but then again..there’s the food.
I can’t end this post without something to tempt you. So I bought the 2012 Food and Wine Festival cookbook and will be making some of best recipes in in. Not all of them are there but certainly some of the best.
So ya’ll come back now..hear?