This is an exciting time, my friends. The Watch and Wait Season has officially arrived for all things 2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival!
What do I mean by that? Well, this is the time of the year when details begin to emerge for all of the events, menus, and more for our Favorite Event of the Year!
If you’re a festival fan, you’re gonna want to pay close attention in the upcoming weeks, as we provide you with all of the updates FIRST. Better yet — subscribe to the DFB Newsletter, and we’ll bring all the news directly to you!
In the meantime, as we await all of the latest as well as the start date — the festival will run from September 14 through November 14 — we love looking through some of the fun that we had last year.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at one of the NEW Special Events we attended in 2015 — French Family Meal Traditions. And I’m gonna get a little ahead of myself: this was so fabulous that we totally expect it to be back again this year.
There’s lots to see, so let’s get started!
One of my favorite things about Special Events that take place in Epcot’s World Showcase Pavilions, versus events in World ShowPlace, is that you often get a chance to see inside a restaurant that you may not have experienced before. Both French Family Meal Traditions and The Parisian Afternoon: Sandwiches, Macarons, and Bubbles! take place at Monsieur Paul.
If you haven’t had the chance to dine at Monsieur Paul, you may not be familiar with it. It’s the fine dining option in Epcot’s France Pavilion. You’ll find it by heading back through France as though you’re getting a Macaron Ice Cream Sammie at L’Artisan des Glaces. 🙂 But hang a left before you get to the boutique ice cream shop. Go through the door with the awning, past the hostess stand, and you’ll spy this beautiful art nouveau staircase leading up to the second floor restaurant.
You’ll walk past the restaurant’s small but well-stocked wine cellar en route to the dining room.
For this event, the part of the dining room closest to the entrance was emptied of tables. Cast Members greeted us as we entered and took us to our seats. I liked this touch; while seating isn’t assigned, staff helped us to find a place, rather than just turning us loose to find our own seats.
After I was shown to my seat, I had a few minutes before lunch began, so I decided to look around a bit. Monsieur Paul pays homage to Chef Paul Bocuse. Fitting, since he’s one of the original trio of chefs referenced in the France Pavilion. It’s also appropriate because the Bocuse Group runs all of the restaurants in the pavilion.
Monsieur Paul exudes understated elegance. You won’t find any over the top themeing here, and the decor was lightened up a little during a recent refurbishment. (You can see photos of the previous decor here.) But you’ll still find white table cloths and cloth napkins, signaling an experience that’s just a cut or so above Les Chefs de France, the bistro downstairs.
Mercury glass pieces echo the general art nouveau feeling of the place.
And extremely fancy Cognac reminds you that you are some place special.
I love the light fixtures at Monsieur Paul as well. The bubble motif makes them feel elegant without seeming the least bit stuffy.
I’m always charmed by this small alcove outside of the restrooms. I can’t imagine ever needing to sit down here. But somehow, it’s comforting to know it’s there in case I have need of it. And look — more cool lights!
Seriously. If I could figure out how to lift this and stick it in my purse, I’d probably be pretty tempted to do it.
Another great thing about going to an event like this — you get to see Monsieur Paul in a whole new light — literally. Many folks haven’t had lunch here, so it’s fun to see it all lit up with bright daylight.
Windows that allow for partial views of Illuminations at night let in plenty of light during the day.
For the luncheon, place settings were simple and looked a lot like what you find when you’re dining at Monsieur Paul. While our water was already poured, our wine glasses were still empty as we chatted with our table mates.
I’m anxious to share this experience with you. So let’s get to the food.
General Manager Eric Weistroffer was on hand to kick off the festivities. As he explained, we were there to experience family favorites — home cooked foods, and flavors that Monsieur Paul’s chefs learned in the most important kitchen of all — their homes.
The menu changed each week for the event. We were excited to see what we’d have the chance to sample.
Five courses, with wines paired to each course, certainly seemed promising.
As soon as we were seated, staff began to pass out the Welcoming Cocktail — a Cocktail La Presse. The drink was a take on a classic Citron Presse, which is similar to lemonade, but way less sweet. The cocktail was plenty sweet enough, though, with Grand Marnier Titanium added to the Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Raspberries, and Sparking Wine.
Our table also received a plate of Cheese Straws to begin with. While they were delicious, I probably wouldn’t have forsaken any stomach space for them, had I known the portions of the courses that would be coming.
We also received fresh Demi Baguettes, baked right in the ovens of Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie. These are terribly hard to resist.
Before our first course arrived, the servers began pouring wines. The first was Marquis de Coulaine Vouvray. I know that French wines typically are meant to be consumed with food, but this light, crisp white was a table favorite even before the food arrived.
The first course was a Quiche Lorraine with a perfectly dressed Salad of Greens served alongside.
The Quiche itself was incredible — pillowy and rich, full of Cheese and bits of Ham. It was also enormous. I seriously could have called it a day right there, so reluctantly, I did not clean my plate.
Soon, we were ready for our next course, and that meant another glass of wine. For the main dish, the pairing was Le Haut Presle Chinon.
As much as the table loved the first wine, this one met initially with some resistance, probably due to the minerality. It may have benefitted from breathing a bit before it was served; I’m not really sure. But I was confident that it would improve greatly when paired with food.
And it wasn’t long before we had the chance to put our theory to the test, as this little beauty arrived at my place setting. The petite Le Creuset put the “cocotte” in our dish’s name.
When the lid was removed, I was treated to a creamy Blanquette de Veau en Cocotte.
Our server also provided a little dish of Rice on the side, and we were instructed to dump it into the stew.
This was truly one of the best dishes I have ever tasted. The decadent sauce was perfectly seasoned. The Veal was tender, and the vegetables complemented the dish in terms of texture and flavor. Even the rice enhanced the dish. I can’t think of a starch that would have been better served here.
I think at this point, everyone at my table was so impressed with the food and wine, both in terms of portions and quality.
But there was another course to be savored! And that meant more wine. Our second red was the Chateau de Ricaud Bordeaux Superieur. The fruit forward, medium-bodied wine met with universal approval from wine-loving table.
The Bordeaux was a lovely match for the Brie served with Fruit and Nut Bread, Grapes, and Walnuts.
At this point, I took the opportunity to stretch! Seriously. In my opinion, the slow pace of the meal is one of the most wonderful aspects of eating at Monsieur Paul anytime, and the French Family Meal Traditions event is no exception. You’re expected to relax.
Speaking of relaxing, we had one more wine to consume. For our dessert course, we enjoyed a lovely Jean-Charles Boisset No. 21 Cremant. Fans of sparkling wine will know that a Cremant is a sparkling wine made in a hand full of winemaking regions outside of the Champagne region. This particular wine came from Burgundy.
I’m a big fan of Cremants because they tend to offer great value when compared with Champagne, so I was excited to try this. The hints of vanilla were the perfect match for our next course.
Dessert was a Black and White Macaron, served in a pool of Creme Anglaise with a Quenelle of House made Ice Cream on the side.
The plate was stunning, and the macaron, with its chewy consistency and fudgy filling, was as delicious as any of the macarons I’ve enjoyed in the France Pavilion. (And believe me. There have been many.)
As our meal wound down, Eric took the opportunity to festively honor the men and women who prepared and served the meal.
After we applauded them, they paraded through the dining room, so we had the chance to say a quick thank you for a fantastic experience.
There are no two ways about it: French Family Traditions is one of the best events that we’ve had the pleasure of attending during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
There are a few reasons for this. First, while the price tag is steep (it was $95 per person last year), it was well worth it, in my opinion. Each course was exquisite, with dishes that were impeccably prepared and plated. Servings were more than generous; I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was full after the first course. Finally, the wines served were full glasses. And I should probably add…we received refills as well.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to splurge on an event like this, I say go for it. Because if you can find a better way to spend the afternoon than drinking wine and eating French food in a beautiful setting, then I really need you to tell me about it.
Will you be booking your French Family Meal Traditions at the 2016 Epcot Food and Wine Festival? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!
We were guests of Monsieur Paul for this event, but our opinions are entirely our own. Read more about our Disclosure Policy here.